Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Readers Write: Commentary on the Legal 'Charade'

The following was offered by L. Stephen Coles, co-founder
Los Angeles Gerontology Research Group.
"After spending two hours, I have now read through all 48 pages of Alameda County Superior Court Judge Bonnie Sabraw's April 21st ruling, and I must confess that it was quite tedious reading, in which each paragraph seemed to represent a jig-saw-puzzle piece for a large, complex puzzle. Yet, each paragraph from the Judge was systematically of the form...'The plaintiffs claim that the ICOC is unconstitutional because of reason 'x', but they did not provide sufficient evidence 'y' to support their reasoning. In fact, the very opposite could be argued by looking at the following case law 'z' from our data-base of legal precedents(s) (z = 'so-and-so' vs. 'what's-his-name'; California, 1942).'where x, y, and z are variables instanciated with appropriate items taken from the original complaint and all of which would be meaningless unless one went to Law School and then passed the Bar.

"The plaintiffs didn't seem to trust that their chief complaint would be sufficient to 'bring home the bacon,' so they decided on a 'shot gun' tactic and hope that even if their primary objection was insufficient, somehow one of the lesser charges might stick, and they would win-the-day using a strategy of assembling a concatenation of some of the most frivolous objections imaginable. In law, I belive that this is referred to as a meretricious filing, which is transparently foolish but takes up the Court's time and energy. For example, one of objections was that the ICOC hired private (expensive) lawyers at tax-payer expense to contest the present lawsuit (that seeks to destroy them) and that this is illegal according to their own Proposition 71 (sic). In other words, only our side is allowed to employ lawyers to eliminate the other side, which is prohibited, in principle, from hiring its own lawyers.

"Curiously, there was no clue in the Judge's ruling that the underlying motivation of at least some of the plaintiffs was religious and not technical, and that their funding came from an out-of-state religious organization (based in Colorado), as though we're not allowed, according to the rules of this particular parlor game, to mention the elephant standing over in the corner of the room. If all you had to go by was the text of this ruling, one could not appreciate why one side would spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to defeat something that they didn't like, forcing their adversaries to do likewise, when their case was so weak to begin with. However, it makes more sense, if you see it as a 'delaying tactic' in which 'the law' is being exploited for an ulterior (surreptitious) motive of crippling or exhausting one's adversaries rather than prevailing on merit.

"The best metaphor for reading this document that I can think of is studying the chess analysis of a game between two Masters by a Grand Master, who not only tells you the moves that were made, but why certain moves were particularly good (or, conversely, were particularly bad) in light of his knowledge of a large archive of historical championship games between other Grand Masters (both of whom may now be dead) in which similar positions emerged and one side crushed his adversary. Occasionally, he may explain why a particular move that intuitively looks good to an amateur was not made by one opponent or another, since, say, it leads to a checkmate in every possible variation past a simple planning horizon of only two-moves ahead. This parenthetical 'going down the garden path,' so to speak, obviously takes up time for the serious reader, but for didactic purposes, it is highly instructive for those willing to slog through to the end to find out whether the loser deserved to lose while the winner deserved to win (and maybe even win a prize for brilliancy in the process!), even though in ordinary games this may not always be the case. For example, even Former World Champion Bobby Fischer once committed an oversight in a real contest (in which he was presumably down on time) by moving a bishop into a position of subsequent suffocation by his enemy's pawn in the next move, which caused him to lose an otherwise won game (Sigh!).

"If it weren't so important, this lawsuit charade could be considered the ludicrous preoccupation of compulsive, self-indulgent minds and could be safely ignored by any reasonable person. On the other hand, this particular lawsuit cannot be safely ignored, and after the expenditure of even more hundreds of thousands of dollars, we shall finally prevail in the California Supreme Court in Sacramento in 2007 (the venue for the next and final anticipated appeal process and then begin the process of selling unencumbered bonds in the bond market, to fund embryonic stem-cell research grants up and down the state of California at universities and institutes, and our state will emerge in a leadership position for the rest of the country and further as a role model for the rest of the world."


  1. If all that has been accomplished is delay, it is still worthwhile.

    The Hwang scandal happened in the interim. Perhaps Ortiz and others in the legislature would have been active anyhow to bring accountability to CIRM, but the public disenchantment that they may have been sold a 6 billion pig in the poke allows some added pressure.

  2. Anonymous3:02 PM

    Dear Robert B:

    Costing the taxpayers of CA millions of dollars in a patently frivolous lawsuit was “worthwhile” in your estimation? You obviously don’t live in CA.

    What does the Hwang affair have to do with Prop 71 or the CIRM? It’s like saying, well the Abu Gharib scandal was so bad we should shut down the California Dept. of Corrections. Or, perhaps closer to home, since a few Catholic priests molested some young boys we ought to ban Catholicism!

  3. Well...

    From SF Chronicle -BEFORE - Zach Hall on Hwang advancing regenerative medicine


    Oct 2005 - Zach Hall wisely! cautious on collaboration with Hwang - " In California, where funding of the state's $3 billion stem-cell initiative is still being held up by opponents' lawsuits, the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, the state agency that will award grants, has decided not to have a formal relationship with the consortium, according to its president, Zach Hall."


    However, Klein was in Seoul at the same time with the Great Stem Cell Hub Leader (according to this blog - CA stem cell report).
    "As for CIRM, Hall wrote, it "has opted against becoming a formal part of the network. The California program's chairman, Robert Klein, traveled to Seoul to appear today with Hwang and his colleagues, but a spokeswoman said Klein's appearance was intended mainly as an endorsement of 'the science the South Korean government has made such a priority,' rather than as an endorsement of the network itself."


    From the progressive Bioethics.net - Jan 2006 Zach Hall spin on Hwang


  4. Anonymous10:23 AM


    It's hard to tell what your argument is. Simply listing media articles does not make a point.

    Are you claiming that hESC research is bad because Hwang was a fraud? Or that because a CIRM employee talked about Hwang that there is some nefarious plot afoot?