Why call website owner to testify? were terpening's lawyer's ready?

July 15, 2012

I am the first to say I am no expert in the practice of law and the experience of Michael Terpening's lawyers in court Friday was a little surprising. How does one explain it? Are they incompetent? Weren't they ready for me? Or was calling me just the effort to harass someone who dares speak out against their client as my attorney suggested to the court at the last three hearings?

I received a subpeona on  May 20, 2012 about 8pm to appear at the May 23, motion hearing. Knowing a little about the court rules regarding the service of legal papers I knew serving on a Sunday night was not kosher. I also knew to perfect service the process server needed to  bring payment from the attorney requesting service and asked the process server about a check. There was no check from Terpening''s counsel, Tom Schaeffer who signed the subpoena.

Counsel was engaged May 22, 2012 and he visited the judge the same day asking her to quash to the subpoena for bad service. The court refused. I indicated to counsel I would not appear and asked him to represent my interests in court the following day.

In court my counsel opposed the subpoena on the grounds service was not perfected while also arguing calling me was little more than using the authority of the court to intimidate and chill the freedom of speech exercised on this website. In response, Terpening's lawyer makes the claim someone gagged by the court is talking to this website as information occurring in court is appearing minutes after the hearing despite my not being present.

My counsel responds in court Mr. Schaeffer is not providing specific events or days this occurred and is not suggesting who is in violation of the gag order. Keep in mind what happens in court is a matter of public record and it is not gagged. The only people gagged are the parties to the case. Except for parties to the case, anyone who wants to call and tell us what is going on is free to do so, and the gallery has not been empty when Mr. Terpening appears for hearings.

At the May 22, 2012 hearing the court wants me to appear at the upcoming hearing but orders Terpening's counsel to serve me for the hearing scheduled for June 22, 2012. My lawyer offers to accept the subpoena to make it easy, court rules permit this service by first class mail. Schaeffer never sends the subpoena. At the subsequent hearing on June 22, 2012 Terpening's lawyer wants to know where I am, but he'd not sent the subpoena. My counsel repeats the arguments against compelling my appearance. As Schaeffer never even sent my lawyer there was no way to take action against me.

Even though Terpening's lawyer never attempts service again, as directed, I am advised to appear at the July 13, 2012 hearing. While I am opposed, the smarter move wass to be  accept legal advice.

Nearly two months have passed since the subpoena arrived when I appear to answer Terpening's punishment for speaking out July 13. My attorney makes the same arguments, but as discussed in the July 13 story, my counsel offers my testimony without further issues if Terpening's side agrees to limit testimony to revealing information about people who actually are gagged by the court from speaking. Tom Schaffer agrees and I take the stand.

What is odd is just how misinformed Mr. Schaeffer is about what is posted on this website. He brings up, with no documentation, posts on this website going back months. He wants to know specifically who provided information on specific dates without saying what the offending complaints might be.

Given this website now consists of nearly 130 pages remembering specific stories and specific dates is not easy. Defense counsel has no dates and is doing little more than fishing around with no bait on the hook. Schaeffer was even corrected by his co-counsel, Joe Eldred, reminding Mr. Schaeffer he was not present at the bond violation hearings as he seemed to seek to corner me on former Terpening Follower Jen who called me following her testifying on day one of the two day hearing.  The second day of that hearing was apparently in chambers, or so Schaeffer was informed by Eldred.

What had not occurred to me while I was on the stand is we did not have information for a few days on the second day of the bond violation matter. Jen was not there for day two and Schaeffer while she provided information on the first day of the proceeding asking me how Jen could give me information on the second day was didn't make sense.

Schaeffer fumbles around with me some more as he asks questions I know are violating the agreement Schaeffer just accepted until I finally outright refused to give the names of people not gagged. My lawyer then jumps in to suggest Mr. Schaeffer needs to ask about specific people instead of fishing around, "Did the Barry County Prosecutor give you information?" Did you get information from state police" Mr. Schaeffer then asks those questions as the Terpening defense's final conspiracy theory falls to ruin.

Was this an examination by a skilled lawyer who has been in practice since 1971? My impression was he was unprepared and the examination was fumbled, badly. He did try to go beyond the limiting instruction we agreed to, but made no effort to ask about people the Terpening Followers have openly accused online while asking about one person not gagged. Why not specifically ask about the others the Terpening Followers have accused? If he takes a run at one person, why not the others?

Other things to think about is what my lawyer said when I asked why Terpening's lawyer even went along with the stunt of dragging me to court, he replied maybe Terpening wanted it. Imagine the work and cost of lawyers spending time dissecting this website in preparation for a strong inquiry into gag order violations. And think of the preposterous idea that the Office of the Michigan Attorney General, the Michigan State Police or the Barry County Prosecutor is consulting with a somewhat nutty website developer in Comstock Park Michigan to help them win their case.

For my part I hope this was just a professional lawyer being going through the motions for a client demanding information counsel knew was nonsense. I hope Terpening has a solid and competent defense, whatever the outcome one can only hope it is solid and not the subject of years of appeals. Everyone deserves justice to be swiftly served in this case, and it has been delayed long enough.

As it stands trial is scheduled for the end of August and Mr. Schaeffer is sending me a check for my appearance!