Okay, so back in February I wrote about Tiffany Dehen, a USD Law graduate who filed a rambling, incoherent, and largely incomprehensible complaint as a result of someone creating a fake Twitter profile of her that implied her conservative political views meant she was a Nazi. Since that time, I decided it was best to leave well-enough alone, as Tiffany had proven herself to be sort of the litigious type and I wasn’t exactly interested in being dragged into the undertow on the sea of crazy that appeared to be brewing, and the fact that talking about Tiffany seemed a little too much like kicking a handicapped puppy. She was clearly out of her depth in this matter, suing both Twitter and her law school for $100,000,000 for the ostensible damage to her reputation.
This was, in my opinion, exactly the sort of lawsuit that the courts sort out on their own, without any interference from me or any other the other internet lawyer blogs who wrote about it.
However, as my primary criticism was regarding the poorly written complaint and how it was likely to lead to future unemployment for Ms. Dehen, I was somewhat relieved to see her recognize this in a later filing where she acknowledged her initial complaint was “incoherent and fails to state a plausible cause of action upon which relief can be granted.” Cool, said I to myself, it seems that Tiffany has woken up and realized she would have to do much, much more than simply allege “bad stuff happened and I think it’s wrong and therefore get $100,000,000 as a result.” In the meantime, though, Tiffany was hard at work on an Amended Complaint, which in my eyes didn’t really help her cause at all.
But that’s not why we’re here today. Maybe I’ll talk about that one later. Maybe I won’t. To be honest, I was reluctant to talk about Tiffany at all today, because it seems she feeds off of this shit, spinning any mention of her into the old maxim of “there’s no such thing as bad publicity.” We’re here today because, after being told multiple times by the court that she wouldn’t be given leave to file in forma pauperis (that’s “for free” for all you muggles out there), Tiffany finally ponied up the $400 filing fee and requested the issuance of a summons from the court yesterday.
This is a problem, because guys, she’s about to serve her distilled form of “WTF is this shit?” on Twitter and her law school. This could be a career-ender for her at this point, since once that shit gets served and she gets smacked down by the army of lawyers both institutions will bring to bear on her, she’ll have a J.D. that’s worth approximately about as much as a single piece of high-grit toilet paper. While I don’t agree with Tiffany’s politics, and while the deep, dark lawyer part of my soul finds this all pretty goddamn amusing, I also feel a certain sympathy for Tiffany who, it appears, is quickly kamikazing her career on a hill she never should have been on to begin with. So…I want to take a moment today and talk to Tiffany.
Tiff – is it okay if I call you Tiff? I feel like we know each other well enough by now – this isn’t the hill you want to die on. And trust me, you’re turning this into the hill you’re going to metaphorically die on.
I feel I need to be clear that I’m saying you’ll metaphorically die on this hill, considering that in the past few months you’ve attributed a lot of things publicly to a vast liberal/radical muslim conspiracy that has clearly set out to silence your voice. Yes, you edited a lot of that stuff off your webpage already, Tiff, and in some cases soon after it went up, but this is the internet, and the internet doesn’t forget. I know, for a fact, that there are people with saved copies of your old webpage, the one where you ask for donations and accuse people of collaborating to t-bone your car, out there. I’ve seen them. They exist. Those statements are attributable to you.
I get that you’re upset someone created a parody account of you on Twitter, and as I stated in the first post I think doing so was immature and idiotic. I don’t like the idea of someone bullying you for your political beliefs, even though I personally find them reprehensible and disagree very strongly with them. This is America, though, and we’re entitled to disagree with each other politically. But the manner you’ve been going about this is all wrong.
At the time that Twitter was taken down, it had three followers. Three. Two of them were people you knew, and for some reason I suspect the third was you. There was little to no damage. The damage came from your filing of this lawsuit and the ignoring of every lawyer’s advice: drop it, or pay a licensed attorney to handle it for you. The entire legal community roundly derided your complaint and your action, and we had a good laugh because we’re sick sons of bitches, but at the end of the day every single lawyer out there, conservative or liberal, said to themselves “Jesus, I hope she just drops this thing. It’s not too late to salvage her career and move forward from it.”
You didn’t, though. You, in the words of Senator McConnell, persisted. And persisted. And continued to persist. Now you’ve got a $400 filing fee in to the court, and I’m sure you’re viewing this as a victory, but it isn’t a victory, Tiff. This is a nightmare, because the only thing lawyers like more than reading borderline crazy complaints is watching them get smacked down mightily by the large firms and armies of lawyers that the other side will bring to bear on you. USD and Twitter are not “Eddie from down the street” who has that one lawyer that enjoys taquitos and beer and can’t be bothered to clean his desk ever. They are huge institutions represented by legions of skilled litigators who will make short work of your complaint once it’s served and whose briefs (and the resulting orders) will be publicly available.
Likewise, even if you survive the Motion to Dismiss stage, which is amazingly questionable in my opinion, the only thing you’ve won is the right to proceed with discovery. Discovery in which you, a pro se not a lawyer litigant will be fairly buried in paperwork as Twitter and USD comb through every instance of your personal life and records, your time at the institutions, and everything else about you…including, considering you’re claiming lost future income, the likelihood you would have been admitted to the bar in the first place and your likely earning potential had you been admitted. They get to attack damages, Tiff.
We both know that they’ll question whether a character and fitness committee would let you practice, and we both know they’ll point out that you haven’t sat for or passed the bar exam, so all earnings you’re claiming as being lost are purely speculative at this point. Once they do, a lot of this will become a matter of public record, and trust me, we’ll follow it. It’s what we do. We’re sad people who enjoy a healthy dose of schadenfreude with our morning coffee.
I know, right now it seems like you have them by the balls because you’ve gotten all the press, but can’t you see you’re getting this press as a “Look at this shit!” story? Nobody is debating whether your claim has merit, nobody is talking about your case, nobody is saying you’ll make millions and become the next Tomi Lahren. Because nobody thinks you will.
We’re laughing at you, Tiff. Not with you. You’re an oddity right now, an outlier, a strange sideshow the legal community is pointing at and saying “This is gonna be a bloodbath, get the popcorn.” Did you notice your site spiked when it first went live and then…stopped? That’s because every lawyer in the world was going “OH MY GOD, BOB, SHE GOT A WEBSITE!” and passing it around…but the abysmal GoFundMe performance should tell you something about how many people were going to your site looking for reasons to deride you versus how many were going to your site in a patriotic zeal to stand firmly behind the blond-haired law graduate from Arizona.
Tiff, in the legal world there is definitely such a thing as bad publicity because we’re an industry built on people who remember obscure shit. In ten years, it won’t be “Oh yeah, we heard of Tiffany Dehen so she must be important!” It’ll be “Isn’t that the girl who sued Twitter cause someone called her a Nazi?” And if you think you have Twitter or USD by the balls on this one since they’ve been silent, you need to be aware – they wouldn’t stay silent if they were worried about you. By now they’re certainly aware of your suit. There’s no way they could miss it. It isn’t coming as a surprise to them.
They just don’t think you’re worth their time yet.
The moment you serve the summons, a lawyer who has been working on their motion for three months is going to file it, and this will all end in glorious flames and a tarnished name.
The more fair-minded among us were hoping against our personal desire to see shit blow up that you would let this die a natural death, take and pass the bar, let this whole episode be a small part of your past, and join our ranks as a competent attorney who fucked up a little in an emotional moment. That story would be understandable. We could accept that. But you doubled-down on the whole thing, and now…well…now you may be trash-canning your career. Because you’ve had months to think about this and calm down, and you’re still pressing forward.
I, for one, won’t be writing on you again until the mess is over. I feel slightly dirty writing about you now, because if you see this I think you’ll take it as a sign you’re on the right track because you made a liberal lawyer worried. But that’s not it, Tiff. Truth is, I think by writing about you I may be actively contributing to your downfall…and I didn’t get into this business to hurt people that can’t help themselves.
So best of luck, and I hope all turns out okay. But I really fear it won’t.