Lawsuit Against Mikey Weinstein Survives Dismissal

In 2012, Michael “Mikey” Weinstein lost the fifth of five lawsuits he has filed since 2005. None survived to trial. The last was Weinstein v Ammerman, which was a personal lawsuit against former Navy Chaplain Gordon Klingenschmitt for his “imprecatory prayers.” As with all of his lawsuits, Weinstein promised an “aggressive” appeal when it was dismissed. As with all of his lawsuits, Weinstein never appealed.

The essence of Klingenschmitt’s defense was the only “harm” Weinstein could produce occurred prior to Klingenschmitt’s public prayers. It was said several times that for Weinstein’s case to have merit, he would have needed a time machine.

As a result, following the dismissal of Weinstein’s lawsuit, Klingenschmitt chose to file a lawsuit against Weinstein for “abuse of process” and defamation. The former, because Weinstein allegedly filed his lawsuit knowing it to be false; the latter, because Weinstein allegedly knowingly connected Klingenschmitt with criminal acts he had nothing to do with.

Last week, a New Mexico judge dismissed the abuse claim but allowed the defamation claim to proceed.

A defamation lawsuit filed by a conservative Christian minister and former Navy chaplain against Michael “Mikey” Weinstein and the Military Religious Freedom Foundation he founded got a step closer to trial following a hearing Wednesday in Albuquerque.

District Judge Denise Barela Shepherd dismissed one claim against Weinstein, malicious abuse of process, in the lawsuit filed by Gordon Klingenschmitt of Colorado.

But she denied Weinstein’s motion to dismiss the defamation claim.

Weinstein has apparently filed a counterclaim as well.

Defamation is a notoriously difficult charge to prove, at least in the legal sense (as Weinstein was reminded when he threatened this site with that same charge). Klingenschmitt clearly has a case, as Weinstein repeatedly implied an association of — if not connected — the prayers and the time-traveling evidence in media interviews. For example, in an article highlighting the dismissal of the case, the judge’s

ruling [on Klingenschmitt’s prayers] did not actually turn on constitutional questions as much as it did on Weinstein’s claims that the prayers incited the threats and vandalism.

Weinstein…said he has received numerous death threats, had swastikas painted on his house, and that his windows have been shot out and animal carcasses left on his doorstep as a result of his activism.

Whether it is an actionable legal case, however, remains to be seen. For example, Weinstein may have led his listeners — or the reporter — on to that conclusion, but if Weinstein himself did not say Klingenschmitt was responsible for prior acts and threats against him, then he may survive.  There may be nuance — it just depends upon whom that nuance shows favor.

Interestingly, the article took pains to note Weinstein had at least three lawyers. Since the MRFF is also a defendant, there is a strong possibility donations to the MRFF are funding the defense, which might protect the substantial paycheck Weinstein receives from his charity.

Also at the Stars and Stripes.