Monday, June 4, 2012

Discovery suddenly stayed in Stutz Artiano Shinoff & Holtz defamation suit against this blogger

See all posts re Stutz Artiano Shinoff & Holtz v. Maura Larkins

I got a minute order from the San Diego Superior Court in the mail today. The timing is very, very strange. The last hearing in the case was March 9, 2012--two months and three weeks ago. My discussion with Commander Darin Fotheringham in the Santa Barbara Sheriff's office two days ago is the only event that I can connect even remotely to this bolt out of the blue.

June 1, 2012

Commander Darin Fotheringham
Office of the Sheriff of Santa Barbara

Dear Commander Fotheringham:

I was amused that on the very day I contacted you about my subpoena for business records from the Sheriff of Santa Barbara showing that Deputy Michael Carlson and his sister Robin Donlan involved Chula Vista Elementary School District in criminal actions, Judge Judith Hayes suspended all discovery in the case at issue.

My, my. The timing is fascinating. No papers had been filed asking that discovery be stayed. In fact, no papers had been filed in this case for two months.

I bow to your amazing—what shall I call it?—luck, perhaps?


Maura Larkins

Note: I tried to fax the above letter to the fax number Commander Fotheringham gave me on May 30, 2012 for faxing the subpoena to him. My fax machine dialed the number, then the call was picked up. Next I heard a raspberry sound, and soon a man was telling me that if I'd like to make a call, I should hang up and dial again. I guess the guys who work for the Sheriff of Santa Barbara like to have fun. They seem to be really funny guys.

I think that it is highly unlikely that Commander Fotheringham or Sheriff Bill Brown contacted Judge Hayes. Here's the scenario I came up with for what most likely happened:

Commander Fotheringham may have talked to Michael Carlson. Michael Carlson went into cover-up mode (again). Carlson seems to have no remorse at all, not even for causing problems for the Sheriff of Santa Barbara. My guess is he thinks of himself as a victim. He has never indicated any regret for all the problems his actions caused to me, to my school district (including $100,000s in legal fees to defend Carlson's sister and others), and to the children in my school.

I imagine Michael Carlson would have called his attorney, Deborah Garvin, after Commander Fotheringham spoke to him. And perhaps his sister, Robin Donlan, who turned his misdemeanor into a huge mess for Chula Vista Elementary School District.

Deborah Garvin and Robin Donlan would probably each have contacted Dan Shinoff of Stutz Artiano Shinoff & Holtz, with whom they worked in the earlier case involving Carlson.

And that's where the chain of likely events gets murky for me. What happened next???? I'm simply unable to conjure an explanation for what could have happened.

The minute order I received from Judge Hayes says that discovery is stayed.

But actually it's a lot more complicated. Hayes also finally made a decision about two of the three March 9, 2012 motions. After almost three months of silence, she finally denied my motion to set aside the summary adjudication, even though I was able to provide documentary evidence proving that the decision was deeply flawed.

For the past two months and three weeks she pretended that discovery was open--even gave us a discovery cut-off date--but obviously it was never really open, since the summary adjudication was never set aside. I suspected that I would be shut down the minute I started discovery, so I gave myself a long vacation (including a month in Washington DC) and waited as long as possible to start discovery.

Judge Hayes is still delaying (until August 27, 2012) her decision on Stutz' motion to strike my answer. There is absolutely no case law to support such a decision in a case with a history like this one. San Diego County Office of Education has also refused to allow discovery in this case. It even hired Stutz law firm to make sure Diane Crosier didn't have to take a deposition or produce documents. I recently filed a public records request to at least get the records.

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