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Devin Nunes Determined to Keep Filing Lawsuits That He Has No Hope of Winning


In the normal course of legal business, a plaintiff’s likelihood of success in court is a factor that informs the decision whether or not to file a lawsuit. Not so, it seems, for Republican congressman from California Devin Nunes. Nunes appears determined to pursue litigation that is almost certain to fail.

Of late, Nunes’s Virginia lawsuit against political strategist Liz Mair over the #YachtCocaineProstitute story was dismissed on August 20. According to court transcripts, Nunes’s lawyer, lawyer, Steven Biss, immediately requested to file an amended complaint. Nunes’s tenacity in this regard, however misguided, came as no surprise to Mair, who’d said in a written statement, “I have no doubt that Rep. Nunes will seek to amend his complaint and/or appeal the decision.”

That ruling was preceded by the August 9th dismissal of Nunes’s lawsuit over Ryan Lizza‘s now infamous “fake farmer” story. The Nunes family didn’t do much better on September 11, when the same federal judge—Trump-appointed U.S. District Judge C.J. Williamsdismissed a defamation lawsuit filed by the Nunes family over the same story. Judge Williams’s memorandum order read like a law school textbook, detailing, allegation by allegation, how each of the family’s claims simply do not match the definition of defamation.

Judge Williams’s ending paragraph should be read as a warning to Nunes:

Thus, the Court will, as part of this order, require plaintiffs to file a second amended complaint. That amended complaint should be stripped of all such spurious allegations and plaintiffs are not to file any further public pleadings referencing such matters without first obtaining leave of the Court and showing that there is a good faith factual basis for the allegations and that they are relevant and material to some matter at issue in this litigation.

It’s never a good sign when a judge orders a plaintiff to nix the “spurious allegations,” and requires special permission and an official proof of good faith before making future filings.

Nunes appears undeterred by the reality of his legal shortcomings. But then, doomed litigation does appear to be a kind of hobby for Congressman Nunes, whose campaign coffers have borne the fruit of his high-profile lawsuits. Nunes has faced off in court against Twitter, CNN, Esquire, Fusion GPS, several individual journalists, and of course the Devin Nunes’ Cow and  Devin Nunes’ Mom Twitter accounts. To date, none of those lawsuits have seen anything approaching meaningful legal success. Still, in 2019, Nunes raised over $11.6 million in campaign funds–while his opponent, Phil Arballo (D), raised a mere $2.6 million.

Nunes’s many public losses have made him a favorite target for internet mockery—whether because of his propensity for requesting high-dollar compensation, or his lawyer’s failure to understand quite how the internet works. Meanwhile, Nunes’s opponents, both in and outside the courtroom, have also sought to leverage his litigiousness for their own purposes.

One Twitter user had a suggestion for Congressman Nunes and his ill-fated lawsuits:

[photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images]

This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.

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Elura is a columnist and trial analyst for Law & Crime. Elura is also a former civil prosecutor for NYC's Administration for Children's Services, the CEO of Lawyer Up, and the author of How To Talk To Your Lawyer and the Legalese-to-English series. Follow Elura on Twitter @elurananos