Joe Miller takes issue with the headline on my blog posting from Tuesday: "Joe Miller, who claimed damages of more than $160,000, settles for $5,000 and declares victory."
I pointed out that Miller settled for a token amount and did not win the case.
But in a tactic borrowed from Bill Clinton's definition of "is," Miller takes offense at claims that he settled for a measly $5,000. The truth, Miller says, is that he accepted a judgment of $5,000.
In everyday English, this is a distinction without a difference.
The legalistic double talk can not hide the most important fact—he dropped the case for pocket change.
Miller wants to say that the amount of the judgment doesn't matter. Of course it matters.
Five grand is not enough to pay for a single day of depositions.
The judgment came during a week in which Miller would have had to reveal how his legal bills are being paid and release a variety of other documents to the court.
Nearly lost in all of the endless news coverage of this silly lawsuit was the dumb action at its base—Miller was using borough computers to artificially pump up the results in a political poll and didn't want anyone to know what he was doing, but he was caught.
Instead of directly addressing this juvenile behavior, Miller resorts to mumbo-jumbo about this not being a $5,000 settlement, but a $5,000 judgment.
On his website, Miller says, "There is no settlement document of any type with all of the parties’ signatures. Rather, the borough and Whitaker served an “offer to enter judgment” under Alaska Civil Court Rule 68. No matter what extraneous words they included with the offer, no matter the media spin they and their attorneys are trying to create regarding “no admission of liability”, Rule 68 mandates that “the clerk shall enter judgment” and Rules 58 and 58.2 provide for the form of that judgment."
"This will establish conclusively a judgment in Mr. Miller’s favor. It will also establish conclusively Whitaker’s and the borough’s liability for that judgment. This is the exact final judgment that Mr. Miller would have received if he had won a jury verdict in this case, plus whatever dollar amount the jury would have awarded."
A judgment of $5,000 is no more of a Miller victory than the results of the 2010 general election.