JustiaGate: CEO Tim Stanley Claims Innocence After Blocking Access To Wayback Machine Snapshots Of All Supreme Court Cases Published By Justia.
By Attorney Leo Donofrio
Yesterday, in a stunning development, Justia CEO Tim Stanley blocked Wayback Machine access to all US Supreme Court cases published by Justia.com. This is the epitome – the textbook definition even – of hypocrisy. As Dianna Cotter previously reported:
“Justia founder Tim Stanley has for years prided himself and his companies on principles of ‘freedom of information’. On June 19th, 2008, Stanley addressed the Legislative Council Committee at the Oregon State Legislature with the following…
‘In the end, we both recognize the importance of providing the public with online access to our nation’s laws because such actions promote understanding, participation in and respect for our democratic institutions and legal system.’
Furthermore, commenting on a legal dispute Justia had with the State of Oregon, Stanley stated:
“We agree that public policy demands that state laws remain in the public domain. To otherwise permit the State of Oregon or any other governmental body to restrict access to the laws that govern all of us would make a mockery of the legal doctrine that all persons have presumed knowledge of the law. “
Does Tim Stanley believe that his publication of Supreme Court cases should be held to the same open standard? Not so much.
Stanley is blocking access to Justia’s previous publications of US Supreme Court cases which are in the Public Domain. Nothing being blocked is owned by Justia… other than the evidence our nation needs to have an open dialogue. Stanley’s blockage makes a mockery of his prior statements concerning free legal information. Past versions of SCOTUS cases which were – until yesterday – open to the public, exhibit with absolute clarity the changes made by Justia to these cases between the years 2006 and 2011.
Back in July when I published my initial report about the Pope and Boyd case tampering, Justia quietly fixed the cases and blocked access to prior versions at the Wayback Machine without commenting or noting the revisions. Justia also – knowing where the bodies were buried before the rest of us – fixed the other 23 cases on their site… but they failed to block access to the Wayback Machine for those cases. This enabled me to look back in time and see the progression of changes made by Justia to the text of 25 cases which cited “Minor v. Happersett”. That progression is now blocked by Justia.
JUSTIA CEO TIM STANLEY SPEAKS.
Yesterday, Tim Stanley spoke to CNET. Declan McCullagh reported the following comment by Stanley regarding Justia’s removal of cases from the Wayback Machine:
“Making the ‘Justiagate’ story more attractive–it’s now popped up on at least scores of political blogs and was WorldNetDaily’s top story today–was that Justia decided to remove some of its Web pages from the Internet Archive.
Stanley, Justia’s chief executive, said that was ‘because they have errors in them, not to cover up this issue.‘ “
Before we address Stanley’s comment, let me clarify that all (not “some”) web pages of previously published Supreme Court cases have been removed from the Wayback Machine by Justia. Not just the cases I have discussed…but all US Supreme Court cases are now blocked. If you go to Justia’s page listing all Supreme Court cases by US Supreme Court Reporter volume number and click on any volume – i.e., volume 88 – it will provide links to every case in that volume.
When you plug the URL for the volume index into the Wayback Machine, you can still access a list of prior snapshots of the index. Here is a link to a snapshot of that page in 2008. If you then click on volume 88 (or any other volume), you get robots.txt blocking in your face. You can double-check by plugging the URL for any current Justia SCOTUS opinion into the Wayback Machine. This will also place robots.txt blockage in your face.
Stanley alleges that he’s removed the evidence because the pages “have errors in them, not to cover up the issue“. But removing the pages does cover up the issue.
Stanley also alleges:
“The issue was not limited to the cases these folks are focused on. We’ve had internal discussions on how to make sure this does not happen in the future with additional visual and parsing checks.”
McCullagh’s softball technique allowed Stanley to get away without specifying whether the other cases pertained to citizenship and/or POTUS eligibility. (McCullagh also labeled me a “conservative attorney”. Total bunk. I am more liberal than Obama on various social issues and more conservative than Limbaugh on fiscal and Constitutional issues. Declan also mis-stated that my eligibility case before the Supreme Court was brought in 2009. Not true. It was filed with the Court before the 2008 election. Awesome reporting, dude.)
THE DEBUNKED CODING ERROR THEORY.
The “coding error” theory was first alleged as an innocent answer to JustiaGate by Alec Rawls at his “Error Theory” blog. He noted that the first snapshots of the Justia cases citing Minor v. Happersett contained non-clickable text. Alec then alleged that when Justia modernized their cite by adding hyperlinks to the cases, innocent coding errors caused the cases to contain mistakes. He then came to a naive conclusion that all of the alleged sabotage was unintentional.
The coding error excuse was mirrored by Tim Stanley in his comments to CNET:
“Justia’s chief executive, Tim Stanley, told CNET today that some citations were mangled because of a programmer’s error, not an effort to rewrite history. ‘This has nothing to do with President Obama and it is not a conspiracy,’ Stanley said. ‘When we discovered the issue, we corrected the script and the cases now render correctly.’ “
Alec posted a comment here at my blog asking me to reply to his report. My response is embedded with his question. Our dialogue continued here. And Alec finally became convinced that the innocent coding error theory was bunk when he found a screenshot I posted back in July. Alec has updated his report with a full retraction, stating:
“Justia has been deleting politically inconvenient facts from its online Supreme Court record, which as Leo points out is actually a criminal offense: misrepresenting state documents.”
The innocent code error theory was only made possible due to Justia’s Wayback Machine flush job. Had the full timeline of snapshots remained available to public scrutiny, everyone would have been able to see that the 25 cases which cite to Minor went through not one – not two… but three revisions.
The innocent code error theory first alleged by Rawls assumed that Justia accidentally ran into coding errors when they modernized the cases. He claimed that sloppy mistakes made by Justia programmers were responsible for every alleged sabotage across the 25 cases.
However, the Wayback Machine chronology of Justia’s pages citing Minor exhibits that all of the cases which did not originally include hyper-linked citations between 2006-2007 became properly hyper-linked prior to the first snapshot to include tampering in 2008. The intermediate hyper-linked versions include the case name, an official citation to the first page of the case, plus a second citation to the exact page referred to by the Court. And no text was missing from the opinions of the court as was evident later in the tampered versions of Wong Kim Ark and Pope v. Williams.
So, in 2006-2007, the cases appear at Justia with perfect citations to Minor but no hyper-links. Then, by early 2008, the Wayback Machine showed that all of the cases were updated to include hyper-links. Then, by November 2008 the third revision took place and all of the cases were sabotaged by stripping the case name, and removing the official citation from every case, while some sentences were also removed in a few cases along with citations to other important Supreme Court opinions which are part of the natural-born citizen issue’s judicial lineage. Then, after I published about the tampering in July 2011, all 25 cases were revised again to fix the tampering.
That Tim Stanley only went on the record with an official comment after scrubbing the entire history of Justia’s Supreme Court case publications is very telling. Perhaps Stanley thought we were all so focused on the date when Justia first sabotaged the cases that we might overlook the intermediate benevolent revision accomplished perfectly devoid of errors. But since the cases were successfully hyper-linked by 2007, and remained that way through the first snapshots showing the sabotage by Nov. 2008, there was no motive for Justia to revise the case links again. But they were revised again to include the sabotage. And the sabotage remained in the cases until after I published about Pope and Boyd in July.
SCREENSHOTS OF THE FIRST REVISION.
Boyd. v. Nebraska, 143 U.S. 135 (1892).
Alec Rawls retracted his report when he found a screenshot I published back in July for the last snapshot of Boyd v. Nebraska before the tampering happened. The Feb. 19, 2008 snapshot shows it was hyper-linked to an official citation – 21 Wall. 162 – as well as a secondary citation to 88 U.S 167, the specific page in the opinion where Justice Waite’s quotation can be found. Then on Oct 2, 2008, the first snapshot of the tampered Boyd case in the Wayback Machine appears with the case name removed along with the official citation. By removing this data, anyone searching for Supreme Court cases citing Minor would be led to a maze of judicial confusion.
Rogers v. Bellei, 401 U.S. 815 (1971).
The final snapshot of Rogers v. Bellei which shows the pre-tampering hyper-linked correct citation to Minor is from Feb. 19, 2008. That snapshot for this important reference which cites Minor for citizenship precedent includes the name “Minor v. Happersett”, an official citation – 21 Wall. 162 – and the specific citation to the correct page, 88 U.S 167. Compare that to the first tampered snapshot of Rogers from July 24, 2008 which again removes the case name and the official citation. (Here is a collage with side by side comparison.)
Below are two more examples illustrating the pattern of revisions at Justia. The first link for each case shows the first snapshot at the Wayback Machine where the citation to Minor is not hyper-linked back in 2006. The second screenshot shows the final snapshot of the first revision where the cases were perfectly hyper-linked. These two screenshots have identical citations except for the revised hyper-links. The third screenshot shows the first Wayback Machine snapshot with the sabotage. And the fourth link is to a collage of the three side by side.
City of Mobile v. Bolden, 446 U.S 55 (1980)
Sept 19, 2006 – Minor citation is correct but not hyper-linked.
Feb. 21, 2008 – Minor citation is correct and hyper-linked.
June 27, 2008 – Minor citation is tampered.
Collage of the above.
Snowden v. Hughes, 321 U.S. 1 (1944)
Nov. 13, 2006 – Minor and Slaughter-House Cases citations are correct but not hyper-linked.
March 11, 2008 – Minor and Slaughter-House Cases citations are correct and hyper-linked.
July 24, 2008 – Minor and Slaughter-House Cases citations are tampered.
Collage of the above.
The Slaughter-House Cases citations were tampered along with Minor in Snowden v. Hughes, and this is very important. Tim Stanley’s claim that this was all an innocent code error is further strained considering that 8 of the 9 justices from Minor v. Happersett decided the Slaughter-House Cases where the Court stated:
“The phrase, “subject to its jurisdiction” was intended to exclude from its operation children of ministers, consuls, and citizens or subjects of foreign States born within the United States.”
Stanley is peddling a response to JustiaGate which requires one to accept that all 25 cases were accidentally altered to remove the words “Minor v. Happersett” and the official citations to Minor, while various portions of relevant text pertaining to the eligibility issue were also removed from other cases along with the Slaughter-House Cases name and it’s official citation… along with further references to citizenship precedents such as Osborn v. Bank of United States and Scott v. Sandford (removed from US v. Wong Kim Ark) which features the following definition of natural-born citizen:
“The natives, or natural-born citizens, are those born in the country, of parents who are citizens.”
Sound familiar? It’s the same definition of natural-born citizen as in Minor v. Happersett. That’s some incredibly goofy code you got there Timmy. Your code sure seems well-educated in the POTUS eligibility cases, bro.
Come clean. The country will appreciate and forgive you. And you will feel better. The truth is waiting in Mountain View, California.
by Leo Donofrio, Esq.
See atty. Donofrio's initial reports on JustiaGate here and here. Leave due props for attorney Donofrio's superb work here.