[If you haven't heard of Avaaz: this is a very effective international ecological organization,a major global civic organization with the world's largest online activist community, including over 43 million subscribers. Ricken Patel is Founding President and Executive Director of Avaaz, Patel was voted "Ultimate Gamechanger in Politics" by the Huffington Post, and listed in the world's top 100 thinkers by Foreign Policy magazine. He was also named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum, referred to as "the global leader of online protest" by The Guardian.]
Our hearing just ended, and the judge absolutely DESTROYED Monsanto's subpoena on Avaaz!!!! He said the subpoena would have a "tremendous chilling effect", saying "no member would want to have their privacy and their activity known" and actually gave Monsanto a lecture on democracy and free speech!!
Avaaz members in the courtroom spontaneously broke into applause and huge smiles at his words.
This subpoena was terrifying and would have had Avaaz spend months and hundreds of thousands of dollars digging up and handing over to Monsanto everything anyone on our team ever said or wrote about them for YEARS. Including even the email addresses and identities of our members who had sent messages to officials about Monsanto!
Even worse, lawyers told us that courts in New York tend to AUTOMATICALLY GRANT requests like this! Because usually, more info means more justice.
But then our community got involved. Over 200,000 of us donated, and we hired the best lawyer in the business -- Andrew Celli, who has taken on cases like this before and won. He and his team worked with the Avaaz team to write a ridiculously great takedown of the Monsanto subpoena. It's long and legalistic, but if you speak that language, it's a thing of beauty -- you can read it here .
Monsanto flew in a top lawyer, a man who's defended everything from asbestos to lead and arsenic. But between our briefs, and the powerful oral arguments, the judge was convinced, and took the incredibly RARE step of throwing out the ENTIRE subpoena!!! Normally they just narrow the scope of the subpoena to something more reasonable, but the judge couldn't find anything reasonable in Monsanto's claims about Avaaz!
It's a moment to celebrate, but it may not be
Monsanto can still appeal, or come at us another way. But we've got an amazing win and precedent set, and an amazing legal team, and as ever, an amazing movement that will stand by, stand up, and speak truth to power when it threatens.
The purpose of these big legal attacks is to scare us. I have tears right now as I think about how, with the Avaaz community at our back, I really don't have to fear stuff like this. Because even the most powerful actors in this world, are not more powerful than the truth, than the power of good people coming together to work for everything we love, than the power of all of us in this incredible movement.
With immense gratitude,
Ricken and the whole Avaaz team.
PS - in another amazing example of our movement, an Avaaz member wrote in in response to our fundraiser, suggesting that the team reach out to Bayer, who are buying Monsanto, to ask them to drop this attack. He then took the initiative to write personally to both me and the CEO of Bayer. The CEO of Bayer actually called him hours later, saying he'd love to talk to me! So, we're talking on Monday. No idea yet what will come of it, but another example of the ridiculously wonderful movement that we get to be part of. Thanks so much to everyone for being you.
Please also see my recent article on the FDA and the Revolving Doors to Industry:How Many Innocent and Unsuspecting People in 2019 Will Die Because of the FDA's Revolving Doors?
>>>>news article on this:US court quashes Monsanto's 'undemocratic' plea to Avaaz to hand ...
22 hours ago - US court quashes Monsanto's 'undemocratic' plea to Avaaz to hand over ... The Manhattan Supreme Court has quashed Monsanto's subpoena to Avaaz, ... from the industry and farmer groups but victims want it removed. By Vibha Varshney
"Not only are we safe from this legal attack, but the judge even told Monsanto that what they were doing was anti-democratic and an attempt to "chill" the voices of our members, and the voices of citizens engaged in lobbying everywhere," says Avaaz deputy director, Emma Ruby-Sachs who appeared in the court for the hearing.
This case was filed in the Circuit Court of St. Louis, Missouri. Although Avaaz is not directly linked to the case in Missouri, the organisation has in the past worked actively to stop the European Union from re-issuing a 15-year license for glyphosate, block the setting up of Monsanto's genetically-modified seed factory in Argentina and the merger of Monsanto and Bayer. Had the court not given the verdict in favour of Avaaz, the supporters, would have been dissuaded from involvement and this would have killed the campaign.
An earlier important article on the constitutional issues involved
The stage is set for September 6 when the New York Supreme Court will hear an appeal filed by agribusiness major Monsanto against Avaaz, a civic campaigning network, that has around 45 million subscribers around the world. The US-based organisation will go to court in defiance of the court's 'command' that they turn in all internal communication on the issue of adverse effect of glyphosate over to them. In a subpoena served in January, the court also asked for names and email addresses of staff, activists, farmers and allies who are with Avaaz against Monsanto, recently procured by Germany's Bayer. The subpoena was issued as part of a case filed by Ronald Peterson and Jeff Hall who suffer from non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma. They link their ill health to the use of glyphosate. This case was filed in the Circuit Court of St. Louis, Missouri.
Avaaz feels that the demand for internal information is a violation of the First Amendment of the Constitution and New York's Reporter's Shield law. They have filed a case in New York County Supreme Court in Manhattan to quash the subpoena. They are being represented by a New York-based firm, Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady, LLP.
(Article changed on September 8, 2018 at 18:25)