Greenville, IL attorney Tom DeVore brought out the big guns with a press release about a complaint he filed about some members of the Dan Caulkins’ suit filed last Thursday. Frankly, I’ve grappled with whether or not to give this action (stunt?) by DeVore the oxygen of publicity or not. Reading it and analyzing it, I have more questions than ever about DeVore’s motivations.
First the “complaint” as posted, downloaded from Bazooka Tom’s Facebook page.
Here are some of my candid observations.
- Few would probably disagree that Mr. Caulkins screwed up by collecting monies and having them put in his campaign fund. That seems ill-considered. And maybe ill-advised if someone recommended that.
- It would seem that Mr. Caulkins didn’t properly communicate the strategy with potential “associational members” prior to this all going down. Because it seems some were under the impression that they would be named plaintiffs in another “as applied” suit similar to the ones run by DeVore. Maybe Mr. C. was trying to keep the big potential flaw in DeVore’s suits (about the depositions of named plaintiffs) as close to the vest as possible initially.
- Reading DeVore’s pleading, it surely looks like collection of the monies by Caulkins towards the legal expenditures was haphazard at best. It was not one of Dan’s best moments.
- Given how Mr. DeVore has handled these cases, few would dispute that it looks as though he likes the limelight of publicity. And he doesn’t mind a payday either.
- My first impression is and remains that Caulkins’ effort was well-meaning but exceptionally poorly executed.
- Despite the poor execution, it might work. It might even prove superior to DeVore’s initial suits, in that Caulkins’ plan might actually protect the “plaintiffs” during the trial process on this while allowing them to enjoy the win if the suit is indeed successful.
- Having said all that, I’m sure the AG is marshalling the “best” legal minds in the nation to defending this potentially unconstitutional way that laws frequently get passed in the dead of night at the last possible minute in our state.
Fair disclosure: I consider Dan Caulkins a friend for years now. Also, like many, I’ve been a fan of DeVore since he burst onto the scene successfully challenging the Governor’s overreach on face diapers. Yes, DeVore seemingly only really “won” one case involving Darren Bailey who is hated by Dems in IL and the media (but I repeat myself).
Since the election where DeVore lost his race against Kwame, there are some things I’ve learned about DeVore that I’m not authorized to divulge at this time that have not endeared me to him. At the same time, I’ll admit I love getting intel from the trailblazing he’s doing on how the AG’s office will defend this messy abortion of a law.
Furthermore, I’m not a fan of Mr. DeVore’s
(get-rich-quick scheme?) soliciting individual plaintiffs for $200 a whack, relying on gun owners’ desperation to get exempted from this new law to enrich do well for himself. Ultimately, as I’ve written before, I doubt his legal argument will pass muster at the Illinois Supreme Court. Of course I hope it does, but hope is a poor plan for success.
My questions and you may have more (please, by all means, share in comments):
- Why is DeVore injecting himself into this? If Caulkins’ suit is so poorly done, why not ignore it and let the courts toss it out?
- Is DeVore getting paid for this and if so, how much? And by whom?
- One of the parties to DeVore’s “appearance” – Steven Henley – didn’t even donate any money, as requested, to the Caulkin’s lawsuit fund (via his campaign website). Another couple – the Hagans – only donated $50 towards Caulkins’ suit. Are they going to spend real money on DeVore, even if it’s only $200 per person if they couldn’t come up with $200 each for Caulkins’ initial suit? I sorta doubt it. Yet another was supposedly willing to donate but didn’t because he didn’t have confirmation that he was part of the effort.
- If these people didn’t pay any money (or even make a donation) why now do they feel entitled to membership in the “association” or why do they feel wronged that they weren’t included? Is there something more to this that’s not published?
- Is DeVore wanting to take over this lawsuit and collect $200 per person, times the 610 (supposed) members of Caulkins’ association?
- Is DeVore unhappy about the publicity that potentially each and every one of his named plaintiffs could be (might be?) dragged in for a multi-hour deposition with the IL AG’s office?
I wrote about this in the weekend update published Saturday. Here’s a snippit:
Let me share with you my latest deposition experience in Guns Save Life’s facial challenge against the FOID Act. Suffice it to say it proved a very unpleasant experience. As in I’d rather go to the dentist and get cavities filled, get a colonoscopy and a prostate exam all on the same day rather than do that double-deposition day again. It finally happened on November 1st after two years of delays (in part because Kwame’s top notch staff opened a phishing email and their entire server was encrypted with ransomware one night, including their notes from the case along with emails).
On that fateful day I seem to recall we had four attorneys from the AG’s office sitting in and I only had our attorney present with me and half my brain tied behind my back at times, all via Zoom.
For almost five hours, I endured a pair of depositions where the AG grilled me trying to undermine GSL’s standing for the lawsuit and my standing as an individual from within GSL. As part of depo-prep, the State of Illinois demanded:
- All communications I’ve had including social media postings about the litigation.
- Documents relating to my “purported” membership in GSL.
- Documents to support my position as executive director of GSL.
- Documents related to my FOID card.
- Photographs of each and every firearm I keep in the home for self-defense.
- For all of the above referenced firearms, copies of owners manuals of said firearms, bill of sale or receipt for purchase, all documents related to the transfer of said firearm as well as documents (that’s spelled ‘photographs’ if you don’t have purchase paperwork) to show each firearm’s serial number, make, model and year purchased.
- For each locking or lockable storage container, a copy of the owners’ manual, bill of sale, receipt or other documents related to the purchase or transfer of said container, as well as documents to show the make, model, year purchase along with pictures of said containers.
- All documents I have about gun safety around children.
- All communications I’ve had with others outside of counsel about the case. (Yes, this post would count…)
Roughly two hundred pages of transcribed testimony and five hours of my life I’ll never get back and it was over.
So, ladies and gentlemen on Tom DeVore’s lawsuits as individual plaintiffs, I think it reasonable to believe that you are exposed to this sort of deposition demand from the defendants in the suit, including the Governor, the AG, the Senate President and the Speaker of the House.
So to protect his plaintiffs, Dan said they formed a non-incorporated “association” – which is perfectly legal and legally recognized under Illinois law – where the members could share the benefits of a successful lawsuit without exposing themselves to depositional hell like I went through. And five hours of grilling from a team of AG attorneys is… unpleasant.
Maybe Tom DeVore could contact me and answer some of these questions, because he still hasn’t returned my email from a couple of weeks ago. Or not. I’m just reporting on this matter about a couple of guys I respect for their efforts caught in what looks like a little good guy on good guy wrangling that could have and should have been cleaned up with a couple of phone calls.