Sen. Jason Rapert apparently fears the ill effects of his own words as seen on a video screen.
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His attorney, Paul Byrd, filed a motion today in federal court asking to quash the subpoena for his deposition in the lawsuit challenging the 10 Commandments monument Rapert promoted on the Capitol grounds. Rapert is not a party to the lawsuit but he’s a critical witness. The Satanic Temple, an intervenor in the case, wants a videotaped deposition of Rapert and it and other parties object to sealing it.
Rapert says he’s willing to give a video deposition — sworn, out-of-court testimony — but he doesn’t want to do so unless only attorneys in the case are allowed to see the videotape. He doesn’t even want the plaintiffs in the case to be able to see it.
The Rapert argument is essentially one he frequently makes — that people will quote him on social media in an unflattering way. BY USING HIS OWN WORDS!
Senator Rapert insisted upon this limitation because of his prior experience with Plaintiffs. Previously, a recorded interview with Senator Rapert by the producers of the film Hail Satan? – a film which stars Mr. Lucien Greaves of The Satanic Temple, a plaintiff herein – featured prominently in the film. Based upon this and other
experiences with Plaintiffs in this matter, Senator Rapert is absolutely convinced that, absent the protective order he now seeks, the videotaped recording of his deposition will be used by Plaintiffs to cause him extreme embarrassment and harassment. Once the videotape is in Plaintiffs’ possession, there will be nothing preventing them from using it for their purposes, including disseminating it widely on the internet, thereby creating countless opportunities for embarrassing Senator Rapert by cutting and splicing the videotape in as many ways as can be imagined. This possibility, which is a near certainty, is good cause to quash the subpoena as issued and enter a protective order properly limiting the possession and use of the videotape.
Parties in the case have responded by saying that Rapert has demonstrated no legal basis for restricting access to his deposition.
Wrote lawyers for the American Humanists Association and the Freedom From Religion Foundation:
Sen. Rapert regularly and voluntarily appears in the media and on social media. He is clearly a public figure.
This lawsuit involves a matter of public interest.
Although the Orsi Plaintiffs do not at this point intend to use the video of the deposition for any purpose other than litigation, the Orsi Plaintiffs likewise see no reason to submit to unnecessary restrictions which the witness is simply not entitled to demand. Further, the Orsi Plaintiffs see no reason to agree to a restriction that prevents counsel from showing the deposition to our own clients. Nor should they be required to anticipate other uses that might be appropriate in order to protect their right to use the deposition.
The Satanic Temple hoisted Rapert on his own sword, filing some of his own overheated social media posts along with its objections to sealing the deposition.
Here’s its answer to Rapert. It says in part:
Senator Rapert is a key witness in this case. He made various public statements about this case and the Ten Commandments Monument. He filed both acts which are the subject of TST’s case. He serves as a director of the American History and Heritage Foundation (“AHHF,”) which donated the monument. And he served as the face of the fundraising efforts to obtain the money for that monument. As a key witness, his deposition testimony is subject to the closest scrutiny.
Sen. Rapert is a public figure. He is an elected official, he has announced an intention to run for lieutenant governor of Arkansas, and his various public statements are made for the purpose of influencing public opinion. He also is a founding member of the National Association of Christian Lawmakers, whose stated purpose is to establish “a more godly nation.” As a public figure who generally and repeatedly injects himself into the issue of separation of church, and specifically injects himself to this case, Sen. Rapert has no expectation of privacy with respect to his deposition footage. …
The simple truth is that a transcript does not fully depict a witness’s deposition. All of their facial tics, body language, and shifting eyes remain uncaptured by the black-on-white words on paper. But a video recording will capture all of that. A video can be replayed as much as needed: both in preparation for trial, and at the trial, itself. For those lawyers who cannot make it to Sen. Rapert’s deposition, the video gives an opportunity to experience the deposition far more than a transcript ever will. …
The motion really turns on Sen. Rapert’s unfounded expectation of privacy. See id (complaining that video taped discovery materials can be invasive of “personal privacy.”) It is black-letter law that public figures have “voluntarily surrendered the privacy secured by law for those who elect not to place themselves in the public spotlight.”
To fully understand Rapert’s objection, it helps to know that Senator Rapert lives in fear, thus the guns he apparently carries when shopping and places around his house. In today’s filing, he again cites harassment concerns. He seems to think criticism of him constitutes harassment. He’s suggested as much in the criminal case he brought against a man convicted of making a threatening telephone call to him. That case remains on appeal.
I have a suggestion. How about Senator Rapert agree to give a full copy of the deposition to the Arkansas Times? I would promise to post the entire deposition, without editing, online.
I’m comfortable the full, unedited words and demeanor of Jason Rapert will speak for themselves. If they proved prejudicial to the state’s defense of this suit over Rapert’s religious monument, he’d have no one to blame but himself.