[The following is the text of a news release from The Committee
for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal.]
LAWSUIT AGAINST CSICOP DISMISSED
A federal court in Washington, D.C has thrown out a lawsuit filed
by self-proclaimed psychic Uri Geller against the Committee for
the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal
(CSICOP) and has authorized the imposition of monetary sanctions
against Geller for prosecuting the case.
In orders issued by Judge Stanley S. Harris, the United States
District Court for the District of Columbia entered judgment on
behalf of CSICOP and granted CSICOP's request that the Court
impose sanctions on Geller for his prosecution of the lawsuit.
Geller commenced the fifteen million dollar lawsuit in May of 1991
against CSICOP and James Rand, alleging that Geller was defamed by
Randi in statements reported in The International Herald Tribune.
In its motion to the Court seeking judgment on Geller's claims
against it, CSICOP asserted that Geller had no legal or factual
basis for his assertion that CSICOP should be held liable for
Randi's alleged statements.
In a declaration filed with the Court in Geller's lawsuit, CSICOP
Executive Director Barry Karr stated that "I believe that CSICOP
was made a defendant in this lawsuit solely for the purpose of
harassment and intimidation, and in the hope that the lawsuit
would dissuade CSICOP from encouraging and providing a forum
for... the critical discussion and analysis of paranormal claims,
particularly those asserted by Geller."
CSICOP publishes on a quarterly basis the Skeptical Inquirer, a
scholarly journal of articles and comment regarding claims of the
paranormal and scientific controversies intended to inform
interested scientists and scholars, the media and the general
public on such matters and to publish skeptical and evaluative
critiques of them based upon scientific principles and recognized
concepts of creditable evidence. On numerous occasions, the
Skeptical Inquirer has included articles that have examined and
commented upon claims of paranormal powers asserted by Geller,
many of which have called into question Geller's claims.
Judge Harris's authorization of sanctions against Geller was made
pursuant to a federal court rule that mandates the imposition of
sanctions if litigation is "interposed for any improper purpose
such as to harass or cause unnecessary delay or needless increase
in the cost of litigation," or if papers filed with the court are
not "to the best of the signer's knowledge, information, and
belief formed after reasonable inquiry...well grounded in
fact...and warranted by existing law or a good faith argument for
the extension, modification, or reversal of existing law."
Following notification of Judge Harris's orders, CSICOP Chairman
Paul Kurtz commented, "This type of libel suit, even if ultimately
unsuccessful, threatens to chill debate on scientific issues. If
such obstacles as these are placed, unchecked, in the way of
scientific research, and if one cannot question extraordinary
claims, then a serious blow will be dealt to freedom of expression
and of scientific inquiry." Kurtz continued, "We view this case as
a serious challenge to our First Amendment rights, and we are
thankful that Judge Harris chose to vindicate those rights." In
addition, Kurtz observed, the judge's decision to impose sanctions
against Geller "sends a stern warning to those who would utilize
libel suits as a weapon to harass; such conduct can carry a heavy