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Judge Rebukes Conspiracy Theorist Mark Lane

January 26, 1995

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Author-lawyer Mark Lane, who has spent 30 years trying to debunk the idea that Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone assassin of President Kennedy, was dealt a stinging judicial rebuke Thursday in a suit accusing a publisher of sullying Lane’s reputation.

``A conspiracy theory warrior outfitted with Lane’s acerbic tongue and pen should not expect immunity from an occasional, constrained chastisement,″ said U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth.

Lane had sued Random House for using his photograph among others under a caption ``Guilty of Misleading the American Public,″ in an advertisement for Gerald Posner’s 1993 book ``Cased Closed.″ Lane asked $10 million damages.

He charged the publisher with unauthorized use of his photo, name and notoriety and said his integrity and candor was disparaged by a suggestion that he had been intellectually dishonest.

Lamberth noted that the Posner book sought to resolve arguments by leading conspiracy theorists, including Lane.

``Mark Lane is clearly more than a single combatant in a pervading conflict,″ the judge wrote in an order dismissing all five Lane complaints. ``He is one of the protagonists; without Lane and his cohorts, the controversy over the Kennedy assassination may well have been put to rest by the Warren Commission.″

The judge’s 25-page order read like a long variation on Harry Truman’s oft-quoted maxim: ``If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.″

``Lane entered the public forum by embroiling himself in one of the most factious debates of our time,″ Lamberth wrote. ``It is quite simply untenable that someone espousing Lane’s view would take umbrage at the rather reserved assessment that he misled the American public.″

Under Lane’s rules of engagement, the judge said, ``he gets his choice of weaponry and tactics; Random House must do battle unarmed and march openly in a straight line.″

The judge said Posner’s evaluation that Lane misled the public ``cannot be objectively verified without resolving 30 years of controversy surrounding the Kennedy assassination. ... Readers may believe one book, the other, or neither; but there is no indication that Lane’s theories have acquired the imprimatur of received wisdom.″

And, finally, the judge said, having acknowledged ``that publicity is the lifeblood of his career, Lane will have to overcome his brittleness _ or seek solace elsewhere than from this court.″

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