Just when it begins to drift out of the public consciousness, the Mike Postle case makes a comeback. In a California courtroom on Thursday, disgraced poker player Mike Postle asked for and received a continuation on his $300 million-plus lawsuit against many of the top names in the poker industry. The decision by the judge also puts on hold several other anti-SLAPP lawsuits filed by the defendants in the Postle case from heading to court.
Judge: “Even the Fact That I Am Entertaining This…Is Pretty Unusual”
In California Superior Court on Thursday, Judge Shama Mesiwala heard arguments from Postle and the defendants in the case on the $330 million defamation lawsuit that Postle has filed. Representing himself, Postle stated that he did not have adequate representation at that time, but he was anticipating having someone hired “within the next week.” Postle also stated that the new counsel would have to have time to come up to speed as he requested a 120-day continuance on the case.
Two attorneys for defendants in the case, one for poker professional Todd Witteles and the other for whistleblower Veronica Brill, argued that the defendants in the case (totaling a dozen people and entities) should not have to live the Damocles-like sword of a nine-figure lawsuit in their lives. They also accurately pointed out that the continuations in the case are also preventing the defendants’ own legal filings, known as anti-SLAPP (a civil lawsuit against using the courts to harass people using their First Amendment rights) cases, from moving forward.
Judge Mesiwala acknowledged that the continuances were holding up many aspects of the case and that Postle’s actions were not normal. “It’s pretty rare to come to court and just ask for a continuance,” Judge Mesiwala noted, stating it is usually done by a filed motion with the court. “Even the fact that I am entertaining this now is pretty unusual.”
In the end, Mesiwala erred on the side of judicial prudence. The judge wants to ensure that any of the legal proceedings cannot be attacked on appeal for appearing to offer a prejudice in the case. Thus, Judge Mesiwala granted the continuance to Postle, but not for nearly as long as he wanted; the judge ordered the next hearing on the case for April 20, while holding up the anti-SLAPP lawsuits from further action.
Where is Postle’s Representation? They Left…
Where did Postle’s representation go in the case? That attorney, Steven T. Rowe, filed a motion in December to recuse himself in the case. Postle stated that Rowe was not adept in the area of the law to be able to defend Postle correctly, but Rowe alleged that Postle had no communication with him and, perhaps more importantly, had not paid him to represent Postle in the case. The recusal motion was granted in January and, since that point, Postle has represented himself and received one continuation to continue to try to find an attorney.
All of this can be traced back to the Postle/Stones Live debacle from 2019, in which Postle and Stones Gambling Hall in California, the casino operating the live streaming program, were accused of cheating in the show’s $1/$3 game being broadcast. Several lawsuits were filed in that case, with each of them being correctly dismissed because of California law regarding recoupment of gambling losses. This did not prevent Stones Gambling Hall from financially settling any issues with many of the players who appeared against Postle on the program. Postle, instead of keeping silent on the issue, filed his $330 million defamation lawsuit against not only Witteles and Brill but also against such powerful entities as ESPN and PokerNews.com.
Now the next date to watch in the case is April 20, when Postle will either have an attorney representing him or will have to take some other action. It is highly unlikely that the judge in this case will give another continuance, even if Postle is able to score representation, because of how many times it has been continued before. For now, the legal jets are cooling in the Mike Postle defamation suit.