J.L. Van Dyke is an attorney in Texas with an all-too-familiar tale. The target of a left-wing harassment campaign, which he claims got him fired from two separate jobs in the past year, Van Dyke got fed up and decided to take legal action. He spoke exclusively to DANGEROUS about how his case against a man named Thomas Retzlaff ended up in federal district court. The case is currently in discovery and Van Dyke is seeking $30 million dollars in actual damages and an additional $70 million in punitive damages.
DANGEROUS: How would you say all of this began?
VAN DYKE: This entire ordeal started when I did a pro-bono case for a student at University of North Texas who had been a victim of revenge pornography.
It is simple enough to understand what revenge pornography is. Two people in a sexual relationship share some naughty pictures. The relationship sours and one of them feels scorned. In an act of revenge, they upload the naughty pictures of the person who used to be their significant other to the Internet for God and the rest of the world to see. My client had some pictures on a Photobucket account. The account was hacked and the pictures were uploaded to a website called PinkMeth.
D: Did you sue PinkMeth or Photobucket?
V: We sued PinkMeth twice actually. We got injunctions in both cases, which were helpful in getting service providers to cut PinkMeth off. They were a tough opponent too. We dismissed the first case on our own when we got them shut down. The second case was far more difficult because they were on the dark web at that point, so we had to get very creative to find a path to victory.
They also had hackers from a website called Doxbin steal our identities. That complicated things greatly. Ultimately, both PinkMeth and Doxbin were shut down by a joint law enforcement task force about a week before we won a one-million-dollar judgment in the case. Some folks thought I would be mad that the FBI stole my thunder – but I had taken the case pro-bono and was just happy that both websites were gone.
D: Did you have your identity stolen by Doxbin?
V: Yes. So did my parents. It took several years and multiple lawsuits against credit bureaus and banks to clean up the mess that was made. I have also said on multiple occasions that no case had a more adverse effect on my career than the PinkMeth case.
D: Do you regret taking the case at no charge?
V: No. That case was important to me because I was sticking up for a friend. I took the case because it was the right thing to do. Revenge pornography is not protected by the First Amendment nor should it be.
D: Why do you say that revenge pornography is not protected by the First Amendment?
V: I honestly don’t understand why there is any controversy surrounding this. People accuse folks like me of being sexist or misogynistic when I am not the one standing in favor of a law that so many men have used to abuse women. The First Amendment is not an unlimited right. Nobody really believes, for example, that the First Amendment allows for the production, distribution, and viewing of child pornography. This is because child pornography victimizes children and is sexually deviant material that is inherently harmful to society. So, when it comes to pornography, we are all able to agree that the subjects of pornographic photographs and videos must be adults. Well, if we can all agree on that, why can we not agree that the subjects must be consenting adults? Does anyone honestly believe that victimizing women in this manner is appropriate behavior? The problem with revenge pornography, as we learned in a recent Texas case, is how remarkably difficult to write a law against it that will withstand constitutional scrutiny. It’s harder to kill than crabgrass.
D: Does revenge pornography have anything to do with your current case in federal court against Retzlaff?
V: Yes. When my identity was stolen by the Doxbin hackers, they posted my social security number – and those of my elderly parents – on Twitter repeatedly. They encouraged folks to rob us because I refused to cave to one of their blackmail demands. I lost my temper and used racist and highly inappropriate language in response to this act. That was wrong. Now, these tweets where I lost my temper with these cyber-terrorists are being used as supposed proof that I am some sort of Nazi or white nationalist. It’s total nonsense. I would expect others to lose their temper in the same way if their families were attacked. The people who have been posting and reposting these 2014 tweets over and over again for the past year or so are being willfully ignorant of the circumstances behind them and are posting them out of context.
D: And that’s when you allege Retzlaff came out of the woodwork to harass you? Are you also referring specifically to [famous rapper] Talib Kweli, who you claim doxxed you on Twitter, along with several other prominent BLM-type activists?
V: Yes. They chose to take the position that I should never have been offered a job as a prosecutor because I am some sort of white nationalist. That’s absurd. If their take on the whole situation had been “a guy who can’t control his temper with an Internet troll should not become a prosecutor,” that would have at least been a fair observation based on fact.
It would even have been fair of them to say “I don’t care what someone has done to you, that kind of language is always inappropriate.” But they didn’t do that. They turned a situation where both I and my family members were victims of cyber-terrorists and made me the bad guy. It was a complete misrepresentation of the situation.
D: Is the prosecutor job a reference to the offer you had in Victoria County Texas to prosecute felony cases? Tell us what happened there.
V: I wanted a change in the direction of my career. I sought a number of jobs – some outside the legal profession – and ultimately got an interview with the Victoria County District Attorney. I spent about two hours with Stephen Tyler – the elected district attorney – during the interview process. I was not sure how well it went, but it must have been a good interview because I was offered the position a day later. I accepted it immediately.
I began closing down my private law practice, listing my house for sale, finding a house in Victoria County, and referring my existing clients to other attorneys that I knew were competent. I was offered the job on March 1, 2017. I was set to start on April 3, 2017 and I was going to close on the new house after work on my first day. I was in regular communication with their office. They knew I was coming, they knew I had put down earnest money on a house, and they certainly knew that I was “all in” for the new position. Twelve days before I was supposed to start the new job, it was rescinded by e-mail. The only reason I didn’t lose everything is because nobody had bought my house yet and because [law firm] Karlseng, LeBlanc & Rich offered me a job for slightly less the following day.
D: That must have affected your reputation too.
V: It absolutely did. There was a lot of whispering. I decided that I deserved an answer, which is when I sued the Victoria District Attorney in a special procedure where I don’t ask for any money – only for information. It’s a procedure used for attorneys to investigate cases. I did not believe for a second that Stephen Tyler simply had a change of heart. I suspected from the beginning that someone had spoken out of turn. I fully intended to find that person and sue the pants off of them.
D: Did Victoria County know about your political views? What about the new law firm?
V: I was never asked about my political views during my interview with Victoria County. As for the law firm, I had been sharing office space with them for some time in an effort to learn more about title insurance and perhaps open up my own shop. My [Conservative] political views were no secret. I can assure you that if I was some evil white nationalist who liked to go around intimidating minorities, I never would have been hired. Thankfully, the good people who ran that firm knew that those claims were absolute bullshit. It was not something that came up in the office because none of us were there to discuss politics; we were there to work and what our co-workers did outside of work was none of anybody’s concern so long as it didn’t land them in jail. That, by the way, is how ALL companies should operate.
D: So how did all of this come about with the lawsuit?
V: There has been a steady flow of people trying to have my law license taken ever since the PinkMeth case, but it really picked up in 2017. Since then there hasn’t ever really been a point where my license hasn’t been under attack by someone. In my lawsuit, I allege Retzlaff was one of many people who filed a complaint. It is my position that his stood out because, in his complaint, I am claiming he admitted to being the person who caused my job offer in Victoria County to be rescinded. I am also claiming before the court he accused me of self-medicating with illegal drugs.
D: Can you get into trouble for something like that?
V: Yes, if the state bar accepts his position that I used a means of obtaining evidence that violated his civil rights. Litigation tactics that violate the rights of others are one of many things that can get an attorney into trouble, although violations of that rule are relatively rare. I believe Retzlaff’s position in his bar complaint is patently absurd. A tort was committed against me. I am claiming he is the person that committed that tort. Rule 202 of the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure allows an attorney to petition a court for permission to take a pre-litigation deposition for the purpose of investigating a potential lawsuit.
Furthermore, there is no First Amendment right to interfere with another person’s employment. That is why we have defamation laws. When our country was founded, people held duels and killed each other over this sort of thing. Civil torts, including laws against defamation, were designed to get people to quit killing each other over money and settle their disputes in court instead of the street.
D: Can an attorney get into trouble for political affiliation?
V: The state bar has no authority to regulate the political activities of lawyers. At least not in Texas. Some states have “catch all” rules where a lawyer probably could be disciplined for political group involvement if the authorities were so inclined. Most are not so inclined because a court challenge to such a case would almost certainly be successful.
D: Can the state bar ask you to take a drug test because, as you claim, you’ve been accused of being a drug addict?
V: They can certainly ask, but I don’t think they can force it. They haven’t asked me, but I have volunteered to submit to a hair follicle test to prove that accusation is false. They have yet to ask me to schedule an appointment.
D: Then why sue Retzlaff? Are you suing him for filing a fake grievance against you?
V: I am not suing him for filing the grievance. Even when the state bar started investigating the grievance, I had no intention of suing him. The state bar deals with frivolous or false grievances every day. The primary reason I sued him was because I am claiming he cost me my job at Karlseng, LeBlanc & Rich .
D: Exactly how do you believe this man got you fired from Karlseng, LeBlanc & Rich ?
V: It’s my position that Retzlaff was no longer content with simply stalking me; I am claiming he started stalking my bosses and co-workers. I intend to prove he put a picture of my boss on his BV Files website with the caption of “Paymaster to Nazis.” It was entirely about the reputation of a great company that both of my former bosses worked very hard to build. I allege Retzlaff was running their name and the name of their company through the mud because of me. I do not harbor any ill will or resentment toward them for their decision.
Trying to appease certain types of people is no different from Neville Chamberlain trying to appease Adolf Hitler. There is only one way to deal with the Adolf Hitlers of the world: force. The definition of “force” is “to compel by physical means or legal requirement.” Therefore, I have taken my fight to the court with hopes that justice may be done.
D: Are you worried about the outcome of the case?
V: No, I am not. I’ve said that I am going to beat Retzlaff and I have every intention of doing just that. He has hired a team of very good attorneys. It doesn’t matter. He could have one attorney or he could have 100 attorneys. He could bring OJ Simpson’s old legal team into this case led by the ghost of Johnnie Cochran himself and it still wouldn’t matter.
This case is very simple: I am claiming over the course of a year, Retzlaff caused me to lose two jobs; he called me a drug addict, a pedophile, a Nazi, and a white supremacist. I am not any of those things and at least some of those accusations led to me losing a job. Winning this case is exactly what the law says should happen in a case like this. There is, of course, a chance that I lose. If I lose, especially if I lose on his ridiculous Anti-SLAPP motion, he will probably file another grievance over the lawsuit and I will likely be disbarred. I am at peace with that possibility. I would rather not be a lawyer than live in a world where a person can be legally stalked by someone who I feel belongs in the loony bin.
feature image: J.L. Van Dyke
Editor’s Note: responses have been lightly edited for clarity.
Pawl Bazile is Patriotism Correspondent for DANGEROUS and Production Director for Proud Boy Magazine. He tweets at @PawlBazile.
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