April 3rd was Jason Van Dyke’s birthday. To help him celebrate turning 38, Tom Retzlaff sent a letter to Van Dyke trying to extort him into dropping his law suit.
Yeah, that’s nuts, but it’s typical Retzlaff. He’s threatening to file a counter suit and tie Van Dyke up in courts for years unless he gets paid $75,000.
Retzlaff is alleging Van Dyke filed a SLAPP suit, an acronym for Strategic Lawsuit Against Citizen Participation, which is a lawsuit filed to silence someone. A lot of states have adopted legal remedies called anti-SLAPP lawsuits in order to prevent such law suits.
Retzlaff references an anti-SLAPP judgment for 1.3 million dollars. He means the Rauhauser and Bullyville lawsuit, but Retzlaff isn’t a party to that, the judgment has been reduced by 90% already, and the case is under appeal, so it wasn’t really the best example to use as a threat.
Ordinarily Retzlaff could probably file an anti-SLAPP suit. Van Dyke has stated that as general counsel for the Proud Boys, one of his jobs is to send cease and desist letters to anyone who defames the group by calling them Nazis or whatever. And he has a history of threatening and filing defamation lawsuits. However an obstacle Retzlaff would have to overcome is that Texas has declared Retzlaff a vexatious litigant. He can’t file a lawsuit without permission and his extortion letter to Van Dyke might prevent permission being given. Retzlaff actually uses the threat of an anti-SLAPP suit to silence Van Dyke in the same way a SLAPP suit is used. And he’s extorting money at the same time.
In an interesting plot twist, Retzlaff is trying to get Van Dyke declared a vexatious litigant too. I could see that happening but if it does, I doubt it will be made retroactive to cases already filed.
I don’t foresee Retzlaff being given permission to file a suit against Van Dyke but seriously, these two guys were made for each other. I could see them coming out of this as BFFs.
Retzlaff’s birthday letter to Van Dyke is below.