"How can PJ be a "reputable person" without ever having disclosed one past or current employer?"
Easily. She told us stuff, we went away and fact-checked (well, I did anyway), we found out that she was correct, rinse and repeat.
Since when is reputation intrinsically linked to having an employer? I know several unemployed people (ex-students in search of a job, mostly) who I would absolutely trust as sources of information. And, on the other hand, there are a lot of gainfully-employed fully-qualified lawyers who I wouldn't trust if they told me the sky was blue.
"The problem is that Groklaw has constantly tried to capitalize on many people's desire for simple fairy-tale-like black-and-white views."
I can't speak for anyone else, but personally I got an order of magnitude more sophisticated in my understanding of law when I started reading Groklaw.
"The net effect of that big brainwashing effort is that some of the more credulous and less informed people now distrust a very smart analyst like Rob Enderle, very smart journalists like Maureen O'Gara and Dan Lyons, or a very smart author like Ed Bott, only because they comment on certain issues with greater sanity than Groklaw."
I haven't followed Groklaw regularly in a while, and my memory is a bit hazy. Could you link to examples of "character assassination", so we can check for ourselves whether or not it was justified?
The only one of the authors you mention who rings an instant bell is Maureen O'Gara - wasn't she the one who tried to "out" PJ by posting what was allegedly her ageing mother's home address?
I remember that PJ never had any qualms about sneering at people she thought were talking garbage (especially if they had a financial interest in the situation). But to me at the time her comments mostly seemed appropriate - I recall that, whenever I checked what people had actually written, I felt PJ's criticisms were deserved. As I say, though, that was a long time ago for me.