If the last Prenda hearing was a tornado, this one was an earthquake.
Abrupt, powerful, and leaving unclear casualties.
Basically, the title says it all. I was not there (looking back — fortunately: the travel would be too expensive given the length of the show). I could filter the bits of information from the Twitter feed, but it does not make much sense: Ken White‘s analysis is by far the most read-worthy:
However well grounded in the individual rights of Steele, Hansmeier, and Duffy, the invocation eviscerates their credibility as lawyers and the credibility of Prenda Law as an enterprise in every court across the country. I expect that defense attorneys will file notice of if in every state and federal case Prenda Law has brought, through whatever guise or cutout. The message will be stark: the attorneys directing this litigation just took the Fifth rather than answer another judge’s questions about their conduct in this litigation campaign. I expect federal and state judges across the country will take notice and begin their own inquiries.
The consequences for the individuals behind Prenda Law may arrive slowly — particularly by the standards of Twitter and anxious blogs. But they will come — and they may come from many directions at once.
Prenda Law may still be standing. But it’s dead.
I want to make sure that one particular tidbit is not lost: according to an earlier Dark Moe’s tweet, “IRS Agent from L.A. Anti-Money Laundering Unit will be in the audience.”
As in the case of the previous hearing, I’ll try to collect links to all the stories about this short, but “an extinction-level event for Prenda.” Needless to say, this post will be updated as I become aware of new coverage.
Featured comment by a witness
Well there wasn’t really enough drama to do a full narrative writeup. Popehat and Ars have it covered, and Ken’s background provides more insight than I can given there were no new revelations.
But there are a few things I thought were interesting that I don’t think were highlighted in the other coverage:
Steele now has his own attorneys.
Paul Hansmeier has his own attorneys.
Duffy, Van Den Hemel, and Prenda are still represented by Rosing.
Peter Hansmeier and Lutz did not have representation.
Hansmeier and Steele were sitting next to each other and chatting, so they still appear to be buddies.
Duffy entered separately, looked beet red.
Peter Hansmeier looked like he was about to cry at one point.
Paul Hansmeier looks like he has been eating all the settlement money, or maybe he is a stress eater and the last month or so has been particularly rough.
Lutz looks much older than I expected, maybe 40’s. I assumed from his being such a fool, and the antics like showing up to court in flip-flops, that he would look like a 20-something college dropout. He decided to wear a suit this time and looked like someone I would take seriously if I didn’t know better.
I believe Van Den Hemel entered and sat with Lutz, Steele and the Hansmeiers, but not sure if I caught it all, I didn’t know who she was or that she was there yet.
So it looks like factional lines are being drawn.
Nobody took credit for being Alan Cooper, Wright made a particular point of asking if there was an Alan Cooper; I’m sure this is key to whatever he has in mind.
Gibbs was present but basically ignored, the only acknowledgment of him or his lawyer I recall was when Wright thanked Waxler for successfully serving the rest.
Pietz and Ranallo were present and armed to the teeth with boxes of stuff, but I think they only spoke to identify themselves when the hearing began.
Except for Rosing, who seemed like she is at least trying to do her job and put up some fight, the other guys’ attorneys got steamrolled by Wright, they barely even tried. They literally ended up hunched over the table, arms splayed out, mouths hanging open looking like “WTF is happening to us?’
I wanted to get pics of the crew, especially Lutz since he has been the Prenda Mystery Man, but no electronics in the courtroom and they didn’t leave with the crowd, probably slithered out the side doors long after everyone else left.
I will also predict that, with Prenda simply pleading the 5th regarding everything they do, the defamation suit counterclaims will be disastrous for them. Not sure what they can do at this point if they simply won’t answer questions or produce discovery, but at the rate they are going they may be forced to let them go to default judgements.
By the same token, it seems like anyone involved in a Prenda case that hasn’t been dismissed yet has a golden opportunity. Get a counterclaim in, and if they are are simply unwilling to speak about any of their cases, how will they defend it?
A bit anticlimactic, a lot less theater than last time, but it looks like they are seriously screwed.
JohnGenryLawyer created a splendid cartoon relevant to the theme of this post. To those who started following Prenda cases only recently: text on the left is from the April 2 hearing transcript, which is embedded above; text on the right is from another famous transcript — of the hearing that took place in Judge Scriven’s courtroom in Tampa in November.
- Breaking stories
- TechDirt: Team Prenda Shows Up In Court, Pleads The Fifth… Angry Judge Ends Hearing In 12 Minutes by Mike Masnick.
- ArsTecnica: Prenda lawyers take Fifth Amendment; judge storms out: “We’re done” by Tim Lee.
- TorrentFreak: Prenda Copyright Trolls Plead the Fifth by Ben Johnson.
- dslreports.com: Copyright Troll Prenda Appears in Court, Pleads Fifth. Judge Angered, Prenda’s Fun Is Likely Over by Karl Bode.
- Full stories
- Popehat: Prenda Law’s Attorneys Take The Fifth Rather Than Answer Judge Wright’s Questions by Ken White (also published in TechDirt).
- ArsTechnica: Prenda porn trolls clam up, as their plans crumble in an LA courtroom by Joe Mullin.
- EFF Deeplinks blog: Copyright Trolls Offer No Defense to Frustrated Federal Judge by Parker Higgins and James Tyre.
- Forbes: Porn Copyright Lawyer John Steele, Who Has Sued More Than 20,000 People, Is Now The One In Legal Trouble by Kashmir Hill.
- Torrent Lawyer: The 12 minute hearing and the end of Prenda Law Inc. by Rob Cashman.
- Copyright Infringement Advisor: You Have The Right To Remain Silent by John Whitaker.
- The Register (UK): Copyright troll Prenda refuses to explain legal strategy. Principals invoke Fifth Amendment right to silence by Neil McAllister.
- Litigation & Trial blog: Pleading The Fifth Amendment And Adverse Inferences In Civil Litigation by Maxwell Kennerly:
[...] pleading the Fifth in a civil case in federal court is never helpful, is rarely harmless, and is typically very damaging — indeed, it’s often fatal to the party’s claims or defenses.
- Ring of Fire: Porn Troll, Prenda Law, Is In Hot Water by Krysta Loera.
- Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal: Porn copyright lawyers take the Fifth under judge’s questioning by Jim Hammerand.
- TechDirt: Transcript Of The 12 Minute ‘We’re Done’ Prenda Hearing Released by Mike Masnick.
- SFGate: Ruling may mean end of ‘porn trolling’ By James Temple.