As I reported last week
, copyright trolls John Steele, Paul Duffy, Brett Gibbs (and Mark Lutz¹
) hired the “best law firm in Tampa for white collar criminal defense,” Kynes, Markman & Felman, P.A.
(“KMF” below), in an attempt to avoid sanctions after an embarrassing yet entertaining Sunlust Pictures v. Nguyen
) hearing on November 27, 2012
. In my opinion, the con artists simply could not risk fighting the defense attorney Graham Syfert’s motion
without an outside counsel, as it would result in another hearing with all the perils of answering judges’ questions under oath.
As a part of the argument against sanctions, four declarations/affidavits were attached to the KMF’s response (by Daniel Webber, Paul Duffy, Brett Gibbs, and John Steele).
Besides a coordinated attack on Graham Syfert, these exhibits also meant to explain the November blooper in detail, covering possible questions — in order to avoid further scrutiny by the judge.
Not surprisingly, this blog’s readers scrutinized those declarations. Taking the occasion, I want to remind Prenda’s defenders one more time: this is not a run-of-the mill lawsuit with a handful of inattentive spectators, but a happening watched by hundreds of eyes. There is no way any lie, fact twisting, or crookery could be smuggled into the proceedings without us noticing.
So, people did read the declarations. And they did notice two serious flaws in the first one, purportedly filed by the plaintiff, Sunlust Pictures’ owner Daniel Weber:
- His surname was misspelled: an extra “b” appeared in both occasions: “Webber.” The first occasion is at the top of the document, and I can imagine that the undersigned could overlook it, but the second one is right under the signature line. It is doubtful that a person would not notice a misspelling at the very place he is signing (unless, of course, he is under serious influence²).
- In #5 he stated that both he and his generous wife were out of the country, “in the country of India filming a film during extended period of time, including November 27, 2012.” Well, his Twitter feed told quite a different story:
It is not a secret that this blog is the first thing trolls read in the morning, so those damning findings were duly noticed³: on 12/26/2012 KMF filed a notice to replace two exhibits, including the one embedded above, correcting those two “mistakes.” The new declaration is notarized this time (why?):
Misspelling alone, while suspicious, is still easy to brush off: we are not robots after all, and our pornographer could possibly overlook an extra letter gatecrashing his surname. However, not to remember in which country you were less than a month ago… Mr. Weber tries to explain why he lied under the penalty of perjury in his previous declaration:
Both my wife and I were in the country of India filming a film during extended periods of time in 2012, traveling back and forth between India and Los Angeles. To clarify my prior declaration submitted in this matter, I was originally scheduled to travel to India on or around November 27. 2012 and arranged for a representative to attend the hearing in my stead because I would be unavailable and because I believed that since I do not have intimate knowledge of the details of this matter, it seemed better for us to request the attendance of a person who has knowledge of the issues raised in the case.
My original travel plans were disrupted due to an emergency surgery performed on my dog. Thus I was unexpectedly In Los Angeles on the date of the hearing. I understood my prior declaration to have focused on my plans for the hearing and I would like to apologize for any confusion.
This is not a “clarification,” Mr. Weber, it is a 180-degree opposite statement. If you initially said that you were in India, and then “In Mumbai, India,” that would be a clarification. Also, analyzing Mr. Weber’s Twitter feed, we see a different story again:
December 4 is not “on or around November 27.” Also note how argumentum ad passions (“appeal to emotion” — sick puppy! what can be more heartbreaking?) was used to distract the judge from a simple, undeniable fact: the initial declaration contained knowingly and deliberately stated falsehood. Under the penalty of perjury.
[Update] Make sure to read the comments below. Some are exceptionally good. This one does a thorough job of reconstructing the sequence of Weber’s life’s events based on his and his wife’s tweets: more proofs of lying under oath. Other comments are worth your time too.
Some people also suggested that Mr. Weber did not sign the initial declaration at all. Indeed, signatures on these two documents look suspiciously different:
Weber all of the sudden decided to sign using his initials instead of a loopy “D” (the worst looking “D” I’ve ever seen), not to mention the “Ds” do not match. Notice on DE44.1, the “D” in Weber’s signature basically begins with a straight line. On DE40.2, it’s the opposite, loopy all of the way through. Then there’s that stray line next to the “D” on DE40.2, no idea what that is supposed to be.
Two different people signed these two documents, I’m 99.99999% certain. Handwriting doesn’t lie and, although I’m no graphologist, I can tell the difference between two peoples’ writing when it’s blatantly obvious. I could point out more inconsistencies but I’m not really in the mood hehe.
I have a bad feeling that this is indeed likely (especially given that Prenda is not a stranger to accusations of identity fraud), although without a conclusion by a licensed graphologist I would not make an affirmative statement. Courts do not like conspiracy theories, no matter how plausible they are. For example, everyone believes that the plaintiff-defendant collusion exists in Prenda’s Guava cases, but without a strict proof, I cannot call it a fact, only “a most likely way of events.”
Regardless, KMF are now in a peculiar situation: while they started the representation as an honest law firm that “is just doing its job,” things have been moving towards a dangerous line, by crossing which they may find themselves indistinguishable from the crooks they represent. The story with Mr. Weber’s declaration is a huge step in this unfortunate direction.
So, let’s see what people think: I did not throw polls for a while:
Happy New Year!
To finish on the bright note, I wish everyone happiness and peace in the oncoming year. Even to you, Daniel Weber and your generous wife Sunny Leone!
I admit that I underestimated both the trolls’ greed and the judicial system’s inertia, and although “good guys” are clearly winning, the war is not over yet. We will continue to fight “bad guys”: anti-troll lawyers in courts, and we bloggers — on the Internet.
Coincidentally, this is my 200th post! I do not plan to spend much time on these issues until 2013: see you all next year!
¹ For some reason, Graham Syfert did not explicitly name Mark Lutz in his motion for sanctions.
² Prenda defenders! I hope you appreciate my generosity: I supply you with fine ideas how to weasel out of this situation!
³ 1/3/2013 Update: Apparently Graham Syfert, as he indicated in his second motion for sanctions, notified Plaintiff about the discrepancies in the Weber’s declaration. So, maybe the community’s investigation was not the reason for Weber’s declaration amendment. Nonetheless, it does not contradict the fact that the crooks read this site first thing in the morning. They do (and, thanks to Brett Gibbs’s selfless efforts, some judges visit my humble blog as well). :)