Posts Tagged ‘John Steele’

Finally…

John Steele
John Steele

Today Jerome Larkin, Administrator of the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission of the Supreme Court of Illinois, via Counsel Wendy J. Muchman and Marita C. Sullivan, filed a seven-count, 14,000-word complaint against Prenda’s John Steele alleging massive professional misconduct and fraud on the Court (the word “fraud” is used 17 times throughout the document).

I don’t want to go over the complaint — in part because there is nothing new and revealing to anyone who follows the Prenda saga, and also because the tech media will certainly report about this development soon.

What I want to stress is that Malibu Media/X-Art and other copyright trolls who continue abusing the law and plunder US citizens are not that much better than Prenda. Yes, they do not defraud the courts as brazenly as Steele and Hansmeier did (although some scams as Crystal Bay Corporation or Good Man Productions certainly deserve attention from both professional disciplinary bodies and the DOJ). However, the common denominator of their harmful activities is immediately obvious to anyone with IQ greater than 70.

I hope to live long enough to witness similar disciplinary actions against Keith Lipscomb, Michael Hierl, Ira Siegel, and other parasites.

 

Coverage

Thyself shalt see the act:
For, as thou urgest justice, be assur’d
Thou shalt have justice more than thou desir’st.

Shakespeare. The Merchant of Venice.

 

Almost exactly two years ago Prenda Law, its principals John Steele, Paul Hansmeier, Paul Duffy, Brett Gibbs¹, and two bogus plaintiffs (AF Holdings and Ingenuity 13) were epically smacked down by Judge Wright on 5/6/2013 (Ingenuity 13 v. John Doe, CACD 12-cv-08333).

This ruling was appealed shortly after². The stakes are high: Prenda and its owners were compelled to post a whopping $237,583.66 bond. If they lose, some money ($81,319.72 original judgment, subsequent fines, and possibly the costs associated with the appeal) will be released to the defendant.

Briefs:

 

It took almost exactly two years for the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to schedule the oral arguments, and here we are: 5/4/2015, 9:00 am Courtroom 2, Richard H. Chambers US Court of Appeals, Pasadena. The panel was announced a week before: Circuit Judges Harry Pregerson, Richard Tallman, and Jacqueline Nguyen.

I’m sure many would be happy to travel to Pasadena for this epic hearing. Those who can’t are not too unfortunate though because there is a live video feed from the courtroom. And it was archived for posterity (fast forward to 59:40):

 

Related
Coverage

To say that it was an illustrious smackdownn is a gross understatement. I pass the baton to the pros:

 


¹ Gibbs’s monetary sanctions were later vacated due to his health and financial hardships, and also because he blew the whistle on Prenda’s fraudulent activities.

² Because Judge Wright’s order applied to more than one case, Prenda filed eight appeals, later consolidated: CA9 13-55859, 13-55871, 13-55880, 13-55881, 13-55882, 13-55883, 13-55884 & 13-56028.

Prenda is a gift that keeps on giving.

Court Jester

No matter how this phrase is banal and overused, it will be repeated many more times, guaranteed. Because… Prenda is a gift that keeps on giving. At different times different clowns appeared in the farce; today it was Jacques Nazaire’s turn to take the stage. For those who don’t remember, Nazaire is a Georgia Craigslist lawyer who entertained us in the past by telling the court that Judge Wrights’ famous order is irrelevant in Georgia because California recognizes gay marriage, and because Anonymous attacked PayPal. He called the EFF “terrorists organization” and his “your momma” email to me prompted so many laughs…

In the aftermath of the November 20, 2014 hearing in the AF Holdings v Patel (GAND 12-cv-00262), motions and notices by both sides continued to pour into the swollen docket. For example,

 

But one particular Jacques Nazaire’s filing left my face burning from an involuntary facepalm:

 

First of all, there is no such thing as a post-dismissal sanctions hearing by a jury. This isn’t going anywhere, period. The case was dismissed. What “trial” for God’s sake? We really need the Twenty Eighth Amendment to the US Constitution, which addresses the problem with attorneys who embarrass themselves and the legal profession: those comedians should be banned from the courtroom.

But, if for the sake of argument we assume this childish act has a quantum of merit, I think that when Nazaire wrote

[…] listen to the factual [non-legal] issues of this case […],

he mixed up the “factual” and “legal” terms. The questions derived from the “factual issues” are pretty damning:

  • whether Prenda seeded its smut to entrap file-sharers;
  • whether Prenda forged the signature on the copyright assignment;
  • whether the “client” AF Holdings exists at all;
  • whether former Prenda’s paralegal, John Steele’s drinking buddy and a fugitive from justice Mark Lutz, is really a principal of a sham corporation AF Holdings;

 

The list can go on and on, and some of the “factual issues” have already become “facts” — Judge O’Kelley has adopted Judge Wrights’ findings in full.

When facts are not on your side, the only way to get away with scams is to juggle legal [non-factual] issues. That’s how all the copyright troll cockroaches (Keith Lipscomb, Michael Hierl et al) avoid justice today and continue plundering citizens with impunity — by exploring the cracks in the legal system while playing fast and lose with facts.

Here is our advice, Jacques: stop digging. Humbly accept the sanctions that Judge O’Kelley will most likely impose on you. All your temper tantrums will only worsen your situation. Don’t embarrass yourself any longer, fade into obscurity: even though you took orders from the con artists (who, I hope, will end up in jail soon), your shenanigans were relatively minor, and I bet that Prenda’s victims are willing to forget them if you stop disturbing the past over and over again.

 


¹ Note that Duffy continues deceiving the court by signing his missives as “Duffy Law Group” — an entity that was involuntarily dissolved a long time ago.

The AF Holdings v Patel (GAND 12-cv-00262) Show Cause Hearing, which was abruptly interrupted by a snowstorm on the 1/28/2014 afternoon, was finally continued and concluded almost ten months later, on 11/20/2014. I was not there — Kat was, and she wrote a detailed and vivid three-part story. It doesn’t make sense to retell it in my own words: firstly, as I said, I was not there; second, Kat is simply a terrific storyteller, so pour yourself a glass of wine and read:

 

 

While we are waiting for the written order, the minute sheet is worth mentioning: in part because

The Court verbally adopted as part of its Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law, Judge Wright’s Order, Central District of California, paragraphs, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9 & 11¹. (See Wright Order 2:12-cv-8333-CDW).

 

I’ll copy and paste the adopted paragraphs for your convenience:

1. Steele, Hansmeier, and Duffy (“Principals”) are attorneys with shattered law practices. Seeking easy money, they conspired to operate this enterprise and formed the AF Holdings and Ingenuity 13 entities (among other fungible entities) for the sole purpose of litigating copyright-infringement lawsuits. They created these entities to shield the Principals from potential liability and to give an appearance of legitimacy.

2. AF Holdings and Ingenuity 13 have no assets other than several copyrights to pornographic movies. There are no official owners or officers for these two offshore entities, but the Principals are the de facto owners and officers.

3. The Principals started their copyright-enforcement crusade in about 2010, through Prenda Law, which was also owned and controlled by the Principals. Their litigation strategy consisted of monitoring BitTorrent download activity of their copyrighted pornographic movies, recording IP addresses of the computers downloading the movies, filing suit in federal court to subpoena Internet Service Providers (“ISPs”) for the identity of the subscribers to these IP addresses, and sending cease-and-desist letters to the subscribers, offering to settle each copyright infringement claim for about $4,000.

4. This nationwide strategy was highly successful because of statutory copyright damages, the pornographic subject matter, and the high cost of litigation. Most defendants settled with the Principals, resulting in proceeds of millions of dollars due to the numerosity of defendants. These settlement funds resided in the Principals’ accounts and not in accounts belonging to AF Holdings or Ingenuity 13.

No taxes have been paid on this income.

5. For defendants that refused to settle, the Principals engaged in vexatious litigation designed to coerce settlement. These lawsuits were filed using boilerplate complaints based on a modicum of evidence, calculated to maximize settlement profits by minimizing costs and effort.

6. The Principals have shown little desire to proceed in these lawsuits when faced with a determined defendant. Instead of litigating, they dismiss the case. When pressed for discovery, the Principals offer only disinformation—even to the Court.

8. The Principals maintained full control over the entire copyright-litigation operation. The Principals dictated the strategy to employ in each case, ordered their hired lawyers and witnesses to provide disinformation about the cases and the nature of their operation, and possessed all financial interests in the outcome of each case.

9. The Principals stole the identity of Alan Cooper (of 2170 Highway 47 North, Isle, MN 56342). The Principals fraudulently signed the copyright assignment for “Popular Demand” using Alan Cooper’s signature without his authorization, holding him out to be an officer of AF Holdings. Alan Cooper is not an officer of AF Holdings and has no affiliation with Plaintiffs other than his employment as a groundskeeper for Steele. There is no other person named Alan Cooper related to AF Holdings or Ingenuity 13.

11. Plaintiffs have demonstrated their willingness to deceive not just this Court, but other courts where they have appeared. Plaintiffs’ representations about their operations, relationships, and financial interests have varied from feigned ignorance to misstatements to outright lies. But this deception was calculated so that the Court would grant Plaintiffs’ early-discovery requests, thereby allowing Plaintiffs to identify defendants and exact settlement proceeds from them. With these granted requests, Plaintiffs borrow the authority of the Court to pressure settlement.

Brett Gibbs Paul Duffy Adam Urbanczyk John Steele Paul Hansmeier Mark Lutz Yo momma...

 


¹ The paragraphs 7 and 10 deal with Brett Gibbs’s conduct, and were not adopted by Judge O’Kelley simply because they are irrelevant for this case.

By Dbs

I showed up at the courthouse about 10 minutes before scheduled time. After running through security and running an item back out to the car, finally got to the courtroom with 2-3 minutes to spare. I met Dan Booth and Jason Sweet at the door there, looking for the same room. Dressed in sharp clean black suits they were cordial and friendly. They looked like, and acted like, a team. Before the case they were pretty guarded around me, not knowing who I was, why I was there, and having their focus on the task on hand. After the typical courtesy dance for who’s opening the door for whom, Dan grabbed the door and all three of us headed in side by side.

The door opened in the back of the courtroom, typical wooden bench style seating for a courtroom with a solid row on the back wall, 5-10 rows ahead of the door, and then the counselor’s area and Judge’s bench. JBL 10 inch speakers mounted on the wall — two at least, 60 inch TVs mounted at the front of the gallery and monitors galore at the counselor’s tables. (They had a pretty sweet tech setup up front for presentations as well… but I’m quickly heading off topic. Sorry folks, I’m a nerd, not a legally inclined individual, these are the things I notice.)

Promptly on entering we were notified by a court official that the hearing before us was still going on, they’re running late, and it’d be 15-20 minutes until the Lightspeed Media case was up. Booth and Sweet grabbed the front pew near where they planned to sit for their hearing. I grabbed the pew right behind them hoping to gleam anything off of them ahead of time — but alas, the sound system was a bit loud for me to overhear them then. At the time that I sat, Comcast’s attorney was already present in my row as well — Andrew Toennies. There was a bit of small talk between Booth, Sweet, and Toennies, a few jokes, but fairly quiet as the case ahead of us came out from chambers. Just a few small whispers between them after while the other case wrapped up.

Five minutes later enough folks filed out of the Judge’s chambers that I almost wondered if he had a TARDIS hidden back there. Judge David Herndon was one of the last out, with a small grin on his face he made a wisecrack to a few of the folks nearby (joke obviously unrelated to the case at hand). It was nice to see a bit of personality out of the Judge, whom I’ve usually seen to be a pretty stoic bunch. Overall I’d say that he was formal and very businesslike in his overall conduction, but he had a warmth/”jovial” air about him. I could tell he was someone you sure didn’t want to get on the wrong side of, capable of a stern dressing down if needed — but I also thought he easily could be someone that a child could be comfortable testifying in front of as well. A healthcare case, in a settlement phase, continued with some status related stuff for the next 5-10 min that I didn’t pay too much attention to. (But hey, I have the next hearing date/time, and that the judge thanked the parties for working so well together through this phase and that it was a refreshing change of pace.)

About 1:10, as the above hearing occurred, Duffy and Hansmeier entered the room. Paul Duffy had a navy suit on with light blue shirt, slight wrinkling in the trousers. His face looked very “worn” or tired… I didn’t get a great look but I wasn’t positive that he’d shaved that morning. Shorter, a little pudgy, had definitely seen better days (As we’d say here in the Midwest, “Rode hard and hung up wet.”). Paul Hansmeier had a decently sharp navy suit, white or light pink shirt I think and tie. Very cleanly shaved, he was taller with an athletic build. He almost reminded me of what T.J. Oshie (St. Louis Blues hockey player) would look like with a white collar haircut- I was surprised by how young he looked in person, striking me as anywhere from late twenties to mid-thirties. He maintained a very professional appearing and calm demeanor throughout the day. The two made a beeline for the back bench real near where the aisle to the tables was, sat, looked at their phones or ahead and didn’t talk- not to anyone else, or each other. Continue reading…

Prenda’s recent devastating defeat in the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals was a result of Dan Booth’s / Jason Sweet’s titanic work and John Steele’s / Paul Hansmeier’s incurable hubris. Trolls’ hubris made them foolishly believe that they had more than a “between slim and zero” chance of prevailing on appeal despite the compelling evidence of not so laundry-fresh financials.

The evidence itself, scrupulously collected by defendant Smith’s attorneys, was compiled in a single sealed motion for contempt (#135¹ filed on 3/20/2014), and it has been intriguing us for a while: scarce references in Steele/Hansmeier/Duffy’s motions pointed to the treasure trove of information, namely Prenda’s financial records showing that our trio of assclowns was indeed more than capable of paying what they owe:

The financial records produced in discovery so far give evidence that Plaintiff’s Counsel have significantly understated their financial resources and have acted to conceal or move assets off-shore. This evidence, combined with further deceptive statements and actions by Plaintiff’s Counsel, suggests that they are deliberately attempting to frustrate the Order and may have provided the Court with incomplete records of their finances for in camera review.

This motion was unsealed today after a two-week advance warning by the court:

If any document received under seal did not form the basis of the parties’ dispute and the district court’s resolution, a party can request that this court return the document to the district court.

[…]

Absent a motion from a party these sealed documents will be placed in the public record on August 15, 2014.

Surprisingly, no objections were filed, which I can’t explain (if it was indeed an oversight, expect emergency, instanter or similar Senna-themed motions). So now we can peek deeper into documents showing

…that despite their protestations, Plaintiff’s Counsel are fully capable of paying the amounts ordered by the Court, and have acted to conceal or otherwise move assets off-shore.

Take your time:

 

Thanks to @darthskeptic for procuring the document.

 

Note that the hearing on this motion (and another one — motion for sanctions) is set to November (emphasis is mine):

NOTICE of Hearing on Motion 153 MOTION for Sanctions for Obstructing Discovery, 135 SEALED MOTION for contempt. Motion Hearing set for 11/12/2014 at 01:30 PM in East St. Louis Courthouse before Chief Judge David R. Herndon. The parties may NOT appear by phone for the hearing. (kbl)THIS TEXT ENTRY IS AN ORDER OF THE COURT. NO FURTHER DOCUMENTATION WILL BE MAILED. (Entered: 07/30/2014).

Second document

The second unsealed document, Anthony Smith’s Reply in Further Support of his Motion for Discovery Sanctions (#172, 05/16/2014) contains no less damning evidence of our trio’s crookery. Particularly, this motion debunks Steele’s laughable claim that multiple entities created by the conspirators (Prenda, Steele|Hansmeier, Alpha Law et cetera) are separate and independent. Also, the defense reiterates (presenting solid evidence) that our “big leaguers” are still in possession of what they looted from the US citizens:

Plaintiff’s Counsel have identified no current sources of income, yet are able to maintain mortgages in excess of $500,000.00 (see Ex. Y); able to provide for their families’ living expenses; and even on occasion add a pool, spa and other renovations to their home. See Ex. Z. Their violations of the Federal Rules to prevent Smith from clarifying their Byzantine finances should be sanctioned.

Media coverage

 


¹ Lightspeed Media Corporation v. Smith et al (initially St. Clair county, removed to ILSD — 12-cv-00889).


Edward Toussaint,
Judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals
(Retired)

When it rains, it pours. As if the last week total Prenda smackdown by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals was not enough, today Minnesota Court of Appeals affirmed more than $63K in attorney fees and costs in an infamous collusive Guava v. Merkel (Hennepin County District Court, 27-CV-12-20976).

The opinion is harsh and a must read. I only want to note one heartwarming detail:

In the complaint that initiated this litigation, plaintiff-appellant Guava LLC is described as “a limited liability company that owns and operates protected computer systems . . . accessible throughout Minnesota.” It is unclear, however, whether Guava even exists. Despite repeated inquiries by the district court, the record includes no evidence regarding Guava’s incorporation, the identity of its principals, or the nature of its business operations.

So, after two years, during which we have been constantly questioning the existence of multiple Prenda’s empty shells (Guava, Arte de Oaxaca, LW Holdings etc.), finally courts started to realize that they were impudently defrauded.

Still waiting for the criminal law hammer to drop on the Prenda collective head. It’s a matter of when, not if though.

 

Hansmeier is continuing to dig his hole deeper: more questionable lawsuits

In the meantime, Hansmeier continues to extort small businesses using ADA lawsuits: two new cases have been filed

 

[8/8/2014 update — thanks to a commenter for a tip]
There are also less transparent state cases (search for “HANSMEIER PAUL”).

  • 27-CV-14-2417: Eric Wong vs Chatterbox Enterprises Inc, Tyrone Sharpe;
  • 27-CV-14-11721: Eric Wong vs Sawatdee Inc, Cynthia D Harrison, Jennifer T Harrison-Reilly, Supenn Harrison d/b/a Tippaya Partnership;
  • 27-CV-14-12087: Eric Wong vs Gargar Clinic & Urgent Care LLC, Argo Enterprises LLC;
  • 27-CV-14-13308: Eric Wong vs St. Paulette’s Inc (Small Bakery).

 

Some people simply cannot earn money honestly. All recent Hansmeier’s parasitic endeavors (copyright trolling, class action objections, ADA lawsuits) were all based on the only skill Paul has mastered: using his law education to rob hardworking citizens — those who actually contribute to the society.

Media coverage
By Kat Anon and TAC

If for some (frankly, inexcusable) reason you know nothing about yesterday’s Prenda smackdown resulted from the April hearing in the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, these articles will bring you up to speed:

 

Now, enjoy the movie:

 

 

In this short post I just wanted to give some visibility to attorney Paul Overhauser’s comment to my recent post “Déjà vu all over again: Pure Bill of Discovery is still being abused in Florida.” For those who do not know, Florida’s “Pure Bill of Discovery” is an ancient, obsolete law that allows seeking discovery for a future lawsuit (which may or may not be commenced) in a local court. This law is extremely prone to abuse, so it is not a surprise that two most infamous copyright trolls — John Steele and Keith Lipscomb — didn’t overlook an opportunity to obtain personal information of thousands alleged infringers without much effort and resistance.

So, while I think that this law is a travesty, à la guerre comme à la guerre, and what is good for the goose, is good for the gander. Why not to use this law to obtain information that is relevant to Lipscomb’s Bittorent cases? Namely, the most guarded secret: ransom money distribution that would connect many dots in the Lipscomb-XArt-Guardaley relationship, including 1) allegedly contingent cut received by the Germans (or, more precisely, a confirmation that the Germans steer the lawsuits) and 2) allegedly low percentage of the settlement proceeds that the nominal plaintiff X-Art receives.

I already conjectured that SunTrust bank holds these secrets so eagerly sought by the Doe defendants. Give it a try, guys: jurisdiction is just right, and if Lipscomb attempts to protest, the judicial estoppel doctrine comes to play. One more time, in chorus: What’s good for the goose…

 

On June 11, 2014, Paul Overhouser wrote:

I wonder if a defense attorney could use this tactic on an offensive basis on behalf of a prospective defendant, to serve a subpoena on SunTrust Bank to get the bank records of Lipscomb’s Copyright Trust Fund account. They would certainly be relevant to infringement litigation as the settlement amounts would be relevant to a “reasonable royalty” for a copyright infringement claim. If an attorney wants to do this, email me: I can forward such a Subpoena I served on SunTrust. I never got the requested documents from SunTrust because the Plaintiff quickly agreed to settle.

 

Thyself shalt see the act:
For, as thou urgest justice, be assur’d
Thou shalt have justice more than thou desir’st.

Shakespeare. The Merchant of Venice.

 

Since Prenda became a national poster child, I’m not compelled to cover its illustrious downfall anymore, unless I have something unique to add: there are people who write much better than yours truly. I’m sure anyone who follows Prenda stories enjoyed yesterday’s news: our trolls had their first oral argument on appeal in front of the US Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit (appealing Judge Murphy’s sanctions in Lightspeed Media Corporation v. Smith et al, ILSD 12-cv-00889). If you didn’t listen to the recording yet, you definitely should. Also read:

 

I want to present an eyewitness story. Heather S. enjoyed the show personally, so her first-hand impressions are valuable. Continue to pictures!