Posts Tagged ‘Morgan Pietz’


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.



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.



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):



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.

If was bound to happen earlier or later:

11/21/14 — Morgan Pietz of The Pietz Law Firm, together with Drew Pomerance of Roxborough, Pomerance, Nye & Adreani, have filed a Class Action Complaint (with Exhibits) against Rightscorp, Inc., and its management, on behalf of two people who have received alleged unlawful telephone calls, emails, and letters from Rightscorp’s “DMCA Agents.”

The complaint seeks class damages against Rightscorp for violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, California’s Rosenthal Act, and Abuse of Process. The complaint alleges unlawful robo-calls, as well as other unfair debt collection practices, and that Rightscorp has abused the legal process by issuing DMCA Section 512(h) subpoenas that it knew were objectively baseless []

Rightscorp Class Action — Robo-Calls and DMCA Subpoenas

Answering my question about a potential of more plaintiffs joining the action, Mr. Pietz said: “We would still be very interested to talking to anyone who was being contacted by Rightscorp or who paid settlements, particularly anyone who was getting the pre-recorded robo-calls¹.”



Previous Rightscorp posts
Media coverage


¹ Speaking about robocalls, nothing is new under the sun. Especially in the copyright trolls’ world.

On 3/28/2014 defense attorney Morgan Pietz (with local counsel in Maryland John C. Lowe) filed a bunker buster of a motion in three Maryland individual cases, all titled Malibu Media, LLC v John Doe (MDD 14-cv-0223, 14-cv-0257 and 14-cv-0263).

This motion is, in part, a continuation of the work by Jonathan Phillips, who discovered and called out unethical (to say the least) contingency fee agreement between Malibu’s nationwide counsel, M. Keith Lipscomb, and a key witness, a German “IP harvester” IPP International.

The title of the motion is rather long: ISP subscriber’s motion for an order to show cause as to why all evidence and data from Tobias Fieser and his company IPP should not be precluded and these cases dismissed.

Tobias Fieset’s declaration is basically the only “evidence,” upon which the entire trolling house of cards is built (no wonder the trolls sabotage any discovery so aggressively), and if Lipscomb and his clique did not lie through their teeth when asking for ex parte discovery, courts would most likely think twice before allowing it:

Common sense and the slew of cases cited in Section III(a)(2), above, all suggest that the Court might have excluded or, at the very least, looked more skeptically at the Fieser declaration if the Court knew it was coming from a contingent fee witness. Thus, disclosing Fieser and IPP’s contingent interest in the litigation as an adverse fact as part of the ex parte early discovery requests would be required under Rule 3.3(d).

I like that throughout the motion Pietz compares Lipscomb’s shakedown cartel to infamous Prenda Law:

In the Prenda case, when confronted with probing questions about mysterious offshore shell companies fronting the nationwide settlement mill, rather than provide answers to these questions, the Prenda lawyers attempted to “cut [their] losses and run out of court, using Rule 41 as an emergency exit.” It appears that the same thing has now occurred in the Malibu cases in this district. Malibu has unilaterally dismissed a case pending before Judge Motz, rather than address troubling concerns about the fact that Malibu (or its lawyers) apparently pays the key witness in these cases pursuant to an “oral contingency agreement.”

I know for a fact that this comparison immensely pisses off Lipscomb, and for a reason: if one hears nothing but lie, all such allegation can cause is a mere shrug, but a truthful, precise analogy usually hits the nerve. I commend Morgan for calling the things as they are: Lipscomb and Prenda are fruits of the same poisonous tree.

As you noted, Pietz accuses Lipscomb and his local counsel Jon Hoppe of blatant forum shopping. Indeed, even a colette would understand why the trolls, being confronted on the contingency fee issue, hastily dismissed the case assigned to Judge J. Frederick Motz, a judge who undoubtedly thinks that contingency fee agreement with a key witness is not kosher:

As Judge Motz once noted of the problem posed by deals to pay witnesses a contingent fee, “[f]inancial arrangements that provide incentives for the falsification and exaggeration of testimony threaten the very integrity of the judicial process which depends upon the truthfulness of witnesses.”

The unethical agreement is not the only issue here: IPP/Guardaley relationship is being questioned, purported reliability of Guardaley’s methods is called out, a relative unimportance of the “plaintiff” XArt in the conspiracy is finally addressed, and some other relevant questions are raised. You really need to read the entire motion. It’s 58 pages long, but it is worth your time. It is a very tough task to annotate this work, and I had no choice but to omit some really important points.

So what does this motion ask for?

  • As to the preliminary matters,
    • to allow the Doe to formally intervene, thus avoiding trolls’ hallmark argument that putative defendants have no standing;
    • to consolidate the cases, obviously;
    • to stay subpoena until this motion is ruled upon.
  • As to the merits, Malibu should be ordered to show cause on three factual issues and a resulting legal one, as follows:
    • confirm whether IPP and Fieser were engaged as contingent fee witnesses and detail the nature and extent of the relationship;
    • given the substantial documentary evidence suggesting otherwise, explain the statement made on the record to Judges Titus and Grimm denying that IPP is a front for Guardaley, and the apparent attempts to disguise Guardaley’s behind-the-scenes role in these cases;
    • explain the conflicting statements about whether it was IPP or Excipio software used to collect the data this case is based on; and
    • assuming that IPP and Fieser do or did have a contingent interest in the outcome of this litigation and that IPP is really a front for Guardaley, and that Malibu has been less than forthright about all this, address what effect such champertous arrangements and lack of candor should have on this and other similarly situated cases, in view of Movant’s arguments in the Motion For An OSC that preclusion and dismissal should result.



Declaration of Morgan Pietz’s, referred in the above document, is here, and here are 270(!) pages of exhibits:


On 4/10/2014 Hoppe moved for extension of time, which was granted. Today, 4/14/2014, Morgan Pietz responded to that motion (Exhibits A and B). Pay attention to Exhibit A (Hoppe’s email to Verizon’s legal compliance department): you will like it:

Dear Ms. Barron:

That is flatly outrageous! Your attorneys are not empowered to functionally rule on Mr. Pietz’s request for a stay prior to the Court ruling on the same. I expect full compliance with all of our subpoenas unless and until the Court orders a stay of the same. I would hate to see the goodwill we have enjoyed breakdown over this issue. Please put me in touch with your counsel immediately!

– Jon A. Hoppe, Esquire

Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

This clown signs his misguided rants as “Esquire,” is if he were a real attorney.

By Mysterious Anonymous

Since I made it to the Spring Street Courthouse again to see Friday’s performance, SJD asked me to write up my impressions as a community representative. I had a super-busy weekend so I didn’t think there would be anything left to say by the time I found time, but I came up with an editorial angle that might be more entertaining to people who have come to read this site not because they have read about John Steele on Techdirt and Ars Technica, but because they were actually threatened by Steele | Hansmeier, Prenda or one of their other guises.

I had seen John Steele previously at the April 2 hearing where he plead the 5th, but I had never actually seen him perform, and the take-home lesson from last Friday’s hearing is…

John Steele is an idiot.

I had assumed Wright was simply calling Steele’s bluff by scheduling a hearing on Steele’s motion for reconsideration. Surely, given Steele’s history of trying to avoid Wright’s courtroom, Steele was bound to no-show even with his own motion scheduled for a hearing, giving Wright justification to deny the motion by default. But Wright’s plan was far more devious than that. After briefly chewing Steele out for filing documents that have nothing to do with anything, Wright had Steele staring at his own request to substitute counsel (or in Steele’s case go pro se) that had an incorrect mailing address… When Steele was there to complain about not being served by mail…

Unhappy troll

Things went all downhill. Steele basically couldn’t put a sentence or an argument together. As covered in detail elsewhere, Wright had gone over Steele’s filings in meticulous detail, found the inconsistencies, and grilled Steele with pointed and specific questions. Steele was desperate, pathetic, grasping for straws. He could barely answer any of Wright’s questions and never had a straight, specific answer, it was always an appeal to emotion, or his rights, or a wild conspiracy to deny Steele said rights. Wright repeatedly asked him to make an argument, explain a problem, and/or state some facts to back up anything he was saying, and Steele just couldn’t do it. He did manage to keep talking, we all know Steele can’t keep his mouth shut, and that is true no matter how deep of a hole he digs himself. Steele’s mouth kept running but the garbage coming out became less and less intelligible. It sounded like “blah blah blah MY RIGHTS blahbaddy blah 5TH AMENDMENT blah blah blah PATTERN OF FRAUD blah.”

The incoherence, paranoia, ego. Unbelievable. John Steele is so full of shit that I won’t even try to describe how full of shit he is. If you had tried to explain to me that a person could be that full of shit before I saw John Steele performing in Los Angeles, I would not have believed it was possible.

For those who have been intimidated and scared by Steele in the past: There is no evil genius here. There is no master plan, no craft, no clever, no intelligence. Just a bully who got lucky a few times bluffing laypeople with no understanding of the law. Now that he must practice his profession against real opponents he is a complete and utter failure. Such a failure that Wright joked about the Ninth Circuit having a reserved parking space for him. Such a failure that many attendees were wearing government ID badges. Investigators from the DOJ and IRS? Maybe. We can hope. But they looked a bit young to be seasoned investigators, so I think it is likely that John Steele has become a celebrity in the courthouse, and anyone who could slip away from work was there to watch him make a fool of himself.

John Steele has become the Court Jester of the Central District of California.

He brings shame to the University of Minnesota for having such low standards it awarded him a JD.

He brings shame to the state bar exam preparers of Illinois that created an exam so weak that John Steele could pass it.

He brings shame to every lawyer in every state where Prenda has filed cases, for having such collectively low standards and ethics that they call this scum their peer.

I would like everyone who has been threatened by Steele, intimidated by Steele, harassed by Steele, who has lost sleep because of Steele to know that John Steele was very, very unhappy on Friday. John Steele was mad. John Steele was worried. John Steele wore a deeply concerned and unhappy face that I wish all of you could have seen (I had to work to suppress the urge to break courtroom protocol and try to sneak a picture of Unhappy John Steele; it would have made great memes). I was grinning from ear to ear the whole time, and like many other attendees could not keep from chortling and snorting with derision, glee and surprise at the contemptible foolishness of John Steele.

John Steele is struggling to deal with all the trouble John Steele has made for himself and behaved like he’s coming apart at the seams. His final words in the courtroom, a bellowed “It’s called cutting and pasting!” are a suitably pathetic example of how ridiculous this sad excuse for a man has become.

Everyone who has worked with or for Prenda should read this, and read everything else about Friday and their current state of affairs, and be scared. Very, very scared. Because their mastermind is a clueless buffoon of little ability who went all in with an empty hand and had his bluff called.


SJD, 7/16/2013

On 7/9/2013 John Steele filed an apoplectic reply to Ranallo/Pietz/Heller response. The caveat is that, as a manual filing, it was stamped only on Friday (right before the hearing), and appeared on Pacer only today.

You’ve read the story above, now read Steele’s BS through the glasses of Friday’s event: it is entertaining.


Another [fantastic] update

SJD, 7/18/2013
Judge Wright issued an order on Steele’s motion for reconsideration, denying it and referring a purported attorney John Steele to Pro Se Clinic! This is probably the second-best (after the “Star Trek order”) by Wright in this case:

Based on these findings, the Court finds Steele’s Motion meritless and frivolous. Therefore, it is appropriate to consider whether sanctions should be awarded to Pietz and Ranallo for the expense of defending this Motion, one where Steele sought sanctions against them for their failure to serve.

Pietz and Ranallo are hereby directed to file a regularly noticed motion for Rule 11 sanctions against Steele in connection with his filing of this Motion. A hearing should be noticed for the motion no later than August 26, 2013. The Court hereby reminds Steele that failure to timely oppose the motion may result in the automatic imposition of the requested sanctions. L.R. 7-12.

Steele’s Motion for Reconsideration is hereby DENIED. Steele is advised that the Federal Pro Se Clinic is located in the United States Courthouse at 312 N. Spring Street, Room G-19, Main Street Floor, Los Angeles, California 90012. The clinic is open on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays between the hours of 9:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. The Federal Pro Se Clinic offers free, on-site information and guidance to individuals who are representing themselves in federal civil actions. Steele is encouraged to visit the clinic for advice concerning his case.


As you know from the previous posts here and a never-ending Popehat thread, after four clowns (Steele, Paul and Peter Hansmeiers, Mark Lutz) unwisely submitted frivolous motions claiming that they were not properly served by the opposition in the “Star Trek” case (and demanding sanctions against Pietz and Ranallo), Judge Wright set a hearing on these motions to this Friday, July 12. In the meantime, Pietz and Ranallo have lawyered up and delivered a sledgehammer response.

It was not unexpected that Steele would ask the Court to appear telephonically, and he did ask to appear by phone without specifying the phone (no email was provided either — only a Regus virtual office address):


Equally not unexpectedly, this motion was denied almost immediately:


Note that according to the order, the clerk did not advise Steele to file this motion while he claimed just the opposite.

If I close my eyes, there will be
no Wright, no Pietz, no Ranallo…

Now, we are all used to Steele’s lies, nothing is surprising anymore, except maybe the fact that John chose the most self-destructing path to go. Maybe he still thinks it’s a poker game and there is a room for bluff? But is he the only one who doesn’t see that mirrors are everywhere, and everyone knows that his cards are crap?

Claiming that he was not aware of the hearing prior to Monday? Bullshit: I know, John, you check our blogs and Twitter a couple of times a day and learn the news in real time. Who will believe you? This is the most important case in your life: many things, including your freedom, are at stake. While I called you derogatory names, I always thought that your IQ is above average, but seeing your latest actions, I have started to doubt it.

Now, a poll:


Media coverage
  • ArsTechnica: Prenda’s motion to reduce $238,000 appeal bond falls flat by Joe Mullin. I liked one reader comment in particular. AaronLeeR wrote:

    “[S]everal of the pro se persons in this matter are of limited income and cannot afford the extreme financial hardship associated with missing work and flying across the country on 3 days notice.”

    Financial hardships didn’t seem to be a concern when they were extorting people for cash. What goes around….

  • Lipscomb’s insistence that he is not a copyright troll, his efforts to distinguish his shakedown outfit from the Prenda gang, becomes more and more laughable. Remember the bile-infused Prenda’s opposition to EFF’s brief last year, which contained nothing but insults? Yesterday in Wisconsin Keith Lipscomb (via his local Mary K. Schulz) filed an opposition to EFF’s motion to leave to file a brief, prompting an acute deja vu.

    We wrote about this case (actually 11 cases consolidated into a single one): Judge Stephen Crocker smelled a troll, halted the proceedings, and issued an order to show cause why Malibu Media/X-Art/Lipscomb shouldn’t be sanctioned for supplementing their complaints with a malicious exhibit (infamous “Exhibit C” that lists unrelated infringements that defendants purportedly committed). Malibu/Lipscomb responded to the order on 6/26/2013 (of course bragging about the Bellwether Pyrrhic victory). Shortly after, EFF (via Erin Russell) asked for leave to file an amicus curiae brief:

    In the instant cases, defendants are in danger of being coerced into unjust settlements by the threat of public embarrassment before having a reasonable opportunity to be heard. In fact, the conduct that led to the Court’s Order to Show Cause – attaching to complaints a list of highly embarrassing pornographic movie titles for which Malibu is not claiming copyright infringement – creates a strong incentive for defendants to avoid appearing before this Court. Raising defenses, no matter their merit, would risk a defendant’s identity being revealed and publicly associated with the scandalous titles listed in “Exhibit C.” Given the circumstances, the defendants are inadequately represented at this stage, though their rights are very much at stake.

    EFF will assist the Court by providing a response to Malibu’s briefing, including placing Malibu’s conduct in the context of judicial responses to the broader phenomenon of BitTorrent litigation and providing authority supporting the Court’s contention that Malibu’s conduct has violated Rule 11. In order to respond thoroughly to Malibu’s 30 pages of argument and numerous declarations, EFF respectfully requests that it be allowed to file its brief on July 15, 2013, or on such other date as the Court orders.

    Yesterday’s Prenda’s Lipscomb’s opposition to this request is very weak in my opinion, and in addition to usual attacks on EFF’s “pro-piracy agenda,” is largely based on a bizarre argument that EFF cannot provide any valuable input because…

    …no one at the EFF is a trained psychologist who has interviewed Plaintiff or its counsel for the purpose of forming an opinion about the purpose behind attaching Exhibit C.


    The purpose of a particular troll’s sleaze was never discovered using a psychiatrist. Any court makes its determinations based on facts, arguments by the parties, and input from non-parties that have experience in a particular area. It is ridiculous to state that EFF has no expertise in this type of “litigation,” and it is an insult to the judge’s intelligence to assume that he either needs a mind-reader or should rely solely on the plaintiff to make the right conclusion, especially if that plaintiff has the audacity to claim the monopoly on truth:

    …since Plaintiff and its counsel told the whole truth about its purpose, the EFF simply will not be able to contradict any of the material statements in the declarations Plaintiff submitted.

    Ironically, while insisting that EFF would not know trolls’ intentions because they are not psychiatrists, Lipscomb & Co know exactly what EFF’s brief will and will not be about:

    The EFF cannot assist the Court in providing competent testimony about Plaintiff’s purpose for attaching Exhibit C. Instead, all the EFF could possibly do is provide anecdotal ad hominem attacks and inadmissible speculation about the purpose of Exhibit C. This would merely district the Court from its task and unnecessarily burden Plaintiff who would have to respond to irrelevant and inadmissible red herrings.


    In conclusion, I’d like to draw your attention to a document that was recently filed by Morgan Pietz in Michigan (Malibu Media LLC v. John Doe, MIED 13-cv-1220). This is a declaration that details the communication between Pietz and Lipscomb’s Shakedown Officer, Elizabeth Jones. Although the dialogues took place a year ago, the methods are hardly changed in principle. You will see the proto phase of what would become “Exhibit C” — namely, a tactic of initially accusing a victim of a single download, but when he contacts the troll, twisting his arms using additional “evidence.” Do we really need a psychiatrist to understand the dark, rotten souls of Lipscomb and his goons? I wouldn’t peek into that darkness voluntarily, simply because I value and want to preserve my faith in humanity.


    Yesterday I mentioned four motions from the Prenda gang claiming that Steele/Hansmeiers/Lutz were not served by Pietz/Ranallo with the copies of the documents from “The Star Trek” case. The most serious is John Steele’s motion — as it exhibits Pietz’s email purportedly admitting the wrongdoing¹. Today, obviously heeding the legal wisdom that “an attorney who represents himself has a fool for a client,” Morgan Pietz replied via newly hired law firm Heller and Edwards.

    One might imagine that after being severely sanctioned by this court for what amounts to no less than a criminal enterprise which exploited an unknowing court system in order to extort an innocent citizenry, John Steele and his cohorts would think twice before tiling frivolous and procedurally defective motions. One might imagine […]

    The main points of the reply are:

    • The motion is improper because it is a “motion for reconsideration,” and any reconsideration request must be based on new evidence. No new evidence was presented, according to Pietz/Heller.
    • It is no one’s fault but Steele’s that he has not been receiving document copies: John failed to maintain updated contact information with the court, a strict duty.
    • Steele’s exhibit (Morgan’s email to the Prenda parties, in particular) is forged. Pietz does not deny sending this email. But… it bounced. I tested it and Google said that no such user exists. At the same time, on the page 5 of his motion Steele claims under penalty of perjury that it is “a true and correct copy of an email I received from Morgan E. Pietz.” Heller concludes that the exhibit is doctored (that Steele obtained a copy from one of the CC recipients and “fixed” it to look like he himself received it). If so, I praise a great idea to present a forged document to Judge Wright. Smart!
    • Steele actively participated in the discussion (with Prenda’s attorney Philip Vineyard) about the recent case developments. So, despite not being served with copies by Pietz, John was perfectly aware about the case progress (it would be insane not to follow the most important lawsuit of his life):

      In view of all this evidence, it seems that Steele was just about as “shocked” about the bond issue before this Court as Captain Renault was to find that gambling was going on at Rick’s Café Americain. (See Cap’t. Renault, Casablanca, Warner Bros. (1942)).

    Expectedly, the movants request sanctions:

    Although already sanctioned by this court, it is clear that neither Steele nor his contingent have learned their lesson. As frivolous as Steele’s motion is, Pietz and Ranallo were compelled to retain outside counsel to defend it. Pietz and Ranallo should be compensated for having to respond to this baseless motion through the court’s issuance, on its own initiative, of an OSC re: Sanctions or, alternatively, through the court’s setting of a hearing date for Pietz and Ranallo to have their Rule 11 sanctions motion heard.

    It must be said: finally, enough is enough!



    Spoliation of evidence?

    Was Steele’s exhibit “A” doctored or not can be debated (and I’m skeptical that it was forgery: fraud/deception — yes, forgery/doctoring — not likely), but there is an elephant in the room that was initially unnoticed: the very fact that Steele has deleted his email account. A comment by Mysterious Anonymous explains it better than I would:

    John Steele deleted his Gmail account?

    One that has been used extensively in the course of his litigation activities at Steele | Hansmeier and Prenda Law, Inc., in perhaps hundreds of cases in dozens of federal district courts across the USA?

    One that was used to register domain names for Prenda and their supposed clients?

    One that was associated with the Alan Cooper ID theft?

    After he was referred to the USAO and IRS-CI for criminal investigation?

    After he was referred to state Bar associations for investigation?

    Holy shit! Can you say






    Wow. Wow. Wow.

    What was in there that Steele is suddenly so desperate to hide?

    I’m surprised Heller didn’t raise the issue, seems like a huge oversight. Even though it may not be strictly relevant to the 08333 case and their response, it is surely useful as another demonstration of Prenda’s bad faith and lack of ethics. Surely attorneys operate under record retention requirements that do not include “I can delete all my f%^&king email whenever I want because I am in a panic trying to avoid service and destroy evidence!”

    All the histrionics about the guy with CCleaner installed and Steele wipes his f%^&king email account?

    This isn’t going to end well. If Nick and Morgan don’t take him to task for it, every other defendant with a counterclaim will have a field day, as will the guys driving the party vans.

    Media coverage


    ¹ I think (and I wonder if anyone disagrees) that Pietz’s email is nothing but an example of the professional courtesy.

    Saying that judges rarely use words “incarceration,” “fraud,” “automatic bench warrant” in an order to show cause would be an understatement. Nonetheless, Judge Otis Wright did just that in Ingenuity v. Jon Doe (CACD 12-cv-08333). Tired of apparent Prenda Law’s fraudulent activities, he ordered its counsel Brett Gibbs to explain his and his law firm’s behavior at a hearing set for March 11. Additionally, he allowed parties (Brett Gibbs and Morgan Pietz) to file briefs before February 19. A deposition of Prenda by Morgan Pietz was set to proceed on the same date.

    Brett Gibbs tries to play a pity card, points finger at “Prenda senior people”

    Copyright troll Brett Gibbs

    A couple of hours before the deadline, Brett Gibbs filed his declaration through a newly hired law firm Waxler Carner Brodsky LLP, which has been “primarily defending lawyers in malpractice actions.” Although it was a relatively wise move (akin to an old lawyer’s saying that “a lawyer who represents himself in a court has a fool for a client”), the result was a pile of horse manure that does not pass a common sense scrutiny. The funny thing is that this spectacular failure does not characterize Gibbs’s defenders, it’s just too much lying to explain: no star attorney is capable of coming up with a credible story painting Gibbs an innocent kid deceived by evil grown-ups.

    Regardless, the main huge news is that Brett has given up his stubborn loyalty and has started pointing his finger at Prenda’s “senior members” (Paul Hansmeier and John Steele):

    I am and have never had an ownership interest in the copyrights involved in the Copyright Litigations. As discussed in greater detail below, I did not make strategic decisions like whether to file actions, who to sue, and whether to make a certain settlement demand or accept an offer of settlement in the Copyright Litigations. These types of decisions were made by the clients, after consulting with senior members of the law firms that employed me in an “of counsel” relationship.

    I have never had a financial or fiduciary (i.e., ownership) interest in AF Holdings. AF Holdings was a client of S&H and then Prenda. The face-to-face and direct interactions between S&H and later Prenda with AF Holdings were handled by the senior members of the law firms and not me.

    I have never met Alan Cooper, and do not know what the extent of Mr. Cooper’s role is in AF Holdings aside from seeing a signature from an “Alan Cooper” on the copyright assignments and pleadings.

    I first became aware of a question regarding the identity of Alan Cooper when it was raised by Mr. Pietz.

    I confirmed the existence of the client-executed verification either by seeing a copy of the signed verification, or at the very least, being informed by a representative of S&H or Prenda that a signed verification was in the possession of S & H or Prenda.

    The explanation of the reason how Alan Copper’s fraudulent signature was verified by Gibbs and why he failed to present the original is simply stunning. Sure, it is a credible and sufficient reasoning that will clear Mr. Brett’s name so he will avoid sanctions:

    In Case No. 84, Mr. Pietz first asked for a copy of Mr. Cooper’s verification to the petition to perpetuate testimony on or about December 2012, well after the petition had been discharged. Given the length of time since the case was discharged, I was informed and understand that S&H (and later Prenda) no longer has a copy of Mr. Cooper’s verification to the petition to perpetuate testimony.

    Just a week earlier Steele and Hansmeier decided to delegate Gibbs’s responsibilities to Michael Dugas. After two and half years of collaboration, they have thrown Brett under the bus, so no surprise that his loyalty has evaporated quickly.

    I’ll leave it to a reader to go through unconvincing excuses, which are not as entertaining as those that another troll’s mob mastermind, Keith Lipscomb, poured on Judge Baylson last fall.


    Click to enlarge

    [2/21/2013 update] It is not remotely funny anymore that Brett (to whom we already gave an honorable nickname “Pinocchio”) is lying without even thinking about the possibility of anyone doing some basic fact checking. Here is an example (thanks to a commenter for noticing):

    From Gibbs’s declaration:

    31. In addition, in order to rule out neighbors of the 1411 Paseo Jacaranda, Santa Maria, California 93458 location utilizing the internet connection, I performed a Google map search and obtained a satellite picture of the corner house located at 1411 Paseo Jacaranda, Santa Maria, California 93458. A further public search revealed that the house was approximately 1,200 sq. ft. which sat on a 6,534 sq. ft. lot. Considering the position of the house on the lot, and its position away from the neighboring houses, it seemed clear that, should the household have wireless internet, it would not have been accessible by the neighbors.

    Alright. A typical wireless range is from 50 to 100 m. Look at the map: green circle’s radius is 50 m, and yellow — 100 m. So we are talking about 10-30 households capable of utilizing the wireless connection in question.

    Can’t help noticing another funny argument in Gibbs’s declaration:

    […] the inconsistency did not prevent a prima facie showing of copyright ownership because the law only requires the assignment to he signed by the assignor. Given the court’s finding that the copyright assignment in Case No. 3335 was prima facie valid despite an issue regarding whether the assignee had properly executed the assignment. I had and have a good faith belief that the assignments in Case No. 6636 and 6669 are valid despite any alleged issue regarding the identity of Alan Cooper.

    Or, as scruuball translated it to Twitter’s 140,

    It doesn’t matter that we forged a signature, because we didn’t need it in the first place! Hah!

    To our surprise, there is a certificate of AF Holdings’ incorporation, but the quality of the copy is poor, and I’m afraid that given St. Kitts’ secrecy laws, there is no way to validate that it is authentic. Even if it is real, this does not negate the fact that AF Holdings is a shell entity “owned” by Prenda. Note that nothing of this kind was presented for another fraudulent entity, Ingenuity 13.

    The fact that Brett Gibbs has lawyered up has more significance: it will be easier for him to cut a deal with an Attorney General and (relatively) save his ass while allowing putting the major culprits behind the bars.

    Morgan Pietz replies to Judge Wright’s OSC. One word: “Wow”

    Defendant’s attorney Morgan Pietz had just an hour to review Gibbs’s weaselspeak. Admittedly, Morgan wrote the bulk of his response in advance, but still he managed to add thorough debunking of Gibbs’s whining. It’s impossible to pull pieces from this document, it is a must read from the first line to the last. It has is all: a long history of Prenda’s crookery, calling out lies and contradictions in Gibbs’s declaration, examples of more identity theft, damning revelations during the deposition of Paul Hansmeier (who, like a “boss” in an action computer game, appeared in the last episode).

    I only want to quote the beautiful conclusion (links supplied):

    The conduct of Prenda and its “of counsel” Mr. Gibbs in these cases undermines the integrity of the courts and the public’s confidence in the justice system. Here, Prenda has shown is that it is willing to do just about anything to obtain grist for its national “settlement” mill. Repeatedly, in hundreds of actions filed in courts across the country, Prenda has resorted to misrepresentations, halftruths, and questionable tactics, if not outright fraud, forgery, and identity theft. Until now, Prenda has gotten away with quite a lot of these kinds of tactics because it simply abandons its lawsuits, via a voluntary dismissal, after obtaining subpoena returns, and some settlements. Indeed, as noted above, Mr. Gibbs is already at it again, now sending out demand letters on behalf of Guava, LLC, which is now purportedly owned by Livewire Holdings, LLC not a mystery trust. Exactly who is responsible for the worst of Prenda’s actions here may not yet be clear, but this is the archetypical type of case, where there is a pattern of bad action that is done in such a way to avoid scrutiny, where a major sanctions is appropriate as a deterrent. This Court is urged not to go easy on Mr. Gibbs or Prenda Law.


    Many paragraphs in this brief deserve separate posts, and sure we will continue shedding the light on Prenda and its epic downfall until the fraudsters cease their criminal activity and are severely punished.

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