Posts Tagged ‘Prenda Law’

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).

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:

 

 

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!

Below is another story from the AF Holdings v. Patel (GAND 12-cv-00262) hearing held on 1/28/2014 in Gainesville, Georgia. Thursday’s post featured transcript-like notes made by Oralia Oglesbee. Today’s story by Kat is a bit more personal and perfectly complements the previous report. I also storified Kat’s tweets related to this event. Enjoy and send big thanks to both ladies.

Nazaire was a surprise to me. The word that came to mind when he started speaking was “cultured”. Which is proof that crazy comes in all forms.

The man wanted names. He initially asked the Judge to order every member of the audience to identify themselves. He did so after looking over to where Graham, Oralia and I were sitting. And when he did, I couldn’t help but smile back at him. He was worried that one of us was a surprise witness. The judge asked Blair if he had any witnesses in the audience and that is when Graham was identified and forced to leave.

At this time John Steele was not in the audience. I think he must have come in while Graham’s back was turned because nobody saw him enter.

Later Nazaire demanded that Blair turn over the names of all donors of the crowd source fund. He wanted to know if any of the lawyers in the other cases had donated. That ain’t happening either. Nazaire made a big deal of how Blair had promised videos and transcripts of Mark Lutz’s deposition to all donors and said that the purpose of the deposition was to serve as evidence for cases outside of Georgia (where discovery had not been granted). The Judge didn’t see a problem with this and pointed out that one of the court reporters had made a small fortune selling copies of a transcript an “expert” witness’s deposition “from here to Hawaii”.

The thrust of Nazaire’s questions, arguments, and discussions with the Judge is that this case should have been over. He asked Patel if he understood what “dismissed with prejudice” meant. He accused Patel (and Blair, by proxy) of “going after” (his words) AF Holdings. This was an accusation that Patel didn’t deny. While the judge was berating Chintella over how he handled discovery, and how long this case has dragged out, Nazaire pointed out he had offered Blair $3,100 to dismiss. The Judge called this inappropriate and chastised Nazaire for interrupting.

During his cross examination of Blair, Nazaire wanted to know how much had been raised. How much had been spent. And what it was spent on. He seemed to be implying that Blair was embezzling funds. He also spent a fair amount of time grilling both Blair and Patel over the logistics and accounting of the money raised, citing various rules and regulations. Gotta hand it to him, the man knows the rule book back and forth.

Lutz’s testimony

Mark Lutz stated that he was — to his knowledge — the sole owner of AF Holdings. Nazaire asked if Steele, Hansmeier or Duffy (among others) owned any shares and Lutz answered in the negative. When speaking of AF Holdings, Lutz kept saying “we”. When Blair asked who “we” was, Lutz said that it was just “AF Holdings,” but since Lutz wasn’t entirely consistent with the royal “we”, I’m pretty sure that was a lie.

Lutz claimed that AF Holding consisted of just himself. That he was the sole owner and had no employees. He said that Hansmeier was not paid to represent AF Holdings. He said that AF Holdings had the right to go after pirates because they were stealing. He also claimed that he had not had the opportunity to testify in the past and that he had failed to appear at the deposition because he felt its sole purpose was to humiliate him and that the questions would have no relation to the Patel case.

Lutz stated that this and other lawsuits had forced him to start over. That he is currently rebuilding by starting a new business in a new industry. He implied that he didn’t have a lot of money. He said that being there in court had cost him $500.00.

When Blair cross examined Lutz, Lutz said that he had known John Steele for three years; that they were not living together; but that they may have leased an apartment together.

Lutz said that AF Holdings no longer has any assets. That it had previously owned copyrights to several videos which were worthless because of pirating. He stated that AF Holdings was not distributing the videos commercially because there was no point in doing so while they were being pirated. He also stated that AF Holdings’ intention was to increase the value of the copyrights (presumably by going after the pirates) and then distribute the videos commercially at a later date.

He said that AF Holdings had purchased the copyright to Popular Demand in 2011.

Lutz stated that at one time or another he had worked as a paralegal for Paul Hansmeier, John Steele, and Paul Duffy.

Blair asked if AF Holdings was a client of both employers (Steele|Hansmeier and Prenda Law). Lutz answered “yes”.

The judge asked where Blair was going with all this, and Blair said that he was illustrating how the CEO of AF Holdings was employed by the firms retained to represent his business.

They then moved onto the subject of trusts. And boy does Lutz have Trust Issues.

Oralia already mentioned the inconsistencies with the trust names and the mindboggling explanation for them. But here’s something else: Lutz admitted that the Trust’s sole source of income was Prenda Law. He also stated that he had instructed his attorney to answer the interrogatories. He didn’t seem to be overly familiar with the interrogatory documents.

And that’s when the weather intervened. Dammit.

Minute Sheet for proceedings
Today a long anticipated hearing in the AF Holdings v. Patel (GAND 12-cv-00262) took place in Gainesville, Georgia. Oralia Oglesbee was there and documented the event. Let us thank her: it is understandable how challenging the task was.

Although I previously reported on this case (I counted four posts), this case is so eventful that I did not cover all the important moments, especially the recent ones. Fortunately, there are stories on the net that fill the gap, particularly the one by Mike Masnick that discussed the order that called for this hearing.

In short, Judge O’Kelley was unhappy with both parties (primarily with Prenda) and ordered AF Holdings’ counsel Jacque Nazaire to explain a lot of things related to Prenda’s shenanigans (the only alleged violation defense attorney Blair Chintella would need to address was his campaign to crowdfund Mark Lutz’s deposition). The conclusion of the order suggested that the judge was quite serious about getting to the bottom of things:


US District Judge
William Clark O’Kelley

In case this order did not adequately drive the point home earlier, the court is not pleased with how this litigation has progressed. Failure to attend the show cause hearing will not be well received. Failure to attend will result in severe sanctions and may result in referral to the State Bar of Georgia. Failure to directly address the court’s concerns will result in equally severe sanctions.

Notwithstanding this court’s prior order prohibiting the parties from filing additional motions, the parties may file a supplemental brief addressing the court’s concerns to the extent that the supplemental brief provides facts not already present in the record. The parties are strongly encouraged to bring any relevant evidence to the show cause hearing. Specifically, plaintiff must produce the original assignment agreement for inspection. If a party wishes to present testimony that it deems critical to its case, the party should be prepared to solicit that testimony through a live witness. The parties are on notice that they may not use affidavits as a means to circumvent cross examination.

(more…)

2/3/2014 Update is below — Memorandum and Order sanctioning Prenda and Duffy.


U.S. District Judge
John W. Darrah

Today a hearing in Prenda v. the Internets (ILND 13-cv-04341) was held in Chicago. Cook County Record’s reporter Bethany Krajelis was there:

U.S. District Judge John Darrah at a brief status hearing today granted the motion for sanctions that defendants Paul Godfread and Alan Cooper filed this past fall against Prenda and Paul Duffy, who served as the firm’s sole officer before it dissolved and now serves as its attorney in the matter.

Following his verbal ruling on the sanctions motion, Darrah asked the defendants’ attorney, Erin Russell, to submit a list of itemized fees to the court by Feb. 6, presumably to help him come up with a dollar figure to attach to his decision.

We are waiting for the full order, and I will update this post as soon as it is filed. So far the only new document was a “Notification of docket Entry”:

 

Note that the judge also denied yesterday’s eleventh hour motion to leave to file surreply. The proposed surreply was weak even by Duffy’s standards, and the explanation of the last minute submission is mind-boggling:

Plaintiff has this week realized that that [sic], while it filed a motion to file a Surreply in opposition to Defendants’ Motion for Sanctions (filed on or about October 7, 2013 (ECF #52.)), he did not notice the motion for a hearing. This was simply the result of an oversight on the part of Plaintiff. Plaintiff now re-submits the proposed Surreply and respectfully requests that the Court grant it leave to file it.

As Raul nicely put it,

 

Indeed.

Update

2/3/2014

We have been waiting for more than a week, and finally Memorandum Opinion and Order has been issued by Judge Darrah. To say it is harsh on Prenda and Paul Duffy is an understatement. Enjoy the sweetness of justice:

Based on the conduct of Prenda and its counsel, it is clear that sanctions are warranted.

Duffy had the opportunity to address this lie in his response to the Motion for Sanctions and did not. To fabricate what a federal judge said in a ruling before another court falls well outside the bounds of proper advocacy and demonstrates a serious disregard for the judicial process.

Prenda and Duffy’s arguments against the Motion for Sanctions are unpersuasive at best. In a final act of audacity, Prenda, in response to Defendants’ Motion for Sanctions, contends that the “Court should award Prenda the fees it incurred in defending against Defendants’ patently frivolous motion.”

Media coverage
According to the Illinois Attorney’s Registration and Disciplinary Record, an infamous copyright troll John Steele is not authorized to practice law in Illinois. Voluntarily inactive:

 

It’s quite a radical way to avoid disbarment. Will John incarcerate himself to avoid jail?

 

 

On a serious note: inactive status does not actually mean “auto-disbarment”: if an attorney does not want to pay Bar fees, he can voluntarily temporarily suspend himself. And it is perfectly normal… unless motives are questionable… oh, well.

Here is the rule:

Lawyers who register as inactive must pay an annual fee of $105.00. Inactive status lawyers may not practice law based upon their Illinois license or hold themselves out as being so authorized. An inactive lawyer may resume active status by submitting written or online notification of the intent to do so, and by paying the balance of the fee active lawyers must pay for the registration year in which active status is resumed. Inactive lawyers are also subject to a $25.00 per month late fee if registering late.

So in theory he can reinstate himself by simply paying the outstanding balance and clicking a button. Yet in light of the current investigation, it is not likely John will be practicing in Illinois again (or anywhere else, because Illinois is the only state where he is licensed). It is clear that this is not about saving on fees. If I had to guess I’d say that’s why he did it: to be able to say “You can’t sanction me! I’m not a practicing attorney anymore!” Won’t fly, of course.

Media coverage

Happy New Year!

Posted: December 31, 2013 by SJD in Housekeeping
Tags: , , ,
It was a rollercoaster year.

Exactly one year ago Prenda was at the apogee of its Chutzpah. Trying to remove Judge Wright from the case with a forged copyright assignment was one of the major mistakes made by the arrogant attorneys John Steele and Paul Hansmeier. We know what happened. Stupendous Wright’s Star Trek order paved the way for many other silver hummers going upon Prenda’s head.

The farcical defamation suit meant to silence us, backfired on Prenda, and the likelihood of a new round of sanctions is great.

I don’t say that our community was central in crashing Prenda, yet we did our humble part diligently and we made a difference. I’m not a Don Quixote type and wouldn’t keep supporting the cause if I did not see a substantial impact.

Anyway, Prenda is done, and if I continue writing about it, it will be merely for the sake of entertainment.

In 2014 we will concentrate on other parasites that continue raping productive population. Keith “I’m not a troll” Lipscomb’s shakedown enterprise will get our special attention. Fortunately, the media started talking about X-Art, especially after two sanction orders, and more intellectually and ethically superior attorneys are bringing the fight to the next level. Just today I saw a heartwarming tweet:

 

The very fact that X-Art sabotages any discovery effort is telling: they have a lot of dirty laundry to hide — from German “experts” to ransom revenue sharing and employment and 2257 records. I hope in 2014 the crooks will be compelled by courts to reveal their shady dealings.

The gloves are off: for friends to make handshakes, for trolls — to slap.

Happy New Year!

I’m sorry for thy much misgovernment.

William Shakespeare, “Much Ado About Nothing,” 4.1.99

 

On Friday St. Louis Post-Dispatch published a long story about one of the most watched Prenda’s infamous disasters, Lightspeed v Smith lawsuit (Raul had been the first to break a story about this farce 1.5 years ago). In addition to a good article, St. Louis Post-Dispatch presented us with a Christmas gift — a transcript of a motion hearing in Judge Murphy’s chambers on November 13, 2013. We all know what followed two weeks after the hearing — a scalding order, in which Murphy explicitly called John Steele and Paul Hansmeier liars:

[...] For example, at the November 13 hearing, Hansmeier skirted the Court’s direct questions, Steele made feigned protestations, and both flat-out lied about their association with Prenda Law, Inc. in the face of documentary evidence on the record in this case, and their sworn declarations in other cases.

Our three stooges were participating: Duffy and Steele in person, Hansmeier via the phone. Duffy did not say a word beyond introducing himself (which is natural, as the purported Prenda owner is barely involved in the fraudulent enterprise). Hansmeier did all the talking, and Steele joined him at the very end.


Proposed watermark for
the Prenda stationery

If you have been following the case, you know that Steele and Hansmeier claimed that the judge’s ruling, awarding attorney fees to the defense, was unfair because they knew nothing about the latest developments in the case and did not have a chance to respond. In essence, the judge gave our “heroes” enough rope a chance to argue why, while Duffy was served all the time electronically, Steele and Hansmeier needed to be served with motions and orders separately. You know, the Prenda clowns travel over the country performing the same song, to which the chorus is “We were not served!” We heard this motif in California, Connecticut, Massachussetts, and now in Illinois.

In a curious mixture of amusement and disgust, I envisioned a couple of naughty children who have been caught red-handed but continue lying in a futile hope to avoid punishment, and adults who are tired of these kids’ shenanigans, but don’t want to push too hard in a fear of messy temper tantrums.

Just look at these amazing fables:

MR. HANSMEIER: I first learned of the motion when I got a phone call from Paul Duffy telling me that the Court had granted the motion for attorneys’ fees against not only him but —

THE COURT: Right. You didn’t get notice of it until after the order had been entered.

MR. HANSMEIER: That’s correct.

THE COURT: All right.[...]

MR. STEELE: [...] I learned about this fee issue when Paul Hansmeier called me — I don’t know if it was a few days ago, a week ago, whatever — and told me what he had just learned from Paul Duffy.

Another entertaining moment: when Hansmeier whined that 70K in attorneys’ fees are too high, the judge noted:

THE COURT: You have not seen anything yet. The other defendants have not filed theirs yet. That’s what you call bargain rates around here. You are going to see what rates are shortly. As I said, ordinarily we look for six figures on notices of removal around this place. So I don’t know what your financial situation is, but in the larger picture I can just tell you that’s just kind of a foreshadowing of about what you are going to see here shortly here, I think.

And indeed, AT&T and Comcast later demanded their cut of Prenda’s flesh, and got what they asked for: $188,658.11 in addition to Smith’s $72,367.00 — $261,025.11 total.

The finale of that epic hearing is priceless. Meeting and exceeding our expectations, Jester John simply couldn’t keep his mouth shut and started talking. He is not a stranger to provoking judges, remember famous Wright’s “Raise your voice again and I’m going to introduce you to the United States Marshals. Get out”?

MR. STEELE: And, your Honor, I think it is important because we are assuming a lot of things. For instance, prior to this case even being filed, I personally spoke with Anthony Smith twice. I personally spoke with him and came away saying —

THE COURT: Who left him with a card that said call this person. They’re a very important lawyer from —

MR. STEELE: It wasn’t —

THE COURT: Obviously, somebody did.

MR. STEELE: The person that did that, I’ve never met never heard of, never spoke to.

THE COURT: But it is your case, you are responsible for it. It is your case, you filed it. There seems to be —

MR. STEELE: I didn’t file it.

THE COURT: There seems to be — what do you mean you didn’t file it? You entered your appearance in it.

MR. STEELE: Right. But I did not file this case.

THE COURT: Do you think that makes a difference —

MR. STEELE: I do.

THE COURT: — if you enter your appearance in a case that’s pointless, worthless, a sham?

MR. STEELE: Well, Judge, this same type of cases have been ruled in our favor in many other jurisdictions, including the state action that preceded proceeded this, the judge sided with our arguments. So in one case —

THE COURT: Mr. Steele, you are in the United States court of — in Southern District of Illinois. You are part of the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. Now, I could be dead wrong. Occasionally, I am; not too often. But I would say that this litigation the chances of being successful on appeal are somewhere between slim and below zero. This matter is under advisement. The Court’s in recess.