Today Maria-Elena James, a judge from San Francisco, ordered Ira Siegel to answer different but still uncomfortable (for a troll) questions. She asked him to provide the following information:
- Each Doe Defendant listed separately by number and IP address;
- The Doe Defendant’s ISP;
- The date on which Plaintiff served the order granting discovery on the ISP;
- The date on which the ISP served the subpoena on the Doe Defendant;
- Whether the ISP has provided the Doe Defendant’s identifying information and, if provided, the date on which it was provided to Plaintiff;
- If Plaintiff has obtained the Doe Defendant’s identifying information, an explanation as to why the defendant has not been named and why no proof of service has been filed, as well as why the
- Court should not dismiss the defendant pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4(m); and
- If Plaintiff has obtained the Doe Defendant’s identifying information and the location is outside of the Northern District of California, why the Court should not dismiss the Doe Defendant for lack of jurisdiction and/or improper venue.
So far judge Maria-Elena James has been denying each and every motion to quash or dismiss the subpoena.
She is in the camp of judges that agree with trolls that joinder is proper, but she seemingly did not make up her mind about the jurisdiction issue, although she has hinted that once named, a defendant will be able to contest the personal jurisdiction successfully.
I have mixed feelings about Maria-Elena James, and it’s the case not only with me, but also with many attorneys who worked with her previously. I believe that Maria-Elena James is a polite, yet indecisive judge, she is afraid of doing something unconventional even if there is no established case law for mass copyright infringement cases, so even though it is clear that copyright trolls will inevitably fall miserably earlier or later, don’t expect judge James to be at the forefront of the war against this kind of lawsuit abuse. Nonetheless, her last order is encouraging. She indicated that she understands what’s going on with all these mass p2p lawsuits, but again, she is reluctant to voice her disapproval of trolls and to call trolls’ methods as they are supposed to be called: extortion.
Ira Siegel is given 7 days to reply. Will he show his disrespect to the Court once again?
What’s interesting about this case, is that one of the motions to quash the subpoena (Document 60, 11/28/11) is filed by Jason Sweet, an attorney from Booth Sweet, LLP — the guys who currently litigate a class action lawsuit against DGW, the father of all US copyright trolls. I admire these guys — intelligent, humble and artsy. Jason worked as a writer for a decade, and it shows: the motion is extremely easy to read, yet it is highly professional from the legal standpoint. I’m 90% sure that this rather surprising Maria-Elena James’s order is triggered by Jason Sweet’s motion, although the motion itself was denied using the same unconvincing, clueless template.
I see judge’s order as a face-saving move: granting a motion just because it was filed by an attorney, while denying pro se motions, would be wrong. And this way, while all the motions were denied, the order language suggests that all out-of-district defendants (and maybe each and every one — if Ira Siegel disregards the order) will be dismissed soon.
It seems that Maria-Elena James has ordered not just Ira Siegel to answer these tough (for a troll) questions, but each and every troll, whose case was assigned to her. This is very-very good. Steele bragged in the comments section today (this is not an unusual behavior for an insecure person), but I don’t know if he was aware that his cases are affected as well, for example this one.
So… We have an order today. No comments necessary. Enjoy:
Ira Siegel attempted to amend the order’s language, but his application was denied. Mr. Siegel suggested adding a draft of the notice he would send to putative defendants, and he couldn’t avoid including some indirect threats.
‘A letter offering you an opportunity to settle your alleged liability in connection with the above-identified case was previously sent to you.
‘Since then, the Court in this case has issued an Order regarding its concern regarding jurisdiction and venue issues. A copy of that Order is included with this letter. A number of Doe defendants, perhaps including you, may be dismissed without prejudice from this case. Until the Court decides those jurisdiction and venue issues or until the Doe number associated with you is dismissed without prejudice from this case, whichever occurs first, you are not required to do anything.
‘However, you may still determine that it is in your best interests to resolve this matter by settlement now. You, of course, may consult with your own attorney.
‘In any event, if you decide that you do not want to settle at this time, we repeat that you are not required to do anything until the Court decides those jurisdiction and venue issues or until the Doe number associated with you is dismissed without prejudice from this case, whichever occurs first.
Asking a judge to add the spirit of an extortion letter (“However, you may still determine that it is in your best interests to resolve this matter by settlement now”) to a court order, so it would look like the judge herself said those words, is an insult to judges’ intelligence and to the Court. That’s my opinion.