March 11 hearing: witnesses’ stories

Usually I do some promotional stuff to get certain events noticed and publicized. Obviously, no need to do it today. I’ll leave it to the witnesses and more eloquent/professional folks to tell their versions of today’s story. I’m glad that today’s events caused so much interest, and I hope it is just the beginning. I’m happy that our community has contributed to this apotheoses in progress. Thank you all!

Stories about today’s hearing


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69 responses to ‘March 11 hearing: witnesses’ stories

  1. Hi everyone

    does anyone know if there will be live feed from the court house? maybe not tv but at least a online broadcast so those of us not in cali can follow along with today’s entertainment.

      • It is live, but it lags. Alas, this is the first time I tried to embed a twitter feed into a WP post. Certainly watching it on Twitter is more efficient. Just wanted to caress my involvement 🙂

  2. Well the fact that we’ve seen zero news yet on twitter is a good thing. I’d take that to mean this hearing wasn’t simply rescheduled, something of substance is taking place.

  3. Here’s my predictions while we wait:

    No Shows:
    Duffy – eye surgery excuse
    Steele – I was waiting on the court’s response
    Paul – I was waiting on the court’s response
    Angela – – I was waiting on the court’s response
    Peter – Gibbs doesn’t know why.
    Lutz – Gibbs doesn’t know why.
    Cooper – Gibbs doesn’t know why – doesn’t exist.

    Gibbs – Has to show up.
    Cooper (the real one) He’ll somehow make the trip while the others couldn’t.

    I’ll be shocked if any of the other players outside of Gibbs shows up. Hopefully he throws them all under the bus.

    • “Cooper (the real one) He’ll somehow make the trip while the others couldn’t.”

      Sounds like you’re spot on. I think it’s so telling that a man with reportedly modest means could make it across the country in the amount of time allotted by the Judge, but the attorneys of Prenda law, some of whom brag openly about how much money they make and which expensive cars they drive, were not able to do the same. As if these people couldn’t sink lower…

  4. Adam Steinbaugh ‏@goodreverend

    Steele and friends didn’t show, but they’re available by phone. Alan Cooper — the real one — is here.

  5. Even if you aren’t personally involved in illegal content sharing, account holders are responsible for the actions of anyone on their network. Program participants hope that receipt of a warning will encourage account holders to take measures to restrict unauthorized activity on their network by talking to household members, limiting unauthorized access by encrypting their WiFi network, and/or installing software or hardware to block access to peer-to-peer sites.

    • considering a good number of judges call the negligence theory a crock of shit… yeah nice try but no, an account subscriber is not responsible for actions others take on his/her network and are perfectly entitled to run open WiFi if they so choose.

    • Yes, and all shop owners are required to pay mafia protection payments.

      Andrea, you are a little late to the party, you might want to read up on Prenda before you start preaching.

      • Yes, very odd that Andrea would show up here today, with this already discredited argument. Though as a diversionary tactic it seems to have failed.

    • By the same token you should be barefoot, in the kitchen and STFU woman. You are chattel, does your man know your pretending you have free will and the ability to speak for yourself?

      Oh right that is offensive, like you ignoring what Federal Court Judges have said.

      What is it like to be a “nerd” but having sold out to the media cartels supporting a system that isn’t legal but pretends it is. While your a business owner I’m sure your thrilled to corporations are now able to use corporate law when they can’t bribe enough congresscritters to vote for it.

      Might I kindly suggest that you go fuck yourself. Then go read the coverage of this trial and wonder why you decided to open your mouth in the wrong place at the wrong time.

    • You need to recheck your understanding of Duty in regards to reasonableness and the neighbour principle or do you have this idea that we all disregard Donoghue v Stevenson hmmm?

  6. According to twitter all except GIbbs and Cooper are no shows, but available via telephone. Supposedly it’s going really bad for Prenda, and they’re going to be calling Steele next.

  7. “Pietz is handling this masterfully. Gibbs lawyers tried to discredit Verizon decl. Gibbs introduces Verizon lawyer.”

    Another contradiction. In the Hansmeier deposition. Mr. Hansmeier states several times that ISP record keeping is “world-class”.

    From page 188

    Q. Is it fair to say that the ISPs’ recordkeeping is not, let’s say, 100 percent accurate with regard to
    each IP address?

    A. I would say they’re world-class. If it’s not 100 percent, it’s got to be right there.

    Q. Let’s say — I mean, in the cases where it resolves to no subscriber, is that because they attract the wrong IP address or because Comcast, for example, wasn’t able to say who that IP address belonged to?

    A. I will say that Comcast or Verizon or Time Warner, whoever the ISP is, if they’re not 100 percent on when they give that information out, they’ll just say they can’t do it. They are very careful. They’re world-class.

    So which is it Prenda? What kind of shop are they running over there at Verizon? Are they “world-class” at record keeping or is it amateur hour where they just lose track of court orders that are sent over?

  8. So what was that, a 3 hour hearing? I have a feeling some people are leaving that courtroom/hanging up their phones with a sinking feeling in their stomachs tonight.

  9. Adam Steinbaugh ‏@goodreverend
    I don’t want to practice law anymore because I will never — never — see a hearing like that again. #prenda

    Philip Malone ‏@MMaster_P
    @goodreverend so you are saying paying for the transcript would be worth it.

    Adam Steinbaugh ‏@goodreverend
    @MMaster_P pay for the transcript at 1000% its cost and it will be more than worth it.

  10. Adam Steinbaugh ‏@goodreverend
    Judge Wright: re: shell companies not paying taxes. “They’re not even shells.”

    Adam Steinbaugh ‏@goodreverend
    Wright: Hensmeier deposition most informative “primarily because of what you didn’t want revealed.” #prenda

    Adam Steinbaugh ‏@goodreverend
    Also: Steele left multiple voicemails to Alan Cooper — knowing Cooper was represented by counsel. #prenda

  11. Does Anybody know when the official transcript will be released or where to obtain a copy? I do not have pacer but am looking for whatever sources have the transcript if any at this time.
    Seems like some ish really went down today. Will they resume tomorrow?

    • My understanding is someone has to request it from the court and then it’s transcribed at your cost, which could get costly.

      My understanding also could be this process would have had to been requested prior to today’s hearing? but i’m leaning towards my first statement.

  12. Two hours since the end of the hearing and almost no news of substance. To read Adam Steinbaugh’s tweets, Gibbs had Wright wrapped around his finger and will get off with a slap on the wrist.

    • After what I’ve read, it’s pretty obvious that Gibbs is shit under Wright’s shoe and Wright only sees Gibbs as a small fish. Gibbs was NOT manipulating Wright, the man couldn’t even manipulate a toaster much less a federal judge who happens to be a Marine veteran and a former prosecutor. Wright REALLY wants Steele and Hansmeier’s heads on sticks so he’s being lenient with Gibbs (he could’ve easily had Gibbs’ ass hauled away in shackles). I’m guessing he’s gonna issue an order stating that Steele, Hansmeier, Duffy, et al are to appear in his court or promise to have them arrrested for criminal contempt and no more bullshit will be tolerated like filing an actual document with the Court instead of via CM/ECF…think that wasn’t deliberate?

  13. Breaking News!!!

    In a move that will stun the world Prenda Law just minutes ago filed 2 new lawsuits: one against judge Otis D Wright for “defamation due to utterance of the words “It’s not an open question the fact that falsified documents were filed” with regards to Prenda’s extortion business. Next lawsuit is, of course, directed at Twitter: Prenda subpoenaed the microblogging service for the IP addresses of all the people who followed the hashtags #Prenda, #Prendalaw or #PrendaBBQ since the beginning of 2011 until present time; and they want the IPs delivered in an Excel spreadsheet. (That sounds utterly familiar.) Apparently people who followed #JohnSteele_is_FULL_of_Shit can breathe a sigh of relief.

    This came right after the conclusion of today’s match of the decade where Prenda was grass and judge Otis D Wright the lawnmower!

  14. So Steele was trying to pay off – er – I mean settle his House Sitter/Caretaker the real Alan Cooper after he and his Atoorney brought the mis-use and ipossible dentity theft allegations to the court, and yet was dumb enough to leave those voicemails which seem like an intimidation tactic to coerce a settlement and too make the real Alan Cooper and his complaint go away so The fictional Alan Cooper could continue along….. Interesting of course my opinion

    I believe that Gibbs hired the Lawyers to defend him as a sham so he could say he wasnt complicit in Prendas activities and not just a babysitter….I love how Judge Wright called him out as he is now counsel at the new AF Holdings and Hard Drive productions. Why would Gibbs stay on the team if he wanted to distance himself from Prenda…I rthink he has a finacial intrest much like the others do in these copyright litigation mess

    I see some people getting reffered to the U.S. attorneys office and maybe even to the FBI…cause It smells like a RICO conspiracy in my mind

    • For Steele to call Cooper wasn’t just an intimidation tactic.

      It’s a HUGE violation of the rules for a lawyer to directly contact someone who he knows is represented by another lawyer. As soon as Steele got the letter from attorney Godfread saying that Godfread was representing Cooper, Steele was required to contact Cooper, if at all, only through Godfread.

      Steele was well aware that he was prohibited from saying word one directly to Cooper, let alone leaving nasty and intimidating voice messages. Steele’s apparent rationalization for this conduct, that Godfread was representing Cooper only in Cooper’s identity-theft lawsuit, and not in Steele’s defamation lawsuit against Cooper, doesn’t hold water.

      • I think it went beyond that.

        If memory serves the judge said he will have the voicemails transcribed and admitted as evidence, the audio was a bit difficult to understand, you can imagine a voice mail, loaded onto a playback device, then put through a PA system.

        However, what I heard was not simply that Steele was contacting/harassing/threatening Cooper when he was already represented. What I heard was Steele tell Cooper that he had contacted Godfread (Cooper’s attorney), and that Godfread had told Steele he was no longer representing Cooper, so Cooper should talk to Steele directly about–no joke–settlement (LOL!) or else his life would be turned upside-down by lawsuits from Illinois, Florida and Minnesota simultaneously.

        So my understanding was that Steele LIED to Cooper about his represented status in an attempt to trick him into dealing directly with Steele.

        Believe me, there are not words to describe the variety of facial expressions that appeared on Wright’s face while listening to Steele’s bullshit.

        Again, audio was not great, transcripts should be forthcoming, and we’ll no for sure, but in any case it made Steele look terrible and the Judge was not amused.

  15. the interesting issue with steele et all not showing is that judge write is going to now issue sanctions against them and when they contest he will say ” i gave you the opportunity to defend yourself on the 11th and you declined to take advantage of that offer”.

  16. No.

    Gibbs did not have Wright wrapped around his finger. Believe me nobody who’s touched Prenda or their shells (that are “not even shells” in Wright’s words) should feel safe.

    The tone of the hearing was set when Wright opened by calling out Prenda’s attorney.



    “HAVE A SEAT!”

    That was basically all he wanted to hear, although there was a brief exchange that established they were supposedly available by phone (whether that would be a domestic or international call was not established). She took a dressing down for the last minute filing tricks, but the bottom line is Wright did not dignify their gamesmanship by letting their attorney make excuses, he did not waste time grinding through their objections, he said they had been given an opportunity to explain themselves, and since they chose not take that opportunity he moved on. I can only imagine what she is thinking after sitting through that hearing, because I’m sure they didn’t fill her in on the backstory.

    The next order of business was calling out Hansmeier’s deposition. He dismissively tossed a copy on the desk in front of him (seriously) and said he spent the weekend reading it and it was the most revealing document thus far. Wright was extremely upset with that deposition. Extremely.

    “Someone has an awful lot to hide.”

    Hansmeier is probably in trouble.

    The rest is not very chronological and incomplete, just salient points:

    Wright used the phrase “the lawyers have a pecuniary interest.”

    He noted that none of these companies file tax returns.

    The fact that LiveWire has no office, just a P.O. box in DC, came up. Gibbs’ lawyer started to make an attempt to make this sound legit, but then he said something about it being a “cloud office,” there were derisive snorts, and he just kind of gave up.

    Wright took several specific shots at Prenda’s credibility. The word “lie” was used. And “fraud.” A few times when Gibbs was trying to pass blame to avoid giving a straight answer, Wright admonished him for doing “all the stuff that you do” to redirect responsibility. Expect a defamation suit against Judge Wright to be forthcoming…

    Alan Cooper of Minnesota was there. He confirmed the bits we’ve heard, that Steele bragged about his copyright litigation plans, Steele’s goal was $10,000/day for sending letters, told Cooper not to answer any calls related to Steele’s companies. Denied knowledge of all of Steele’s uses of the name “Alan Cooper.” Basically it confirmed what we had already heard and read in his letter, but no doubt putting this on the record, under oath, in front of this judge was very damaging to Prenda. Gibbs’ attorneys appeared to begin to counter Cooper’s testimony by asking Cooper if he had called Steele and left a voicemail asking “how are my porn companies doing?” Cooper simply said “no” and they gave up. This must have been a reference to the “iPhone record function” Steele was blabbering about on Twitter, but if there is anything there, Gibbs’ attorneys did not think it was worth pursuing. By that point Steele’s credibility had been shredded, and Pietz had played several voicemails of Steele threatening Cooper with more litigation, so I assume that if a recording (of someone) exists Gibbs’ attorneys do not have a copy and decided not to gamble on Steele’s word.

    During the break Mitch Stoltz told us EFF took care of Cooper’s travel arrangements, so those guys deserve all our thanks and if you wanted to find a way to help with Cooper’s travel arrangements, make a donation to the EFF.

    A new revelation that came out while Gibbs was under oath is that he was briefly a W2 employee of one or more of the shells, I think it was LiveWire and/or AF, but it’s so convoluted with the “mergers” and everyone owning everyone that it was hard to keep straight. That contradicted his prior statements that he had only ever been a 1099. Of course he was never paid while he was on the payroll, and it was strange, he sounded like he was bewildered by the fact he had been an employee, like maybe they did that without telling him first too? Since he was under oath at the time he was perhaps less likely to be BSing at that point, but that was the story regarding his surprise “in-house counsel” job.

    Wright dug into Gibbs quite a bit for pathologically failing to file notices of related cases, and Gibbs’ persistent confusion of “joinder” vs. “related” for filing purposes. He did a bit of digging into Gibbs weak and apparently inaccurate justification of his “investigation” of the properties. Wright said he had used Google Earth himself to take a look, so Gibbs ended up claiming that when he looked at maps of those addresses, the maps he saw had a different angle that totally gave the impression the house was surrounded by emptiness. It was not convincing.

    For the juicier issues of Prenda’s decision-making process, Gibbs pretty much just passed the blame on to “senior members” with lots of “decisions were made” type responses. After all our speculation that Duffy is a nominal figurehead, it was very interesting to hear Gibbs talk about who gave his marching orders. It sounded like he basically never talked to Duffy, maybe once or twice was the impression I got. Even after the firm supposedly changed ownership and Duffy took over, whenever Wright asked who was giving instructions and making decisions, it was always Steele and Hansmeier. No matter where we were in the timeline or who was supposed to be the owner of what, whenever Gibbs was asked who gave him orders it was “Paul and John,” and according to my notes the order Gibbs spoke was “Paul and John” which may be revealing, certainly Hansmeier has more direct involvement than I had believed to be the case. As they got to the newer entities Lutz’ name was sprinkled in here and there, almost as if they were still in the process of reconstructing the story to shift more responsibility (read: blame) to Lutz. In any case, it was enough to make me wonder if Duffy is even a real person, or if he has had his identity misused too or what, because he doesn’t seem to do anything, so it doesn’t make sense that he would put his name on this powderkeg of risk (unless of course he is getting fat checks, which may well be).

    I will grant that Gibbs did a somewhat successful job of looking duped and misled. He was even asked directly if he felt duped by Wright, and after a surprisingly long pause said “in a way.” Not that I believe this could be true after two years of working with Paul and John, but I think he pulled it off. There were one or two points that even made me feel a bit of sympathy for him. For example, according to Gibbs’ testimony, many of the recent dunning letters bearing his signature that have been sent out for cases in other states used a stamp of his signature without his permission. He claims this began after he had decided to get out and sever ties with the firm, and that he told Lutz and Steele to stop (of course he didn’t notify any courts or authorities…). It sounded like a possible carefully constructed CYA, but given Steele’s vindictiveness it may well be that Gibbs is a “victim” in the sense that Steele has been attempting to set Gibbs up for even more trouble. Gibbs deserves every bit of trouble he may get, but I don’t want Steele to be allowed to weasel out of his own share of responsibility by using Gibbs’ name instead of his own. I can also believe that Gibbs did not know about the Alan Cooper and other possible forgery issues.

    For the most part, the specific issues for which Gibbs was present became a sideshow. His attorneys kept returning to them, because that appeared to be all they were prepared for. My guess is they have absolutely no idea how deep the rabbit hole goes, but if they do know they have not had time to prepare excuses for the past two years of shenanigans, and they were overwhelmed. They had canned responses to the points on the OSC, but Wright was far more interested in digging into Prenda’s overall pattern of behavior and business model. Gibbs’ attorneys were unprepared to field those questions, and they occasionally offered up some objection that Wright’s line of inquiry wasn’t relevant to the OSC, but Wright rebuffed them by stating his concern was now patterns of practice and fraud upon the court. The last words from Gibbs’ counsel were an obviously prepared statement that seemed awkwardly out of place given the turn the hearing had taken; I believe they expected to show up, run through a prepared script, and call it a day. They are probably wondering what the hell happened.

    What struck me as ominous for Gibbs and especially the rest of Prenda is that Pietz and Ranallo appeared well prepared to go into greater depth to establish that Gibbs was working in more than an “of counsel” role, to argue the jurisdictional issues of the other Prenda guys, etc. But Wright really wasn’t interested in hearing more. But I don’t mean he didn’t find it relevant or convincing, more like he had made up his mind that this circus has gone on long enough. I would sum up his attitude at this point as “Why bother? I don’t need to hear this.” It was as if Wright was satisfied that he had more than enough for… Whatever comes next… And when he got to that point he was just done.

    To me, the absolute standout moment of the day was when Gibbs stepped down from the witness box and Wright said “Good luck to you.” You had to be there to appreciate the menace in his voice.

    For now, we can only guess what Gibbs might need that luck for.

    Personally, I think Lady Justice is practicing her dropkicks.

    • Thank you for your thorough and highly insightful synopsis. One question: was there any speculation during recess as to why Lutz and Peter Hansmeier were not represented by counsel? Seems odd that the Prenda lawyers would lawyer up but not the paralegal and the tech.

    • Now that is very illuminating.. With what Ken at Popehat wrote and Megan over at ARS wrote this gives a greater picture of the atmosphere within the court as well as some missing pieces that the other two didn’t have time to dwell on.


  17. What color was that Benz that Steele picked up and bragged about? Ill be monitoring federal auctions in few month…

  18. I can believe that perhaps Gibbs didn’t know about Cooper forgery, and maybe it was Steele using Gibbs email that wrote those emails regarding Cooper at the beginning, but two things I believe must be true:

    1. At some point early on in the Cooper saga, Gibbs had to have had a bad feeling that it was a forgery, and Gibbs did nothing to mitigate that besides burying his head in the sand. Isn’t it his duty as a lawyer?

    2. John Steele can not keep his mouth shut. He brags to us, the press, his home’s care giver (cooper). I’m sure when he’s ordering lunching at the drive through, he’s blabbing about his latest settlements. Multiple people in these shell companies and law firms, absolutely had to have known the truth about the Cooper, Saltmarsh, and Mony signatures, even if Steele originally did them on his own initiative. I’m sure the ink wasn’t even dry before he was calling his buddies to brag about it.

    Steele needs to go down, but those around him are also just as responsible. Should Gibbs go to jail? Probably not. Should he ever practice law again? No. How many mistakes did he make here just in his own interest? He’s not cut out for it. He’s not that bright.

    • Gibbs deserves to go to jail!
      We all had known for a while that something was fishy regarding Prenda’s business model; for someone who was directly involved, i.e. Gibbs, to claim that he was “duped” is simply not credible! Especially when one remembers Gibb’s arrogant dance around the truth! If he wanted to maintain his credibility he should have quit a long time ago AND notify the courts of any illegalities he might have noticed with regards to Prenda. To me it looks like Gibbs took pleasure in extorting $$ from people; he felt empowered by Prenda.

  19. Was there any mention of the motion to disqualify Wright at the hearing? Was that something that was written by Gibbs, or was it written by Steele & rubberstamped with Gibbs’ name?
    How about mention of the phone calls months ago between Pietz & Gibbs? Namely where Pietz asked about Cooper, and Gibbs was purposefully evasive & dismissive (I’m sure there are a lot of Alan Coopers in the world).

    I’m just not buying into the whole “poor widdle me is only ‘of counsel’, John & Paul call all the shots” thing. Gibbs has been in this for far too long, and talked to far too many people to be able to reasonably claim ignorance. Doing all the work for no pay and no clue of what’s going on for months?

    John & Paul may be writing the lyrics, but fucking Ringo here is obviously doing more than shuffling paper.

  20. Did I miss that Lutz and the other Hansmeier was excused from showing? Didn’t see much commentary about them..

  21. This seems about right to me.

    I am not the author, original poster on imgur, or responsible for this image in any way. Nor does its content reflect anything to be perceived as factual. Don’t (sue) shoot the messenger.

  22. And yet, still nothing has “really” touched these trolls. Slip slip slip away to continue their business. If it ends that way then you must concede they have a very powerful “uncle” in their corner. Will this be just a hand-slap for publicity sake??

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