Prenda’s first oral arguments in front of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals: a picture is worth a thousand words

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.

Mr. Voelker argues on benalf of the Prenda trio:


Mr. Voelker’s portion of the transcript:


Bart Huffman‘s argument:


Dan Booth‘s argument:


The justices asking questions:


Mr. Voelker during the rebuttal:


How the oral arguments ended for Prenda:


Mr. Duffy‘s inner child after the oral arguments:



Fantastic news: Prenda lost both appeals.

The first rule of holes, according to an old saying, is to stop digging.

Appellants’ burden in each of these proceedings was high and the record supports the district court’s holdings that they did not meet it. Any arguments that we have not discussed do not merit separate attention. We AFFIRM the order of sanctions imposed against appellants in No. 13-3801. We also AFFIRM the order in No. 14-1682 holding appellants in civil contempt and imposing the stated fine. Costs of appeal are to be taxed against appellants jointly and severally. See FED. R. APP. P. 39(a).

Congratulations to Dan, Jason, Erin, and everyone who took part, no matter how small, in uprooting the Prenda weed: it was truly a collective effort.


Special cheers to DieTrollDie: his post was mentioned in the order!

Also, don’t miss a hilarious Downfall parody Kat made.

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19 responses to ‘Prenda’s first oral arguments in front of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals: a picture is worth a thousand words

  1. Maybe even more talented as an artist than JohnHenryLawyer. This series should be donated to the Art Institute of Chicago in memoriam of the soon to be dead Prenda.

  2. SJD,

    I know you are not concentrating on Prenda any more. Still did it concern you that one of the female judges (I couldn’t tell them apart by voice) seemed to be focusing on the District Courts reliance on a section of the law that she felt didn’t apply?

      • Thanks. This just bothered me because in the original order Judge Murphy said “Since the order is not a final order and no judgment has been entered, Rule 59(e) is not applicable. Therefore, the motions filed by Duffy, Hansmeier, and Steele must be evaluated under Rule 60(b).” I have no idea what 59(e) or 60(b) say, but his analysis sounded so well thought out and researched, to then have Judge Wood (I believe) sound so sure it didn’t apply just made be wonder what was up. Hopefully someone can explain it where we both understand.

        • It’s been a long time since I’ve posted here h

          FRCP Rule 59(e) governs the time to file a motion to alter or amend a final judgment, Rule 60(b) concerns grounds for relief from a final judgment, order, etc based on errors and omissions made by opposing counsel, new evidence (well that doesn’t apply here….you can’t discover new evidence if you never had any in the first place), and (among other grounds) the judgment has been satisfied etc or the judgment has been reversed or vacated.

          Judge Murphy’s order is in question, the finality of it and I don’t understand why the panel even heard the appeal in the first place if it’s not a final judgment since they argued the merits as if it were a final judgment. Otherwise, it would be an appeal of an interlocutory order. I don’t really get how it could be evaluated under Rule 60(b) since that subsection governs final judgments, not interlocutory orders. Same for Rule 59(e), it governs final judgments, not interlocutory orders. I’m guessing that’s why Chief Judge Wood questioned the order’s language.

          For all of those who can’t differentiate between the two female judges, after Voelker said he could not answer the “in 25 words or less” question about Prenda’s relationship with Steele|Hansmeier and Alpha Law (and all the other crap), it was Judge Sykes who made the comment about it being incredible (or staggering, I can’t recall the sentence verbatim) that Voelker couldn’t answer the question.

          Quick note about Judge Murphy. He has since returned to private practice and actually is the retired federal judge who sits on the “Concealed Carry License Review Board” (CCLRB) for the State of Illinois.

        • @ThatAnonymousDude,

          Thank you much for the explanation. I’m still waiting for the lightbulb to go on, but I’m closer than I was.

        • If this is some help . . . judges can’t just rule on anything they like. The court must have authority over the case and the issue before the court must be ripe for hearing. Put differently, if there are more legal mechanics that could be hammered out in a lower court rather than in the appeals court, it will usually remand the case back to the district court from which it came with a statement that translates in layman’s term to “there is more that could be done, or should be done, in the district court, so we are sending this back for further action in the lower court. After you exhaust all your options in the lower court if you are still not happy come back and see us.”

          The whole debate about which rule is applicable matters a lot. Appellate courts normally confine themselves to review of “final orders” and don’t get involved with appeals of intermediate rulings in lower courts (sometimes they do, but that is more the exception). Rulings under some rules of civil procedure are final, some are not.

          I think Judge Wood was trying to determine the basis on which the 7th Circuit could issue a decision versus the need to remand back to the district court. The 7th Circuit in my experience are real sticklers for determining whether they have proper jurisdiction before they rule (that is a good thing; I wish all courts were so diligent).

        • I’ve been in the gallery during orals in front of a panel comprised of Posner, Flaum, and Williams. Voelker is SO lucky that the “computer” didn’t “randomly” draw Posner or Easterbrook. Posner would have jumped out of his chair and started screaming (which is what he did when I was in the gallery). That being said, yeah, CA7 judges are VERY strict about procedure. They will not hesitate to remand a case back to the district court if they see a procedural error e.g. the order/judgment is not final and yet the order/judgment was appealed as though it were final. Just to clarify, an interlocutory order is an order which occurs during the course of the case. Under the Collateral Order Doctrine, the interlocutory order may be appealed if it affects the outcome of the case but is collateral to the issue itself. I’d say Murphy’s order would fall into that category.

          James is correct, judges cannot just say “Well, we have jurisdiction under Rule…because I said so.” Wonder why we hardly ever see a case which came out of CA7 being argued in front of SCOTUS? Because they are sticklers for rules and the judges write air tight opinions. Posner’s opinion in Moore v. Madigan is amazing, he actually dug into the Framers’ intent, then analyzed SCOTUS precedent (one in particular…which he STRONGLY disagrees with but adhered to it). Pretty much all of Posner’s opinions are air tight, although he does love to include pictures in the opinion, usually inline.

          I wish the other circuits would follow suit, especially the Ninth Circuit (“Circus”). Several attorneys made huge procedural errors in two cases which were argued in front of the same panel on the same day in CA9 (constitutional issue, did not properly notify CA AG Harris). The Judges did not even notice until Harris filed motion to intervene, but the district court asked the CA AG if the State would be party to the action and the State said absolutely not (now Harris wants in because the State sorta kinda lost at CA9).

        • I’m not sure why this particular aspect intrigues me so. It probably has to do with the fact that Judge Murphy gave the exact same reason for saying he had to use 60(b), as Judge Wood gave for why it was inappropriate.

          The only thing I can figure is possibly Judge Murphy was supposed to tell the Prenda Trio that their Motions to reconsider were inappropriate since the order was not yet final, and re-file them when it was.

          @TAD, I don’t think the finality of the order being appealed (Doc 100) is in doubt. I think the discussion about finality is in relation to the rulings on motions about the previous order (Doc 65 I believe). It’s just that those rulings were in the same document as the final order.

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