As you may have noticed, I don’t write about Prenda anymore: my spare time is limited, and I prefer to spend it covering enemies of the society that are still strong and dangerous — unlike former Prenda stooges, who are being surely consumed by slow wheels of justice these days.
However, today’s court filing was too good to skip.
Those who follow the Prenda schadenfreude know that one of the two Prenda’s masterminds — Paul Hansmeier — filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy protection last year. The case was converted to Chapter 7 in December, and it only went downhill from there.
Hansmeier was “lucky” to draw a Chapter 7 trustee famous for his ability to uncover assets that hapless bankruptcy cheaters futilely try to hide from creditors. As TwinCities.com aptly stated,
Note to anyone contemplating bankruptcy: Don’t get on the wrong side of the trustee handling your case, especially if that trustee is Randy Seaver.
Of course such a fraudster as Paul was destined to get on the wrong side of Mr. Seaver, who since filed two adversarial proceedings against Paul Hansmeier and his wife Padraigin Browne. In one of these cases, MND 16-04018, the trustee moved for partial summary judgement, asking the court to reduce the exemption claim.
Below is Paul’s response to this motion. I bet you won’t believe your eyes at first. In essence, Hansmeier argues that the trustee’s motion must be denied in part because… Randall Seaver allegedly “buys a new Mercedes Benz every Christmas Eve.” There is an embedded picture of an unknown origin that firmly seals this solid argument. Also, claiming (without any citations) that Seaver does not know the law, Hansmeier asks the court
to order [Trustee] to show cause why he and his related attorneys should not be sanctioned and disbarred from practice before the Court.
Hansmeier’s attorney doesn’t want to represent the debtor anymore
Barbara J. May, attorney for debtor hereby moves the Court for permission to withdraw as attorney of record for debtor on an exigent basis pursuant to Local Rule 9010-3(e)(2), and states in support the following: She is unable to discharge her duties as an officer of the court and meet the requirements of her client at the same time. Counsel’s conflict between her obligation to her client and her obligation of fairness and candor to the court and opposing counsel makes counsel’s withdrawal mandatory under the Minnesota Rules of Professional Conduct.
As a commenter below noted, on her website Barbara May claims:
I handle the bankruptcy and divorce cases most attorneys won’t touch.
- Page: Paul Hansmeier’s bankruptcy (related documents and links in one place)
- 5/17/2016 StarTribune: Paul Hansmeier loses bankruptcy attorney Barbara May, who asks to withdraw
- ABA Journal: Lawyer steps aside from representing controversial litigator in his personal bankruptcy
- Techdirt: Bankruptcy fight may be the least of team Prenda’s concerns, as the FBI comes knocking
Today Hansmeier backpedaled and amended his opposition, which is basically the same, sans ad hominem attacks on Seaver:
The filing submitted by Hansmeier on May 13, 2016, was a non-final draft of his brief. Hansmeier apparently submitted the wrong brief when he sent the brief out for filing with the Court. Hansmeier apologizes to the Court and the parties to this case for submitting the non-final draft.
Today the Trustee replied to both Hansmeier’s and his wife’s responses, thoroughly addressing their Law v. Siegel claim.
Hansmeier’s original response consists of an unverified document in which he asserts a personal attack on the trustee, and refers, in an offhand manner, to the case of Law v. Siegel, 134 S. Ct. 118 (2014). Apparently, he has never read the case, or has simply chosen to ignore the facts of that case and this case. Law v. Siegel has no bearing on this case. As will be seen by the following analysis, if any of the attorneys on the Hansmeier-Browne team had reviewed the facts and the law, they would know that the case of Law v. Siegel has no relevance to the issues before this Court.
As for the Hasnmeier’s childish attack, Seaver didn’t buy a lame “filed in error” explanation:
On May 16, 2015, Hansmeier filed a “corrected” opposition to the Trustee’s motion for partial summary judgment. Hansmeier’s corrected filing claims, in a footnote, that the May 13, 2016, objection was “a non-final draft of this brief” and that it was submitted in error. Hansmeier fails to address any of the baseless allegations in his “draft brief,” and his corrected brief only addresses his Law v. Siegel argument and omits his previous request for sanctions and disbarment of the trustee and his attorneys. Hansmeier claims the original filing was in error, despite the fact that Hansmeier printed and signed the document before having it hand delivered to the Court. It is highly unlikely that Hansmeier did not understand what he was filing given the length of the objection, its content, and the inclusion of a picture.
When an attorney withdraws under because they can’t resolve a conflict between their duty to their client (e.g., privilege) and the court, it means their client is asking them to do something or intends to make statements that the attorney knows or believes to be false. For example, if the client informs the attorney that they intend to lie on the witness stand, the attorney’s only recourse is to withdraw for the reasons that May did, since knowingly allow the client to provide false testimony violates the attorney’s duty of candor to the court.
The language used in the the petition to withdraw is always telling of what happened. Here, May said “Counsel’s conflict between her obligation to her client and her obligation of fairness and candor to the court and opposing counsel makes counsel’s withdrawal mandatory under the Minnesota Rules of Professional Conduct.”
The RPC states:
“A lawyer ordinarily must decline or withdraw from representation if the client demands that the lawyer engage in conduct that is illegal or violates the Rules of Professional Conduct or other law.”
Most, if not all, trial attorneys know exactly what May’s language means — her client is insisting on a course of action that is illegal or violates the RPC, thus mandating her withdrawal. More importantly, judges all know exactly what this means. This is so damning for Hansmeier that reading more into it is unnecessary.
Judge Sanberg ordered to suppress the “Mercedes” motion from the public record.
I cut 8 minutes from the audio recording of yesterday’s hearing, where Trustee Seaver expresses his strong feelings about Hansmeier’s behavior, and Hansmeier tries to explain what happened. According to Paul, it was not him, but his non-lawyer brother Peter who picked a wrong draft from a shared dropbox folder, then printed, signed and hand-delivered the motion in question to the court. I don’t see any value in adding another poll asking whether you believe this excuse or not: this question is rhetorical.
As for the suppression of the document… no, I’m not going to remove it even if asked politely. Given the context, I don’t believe that publicizing it could even remotely embarrass Mr. Seaver. The only reputation that is at stake here is Hansmeier’s. And I don’t give two shits about it.
It looks like all this bankruptcy business is the smallest of Hansmeier’s worries. As Popehat reported today (and I knew it for a while, but opted to wait), the FBI is actively calling defense attorneys about Prenda.