Prenda Law Tries The 'I Know You Are, But What Am I' Legal Strategy

from the legal-childishness-at-work dept

Ah, Prenda Law. As you may recall, there's been an ongoing fight over some Prenda cases in California, with the key players being Prenda lawayer Brett Gibbs, lawyer for some John Doe defendants Morgan Pietz, and judge Otis Wright. Oh yeah, and the possibly mysterious Alan Cooper, who may or may not be Prenda mastermind John Steele's property caretaker. As you may recall, the caretaker Cooper had a lawyer file some documents in some Prenda cases involving shell companies AF Holdings and Ingenuity 13, suggesting that he was worried that Steele had faked his identity and claimed that Cooper was the CEO of those two companies, when they were really controlled by Steele.

While Cooper's claims were not made by him in the California cases, Pietz brought them up in those cases, leading to a series of hissy fits from Gibbs. At first he refused to answer a simple question about who Alan Cooper really is, and then when ordered to do so by Judge Wright, asked that Wright be removed from the case for bias. If you thought that was the end of things, you don't know Prenda Law, apparently. The latest filing from Gibbs takes legal childishness to altogether new levels, more or less trying to flip things around and claim that it's really Pietz who is making up people who he represents. I'm not joking.
Thus far, Attorney Morgan Pietz has submitted filings in approximately twenty cases in the Central District on the basis of the fact that he represents the putative John Doe in this case. However, Mr. Pietz has not offered a single shred of evidence to support this assertion. As it stands, Mr. Pietz could very well be intervening in all of these cases for his own ends, with no real client that he is defending. If Mr. Pietz wishes to contest the plain, unambiguous evidence of bias that Plaintiff has demonstrated in its Motion for Disqualification, then Mr. Pietz should have to submit evidence that he is, in fact, representing the actual individual he claims to represent, and not merely inserting himself into cases on the pretense of representing that individual.
Every time we see another story about Prenda law, it seems to involve someone associated with the firm doing something incredibly unprofessional and childish, in a manner suggesting they think they're a hell of a lot smarter than everyone else and are actually pulling something over on the world -- when the reality is that all of their moves seem ridiculously transparent.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 8th, 2013 @ 2:04pm

    Ahh, Prete^H^Hnda Law...

    Anyone else think they should change their name from "Prenda" to "Pretenda"? Just read it in the "It's-a me, Mario!" voice:

    "We pretend-a to a-know what we're a-doing!"

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 8th, 2013 @ 2:04pm

    Prove you're John Doe's lawyer

    Prove your John Doe's lawyer by providing us his real name, address, phone number, bank account and credit card information.

    If you don't, you must be just some lawyer off the street who has too much time on your hands and took on a case just for fun.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Any moose in the cow herd?, Jan 8th, 2013 @ 4:26pm

      Re: Prove you're John Doe's lawyer

      From a psychology standpoint, this appears to be a classic case of projecting. Here we have lawyers who are willing to do anything to subvert justice without any care for honesty or legality and automatically assume all other lawyers must be the same. It's also an attempt at misdirection, to get eyes looking where you want them instead of where they should be, typical sleight of hand tricks one expects from a magician, not lawyers. They don't seem to realize that it's far too late for that. The judge has already seen the man behind the curtain.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    S. T. Stone, Jan 8th, 2013 @ 2:12pm

    Be proud, Charles Carreon, for your Effect lives on.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 8th, 2013 @ 2:13pm

    If I was Pietz, I'd hire a detective to follow Gibbs in case he tries to skip the country. The guy's backed into a corner and knows it, and he's too much of a sleazeball to go down fighting.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      DannyB (profile), Jan 8th, 2013 @ 2:17pm

      Re:

      Pietz should not have to spend his (or his client's) money to do that.

      If the real possibility exists, could the court order Gibbs to turn over his passport to the court?

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        identicon
        S. T. Stone, Jan 8th, 2013 @ 2:20pm

        Re: Re:

        In a civil trial? I doubt it.

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        icon
        That Anonymous Coward (profile), Jan 8th, 2013 @ 5:38pm

        Re: Re:

        I'd just like to point out Mr. Lutz Pretenda's debt collector/1099 company representative who knows nothing about the companies he's appeared in court representing has already sold off most of his possession from his FL home and fled to Mexico.
        It might be high time that someone freeze the assets of Pretenda and the new company name, grab some passports, and start demanding answers to very serious questions.
        Mr. Steele publicly stated he was making millions, and I am willing to bet most of that money is in St.Kitts/Nevis where the shell companies are set up.

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    Nigel (profile), Jan 8th, 2013 @ 2:15pm

    10,000 daily in sanctions

    Perhaps that would be incentive enough to answer the question.

    I can't help but think that at the end of the day it would be pretty freaking amusing to be in Prenda's cross-hairs.

    Nigel

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      DannyB (profile), Jan 8th, 2013 @ 2:18pm

      Re: 10,000 daily in sanctions

      It might not be collectible. But the court could hold him in contempt, and in jail until he answers. Things like that have been done before by judges.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    DannyB (profile), Jan 8th, 2013 @ 2:20pm

    What are the chances?

    What are the chances that this strategy will actually distract the court and Gibbs won't have to answer the question of who is Alan Cooper?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      That One Guy (profile), Jan 8th, 2013 @ 2:51pm

      Re: What are the chances?

      Well that depends, has the judge in this case taken massive amounts of drugs recently, and/or suffered extensive cranial trauma? If not, then I really doubt this newest bit of smoke and mirrors will actually work.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    Matthew Cline (profile), Jan 8th, 2013 @ 2:21pm

    But that does raise the interesting question...

    If a defendant wishes to remain anonymous, how does the court verify that the lawyer who claims to be representing them really is representing them?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Another AC, Jan 8th, 2013 @ 2:37pm

      Re: But that does raise the interesting question...

      If he's doing a good job defending, does it matter? :)

      But seriously, I suspect the court would take his word that he is actually defending the John Doe as sufficient.

      I also suspect that they would probably take Gibb's word as sufficient as well that Alan Cooper is a different Alan Cooper then John Steeles' caretaker - the problem is that he won't come out and say it which is probably why he is being pressed on it.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, Jan 8th, 2013 @ 5:44pm

        Re: Re: But that does raise the interesting question...

        The problem for Gibbs is, John Steele's caretaker has filed statements saying Steele told him to call if anyone contacted Cooper asking about John's fake companies... Now why would a property manager need to be in the loop on the property owner's extortion scam? It sounds super-suspicious, and the bottom line is if there is a real Alan Cooper in Saint Kitts and Nevis it should be easy enough for him to file even just a statement saying he exists, especially if he expects to enjoy the use of the US courts. Forget invasive discovery or document filing requirements, why isn't there some person who will least claim to be the Alan Cooper at issue? Think of how stupid this defendant's attorney would look if Gibbs just busted out some simple proof the real Alan Cooper exists and made all of these accusations disappear. The fact that he won't do this when it would only be to his and his plaintiff's advantage and the defendant's disadvantage says it all.

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      DannyB (profile), Jan 8th, 2013 @ 2:48pm

      Re: But that does raise the interesting question...

      Maybe the defense counsel can identify their anonymous client to the court and only to the court. The client can remain unknown to the plaintiff. That could satisfy the court that the defendant is indeed real.

      The plaintiff in this case wants to discover the identify of the defendant. If the plaintiff can stop playing games like "where's the CEO?" and "I know you are . . .", then they could get on with starting a real litigation against the defendant and then discover defendant's identity during actual litigation.

      Alas, the plaintiff never had any actual intention of litigating.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, Jan 8th, 2013 @ 3:52pm

        Re: Re: But that does raise the interesting question...

        And watch Prenda make up some crap how they "already told the Judge who he is (He's ALAN COOPER of course!)" so they don't have to say it again......

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, Jan 8th, 2013 @ 3:54pm

        Re: Re: But that does raise the interesting question...

        Also, "where's the CEO" isn't a game.
        It's a very VERY serious issue which could get a lot of Prenda's lawyers disbarred and in deep deep shit with the IRS, the SEC and a bunch of others.....

        I say we combine the forces of today's modern evil and have a TSA agent do a full cavity search of Steele to see if Alan is hiding up there.....

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    Vidiot (profile), Jan 8th, 2013 @ 2:28pm

    Sounds familiar

    "... evidence that he is, in fact, representing the actual individual he claims to represent, and not merely inserting himself into cases..."

    Cue the Monty Python bit:
    M: "If you're arguing, I must have paid."
    A: "Not necessarily. I could be arguing in my spare time."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    Tunnen (profile), Jan 8th, 2013 @ 2:36pm

    A few, not so, good men

    Gibbs: You want answers?
    Pietz: I think I'm entitled to them.
    Gibbs: You want answers?
    Pietz: I want the truth!
    Gibbs: You can't handle the truth!

    =P

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    weneedhelp (profile), Jan 8th, 2013 @ 2:40pm

    Im going to wake up

    And this will have been a Three Stooges movie playing in the background to which there is a good ending... it wasn't real.

    But alias.... its very very real... and wont end soon enough.

    The dream of a dream is nice to dream about though.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      DannyB (profile), Jan 8th, 2013 @ 2:50pm

      Re: Im going to wake up

      > But alias.... its very very real... and wont end soon enough.


      No. It will end too soon. Just as Righthaven did. There was too long of a dry spell in 2012 without such comedy relief.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    weneedhelp (profile), Jan 8th, 2013 @ 2:44pm

    an afterthought

    Wouldnt it be funny if there was a Craigslist ad:
    Looking for an Alan Cooper.
    Cushy CEO position awaits.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    That One Guy (profile), Jan 8th, 2013 @ 2:54pm

    Of course the part that kills me the most about this circus act, is that despite apparently being smart enough to make it through law school, Prenda's lawyers actually seem to think that all this song and dance is doing anything other than making everyone even more sure that the 'mystery CEO' is in fact a complete fabrication.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      That Anonymous Coward (profile), Jan 8th, 2013 @ 11:13pm

      Re:

      No its keeping the doors of their extortion mill open another day.
      The new company name they moved onto after not filing the yearly report with IL for Pretenda, has been sending out demand letters under the new name to unmasked Does.
      Mind you some of the names they hold are from a case where they Judge told them they could not use them... and funny those names have been used.

      The money rolls in, is quickly offshored, and the empty husk of the company will have nothing for anyone to pick over.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        icon
        That One Guy (profile), Jan 9th, 2013 @ 8:45am

        Re: Re:

        Hmm, should something like that happen, I would hope that a judge would be able to threaten them with either A) Jail time, or B) Extensive monetary fines. I bet if they were presented with those two options that money would come stateside mighty quick.

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        •  
          icon
          That Anonymous Coward (profile), Jan 11th, 2013 @ 3:19am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Thats the problem. They are getting the names in cases scattered across the country. They dismiss the cases, and just run the settlement machine. No oversight, no one to complain to (who will bother to listen), and the people making all of this public are all hiding behind nyms because we can't afford the hassle of Pretenda launching a campagin against us.
          Its so very hard to get a Judge to accept someone filing anonymously, let alone get them to consider the facts reported to them.

           

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 8th, 2013 @ 3:06pm

    If you're wondering why Mike Masnick is always writing about cases like this... it's because he hates copyright and hates it when copyright law is enforced.

    You're welcome.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Jan 8th, 2013 @ 3:46pm

      Re:

      "If you're wondering why Mike Masnick is always writing about cases like this... it's because he hates copyright and hates it when copyright law is enforced."

      Aside from being a troll, what's your point?

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Jan 8th, 2013 @ 5:30pm

      Re:

      If you're wondering why the same troll can't explain the legal failings of his heroes, it's because calling his bluff makes his dick sad.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      That Anonymous Coward (profile), Jan 8th, 2013 @ 5:34pm

      Re:

      Ohai Mr. Gibbs... glad you could take time to bring your temper tantrum online.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    NAProtector, Jan 8th, 2013 @ 3:16pm

    Problem with Argument

    If Gibbs is saying that Pietz is making up clients, doesn't that mean that the cases are targeting imaginary people from the start.

    [Insert Imaginary Character's Name Here] being sued for copyright infringement of [Insert Imaginary Character's Name Here] movie.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      S. T. Stone, Jan 8th, 2013 @ 4:32pm

      Re: Problem with Argument

      Somehow, I donít believe he thought his cunning stunt all the way through.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        icon
        G Thompson (profile), Jan 8th, 2013 @ 6:48pm

        Re: Re: Problem with Argument

        Well a cunning plan that results in a crisis requires another cunning plan of course.

        Should we send Gibbs two pencils and a pair of underpants perhaps?

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    kenichi tanaka, Jan 8th, 2013 @ 4:01pm

    Why hasn't Brett Gibbs had his attorney's license revoked by the state bar? Because, surely, he's crossing some ethical line that lawyers should never cross. You would think that the American Bar Association would pull him in for a hearing.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 8th, 2013 @ 4:59pm

    It's the old legal strategy of ...

    If the law is on your side, pound on the law.
    If the facts are on your side, pound on the facts.
    If neither facts nor law are available, pound on the table.

    ... with a new twist:
    If you're in way, way, waay over your head, and the stress has blown most mental fusing, pound that career to bits on the rocks.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    BentFranklin (profile), Jan 8th, 2013 @ 7:57pm

    If I were Cooper, and Gibbs and Steele insisted I am the CEO, then I would just say, "Fine, you're fired."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    sophisticatedjanedoe (profile), Jan 8th, 2013 @ 9:59pm

    This time I'm late to the feast :) Ohai TAC BTW.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    avideogameplayer, Jan 9th, 2013 @ 2:41am

    I'd laugh if:

    The judge dismissed this whole mess with prejudice and throwing Pretending Inc. in jail for abuse and contempt.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 9th, 2013 @ 8:04am

    Will the real Alan Cooper please stand up?

    "I am Alan Cooper."

    "No, I am Alan Cooper."

    "I am Alan Cooper."

    "I am Alan Cooper."

    Just doesn't have the same 'machismo' as "I am Spartacus"....

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This