Prenda Law Update: How Do You Serve An Alan Cooper Who Might Not Exist?

from the challenges,-challenges dept

Having taken a break from visiting the docket for the big Prenda showdown in California, I'd missed the latest interesting update in the case. As you may recall, Judge Otis Wright has ordered all of Team Prenda back to his court room on April 2nd, for what should be an entertaining hearing. Part of that order was a very explicit order to Brett Gibbs to serve everyone by the very next day, and to file proof of such service as of Monday of this week. Ken over at Popehat has the news on the proof of service explanation filed from Gibbs' lawyers, who appear to have (smartly) done everything they possibly could to serve everyone listed as carefully as possible.

Ken notes one interesting tidbit is that the lawyer, who showed up in court representing John Steele, Paul Hansmeier, and Paul Duffy, told Gibbs' lawyer, Andrew Waxler, that she was "unable to accept service" for those individuals. Ken's response:
Normally, if you were trying to avoid a federal judge's wrath, you'd be a little more cooperative than that. The refusal suggests to me that (1) they are trying to preserve their frankly specious lack-of-personal-jurisdiction argument, and/or (2) Steele, Hansmeier, Duffy, and the paralegal aren't cooperating with their counsel. You can stand on ceremony and insist on formal service, but all I can say is if Judge Wright were that mad at me, I'd want the proof of service to reflect that I happily accepted service to make things easier.
Another interesting question: how do you serve the "Alan Cooper of AF Holdings LLC" since most people are pretty sure that no such person exists? Well, here's how:
Service on "Alan Cooper, of AF Holdings LLC." The only "Alan Cooper" that we are aware of appeared in Court on March 11th. I understand that he claims that he is not affiliated with AF Holdings. We further understand that Mr. Steele may contend otherwise. In any event, since we know of no other Alan Cooper than the person that appeared in Court, I reached an agreement with his attorney, Paul Godfread, that I can serve "Alan Cooper" via email only care of Mr. Godfread's email address.... Pursuant to that agreement, we served Mr. Cooper c/o Mr. Godfread on March 15th. Mr. Godfread did acknowledge receipt of the email when he wrote back with the following remarks: "Please note that I do not represent Alan Cooper of AF Holdings. I only represent Alan Cooper of Isle, MN. I do not accept service on behalf of Alan Cooper of AF Holdings. I not agree to accept service on behalf of Alan Cooper of AF Holdings. Please also note that the most recent order specifically does not order my client, Alan Cooper of Isle, MN to appear."
Got that? So they serve the real Alan Cooper, who says he's not the fake Alan Cooper, and the judge has already made it clear that the real Alan Cooper need not appear. Steele may argue that these Alan Coopers are one and the same, but that's going to be quite a mountain to climb, convincing anyone that this Alan Cooper was actually a representative of AF Holdings.

As for the others? They served John Steele at his last known Florida residence (though I've heard he's moved elsewhere) as well as at a variety of different email addresses, though some of them bounced. They served Paul Hansemeir similarly, and after a number of bounced emails, did receive at least some sort of confirmation that a somewhat generic email address was "Paul's email address." As for Paul Duffy, they sent the letter to his last known address and email address -- which did not bounce. Paralegal Angela Van Den Hemel was similarly served, though somehow (it is not clear how) notified them that the email address they used is "no longer active." Mark Lutz -- whose name was remarkably absent during the first big Prenda trial (and who, unlike the others, appears to never have even replied to the original order) was also served similarly -- but they also left voice mails for him to get him to confirm his address. Lutz never returned the calls or acknowledged the emails, but not all of the emails bounced (same deal as with Peter Hansmeier).

For the companies, they just served the relevant principles: Duffy for Prenda Law and Steele Hansmeier, Lutz for Livewire, AF Holdings and Ingenuity 13.

At this point, it will be difficult for anyone to claim they were not properly served, but I wouldn't be surprised to see them try.

Either way, given their reactions to date, I'm curious how many people are actually going to show up in court on April 2nd.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Alana (profile), Mar 22nd, 2013 @ 12:35am

    The obvious answer is nobody.

    They're avoiding showing up like the plague.

     

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

  2.  
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    Oneros, Mar 22nd, 2013 @ 12:59am

    A joke that was never, ever funny. Remedial. C-

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 22nd, 2013 @ 1:00am

    How do you serve an Alan Cooper who might not exist? No idea. I think Chicken Joe is squirming in his seat as he desperately tries to weasel out a solution. On the other hand, Chicken Blue is screaming how no one is proposing one.

     

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  4.  
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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Mar 22nd, 2013 @ 1:15am

    Ok Mike don't miss this either. The answers to the remaining defamation suits were filed.

    http://fightcopyrighttrolls.com/2013/03/21/answers-are-filed-in-the-prendas-defamation-law suits/

    I fully expect that no one but Gibbs will show up and they might try the phoning it it gambit again. And I think that Judge Wright will phone it in, phone in a request for Marshals to assist them in finding their way to his court room.

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 22nd, 2013 @ 1:16am

    Re:

    Because it's obvious that Judge Wright will gun them down HARD, legally-speaking.

     

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

  6.  
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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Mar 22nd, 2013 @ 1:24am

    Re: Re:

    He has offered them 2 chances to answer questions raised in his courtroom.
    He made it clear if they were to not attend his second invitation, he would consider those actions as answers to his questions.

    They could have stood before the Judge and tap danced and plead the 5th, to outright behave like petulant children they are hoping he will get very angry and make an error they can cling tenaciously to in the vain hope of escape.

     

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  7.  
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    Digdug (profile), Mar 22nd, 2013 @ 1:28am

    Re:

    "We're going to need you to come with us Mr. Steele."

    *waves hand* "I'm not the guy you're looking for."

     

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

  8.  
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    Josef Anvil (profile), Mar 22nd, 2013 @ 2:12am

    It's all very clear now.

    None of these people actually exist.

    This is the ultimate in identity theft. The people are just interchangeable data sets.

    Only the corporation actually exists.

     

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

  9.  
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    Josef Anvil (profile), Mar 22nd, 2013 @ 2:14am

    Re: It's all very clear now.

    This is what happens when you declare that corporations are people. WTF did they think would happen? Of course people want to be able to shift all blame and wrongdoing to a concept that can't show up in court.

     

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

  10.  
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    Lurker Keith, Mar 22nd, 2013 @ 2:27am

    Re: Re: It's all very clear now.

    You don't think this is why the Judge ordered the Corporations served as well, do you?

    Thus, the Court amends its February 7, 2013 Order to Show Cause (ECF No. 48) to include sanctions against the persons and entities in subparagraphs a–m below:

    [...]

    h) Prenda Law, Inc.;

    i) Livewire Holdings LLC;

    j) Steele Hansmeier PLLC;

    k) AF Holdings LLC;

    l) Ingenuity 13 LLC; and

    m) 6881 Forensics, LLC.

     

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  11.  
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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Mar 22nd, 2013 @ 3:15am

    Re: Re: Re: It's all very clear now.

    It most likely was an attempt to unmask the figures behind them and get them or their representatives to appear.

    It also illustrated quite plainly to the others on the list, he knows most, not all, of the players involved in this little game they have going.

    There are other names, but there has been no evidence in court introducing them yet... but I'm sure someone will make sure to give them a very through investigation before to long. On the upside, the names allegedly behind those names were already summoned to the party.

     

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  12.  
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    Lurker Keith, Mar 22nd, 2013 @ 3:41am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: It's all very clear now.

    I was jokingly (hard to pull off properly in just text) wondering if Judge Wright is more clever than we're giving him credit for (considering how much credit he has, that would be impressive).

     

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  13.  
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    Ninja (profile), Mar 22nd, 2013 @ 4:10am

    Hmm, send him a DMCA notice. Aren't those supposed to go for imaginary property? Maybe they work for imaginary people too =D

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 22nd, 2013 @ 4:56am

    Hitler is not pleased

     

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  15.  
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    New Mexico Mark, Mar 22nd, 2013 @ 5:12am

    Re: Hitler is not pleased

    Yep... meme is still funny.

     

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

  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 22nd, 2013 @ 5:23am

    April Fools...

    They should have made the hearing for the 1st rather than the 2nd, it would would been more in keeping with the there of this case...

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 22nd, 2013 @ 5:26am

    Re: April Fools...

    In keeping with the THEME of this

     

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

  18.  
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    Spaceman Spiff (profile), Mar 22nd, 2013 @ 6:03am

    Bench warrants?

    I hope the judge has a good supply of bench warrant forms so he can "serve" these asshats! :-)

     

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  19.  
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    DannyB (profile), Mar 22nd, 2013 @ 6:24am

    Re: Re:

    > > They're avoiding showing up like the plague.

    > Because it's obvious that Judge Wright will gun them down HARD, legally-speaking.


    Because not showing up will protect them from the Wrath of Wright.

    If a bench warrant is issued for them, can they then wiggle out of showing up?

     

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

  20.  
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    Miles (profile), Mar 22nd, 2013 @ 6:25am

    Om nom nom..

    Oh wow.. The popcorn has been popped, salted and buttered, and I'm sitting here in my comfy chair just waiting for the show to begin!

    *Rubs hands together in anticipation*

     

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

  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 22nd, 2013 @ 6:29am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Outside of faking their own deaths and leaving the country, probably not.

     

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  22.  
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    DannyB (profile), Mar 22nd, 2013 @ 6:30am

    Re: Bench warrants?

    They might already be filled out and merely awaiting a signature. Have the clerk of the court ready to fax them to the federal marshal.

    John Steele: I refuse service of your federal bench warrant.

    Hand cuffs: Clllllliiiiiick.

     

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

  23.  
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    DannyB (profile), Mar 22nd, 2013 @ 6:31am

    Prenda's plan all along

    I see it now.

    Prenda's plan all along was to make $10,000 per day from a copyright troll shakedown.

    Failing that, their plan B was to kill us all from popcorn.

     

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

  24.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 22nd, 2013 @ 7:04am

    Re: Prenda's plan all along

    I have a feeling that Prenda has assets in the popcorn industry and are doing this to drive up their value.

     

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

  25.  
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    MD, Mar 22nd, 2013 @ 7:13am

    But...

    The trouble is, eventually the people that DO exist will show up in court - with or without handcuffs. Then they will have to answer questions like "describe the circumstances under which you interacted with the alleged 'Cooper' ?"

    I wonder what happens when they plead the fifth at that point? I imagine filing false court dcuments with an assumed / stolen identity is a form of perjury; and charged with that, they will have to either produce a Cooper or bunk with Bubba.

    After all, if they show up and cooperate, they'd probably get a few years plus fines plus loss of licenses; plus those false court docunet charges, identity theft, etc. If they are difficult the outcome probably won't be any worse, they just have more time to hide assets.

    Screwed now, or screwed in a few months... decisions, decisions.

     

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  26.  
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    Anon. Cwd., Mar 22nd, 2013 @ 8:02am

    Re: April Fools...

    Should have kept it on 3/31, great day for a crucifixion.

     

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  27.  
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    PRMan, Mar 22nd, 2013 @ 9:23am

    Re: Re: April Fools...

    Well, technically that would be Good Friday, the 29th. I don't anticipate these guys rising from the dead afterward...

     

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  28.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 22nd, 2013 @ 9:36am

    Re: Re: Re: April Fools...

    He will just come back as another permutation of his name, maybe Alex Cooper instead of Alan Cooper... Leaving Alan Cooper free to pursue his porno career.

     

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

  29.  
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    Sml156, Mar 22nd, 2013 @ 9:53am

    Mr. Cooper

    I regret to inform you but Mr. Cooper has committed suicide while vacationing in Borneo

     

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

  30.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 22nd, 2013 @ 10:02am

    Re: Mr. Cooper

    No, he was killed and dumped in a back alley in Achin' Asshole, AL.

     

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

  31.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 22nd, 2013 @ 10:22am

    Re: Re: Mr. Cooper

    We regret to inform the court that Mr. Cooper of AF Holdings could not be here today as he very sadly accidentally cut off his head while combing his hair.

     

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

  32.  
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    RyanNerd (profile), Mar 22nd, 2013 @ 11:00am

    I kind of feel guilty eating my popcorn

    I keep thinking about Alan Cooper (the real one not the one that is an invisible figment of Prenda Law’s imagination.)

    He appears to be one of the biggest victims in all of this mess. Eating popcorn while others are suffering is kind like stopping at a traffic accident to buy peanuts from one of the reporters.

     

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

  33.  
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    Brent (profile), Mar 22nd, 2013 @ 1:44pm

    i mean, this makes it pretty obvious that they are trying to avoid court so that the fraud (Alan Cooper) they all had to know about won't be exposed which will probably result in criminal charges (in addition to sanctions), right?

     

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  34.  
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    special-interesting (profile), Mar 22nd, 2013 @ 8:52pm

    Dodging court served papers does happen. Keeping in mind how abused the court system can be so its a strategy. However here we have a case where the court itself may think there's evidence of abuse and is ready to ferret out the exact details, identify the source(s), and the process has already started.

    If they don't show it would be bad and look bad for any lawyer who, by just being a lawyer in good standing, are unavoidably available just dealing with normal client business. Not being able to respond quickly to the usual demands from new clients, defense or prosecution staff and typical timely court filings would ruin any law firm.

    They either have their shingle out swinging out on the front lawn (and active phone numbers, web address, etc.) or they don't.

    It possible they are counting on only daily fines being levied for a no show on April 2nd. Its possible that they want to attend a smaller hearing, by suffering a few days of fines and criticism for lame excuses, rather than the likely three ring circus on the 2nd.

    They may even be counting on the O'l boy network by trying for a private meeting in the judges chambers. However harsh the judge might treat them it would still be out the the public eye. This would also give the advantage of not having to show up with everyone else. (whom some are obviously hostile parties)

    Of course if warrants are issued for contempt of court they might show up the very next day or so and in the morning also so as to assure a prompt hearing possibly/hopefully avoiding incarceration. This would also allow some to escape the wild party on the 2nd but only at such a cost.

    Then again of course they could always try to run...

    Or they might try a scapegoat. “It was all his idea!”, “take one for the team boy” (just a few possibilities of course)

    Ultimately there will likely be a trial date. The charges are still being examined. This could take months maybe even years. Verdict: the stores will sell a lot of popcorn and butter.

     

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


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