Nevada Bar Investigating Righthaven Lawyers

from the keep-digging dept

It seems things keep getting worse and worse for Righthaven. With its lawsuits losing big time, and the underpinning of many of its lawsuits being dropped as a sham, it appears that the Nevada state bar is now investigating the company and its lawyers, after some grievances have been filed against the copyright trolling operation. People at the Nevada state bar have admitted that there are “two or possibly three” grievances being investigated. Steve Green has the details:

Court records suggest the State Bar in reviewing the Righthaven litigation is focusing on two broad areas:

— Whether Righthaven and its attorneys have engaged in champerty and barratry ? generally defined as the improper incitement and prosecution of lawsuits by parties with no real interest in the outcome ? and that hope to profit by such lawsuits.

Attorneys for one of the Righthaven defendants, Thomas DiBiase, for instance, have charged: “DiBiase asserts that the purported copyright assignment from Stephens Media to Righthaven is a sham and that Righthaven is engaged in champerty and barratry by filing litigation on copyrights that it does not own.”

— Whether Righthaven and its attorneys have made misrepresentations to the court. If true, that would appear to be a violation of the Nevada Supreme Court?s Rules of Professional Conduct.

These rules say, in part, “It is professional misconduct for a lawyer” to “engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation.” The rules also say, “A lawyer shall not knowingly make a false statement of fact or law to a tribunal or fail to correct a false statement of material fact or law previously made to the tribunal by the lawyer.”

Both of those may end badly for Righthaven and its lawyers, especially the latter. The fact that Righthaven failed to reveal that Stephens Media was a 50% beneficial party to any legal results is a huge omission that I can’t see the state bar brushing off as a minor infraction. It’s still rather stunning that the company didn’t realize that such information would eventually come out.

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Companies: righthaven

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Comments on “Nevada Bar Investigating Righthaven Lawyers”

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29 Comments
Marc J. Randazza says:

I hate to stick up for Gibson...

I hate to stick up for Gibson, as I’ve battled him on a number of these cases, and I have no great love for the man nor for his enterprise.

Nevertheless, I think that these reports of the bar investigating him are overblown. Anyone can report any lawyer to the Bar, and upon filing such a report, the Bar is deemed to be “investigating” the matter. That does not mean that the Bar was concerned, nor that the Bar decided to open an investigation. It only means that someone was pissed off enough to send a letter to the Bar.

There are lots of good reasons to criticize Righthaven, and lots of good examples of its problems. Although the crowd here may cheer at the statement that “the Bar is investigating,” they should understand that it is not much to cheer about, and I predict that little (if anything) will come of it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: I hate to stick up for Gibson...

Yes, it is deplorable how Steven Gibson, Esq. is making a career out of blackmail and extortion. This site’s only source of income is hush money. Give them X dollars and they wont tell the world you were convicted of a crime. Don’t pay and soon they will tell your neighbors.

Clayton E. Cramer (user link) says:

Re: Re: I hate to stick up for Gibson...

This whosarrested.com is utter sleaze. No one who is arrested has any realistic expectation of privacy about this, but putting the information up and then offering to remove it from view for $99 is despicable. If there’s a good reason to make it available, do so. But offering to make it go away for money is so morally bankrupt that I have to ask: What’s the evidence that Gibson is involved with whosarrested.com? It fits with his general character, but I would like to see some evidence.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 I hate to stick up for Gibson...

He did more than that. Steven A Gibson Esq. also applied for a service mark for whosarrested.com, which was eventually rejected by the US Patent and Trade Mark Office. He is listed on the application as the Attorney of Record. Just like Righthaven, Whosarrested.com is owned by an LLC with two other LLCs listed as its members. And each member LLC has, in turn, the other two LLCs listed as its members. So it is impossible to trace the true ownership of each LLC.

Karl (profile) says:

Re: I hate to stick up for Gibson...

I predict that little (if anything) will come of it.

I disagree. Gibson probably will not be censured due to his lack of standing, because he can easily claim ignorance.

The second point, however, is very significant. Gibson withheld Stephens’ interest in the case (denying they were a profiting party), and appears to have done so deliberately. That sort of thing is taken very, very seriously.

I’d be (pleasantly) surprised if he was disbarred, but I’m betting they’ll at least levy a hefty fine against him.

Peter S. Chamberlain (profile) says:

Righthaven, bar discipline

I’m a retired Texas lawyer, with lots of arcane experience including writing ethics opinions, but not an IP expert though I did one appeal on a trademark etc. issue. It has long puzzled me how either Righthaven, which is kind of like a collection agency, or RIAA, a trade association which represents content creators and copyright holders but isn’t one, so that neither appears to be a “real party in interest” in such cases, has standing to and can maintain a suit on what are essentially somebody else’s actual or alleged rights. Court can only adjudicate live cases or controversies, and those can only arise between the real owner and somebody. It’s only after those jurisdictional issues, that go, among other things, to the court’s power to decide a case, are resolved that issues of champetrry and barratry kick in. It like if the private security guard company rather than the store tried to sue or prosecute you for shoplifting or giving the store a bad check.
I don’t know the rules in Nevada, but here, the fact that someone has filed a grievance complaint against a lawyer with the State Bar is private, and the complainant is not allowed to publicize the filing, until after the Grievance Committee has investigated, held a hearing, and made its decision. You are not supposed to use either the Bar grievance or criminal processes to gain an advantage in a civil case.

DogBreath says:

Re: Righthaven, bar discipline

I don’t know the rules in Nevada, but here, the fact that someone has filed a grievance complaint against a lawyer with the State Bar is private, and the complainant is not allowed to publicize the filing, until after the Grievance Committee has investigated, held a hearing, and made its decision.

It may have been that way in Nevada originally, but now for matters filed after Mar 1, 2007, that information can now be disclosed right after the Screening Panel has decided to approve a Formal Complaint (discipline process flowchart pdf), and before any hearing or final decision takes place.

http://www.nvbar.org/node/96
Is the discipline process public or confidential?

Proceedings before a Screening Panel are confidential. For matters filed after March 1, 2007 (when the Supreme Court changed the rule), matters become public when a formal complaint is filed or the matter is concluded.

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