Copyright Troll Evan Stone Loses Again; Sanctions Upheld For 'Staggering Chutzpah' In Abusing Subpoena Powers
from the a-litany-of-failures dept
We’ve covered the story of copyright troll lawyer Evan Stone for a while now. He was one of a group of lawyers who jumped into the copyright trolling business a few years ago, figuring it was easy money to get info on people based on IP addresses, and then demand they pay up to avoid lawsuits. While these cases have been littered with highly questionable behavior by various trolling lawyers, Stone took it to new levels. In one of Stone’s cases, the judge — already suspicious of the whole scheme — appointed both Public Citizen and EFF to defend the (still anonymous) accused Does against being revealed. While this was going on, Stone was told not to subpoena identifying info. So, Public Citizen and EFF were somewhat shocked when they heard from some of the accused, claiming that Stone had, in fact, subpoenaed their info. After confronting him, Stone tried to get out of the case by dismissing it. Of course, while doing so, he directly insulted the judge and attacked Public Citizen and EFF, claiming he was dropping the case due to the delay in time it was taking (ignoring the serious ethical violations).
Public Citizen and EFF reasonably sought sanctions against Stone for such egregious behavior. Sanctions are pretty extreme, and rarely sought and even more rarely granted. You generally have to do something completely over the top and unethical to have sanctions imposed. The court realized that Stone’s actions were not just over the line by were barely in the same time zone as the line, and granted sanctions. The court was pretty clear and direct in slamming Stone, noting that it “rarely has encountered a more textbook example of conduct deserving of sanctions.”
Stone appealed, but was found in contempt by the district court for failing to obey the sanctions, and ordered to pay legal fees. Stone, once again, appealed the whole thing — and in a new ruling, the appeals court not only details the litany of both ethical and procedural misdeeds by Stone (including completely failing to follow the basic process of appealing such a decision), but reaffirms the sanctions against Stone. Basically, everything Stone does makes things worse. He now owes even more money and there’s an appeals court ruling that highlights his basic failings even in handling the appeal itself. Here’s just a snippet.
On appeal, Stone argues that the sanctions cannot be justified under Rules 26 and 45 or under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11 or the inherent power of the district court. He also contends that the attorneys ad litem lacked standing to bring the sanctions motion and are not the proper recipients of the attorneys’ fees awarded by the district court. Stone raises this last argument for the first time on appeal and raised the other arguments for the first time in his untimely motion in the district court to stay sanctions pending appeal, which was filed after this appeal was initiated. None of these arguments, thus, was preserved for purposes of appeal, nor does Stone contend they were. Accordingly, all the issues Stone raises on appeal have been waived….
Nonetheless, Stone asserted, at oral argument and for the first time, that this court can consider his arguments because his appeal is one of “extraordinary circumstances,” involving only “pure question[s] of law [in which] a miscarriage of justice would result from our failure to consider [them].” …. We conclude, however, that no miscarriage of justice will result from the sanctions imposed as a result of Stone’s flagrant violation of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and the district court’s orders. Stone committed those violations as an attempt to repeat his strategy of suing anonymous internet users for allegedly downloading pornography illegally, using the powers of the court to find their identity, then shaming or intimidating them into settling for thousands of dollars–a tactic that he has employed all across the state and that has been replicated by others across the country.
Time to stop digging.