from the well-of-course dept
All week I’ve been checking the docket on the Prenda case where the showdown is supposed to be happening on Monday, fulling expecting to see John Steele, Paul Duffy, Paul Hansmeier and others desperately trying to get out of appearing, and it’s finally showed up — but not via their own filing, but rather opposing attorney Morgan Pietz who received the documents before the court did, and is opposing them, in part by arguing that Team Prenda stalled in filing these documents. Team Prenda try a variety of arguments, first noting that they have nothing (nothing, I tell you!) to do with the case, and they point out that Brett Gibbs and the lawyers he hired are the lawyers on the case. They’re even so bold to claim that they have “no dog in this fight.”
Even where the court seeks to adjudicate issues between parties, it must have personal jurisdiction over them. Here, Steele, Hansmeier, Duffy, and Van Den Hemel are not parties and have not otherwise participated in this litigation. As such, the public policy behind the need to determine personal jurisdiction is arguably at an elevated level because, as individuals, they effectively have “no dog in this fight.”
As if anyone believes that.
Then they claim lack of jurisdiction by the court:
On March 5, 2013, this court issued an order that eight individuals would have to appear before this court on March 11, 2013. But this court lacks jurisdiction to order those individuals to appear in that they reside outside California, are not parties to this litigation, have not appeared in this action, and do not represent parties to this action.
Moreover, although some of these individuals may have received notice as the court ordered, others did not because those charged with providing notice simply lacked the information necessary to do so. And, even those that were served have not received reasonable notice of the nature of the proceedings they are being ordered to appear in or what is expected of them besides their physical presence.
Further, they have not received a reasonable amount of notice to accommodate cross-country travel or information regarding who will pay for such travel. Based on these factors, the court should withdraw its order for John Steele, Paul Hansmeier, Paul Duffy, and Angela Van Den Hemel to appear on Monday, March 11, 2013 at 1:30 P.M.
On top of that, they argue that they “can be nothing more than witnesses.”
Here, because they are not parties in this action, Steele, Hansmeier, Duffy, and Van Den Hemel can be nothing more than witnesses. California Code of Civil Procedure section 1989 provides that “a witness . . . is not obliged to attend as a witness before any court, judge, justice or any other officer, unless the witness Is a resident within the state at the time of service.” None of these individuals named in the court’s March 5, 2013 reside in California… Thus, the court lacks jurisdiction to order them to appear.
Furthermore, they claim that even thought it seems quite likely that they heard about this order immediately after it came out on March 5th, that they didn’t actually find out about it until yesterday, March 7th, which (they claim) is not enough notice.
Although counsel submitting this application has been unable to identify any authority addressing the notice requirements to witnesses ordered to appear at such hearings, logic dictates that such individuals should at least be similarly accommodated with reasonable notice. Here, the court’s March 5, 2013 order that notice be provided by March 7, 2013 to attend a March 11, 2013 hearing with no further information is fundamentally unreasonable.
Oh yes, and they also say that they need to be paid to show up:
Finally, witnesses are entitled not only to receive payment for their attendance, but also for travel expenses…. But, the court’s order not only fails to provide who will compensate Steele, Hansmeier, Duffy, and Van Den Hemel for their time and these expenses, but that they will be compensated at all. Given the considerable expense of traveling such distances (including consideration of the fact that one of the witnesses likely has limited means given her employment as a paralegal), especially on such short notice when many common carriers may not have seats available, this is a significant issue.
As is typical for Prenda, throwing any excuse at the wall to see what sticks.
Morgan Pietz has already filed a response noting the claims of the court not having jurisdiction are basically bullshit, since all of these guys have been involved in this and other Prenda cases in California. He lists out each and every person and notes their connection to California or this case in particular. I won’t post them all, but here’s the entry on Steele:
John Steele has frequently sent demand letters into the State of California, seeking to pressure Internet users into settling copyright infringement claims. An example of only one such letter (undersigned counsel knows there are many more) accompanies this opposition as Exhibit 1 to the Declaration of Nicholas Ranallo. Further, Mr. Steele has not been shy about conducting media interviews, with California publications, about his California cases. See http://www.sfgate.com/business/article/Lawsuit-says-grandma-illegallydownloaded-porn-2354720.php. Accordingly, both general and specific jurisdiction exists over John Steele.
For Paul Hansmeier, they note he already traveled to California for that deposition. Paul Duffy is a member of the California Barr, and has taken over some Prenda cases in California for Brett Gibbs. Oh yeah, and the paralegal Angela Van Den Hemel is accused of violating the court’s discovery order in this very case, so the jurisdiction over her is even clearer.
Pietz also claims that the short timeframe argument is bogus too, and suggests that Prenda chose to file this attempt to get out manually in an attempt to delay the whole thing, and even notes the oddity that he got the documents before the court did:
It appears that the Application may have been manually filed in order to create a purposeful lag time (of the motion getting from the filing window to chambers) on what is supposed to otherwise be an emergency motion. It is unclear why undersigned counsel found himself in possession of a copy of the moving papers prior to the Court. Further, the original amount of time was reasonable.
And now… we see what Judge Otis Wright thinks about all of this…