Team Prenda Does Not Show Up In Court; Judge Is Not Amused

from the bad-day-for-prenda dept

Update: And here is the deep dive analysis by Ken.

We’ll have a more complete report soon from Ken “Popehat” White, who was in the courtroom for the Prenda hearing today and will be writing about it for us (and for his own site), but for the quick version of what happened, with a huge assist from both Adam Steinbaugh and White, is that the judge has not made a ruling yet, but he is not at all pleased, saying “the client has been running everything. I know who the client is.” There was no direct admission of who owns AF Holdings (other than that it had been transferred to another holding company, LiveWire — as Pietz pointed out in his chart), but nothing else directly came out in court, apparently, other than Judge Wright’s claim that he knows what’s going on. In fact, he noted that the shell companies are “not even shells.” This does not bode well for Prenda.

Of all the people ordered to appear, Team Prenda decided not to bother — instead telling the judge they were available by phone, though the judge chose not to call. The only person (outside of Gibbs and Morgan Pietz) who did make it was Alan Cooper. But just one of the Alan Coopers. The caretaker one, who claims that his name was used illegally on various documents. In other words, as expected, Prenda and John Steele have still failed to produce another Alan Cooper who actually was associated with the shell companies. Apparently, Cooper showed up with voicemails left by John Steele which sound vaguely threatening, promising to tie him up in litigation — possibly the defamation case that Steele filed against Cooper and the anonymous internet commenters. This will not help Steele’s case. At all.

Apparently, Judge Otis Wright was not particularly pleased about this turn of events. Similarly, he blasted Paul Hansmeier for his deposition in which he tapdanced around pretty much every question. Remember, Hansmeier gave the deposition as the official designated “representative” of AF Holdings, one of the mysterious shell companies at issue in these cases, but Judge Wright pointed out that Hansmeiers evasiveness suggested he “doesn’t know anything about his own firm.” Or, you know, he’s choosing not to say things.

Gibbs was put on the stand to testify, and apparently continued his “I was just taking orders” defense, in which he pointed the judge to Prenda. He also apparently claims he left Prenda because of the “online harassment and unwelcome exposure,” though that wouldn’t explain why he then became “in house counsel” for LiveWire, the shell holding company that was “acquiring” various Prenda shells. Judge Wright pointed out that Gibbs was the official counsel of record, and therefore the person responsible, even if he was attempting to throw Prenda under the bus. Gibbs also claimed that while he was “in house counsel” for LiveWire for two months, he never got paid (just like the Hansmeier deposition). It seems that no one associated with Prenda ever seems to want to pay anyone. Funny, that.

Also, Gibbs and his lawyers apparently tried to push back on the Verizon filing, which suggested that Gibbs failed to inform Verizon that the order allowing subpoenas to move forward in one of the cases had been killed by the court, and, furthermore, suggested Gibbs then lied to the court in claiming that Verizon had been informed. However, Verizon’s lawyers showed up, and that apparently silenced Gibbs’ lawyers.

Anyway, that’s our quick update… There will be a ruling soon enough, but come back tonight when we post a more complete analysis from inside the courtroom.

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Companies: prenda, prenda law

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Comments on “Team Prenda Does Not Show Up In Court; Judge Is Not Amused”

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special-interesting (profile) says:

Re: Re: Prenda using Hollywood Accounting?

Hollywood accounting is famous for pictures grossing over 110 million and NEVER fessing up on the common clause of ‘percentage of profit’. (Profits? What profits? We don’t have no stinking profits!)

Hollywood accounting has got to be a stereotype phrase by now for: Don’t sign that contract without a percentage of the GROSS receipts. (even if the percentage is much smaller the return is much larger.)

Anonymous Anonymous says:

Re: Re: Popcorn at the ready!

To all the popcornerers on this sight: There is some concern about the unlimited consumption of popcorn without appropriate countermeasures, including prune juice and excercise. Therefore it is recomended that one attach one’s computer’s to a treadmill, which one should only pause while typing (given the frequent requests for an edit feature, apparently typing while static is even difficult at times), attending the neccessary, or actually working. The prune juice option may be mitigated with copious amounts of Milk Duds. The effect may be messy.

So the point is that while popcorn provides a bit of roughage, and certainly at times amusement while pondering expectant amusement, it is mostly air. Comments, refering strictly to popcorn, therefore are mostly air. While a bit of air will lighten many loads, and increase comment count, it often fails to actually, like, contribute, as I know the multitude of popcornerers are capable of. (Dang those preposition ending sentances that express the vernacular).

Like feeding trolls, airfull comments rarely inspire insightful or funny votes, but rack up the comment count!

alanbleiweiss (profile) says:

Living just a few miles from the court, I was tempted to go, but then figured only Cooper, Peitz & Gibbs would be there and Wright would just issue bench warrants all around for the rest. Fortunately the #Prenda tweet stream kept me sufficiently entertained and the little bit of live tweeting that was done helped round it out.

Can’t wait for all the full write-ups later today/tonight!

Anonymous Coward says:

was an arrest warrant issued for those that didn’t turn up? if not, why not? i know damn well that had it been me or any other ‘ordinary person’ we would have been locked up and the key thrown away! the judge has got the chance to deal with these ass hats once (hopefully) and for all. i sincerely hope he takes this chance (within the law of course, but i dont care if that’s stretched a bit!) and not waste it!!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

“was an arrest warrant issued for those that didn’t turn up? if not, why not?”

Probably because he knows it would be overturned on appeal, given the short notice and cross country travel involved.

I think this was more of a “last chance to change my mind” thing for the judge. Look for sanctions in the near future… not for the failure to appear, but for everything else.

special-interesting (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Am and am not surprised on the no-show. Kind of like pleading the 5th but with silence instead.

So far it has been only a civil action but this hearing was in relation to misconduct unbecoming of an attorney inside the courtroom and a prelude to more serious action.

The judge may have wanted to issue warrants today but he was thrown two more bones to pick with Prenda. One is the issue with Allen Mooney (of various spellings) which at least doubles the likely contempt of court (and other) charges and somewhat need to be sorted out. Second is the Verizon being taken for a ride affair of which, justifiably, they are miffed about and also needs some thought.

The quiet interlude before… -anticipation-

Gwiz (profile) says:

Re: WE'RE not amused, either, Mike.

WE’RE not amused, either, Mike.

A waste of bandwidth. Get on to something that’s relevant beyond this one case.

I for one, am extremely amused by all of this and find it very relevant and interesting.

You are free to find some other blog community to annoy, Blue. Don’t let the door hit you on the ass on the way out, k?

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: WE'RE not amused, either, Mike.

Congrats. You’re one of maybe 17 people.

Judging by the traffic here on this story and other Prenda stories, your prognostication and math skills are just about as bad as your business skills in the music biz…

You should try living in reality, rather than the world where you make stuff up all the time to make you feel better.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 WE'RE not amused, either, Mike.

Best thing to happen to you since Swartz.

Actually, Masnick has been desperate for even one single instance of malfeasance in regard to Six Strikes, but hasn’t hit his piracy-apologist lotto yet. He’ll keep at it tho. He literally can’t wait to say that one mistake means enforcement should be done away with. That’s why he supports rape laws being wiped from the books; because, y’know, enforcement doesn’t work and the “collateral damage” from a false accusation is just too much. Because he’s consistent across the board with his opinions on law.

Aren’t you, Mike?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 WE'RE not amused, either, Mike.

You’re just mad that this is the best your copyright buddies can come up with. How’s it feel to finally have the book thrown at you? Have fun campaigning for their amnesty, just like Evan Stone and Andrew Crossley. Glorious heroes and enforcers of copyright, all of them.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 WE'RE not amused, either, Mike.

You’re just mad that this is the best your copyright buddies can come up with.

LOL! I haven’t really followed this story, and these guys certainly aren’t my buddies. I think all scumbag lawbreakers should pay. That includes these guys, if they’re guilty, and all of the piratical douches that flock to Chicken Mike. My opinion doesn’t change because of which side of the debate they’re on. Watching you basement dwellers drool at the site of a dishonest “porn troll” is very entertaining. If only you idiots cared about other lawbreakers with the same vigor. But, alas, when it’s one of “your kind,” you all become myopic.

Rikuo (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 WE'RE not amused, either, Mike.

So let’s see here.

We’ve got a very interesting story happening in the courts. One that most Techdirtians are interested in. As a business owner and blog writer…wouldn’t it be in everyone’s best interests for Mike et al to keep writing about it? He gets the traffic, we get the stories. He is thus doing what any other blogger would do.

Ninja (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 WE'RE not amused, either, Mike.

your prognostication and math skills are just about as bad as your business skills in the music biz

According to his math and accounting skills he wasted 6 Petabytes of data and caused the collapse of the entirety of North American network by merely loading this post. Hollywood accounting can be scary. o.O

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 WE'RE not amused, either, Mike.

Oh Masnick, you ESP reader you. Was one line enough for you to deduce a “unique writing style”?

You have one also, and you threatened death. You’ll have to pay for that some time, won’t you, Mr. “I value people’s privacy… Until I look at their IPs”?

Keep falling into the same traps, Mike.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 WE'RE not amused, either, Mike.

He knows your IP cause you post on his site. He doesn’t know your name or address or anything else unless you give it to him.

And this site doesn’t ask for that stuff either.

I don’t even know why I respond, it’s just a waste of time, the only thing I find is strawmanning, ad hominem, faulty logic and plain old lies.

alanbleiweiss (profile) says:

Re: WE'RE not amused, either, Mike.

“WE’RE”? Who the eff is “we”? Seriously. The volume of discussion across this site, the PopeHat site, Ars Technica, Fight Copyright Trolls is pretty much validation of the interest in this topic.

Jump to Twitter and read the activity all day today on the #Prenda thread and it’s confirmed.

This is the most interesting, entertaining and quite relevant cases to ever come along regarding copyright & copyright trolls, and how they go to the lengths they go to.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Yeah, totally not surprised in the least they pulled a no-show here, and I have to wonder if they went with the ‘you can contact us via phone’ routine because they are scrambling like mad to get out of the country before the bench warrants are written up, which would make showing up physically rather difficult.

anonymouse says:

Re: Re: Re:

As has been pointed out this is a civil case and not a criminal case although i would be surprised if there were not some charges laid against the two or three main culprits in this.
I hope the judge calls for criminal charges and pushes this up to a higher court.

If anything there seems to be a lot of he said she said and a lot of trying to hide any income with everyone saying they have not been paid anything so far.
One interesting thing would be how many people paid up from those that were accused and sent demanding letters after the court said they must not, also how much has Prenda or any organization that Steel and Hammershite(sp) have been involved with taken from settlements. Where has Steel been making money as he was barred from practicing law previously from what i can remember.

tqk says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

He was barred from attempting to practice law in FL. Which made him filing his defamation suit there hysterical as he promised the FL bar he wouldn’t even think of player lawyer there.

Is that practicing law (he was his own client, I take it) or just availing himself of using the law to defend himself? Even douchebag lawyers have the right to defend themselves.

BTW, I’m not defending them, exactly. I think this whole charde is just stunningly ridiculous. These bums made it through law school and were accredited by the Bar?!? What’s wrong with law schools and the Bar that allows this crap to happen? No accountability on their part, whatsoever? This seems to happen over and over again.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Disbarment isn’t a fast process. In many states (including California IIRC), it permanently removes your ability to work and earn money in your chosen field, with no ability to be reinstated after you’ve rehabbed yourself. It takes all of those years of schooling and work and flushes them away, leaving you to try and find some other way to pay your bills.

It has to be a deliberate process, to make sure that only lawyers who truly deserve to be disbarred are disbarred. They have to rule out the possibility that a long suspension or other disciplinary actions are inadequate.

That One Guy (profile) says:


You know, as entertaining as it has been, and continues to be to watch all the scum at Prenda dance and squirm to avoid having to answer for their actions, almost as entertaining has been the actions of you and a few others, desperately, futility trying to act like nothing at all is happening, all the while trying to convince others of that ‘fact’.

Well, sorry to say Mr. Wizard, but the curtain has been pulled back, and everyone is getting a good look at the people, and actions behind it, no matter how much you might wish otherwise.

Rikuo (profile) says:


So for someone who’s repeatedly said that this story is boring and a waste of bandwidth…you sure are on tenter-hooks waiting for the latest news, aren’t you?

This is why no-body believes or even likes you. You constantly scream bloody murder at Mike and Techdirt, (often quite literally) but in reality, you keep coming back, you keep reading, because, deep down, you’re one of us. You’re a copyright hating person too…
Actually scratch that. I sincerely hope not, because if you are one of us, you are capable of singlehandedly causing copyright abolition to fail simply through sheer incompetence and stupidity.

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