Ex-Prenda Lawyer Wonders If Team Prenda Believes Their Own Lies After Laughable Hearing

from the keep-trying dept

Earlier this week, there was yet another hearing dealing with one of the many courts investigating the actions of Team Prenda. This was in the Navasca case up in San Francisco, where some sanctions have already been issued, and more may await. Judge Edward Chen handed off this stage of the case to Magistrate Judge Nador Vadas, who recently demanded some actual answers, telling “AF Holdings” (one of the many Prenda shell corporations) to show up ready to answer some very specific questions. That’s not quite what happened.

The day started off with a laughable declaration from John Steele, in which he stuck with his plan of deny absolutely everything. This focused on denying every bit of Delvan Neville’s expert analysis showing a high likelihood that John Steele and Paul Hansmeier were themselves seeding the files they later sued over, via The Pirate Bay. Neville’s analysis is detailed, thorough and hard to argue against. Steele and Hansmeier, along with Paul Duffy (the official “named” partner of Prenda) have been insisting that there is nothing to Neville’s filing, and keep insisting that he’s a nobody, rather than an expert.

I note initially that Mr. Neville is a graduate student; that he has not disclosed why he prepared his declaration…. whether he will successfully complete whatever course of study he is now engaged upon as a “graduate student;” whether he meets any of the rigorous standards applicable to an expert witness in a Federal court proceeding in a Federal court proceeding. (sic)

Upon my review of Mr. Neville’s declaration, I find the claims contained therein pertaining to me to be completely untrue and without any basis in fact.

Mr. Neville asserts I may have acted to “seed” a BitTorrent “swarm” involved in the digital piracy of copyrighted works. Those assertions (perhaps better described as suspicions) are categorically false. I have never acted to “seed” a BitTorrent “swarm,” and would not know how to do so if for some reason I would desire to try.

It goes on like that. Of course, this is all pretty laughable, given the mountains of evidence that connect Steele to the seeding, including Comcast revealing that the IP address associated with the seeding belonged to Steele Hansmeier, and the information provided by GoDaddy involving John Steele impersonating Alan Cooper and Mark Lutz. Those both came out in a different Prenda case, but showed up in this particular hearing.

Only Paul Duffy from Team Prenda showed up to the hearing (though he showed up late) and while it was promised that Mark Lutz was “in town” and would be there, he never showed up at all. The star of the show was former Prenda team player Brett Gibbs, who, after realizing that Hansmeier and Steele had thrown him under the bus, started finally revealing the truth. Hansmeier and Steele have continued to insist they had little oversight over Gibbs, but at the hearing he produced phone records showing somewhere around 4,500 minutes of phone calls with Hansmeier. He was later asked to identify the recordings on those calls, and said they were John Steele’s voice — which Duffy weakly objected to.

After Neville testified about the inner workings of BitTorrent, it was Duffy’s turn, and many people expected a full cross-examination of Neville. Given that Duffy, Hansmeier and Steele have been insisting that Neville’s claims are a complete joke and wouldn’t stand up to any scrutiny, you’d think they’d relish a chance to have him on the stand. But they more or less ignored him. Instead, Duffy spent a ridiculous amount of time tying himself into knots with an astoundingly weak attempt to pin the blame on Gibbs himself, focusing mainly on procedural issues. The two points he seemed to focus on: that Gibbs never actually saw the infamous “Salt Marsh” signature and that Gibbs never officially checked to see if the Steele Hansmeier law firm was dissolved or purchased after Steele and Hansmeier told Gibbs they’d be doing business as Prenda going forward.

Neither point makes much sense, nor does it really matter. On the signature front, Gibbs has already stated, repeatedly, that he’d asked about Salt Marsh and Hansmeier insisted it was legit. If there was a procedural error, it was trusting his boss (and friend and former roommate). Either way, this could only come back to bite Duffy, since it was Duffy’s law firm that Gibbs supposedly worked for, and sooner or later this comes around to lawyers technically working for Duffy’s law firm violating procedures. As for the status of Steele Hansmeier, that seems like a pointless tangent.

Thankfully, it appeared that Judge Vadas was pretty aware of what was going on. While not as outspoken as Judge Wright, he made it clear that he wasn’t buying what Duffy was selling:

At this point, Magistrate Judge Vadas broke in to ask Duffy a question. “Counsel, where are we going with this?”

“Counsel has the obligation under federal and local rules to maintain the original signature and he [Gibbs] didn’t do it!” said Duffy. “He’s trying to blame other people who weren’t on the case. Any liability should fall upon him, as the filer.”

Duffy went on. A minute later, Vadas broke in again, with the same question, asking where the line of questioning was going. Duffy was trying to show that Gibbs had changed his story as a result of a “deal” with another defense attorney in Florida, to drop sanctions against him.

“It strikes me from what I have heard so far that there’s a chain of command here, and that Mr. Steele and Mr. Hansmeier were managing partners of the firm that became Prenda Law,” said Vadas. “This counsel and other counsels were contract lawyers doing the heavy lifting in whatever states these lawsuits were being filed… Isn’t that a fair analysis?”

Some have argued that from Duffy’s performance, he appears like he’s in way over his head. Of course, given all of the evidence piling up against him and his colleagues, I’m not sure how he could do any better.

Still, the best line of the day may have come after the hearing was over, when reporter Joe Mullin from Ars Technica chased down Gibbs in the hall and asked for an interview:

“I’m just trying to get on with my life,” he said. “I’m pretty overwhelmed by this. There just needs to be some truth in this, in the whole matter, and that’s why I came today. I don’t know if they believe their own lies, at this point.”

To be fair, Gibbs was a big part of that lying machine at some point, even if he was just taking orders from Steele and Hansmeier, but kudos to him for finally coming clean.

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Companies: af holdings, ingenuity 13, prenda, prenda law

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Comments on “Ex-Prenda Lawyer Wonders If Team Prenda Believes Their Own Lies After Laughable Hearing”

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That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

As I said over on Ars.

@Chuckstar – that feeling does pass after a while. This isn’t the first time he was aware their were issues in the litigation, and not even the first time he played the ‘butbutbut cancer’ card.
He needs to atone for a multitude of sins he committed and facilitated.
I have slightly more respect for him than I previously had, but 1 drop in an empty bucket is merely a start.

I hope that the Judge subpoena’s a copy of Lutz’s airline ticket/reservation and confirm he actually made the flight. I mean its not like anyone at Pretenda EVER lied to a court before. o_O

Like that time they told a Judge subscriber information was all they needed to make the case, then demanded the right to search a targets home and all computing devices… There was a young lawyer handling that case for them… what was his name again? Oh yeah… Brett Gibbs.
This is from a S|H case, and somehow he managed to keep working for them after he was involved in clearly misleading a court and being berated by a Judge.

His self preservation is his motivation, not truth, justice and the american way.
There are more to go down for this, but never consider what Gibbs does is for anything but his own ass.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

“I have never used software that monitored or detected digital piracy.” – John Steele

“Steele said he and a partner spent about $250,000 to develop software that tracks illegal BitTorrent sharing from an office in Minneapolis.” – John Steele to Chicago Tribune Reporter.

So other than legal hairsplitting, wouldn’t this statement imply he never used such software and that many of the cases where they claim to have detected infringing downloads would then be false?

That One Guy (profile) says:

Two rather telling points...

First is that while Steele continues to claim that Delvan Neville’s analysis is bogus, he does so entirely via personal attacks, trying to attack the credibility of Neville, rather than attacking the methodology and evidence presented and showing where it was flawed.

Also rather telling is that he appears to have avoided and/or refused signing any legally-binding documents refuting the claims that he was involved with seeding the files that he then went on to sue for, which, given his continued protesting of innocence, is rather odd to say the least, unless he was afraid of potential perjury charges down the road, should such a declaration be proven false.

nic42 (profile) says:

Re: Two rather telling points...

Seems that he filed an affidavit with the court where he declares under penalty of perjury that he had never used such software or was involved in the seeding of files.

Actually, the arguments he uses to say he was not seeding files at all would be the same arguments that the respondents (read victims) to his suits would also use.

I wish I could eat my cake and have it too. Why isn’t this joker in jail facing perjury charges based on his Chi Tribune statements and signed affidavit? Or if we are to believe his affidavit on its face, why is he not facing sanctions for filing suits he does not believe can hold up in the first place?

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Telethon Time

If you enjoyed the downfall of Pretenda, now is a good time to show your appreciation.
The downfall did not start with a court or a lawyer.
It started on a couple little websites…
http://fightcopyrighttrolls.com and http://dietrolldie.com
It took a long time for these blogs to be taken seriously, all the while more people were being targeted by copyright trolls.
Now its your turn to help the community that helped bring everyone’s favorite asshats to the forefront.
You can donate time, money, knowledge, or just an ear willing to listen to a Doe scared out of their mind.

You can help answer peoples questions and concerns about these cases. You can gather information on how some trolls operate and share with all. You could verify copyrights exist and were issued before or after cases were filed.

Accessing documents from PACER costs real money, and many of these costs were paid by just a few. For a small amount sent to those checking dockets, you can unlock another filing to be examined and explained to Does.

You could just post a message of support to someone feeling terrified and alone, fearing they are being sued for $150,000.

Won’t you take a moment today to show your appreciation to the community who brought you the comedy stylings of these assclowns?

We now return you to your regularly scheduled Pretenda Coverage.

simality (profile) says:

Re: Telethon Time

we now return you to your regularly schedule Pretenda Coverage

Wait! Not so fast!

Getting back to TAC’s telethon:

If you have been following me on Twitter (@simality) for the past two months then you know I’ve been pretty diligent in my recapping efforts.

Even if you haven’t been following me on Twitter, you’ve probably benefitted none the less. A number of the documents mentioned in Tech Dirt and Ars Technica were recapped by yours truly.

My PACER bill for the past two months: http://www.scribd.com/doc/164410160/My-Pacer-Bill-for-the-last-2-months

I can’t keep this up. I don’t mind helping, but I’m not going to bankrupt myself for the Cause. If you would like to help me keep going please consider sending a donation to simality@gmail.com.


That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re: Telethon Time

Katherine has been handling the PACER and doing quite well.
So if your looking to help and you have a few bucks, this is where it should go.
PACER might “only” be 10 cents a page, you can see how fast these things add up. Even $5 would get 50 more pages. It doesn’t take a lot to help the community, just a little effort.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

For someone constantly being ‘censored’, your whining posts sure seem to show up often…

Kinda getting AJ flashbacks here with the ‘Masnick would never dare debate me!’ attitude, so I’m guessing either you are him, or you for some reason thought his ‘argument’ style of ‘make claims, have claims soundly debunked, shift-goalposts, try again and pretend first two steps never happened’ was more than the joke everyone else saw it as.

Also ‘civilized’, ‘righteous’, ‘defender of extortionists and fraudsters’… one of these things does not belong with the other two, can anyone spot the odd one out?

Joe Dirt says:

Re: Re:

Every post I have read from you on this site has no point at all.. It’s simply a name-calling rant with nothing to contribute to the discussion.

How is it possible that not one person who disagrees with the posts on this blog can have a civil debate without reducing themselves to name-calling trolls? How can you go through life responding to everyone who disagrees with you with a derogatory statement? If the views provided by the blogger or commenter are so stupendously wrong, I would think it would be easy top refute them. Instead what you get is something like… ‘assertion from Blogger: “Up is Down.” Response by OOTB or Horse: “Masnick is a doo-doo head!”‘

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Oh, we’ve had a few detractors. In fact, a good few of the regulars have, at times, had reason to disagree with a post themselves. We welcome debate that is done in a civil, respectful manner. Sadly, we do get too much of the ad hom and misdirection you see from this particular horse.

The reason it has no name is it’s dead, and he just keeps beating it.

out_of_the_blue says:

Mike spent at least an hour of his "busy day" writing this.

Yet doesn’t affect him personally, nor have any wider application or implications. Sure, we all like to see lawyers thrown into woodchippers — for actual crimes of their own making — but his continual fascination with this — even though new readers won’t know its basis — his fascination with Prenda is just amazing. That’s time Mike could spend working on fixes for the “broken” copyright and patent systems, or at least writing responses here when questions arise about his notions.

ZOMG! Yet another item on Prenda Law! A staple in the soporific “At The Bench” series. Mike sez (short version): “Wow. Wow. Wow. … The story is gripping.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Mike spent at least an hour of his "busy day" writing this.

doesn’t affect him…
huh, his website was named in motions before the court, his comment sections were submitted as evidence… sorry you didn’t make the cut.
Wider implications, you mean like posters being sued for defamation for reporting the truth?
New readers, who might click on those little blue words to find more stories tagged prenda and get informed.
Lawyers who created their own cottage industry of extorting cash from people, guilty or not, because they put porn online and encouraged the infringement they sought to profit from?
Questions, do you think yours or horse’s blather actually are questions? You didn’t manage to ask a single one.

In closing Mr. Dodd, your old just dry up and blow away. The future belongs to the young.

Baldaur Regis (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Your phone bill IS a record of the metadata associated with your physical phoneline. For each call made from your line, there is is typically a record of: date of call, number called, length of call.

Steele et al asserted (in some depo or other, I disremember which one) that Gibbs had minimal supervision, the implication being that he was a bad doggie what with all the suing and everything. 4,500 minutes of documented evidence casts a likelihood of doubt that Gibbs was acting without orders.

Metadata, like any other information, is neutral in and of itself and has value only when put in context.

Mr. Applegate says:

“I have never acted to “seed” a BitTorrent “swarm,” and would not know how to do so if for some reason I would desire to try.”

Oh, really. If you have no knowledge how to do this, how do you know you did not do it? How do you know others did? How many others have access to your email account? How many others have access to your internet connection? It is obvious to this court that you uploaded the porn because the IP address point to you, a middle aged male.

Is that the same logic you used on your extortion attempts? Have you repeatably stated that was enough evidence to at least require payment? Why should the rules be different for you?

Baldaur Regis (profile) says:

Quote o' the day

Affidavit of John Steele re CV-12-2396 EMC paragraph 10:

Since I have had at least two different Internet Service Providers during the time in question, and given that my accounts have always had dynamic IP addresses, I believe it would be impossible for me to have the same IP address during the timeframe of Mr. Neville’s analysis.

Even though a close reading shows this says absolutely nothing, this is a COMPLETE repudiation of the basis of every single BT copyright infringement case, written by an expert in the art. Lawyers, take note, and govern yourself accordingly.

Anonymous Coward says:

Next strategy….Duffy claims to have never seen Gibbs before in his life.

Steel claims he’s never practised law and it must have been a different Steel…possibly one that lives near a salt marsh.

Steel phones the court to say he can’t make the next hearing because he killed himself earlier that morning and will send photos later to prove it…..

Hell that strategy isn’t actually any worse that the current ones they’re trying (and failing) with….

Anonymous Coward says:

Simply, ootb has no creditability. Obvious troll is easy to spot. His hypocrisy isn’t very limited in that he’ll demand that Mike debate him (which requires two way responses) but some how can’t be bothered to respond when anyone questions one of his way out ideas. He can’t even stay in the kitchen as it’s too hot for him and then he thinks he’s some of of masturbater entitled in his head to special treatments.

All of this comes down to pure ego; a hallmark of someone else in this article, namely Steele. Ootb isn’t smart enough to be Steele. In fact he’s not smart enough to be a practicing lawyer.

He’s just a sad little troll with too much time on his hands and not enough skill to back up his assertions.

Anon E. Mous (profile) says:

With every hearing that happens, Team Prenda goes deeper and deeper in to the abyss.

Duffy didn’t want to go near Neville because there would have been more dirt exposed by the defense team on Prenda and their seeding of the files they sued alleged infringers over.

This isn’t the first hearing that Lutz the mastermind CEO of AF Holding and it’s subsidiaries and LLC entities has failed to appear at.

Now why would Lutz who is so involved in his companies operation and in managing these lawsuits not wan’t to disprove all these allegations against himself and Prenda?

Wouldn’t have anything to do with that hearing in the Sunlust case in Florida where the Judge started Questioning Lutz who was trying to pass himself off as an officer of Sunlust when it turns out Lutz knew absolutely nothing about anyone associated with Sunlust.

Lutz had to have Steele (who has nothing to do with Prenda Law but just happened to be in the court room for a Prenda case) feed him answers about being a 1099 contractor before the Judge noticed Steele feeding Lutz answers and busted them on it.

I don’t blame Steele, Hansmeier and Duffy for not wanting Lutz in a court room, Lutz isn’t bright enough to survive any questioning, and would cave much like he did in the Judges questioning in the Sunlust case, how could they trust him.

Steele’s fragile ego cqn’t seem to keep anything straight, on what he has told in interviews and in prior court filings. Duffy shouldn’t even be let near the court room as his skills in trying to break someone boarder on laughable in my mind.

Did Steele, Hansmeier and Duffy really think Gibbs wouldn’t have phone records to prove contact with who he was speaking with at Prenda regarding these lawsuits? I mean how stupid are they.

I would bet that Gibbs has more than this, I would believe he has e-mails, voice mails, landline based phone call records, mobile based records as well as faxes, and courier slips.

It should be interesting when the Prenda gang goes to the hearing for the bar complaint against Gibbs everything in that hearing will be on the record and under oath so it should be a hoot to hear the Prenda gang complain and Gibbs coming back at them with all of his trail of records for the various items mentioned above, plus the various rulings against Team Prenda from the various court rooms around the country.

Steele I believe made a very calculated gamble at trying to throw Gibbs under the bus for all this, and it would seem Steele thought he could cow Gibbs into taking the rap and stay quiet.

It should be very very interesting to see if a Grand Jury is looking at RICO where the Prenda gang would be concerned. If a Grand jury is looking at RICO, Steele has just gave it a powerful Allie in Gibbs and documentation and inside knowledge of the scheme.

The above would apply to the IRS Criminal investigation as well as where settlement money went, how monies were used, and who monies where distributed to.

Steele’s ego has led to a blunder of colossal proportions in trying to crucify Gibbs in taking the fall, if anything it shows the desperation in Team Prenda to try and stay out of the light that is being shone on it’s operations.

This has had the opposite effect and the light is being cast brighter and all the dark spots are being examined. It will be interesting to see what is going to transpire out of the cases Prenda has been trying to get itself out from under, but can do to all their miscues.

Should be interesting to see, I am sure there are many more sleepness nights ahead for old John Steele wondering when the US Marshall’s are going to drag him away to a cold jail cell

Mom says:

Kind of ironic that you steele, arguing a dynamic IP and trying to use that as a fact. Also, I would doubt comcast would have released that info without checking ___ triple checking that it was really on his account. Can’t imagine they would have risked a law suit over this being who they found on the other end of that ip.
Sure the comcast legal department loved that….
John your busted . and if I can say very stupid to think that you wouldn’t get fingered. Everything on the internet is saved somewhere. For you to do this and not use a vpn or use another connection shows me that you think you are above it all. That your immune> you are truly a piece of work.

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