Asked To Explain The Disappearance Of Mark Lutz, Team Prenda Says They're Sure He Has A Good Reason

from the that's-not-what-they-asked dept

So we already covered the amazing disappearing act of Mark Lutz, the claimed “mastermind” of copyright trolling operation AF Holdings, though it appears almost no one (including courts) believe that Lutz is anything more than a patsy for John Steele and Paul Hansmeier, as was made clear quite early on in the infamous Sunlust hearing last year. Lately, Lutz has been missing a lot of things. He’s missed two court hearings and one deposition.

At yesterday’s hearing, apparently Magistrate Judge Franklin Noel gave Paul Hansmeier until today at 5pm to “explain the absence of Mark Lutz.” Hansmeier actually filed his declaration early, but it doesn’t appear to actually explain the absence. Instead, it goes on at length about how Lutz planned to be there (as was stated in court), but when it gets to the point where he’s supposed to actually explain where Lutz went, instead we get this:

Mr. Lutz was traveling with another witness to the Hearing. The witness indicated that Mr. Lutz was not on the flight from Fort Lauderdale, Florida. I have attempted to contact Mr. Lutz but have been unable to reach him as of the time of this declaration. Based on my prior experience with Mr. Lutz, including Mr. Lutz’s prior in-person attendance before this Court on August 5, 2013, I believe that Mr. Lutz will be able to provide a good-faith reason for failing to make his flight to Minnesota.

Mr. Lutz has previously complied with orders to appear, including in Ingenuity 13 LLC v. Doe, No. 12-cv-8333 (C.D. Cal.); AF Holdings LLC v. David Harris, No.12-cv-2144 (D.Az.); and in this case, where he appeared in person at the August 5,2013, case management conferences

This is bizarre on multiple levels. First, Hansmeier filed this pretty early in the day, well before he was required to do so. You’d think, given the requirement to explain the absence, that Hansmeier would give Lutz at least some time today to get in touch. Saying he’s sure that Lutz “will be able to provide a good-faith reason for failing to make his flight” is not actually answering what the court asked.

Second, the fact that Hansmeier states that Lutz appeared at a few hearings, but then fails to mention that he has missed a more recent hearing and a deposition just seems to be purposely trying to mislead the court. It’s pretty clear that the lawyer on the other side, Paul Godfread, will point out those other recent absences, so it’s a bit wacky that Hansmeier seems to think that ignoring them will not reflect poorly on himself.

Finally, the declaration also gives the details of Lutz’s flight info:

Mr. Lutz also purchased a plane ticket from Fort Lauderdale, Florida to Minneapolis, MN. His booked flight, US Airways Flight 1924, departed from Fort Lauderdale at 8:35 a.m. on Sunday September 29, 2013, and landed in Charlotte, North Carolina. His connecting flight, US Airways Flight 713 departed from Charlotte, North Carolina at 11:25 a.m. and landed in Minneapolis at 1:05 p.m. on Sunday September 29, 2013.

This, itself, raises some questions. First of all, if Lutz did, in fact, live in Miami, Fort Lauderdale is a little bit outside of Miami, so getting to the airport takes some time (I’ve done that trip a few times). In court, John Steele claimed that he drove around in the morning looking for Lutz and found some of his friends who said he’d turned in early to get ready for the flight. At what time was this? If the flight was at 8:35 am, even if they were aiming to get to the airport at ~7:30 am, Steele must have gone looking for Lutz by 6 am or so (even that’s probably pretty late). So Steele went randomly driving around Miami at 6 am and magically found Lutz’s friends, but not Lutz? Really?

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Companies: af holdings, prenda, prenda law

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Comments on “Asked To Explain The Disappearance Of Mark Lutz, Team Prenda Says They're Sure He Has A Good Reason”

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fogbugzd (profile) says:

Of course one of the three did not show up. So far the tactic seems to be to have two of the three show up and say the missing one is the only person who has the piece of information that is needed at that hearing. If Mark Lutz, John Steele and Paul Hansmeier ever showed up in the same room at the same time one of them would have to answer awkward questions like whether Cooper authorized signatures and which of them knows Salt Marsh.

Judges are getting smarter about handling these guys. They used to try to assign blame, but it was easy for Steele to blame everything on Brett Gibbs. Now they are asking questions that someone at the Prenda law firm was legally obligated to know the answers to.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

I have great concern for the well-being and safety of Mark Lutz.
I think putting his faith and trust in these people has placed him in a great deal of danger.
He is more valuable dead than alive at this point.
While I doubt they lack the courage to do harm to him directly, I have no problem imagining they might allow his natural inclinations to take over and then point all questions at the deceased.

Mr. Lutz if you see this, Steele threw YOU under the bus. You are the scapegoat now, and I suggest you retain your own lawyer well outside of that firm and take precautions to protect yourself. You know more than they think, they always talk like your not in the room. Now would be a VERY good time to get yourself the best deal possible.

Scote (profile) says:

Re: If I were Mark Lutz...

If I were Mark Lutz and John Steele showed up at my house at 6 in the morning on the day I’m due to testify under oath I think I’d have to wonder if there was plastic wrap and a shovel in the trunk…

I don’t get why Steele and Hansmeier thought it would be a good idea to show that they have the boarding pass Lutz would have needed to get on the plane. Seems suspicious to me, more inculpating than exculpating. And I wonder who’s credit card “CEO” Lutz’ ticket was charged to. Seems pretty likely it was charged to Steele’s credit card, otherwise how could he have had Lutz’ boarding pass. And if Steele is commingling funds with the supposed corporation’s funds, then there is just more justification to pierce the corporate veil. Something that should have been done long ago – I’m still baffled why the courts just accept the claim that there is a trust that owns AF Holdings without ever seeing the trust documents, or that AF Holdings is a legal corporation.

What is extra hilarious is how Hansmeier acts as if whether his purported client, the alleged CEO of AF Holdings, doesn’t show up or give him direction isn’t important to the case. Why it’s as if Lutz doesn’t actually run AF Holdings and Steele and Hansmeier do…hmm…

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re: If I were Mark Lutz...

Was Hans there for AF whatever, or Pretenda?

Given how long it has taken for courts to accept that Pretenda MIGHT not be operating in good faith, leaving AF whatever out there to fall might just be another time delay.

Your honor how were we lawyers supposed to have known our client was hoodwinking us?
We accepted his documents at face value, and had no idea about these other things happening.
You should pursue AF whatever and let us walk with a stern warning about vetting our clients in the future.

Somewhere there is a search & seizure warrant needing to be filled out. There are going to be no real answers about this entire fraudulent enterprise until the authorities have all of the records and stop pretending there is any legitimacy in anything they say.
On the record there are statements that contradict each other about the facts at the heart of this, the next step is to get the evidence and find the actual truth.

art guerrilla (profile) says:

Re: Re:

you joke, but in thinking about this whole enn ess ehh schmear, i wondered if people caught up in various cases couldn’t subpoena the enn ess ehh for ALL KINDS OF RECORDS the enn ess ehh has vacuumed up that might help prove/disprove their case…
why not ? ? ?
(besides, ‘national security’, blah blah blah)

art guerrilla
aka ann archy

DB (profile) says:

There are two categories of people you might find awake at South Beach early on Sunday morning. Surfers and serious drinkers.

You wouldn’t tell your surfer buddies that you were going home early in order to catch a morning flight. So that leaves your partying buddies. Who have to be seriously committed to the activity to be found awake at 4 or 5am.

Scote (profile) says:

Re: If he does have friends...

If Lutz does have actual friends maybe they know better than to tell someone looking for him at 6am where he is. Would you give up a friend’s whereabouts at six in the morning to some slick, smiling dude in a lawyer’s suit? I’d be pretty suspicious if someone like that came asking about one of my friends like that…

Dibs on Reality (profile) says:

Bench warrants? Just curious.

I do know that when a judge wants you in his/her courtroom, he/she expects prompt attendance on the specified date and at the specified time. Anything other than promptness is viewed as a “Bad Thing” and a “Waste of the Court’s Time”.

I’ve seen bench warrants issued for missing miscreants in local courts. Some included instructions to law enforcement for expeditious pickup.

Can this happen at the federal level in civil cases? I would imagine that Federal Judges have that power at their discretion.

If I were a Federal Judge and someone pulled a no-show multiple times (even if it’s across multiple courts), I would seriously consider some paperwork for some Federal Marshals to force future compliance.

John Henry (profile) says:

It was not Steele who claimed to have driven around looking for Lutz. Steele was long gone by then. It was Hans who said that Steele drove around “South Beach” visiting the place that Lutz “recreates.”

He also told the judge that he had been emailing and calling Lutz but has not heard back. Now, he said this right after lunch recess so that means that he would have been calling either before the hearing started or while he was at lunch; he was sitting at counsel table during all times other than those. So, what gives? I wished the judge would have asked to see Hans’ phone and email out box for proof that he had been calling and emailing.

Chitownguy says:

When are they going to lock up John Steele?

How in God’s name haven’t they disbarred these morons yet? Their court room lies are just piling up, this #%+* is crazy! I remember steele from when he had a small family practice in Chicago. He was entirely dishonest, unethical and totally incompetent . I really wonder how much illegal crap he did back then? I dropped him as a lawyer FAST!

Anyone know if they have had to pay up on any of the sanctions that have been due or the

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: When are they going to lock up John Steele?

IL just had a Judge die from a coke overdose, they are thinking they should investigate after the alleged dealer gave up the other Judges he claims to have sold to.

I think it took them 8 years to disbar an lawyer who was convicted of murder.

The wheels of justice… slow and shit against those who are part of the machinery.

G Thompson (profile) says:

I am going to assume that Steele was dismissed as a witness before the lunch recess which is his reason for not being able to give testimony on himself searching for Lutz.

Though one has to question why he would not still be in the courtroom in the gallery since the case has high relevance to himself and any further witness statements by anyone would be in his best interest to hear them first hand.

Though this is going on the assumption that Steele is a reasonable person with common sense and an ounce of self preservation NOT bordering on the narcissistic. o_O

DB says:

The judge doesn’t care if Hansmeier really was texting and emailing Lutz. He might be personally curious, but legally it doesn’t matter.

AF Holdings was supposed to present a corporate representative. It didn’t need to be Lutz, if there was another corporate officer.

Without a corporate representative, or an extremely good excuse for an absence, the result of the hearing was pretty much a foregone conclusion. The burden of proof was with the party that presented the document, and there was already a statement that it contained a fraudulent signature. Prenda would have needed an at least plausible story to avoid sanctions.

I can see four scenarios:

1) Lutz shows up and testifies. It’s extremely unlikely that he can tell a story consistent the existing contradictory statements. It’s very likely that he inadvertently says something that creates an even more complex fiction.

2) Lutz shows up and takes the fifth. The judge is irked and the adverse inference may be severe, including blaming Lutz for WWI, WWII, and AIDS.

3) Lutz fails to show but has a solid excuse. The judge may insist on an appearance by telephone, or defer some issues until Luzt can appear. This only pushes back the problem, and runs the risk of an adverse inference.

4) Lutz just fails to show. The result is no worse the 2, and very likely better than 1. Steele and Hansmeier can appeal an especially bad result with the claim that they shouldn’t be punished for a client’s drunken black-outs.

stryx (profile) says:

“So Steele went randomly driving around Miami at 6 am and magically found Lutz’s friends, but not Lutz?”

See I picture Steele, in the best noir tradition, cruising strip clubs and dive bars all across Miami, running into friends and known associates of Lutz, always just missing him, the clock running out, emptiness and despair coming down like the hammer on a .45 and no amount of cocaine and whiskey will make things right.

MM_Dandy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Oh, for crying out loud. Accidentally submitted before I was done with my post. Sorry, everyone.

I was editing my post to say that the mounting pressure of current events would only add credence to this theory.

That, and I don’t think that Steel and Hansmeier are the type to kill anyone.

I also wonder if Lutz is hiding from everyone – because if the Salt Marsh really is his…

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