Judge Refuses To Fix His Rubber-Stamping Of A Fraudulently-Requested Court Order

from the it's-just-a-little-prior-restraint dept

Over the past year or so, we’ve seen reputation management efforts slide into even shadier territory. Apparently frustrated by Google’s unwillingness to humor bogus DMCA notices, rep management con artists began fraudulently obtaining court orders to get content delisted. The process involved fake defendants, fake plaintiffs, and, occasionally, fake lawyers. In one particular case, it involved forged judges signatures.

Paul Alan Levy of Public Citizen, along with Eugene Volokh (of The Conspiracy), have performed some masterful detective work to uncover at least one of the people behind this new wave of fraudulent delistings. Richart Ruddie, who has already been hit with a $70,000 settlement in one of his bogus libel lawsuits, appears to be reluctant to live up to the terms of the deal he struck with Levy. According to that, Ruddie — who is under investigation by the US Attorney’s office — was to start withdrawing his bogus lawsuits.

As Levy points out in a recent blog post, Ruddie still has open cases in the Baltimore court system. A libel lawsuit featuring irked dentist Mitul Patel and supposed defamer Matthew Chan has yet to be dumped by Ruddie. Unfortunately, the presiding judge — despite being provided with considerable evidence of fraudulent behavior — doesn’t appear to be interested in correcting his rubber-stamping of Patel’s bogus injunction request.

In Patel v. Chan, the very first case in which Ruddie’s involvement in phony consent litigation was discovered, Matthew Chan moved pro se to lift the consent order entered to try to suppress his reviews. That motion was filed on September 1, 2016, and as of the time last month when I began work on our amicus brief, Judge Philip Senan Jackson, who had been hoodwinked into signing the phony consent order, had not yet ruled on the motion — a patently invalid prior restraint was left sitting on the books for nearly eight months after the judge who issued it was informed that there was no basis for his order.

Hey, it’s only a Constitutional violation. I guess it can wait. But it gets worse than simply ignoring the problem. Levy and Chan produced plenty of evidence of fraudulent behavior by Ruddie in this bogus lawsuit — including the use of a bogus defendant, a bogus affidavit signed by the bogus defendant, and a nonexistent physical address (which I guess makes sense, what with the defendant being nonexistent). The other side has produced nothing because it has nothing.

Rather than undo his unconstitutional oversight, the judge has denied Chan’s motion to vacate the judgment, apparently over some filing technicality that appears to be also nonexistent. (Here’s a link to the rule cited by the judge in his denial of the motion.)

Late last week, that situation took a turn for the worse: a one-page order from Judge Jackson denied the motion to vacate on the ground that the affidavit supporting Chan’s motion was not attested in the manner required by the Maryland rules. This ruling is inexplicable – the affidavit was sworn before a notary (see the last page here). I contacted several Maryland lawyers who practice in state court and asked them about this attestation; each told me told me that, as far as they could tell, this was a proper verification of the affidavit. And even if the judge found some defect in the order, there were plenty of exhibits attached to the motion, not to speak of a separate filing by an attorney for Mitul Patel, agreeing that the complaint filed in his name had been submitted to the court without his authorization, and bore a forged signature. Several Maryland lawyers to whom I provided the affidavit shared my reaction – what could Judge Jackson possibly be thinking?

Lots of things come to mind, none of which make Judge Jackson appear qualified to hold this position of power. Maybe the judge doesn’t like hearing he made mistakes. Maybe he’s hoping this will all blow over and he can continue to make the same mistakes in the future. One thing is clear: Jackson’s refusal to address fraud on his own court will ensure his court will be the venue of choice for like-minded fraudsters.

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Comments on “Judge Refuses To Fix His Rubber-Stamping Of A Fraudulently-Requested Court Order”

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That One Guy (profile) says:

"A judge is not wrong, EVER."

Several Maryland lawyers to whom I provided the affidavit shared my reaction – what could Judge Jackson possibly be thinking?

My first thought was that vacating the judgement would make it look like he was conned, badly, and since that just won’t do, as it would damage hi- I mean the court’s image, he’s stonewalling on bogus technicalities in hopes that they’ll give up.

Whatever the case may be the fact that he seems to be outright ignoring significant evidence presented would suggest that he should probably look for another, less damaging-to-the-public job, as that kind of stubbornness is not a good thing for a judge to have, and is just asking for trouble(like now for example).

Bergman (profile) says:

Re: "A judge is not wrong, EVER."

When a judge uses rules that don’t apply to decide on motions that never happened based on evidence that does not exist, at what point does the mockery that judge makes of the entire legal system rise to the level of contempt of court?

Given how low the bar is for people to be found in contempt, it can’t be very high for a judge to be.

Given the power of juries in our system, what would happen if an attorney asked the jury to find the judge in contempt?

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Judge gets conned, makes situation worse by letting ruling languish.

Something something tenure board or something similar might need to suggest he take a vacation & just not come back.

Its the Justice System not the Well but only if I don’t have to admit I was hoodwinked system. He can rain holy hell down upon the lawyer to get a pound of flesh, or twiddle his thumbs hoping it all blows over.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Its the Justice System not the Well but only if I don’t have to admit I was hoodwinked system.

We don’t have a ‘justice system’, we have a ‘legal system’. Calling it a justice system implies that the intent is to see justice done, which doesn’t seem to be the case more often than not, and if anything tends towards being a side-effect.

I think tim Cushing is a pedophile says:

Tim Cushing is an idiot who doesn't like free speech

Tim Cushing a well known pedophile and rapist doesn’t like free speech. Persia is loser trolls here at Tech dirt never thought for a minute that nobody besides us cares about this because it’s not a problem worth focusing on.

DG (profile) says:

Sorry, But You Got This One Wrong

Let me be clear — I normally LOVE TechDirt’s legal analysis. I also HATE fake court orders.

But having said that, I really don’t understand the basis for saying that the Maryland court relied on a “nonexistent” rule to deny the request to vacate the phony order?

Full disclosure — I am a lawyer, and after looking at the local rule cited in the article, the answer was immediately and incredibly obvious. Per the local rule, ALL affidavits must include this statement: “I solemnly affirm under the penalties of perjury that the contents of the foregoing paper are true to the best of my knowledge, information, and belief.”

THAT STATEMENT IS NOT INCLUDED IN CHAN’S AFFIDAVIT. Yes, to be fair, the affidavit does begin with a statement that says it was made under penalty of perjury, but it doesn’t include the exact language required by the rule. This may seem silly to non-lawyers, but I have seen many judges reject affidavits for exactly this sort of technical error.

Yes, it would be nice if judges took a more common-sense approach to things like this, and yes the actual result here was wrong — the court should have vacated the order. But still — after 17 years of practicing law, I don’t agree the judge was entirely off-base here. Furthermore, technical errors like this can be easily fixed, so has that happened? If not, why not?

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