Copyright Troll Lawyer Serves Up BS 'Dead Grandfather' Excuse For Missing Court; Now Facing Sanctions And Arrest

from the looks-like-SOMEONE'S-getting-buried dept

Copyright troll attorneys are the worst. At best (and “best” is very relative here), they’re using the judicial system as leverage in their extortion scheme — one that involves complaint carpet-bombings and the hope that a small percentage of settlements will make the entire operation profitable. At worst, well… they’re the worst.

If they’re not being called out by courts for their speculative invoicing operations, they’re being literally convicted of fraud. Trolls cut and run when faced with any scrutiny from judges and defendants. At least the smart(er) ones do.

Richard Liebowitz — IP gun-for-hire — isn’t smart enough to do that. He rushes to the sound of his own gunfire, seemingly determined to maximize the self-inflicted damage. In a few short years, he managed to put a client on the hook for everyone’s legal fees, been hit with a $10,000 bond demand after lying about his client’s licensing agreement, and potentially set precedent that would make trolls like him liable for all ongoing legal fees if settlements higher than the final judgment are rejected by the plaintiff.

Now, Liebowitz has added to his infamy by being sanctioned [PDF] for lying to the judge about a death in the family. (h/t Owen Barcala)

Liebowitz blew off a discovery conference ordered by Judge Cathy Seibel. No call. No email. Nothing. The court only obtained a response from Liebowitz after ordering him to inform the court why he missed the conference and why he shouldn’t be required to pay the defendant’s legal fees for the conference he no-showed.

Liebowitz’s response — aimed at avoiding having to pay someone else’s legal fees — was deliberately vague.

By letter dated April 15, 2019, Mr. Liebowitz advised that he had missed the conference because of a death in the family which was an “unexpected urgent matter” to which he had to attend. (Doc. 32.) He also said he would be out of the office on April 18 and asked to appear by phone at the rescheduled discovery conference. (Id.)

This might have passed without further comment from the judge, but during this conference, Liebowitz said the “urgent matter” was a death in the family. This, too, might have passed unnoticed if it wasn’t for Liebowitz getting in his own way by being the shady IP lawyer he’s always been.

During the conference, issues were discussed that reflected negatively on Plaintiff’s counsel’s credibility. For example, Plaintiff had answered interrogatories saying his damages calculation had relied on “contracts, invoices, [and] licensing agreements,” (Doc. 27 at 1), but when Defendant requested those documents, Plaintiff said he could not produce them without a protective order. After Defendant agreed to a protective order and the Court signed it, (Doc. 23), Plaintiff still produced nothing, despite twice promising to do so. (See Doc. 27.) Further, Defendant’s counsel represented that Mr. Liebowitz had told Defendant’s counsel that he could not comply because he was out of the country due to an emergency, when in reality he was at a trade show in Europe trying to drum up business.

Feeling she couldn’t trust Liebowitz’s assertions about pretty much anything, the judge asked for some evidence of this death in the family. When people die, records are created. Obituaries are published. Funerals are held. Liebowitz provided none of these things.

By letter dated May 1, 2019, Mr. Liebowitz represented that his grandfather had unexpectedly died on April 12, 2019 and that Mr. Liebowitz was needed to assist with certain customs for which arrangements had to be made in advance of the Sabbath.

Wrong, said the judge.

This letter is not responsive to my instruction. Mr. Liebowitz was to document who passed away, when the person passed away and when Mr. Liebowitz was notified. The reason I requested documentation is that there is reason to believe Mr. Liebowitz is not being candid. So a letter from him does not advance the ball. When someone dies, there is documentation including a death certificate and (almost always) an obituary, and nowadays one’s phone usually contains evidence of what one was told and when. Mr. Liebowitz may have until 5/3/19 to supplement this letter.

Not coincidentally, Liebowitz decided to settle with the defendant on the same day he was due to hand over proof of death to the judge. Not good enough.

I’m glad the parties have resolved the case (and, I presume, the issue of Plaintiff’s counsel’s expenses for the April 12 conference), but there remains one open issue: Mr. Liebowitz’s failure to document the death in the family that he says caused him to miss the conference. (See Doc. 38.). He was supposed to address that issue by May 3, but I will give him until May 9. Even if Defendant has been made whole, I still need to satisfy myself that there is no need for disciplinary or other inquiry.

Since he apparently didn’t have anything to offer as proof of his grandfather’s death, Liebowitz doubled down. He “re-certified” his original statement about the death, again without supporting documents. The judge said the “certification” of someone whose honesty is already in question isn’t an acceptable substitution for records showing Liebowitz was otherwise detained handling funeral arrangements. Triple down.

Rather than comply with the Court’s order to provide the above documentation, on May 16, Mr. Liebowitz again submitted a Declaration reiterating his belief that his statements contained in the April 15, May 1, and May 9 letters were sufficient to discharge his obligations in response to the Court’s order to show cause.

Her patience exhausted, Judge Seibel told Liebowitz continued failure to provide proof would constitute contempt of court. Liebowitz quadrupled down , claiming his “say-so” was all that was needed since this was a “personal matter.” Seibel rejected this assertion and added monetary sanctions to the threat. Liebowitz quintupled down… and decided to tell the judge she was wrong to even ask.

In this Declaration, Mr. Liebowitz argued that he was not in contempt because this Court’s request for his grandfather’s death certificate was unlawful, as it “likely constitutes a usurpation of judicial authority or a breach of judicial decorum,” (id ¶ 14); his previous Declarations complied with my previous orders, (id. ¶ 15); “there [was] no basis to impose monetary sanctions,” (id. ¶ 16); and the Court’s assurance that his grandfather’s death certificate would not be made public was insufficient to protect his right to privacy…

With that, Liebowitz was found in contempt of court and fined $100 a day. Liebowitz twice tried to have the order stayed and claimed it would take “two weeks” to get documentation of his grandfather’s death — the death that had supposedly occurred almost six months earlier. All these attempts did was convince the judge her contempt fees weren’t high enough.

Richard Liebowitz, Plaintiff’s counsel in this case, is now in contempt of my August 19, 2019 and September 27, 2019 orders. (See Docs. 51, 53.) The $100 fine he accrues each business day has plainly been ineffective to coerce compliance with the August 19, 2019 Order. Accordingly, the daily contempt sanction is hereby increased to $500 a day, effective November 6, 2019.

And if Liebowitz doesn’t have any documents with him on that day, he’s going to jail.

Mr. Liebowitz is hereby ORDERED to appear before this Court in person on November 13, 2019 at 10 a.m., and there and then SHOW CAUSE why he should not be incarcerated until such time as he complies with the above-described orders (and, if applicable, the instant order). Failure to appear as directed will subject Mr. Liebowitz to arrest by the United States Marshals Service without further notice.

Richard Liebowitz had better hope he still has a grandfather who’s alive. And then he’s going to have to go back in time and kill him. Otherwise he’s going to jail. If he shows up and admits he lied about his grandfather’s death, he’s still going to jail because the judge ordered him to produce documentation of this person’s death. Since that doesn’t appear to exist, Liebowitz cannot fulfill the court’s order. One way or another, Liebowitz is going to spend some time behind bars. And once he gets out, he’s going to have at least one fewer clients than when he went in. Hopefully anyone else still retaining his services will realize the only thing dumber than representing yourself in court is hiring Richard Liebowitz to represent you.

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Comments on “Copyright Troll Lawyer Serves Up BS 'Dead Grandfather' Excuse For Missing Court; Now Facing Sanctions And Arrest”

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64 Comments
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Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Richard Liebowitz had better hope he still has a grandfather who’s alive. And then he’s going to have to go back in time and kill him. Otherwise he’s going to jail.

If he went back in time to kill his grandfather, he wouldn’t have to worry about jail. Unless time travel works on multiverse theory, anyway.

Norahc (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Other Certificate Please

https://mobile.twitter.com/tsgnews/status/1194655628058337281

Questioning Liebowitz’s “fitness to practice,” Judge Cathy Seibel announced this AM she has referred his actions to the Grievance Committee for review and possible professional sanctions

Looks like the dog may have ate his license ro practice law too (hopefully)

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Other Certificate Please

Based upon the quotes in the second article linked to in that Tweet thread looks like the scumbag’s day in court did not go well for him.

In an attempt to counter Seibel’s devastating dissection, Richard Greenberg, one of Liebowitz’s lawyers, said his client was “not playing with a full deck,” adding that he shared the judge’s “mystification” as to Liebowitz’s behavior. Greenberg claimed that Liebowitz “was in a daze” following his grandfather’s death, and than any misrepresentations on the lawyer’s part were not “intentful.

Seibel dismissed that claim, noting that it was “completely implausible” that Liebowitz’s “haze” continued for the many months he “tried to weedle his way out of the problem.”

In a letter to Seibel, Greenberg argued that the contempt findings against Liebowitz will damage his legal career.

Quick, someone fetch the nano-violin, I fee a song coming on!

Near the close of the hearing, Liebowitz briefly addressed Seibel, saying he was “really, really sorry” and that his repeated misstatements were “really an honest mistake.”

Seibel, however, was having none of it. “Stop kidding yourself,” she told Liebowitz after referring to his months and months of lies. “This was clearly not an honest mistake,” she said. Rather, it was a “concerted campaign of deception.

Out of all the things you really don’t want to hear from a judge, that has got to rank up there pretty high. ‘You were lying to me before, and now you’re just doubling down with even more lies rather than admitting it.’

Anonymous Coward says:

Looks like he screwed this one up. For a dishonest lawyer he’s not very good at being dishonest. It seems like a good lawyer should be able to come up with something half true just in case you have to explain yourself.

He could have befriended someone who was a next of kin in an obituary and said "I meant my friends grandfather" after he couldn’t come up with something remotely true the first time and brought that bullshit before the judge without making it an outright lie for example.

spodula says:

Re: Re:

Note quite the same thing, but from Yes Minister:

Sir Desmond Glazebrook : Just the one. If you’re incompetent you have to be honest, and if you’re crooked you have to be clever. See, if you’re honest, then when you make a pig’s breakfast of things the chaps rally round and help you out.

Sir Humphrey : If you’re crooked?

Sir Desmond Glazebrook : Well, if you’re making good profits for them, chaps don’t start asking questions; they’re not stupid. Well, not that stupid.

Sir Humphrey : So the ideal is a firm which is honest and clever.

Sir Desmond Glazebrook : Yes. Let me know if you ever come across one, won’t you.

Qwertygiy says:

Re: Re: Re:

It’s explained in this linked article about Liebowitz:

Under Rule 68, when sued, a defendant may make a settlement offer that includes some specific terms.

In this particular case, Liebowitz, representing photographer Gregory Mango, sued Democracy Now!. Democracy Now! looked up how much Mango was licensing his photos for (a maximum of $220) and made a Rule 68 offer to settle for 5 times that amount. Liebowitz quickly turned the offer down, as he was seeking much more. But here’s the fun part of Rule 68. It’s part (d):

Paying Costs After an Unaccepted Offer. If the judgment that the offeree finally obtains is not more favorable than the unaccepted offer, the offeree must pay the costs incurred after the offer was made.

Translated: If Mango/Liebowitz’s final judgment is less favorable than the ~$1,000 Democracy Now! offered under Rule 68, then Mango is on the hook for all of Democracy Now’s legal fees incurred after that offer was made.

It’s not really anti-SLAPP, as a SLAPP is when someone tries to prevent someone from speaking. It’s more anti-troll, when someone tries to get paid for something you made that they argue infringed upon something they made..

Qwertygiy says:

Re: Re: hypocratic oath for lawyers??

Though it is one that goes back millennia, before written language itself.

Proto-Indo-European "legʰ" (to lie down) is the presumed root of the word "law", essentially through the meaning of "laying down the law".

Whereas Proto-Indo-European "lewgʰ" is the presumed root of the word "lie" as in telling a falsehood.

So for approximately 6,000 years, nearly all of Western civilization has had remarkably similar words for "liar" and "lawyer".

A very interesting coincidence indeed.

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Why did he think the same argument would work the third or fourth time?

My guess is he figured he had not much to lose. There’s no dead grandfather (or at least no recently dead grandfather), so he cannot comply with the order. He could either come clean, at which time he would be hit with contempt of court, and referred to the bar association for an ethics investigation, or he can try to weasel out of it. If he fails, he’s no worse off than if he hadn’t tried (except for the fines).

That One Guy (profile) says:

'Trust me', said the known liar

Imagine that, get a reputation for dishonesty and try to avoid court and the judge in question isn’t willing to trust your excuse for why and does the fiendish thing of demanding evidence…

Ah, with so much bad news these days always nice to see articles like this, with scum and spreaders of suffering facing some real punishments for their actions.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Christenson says:

But his Grandfather really *did* die..3 days before!

Seems Mr Liebowitz mostly exhausted the judge’s patience, and was just shading the truth, via @FCT on twitter:
https://twitter.com/obarcala/status/1194061023038332928?s=20

The grandfather’s death cert is 3 days before the excuse.

Anonymous Coward says:

If he shows up and admits he lied about his grandfather’s death, he’s still going to jail because the judge ordered him to produce documentation of this person’s death.

Not quite. He’s ordered to show cause why he should not be incaracarated for not complying with the order, and if the death didn’t happen, that would certainly be valid cause as to why he couldn’t produce documentation.

Of course, that would mean admitting he previously lied to the court, and that comes with its own problems.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: A self-imposed rock and a hard place

‘Your Honor, as these records show I couldn’t provide documentation to show that my grandfather died on the day I said he did in court documents under penalty of perjury, because doing so would have shown that in fact he died on a different day, making clear that I lied in court documents, under penalty of perjury. As such it would be unreasonable to hold me in contempt of court for refusing to provide evidence because doing so would have provided evidence of perjury.’

Yeah, I don’t see that going over too well with a judge already out of patience with him.

DannyB (profile) says:

What if he brought his living grandfather to court?

Suppose he brought his living grandfather to court with him?

Look! It’s a Miracle!

He’s alive!

The judge should be so overwhelmed with joy that she will forget about needing to produce any documentation of his death now that he is alive again.

(If his grandfather is not available, some stand in actor would do.)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: UPDATE: report on the hearing of 13 November

In an attempt to counter Seibel’s devastating dissection, Richard Greenberg, one of Liebowitz’s lawyers, said his client was “not playing with a full deck,” adding that he shared the judge’s “mystification” as to Liebowitz’s behavior. Greenberg claimed that Liebowitz “was in a daze” following his grandfather’s death, and than any misrepresentations on the lawyer’s part were not “intentful.”… In a letter to Seibel, Greenberg argued that the contempt findings against Liebowitz will damage his legal career.

The behavior of copyright lawyers continues to mystify me. It’s not as though they’re practicing in a particularly strenuous area of law. It’s not as though they’re playing on the losing side. Copyright law has consistently been the aspect of law that has the easiest of passes.

Just whisper "copyright" and there’s no shortage to the doors or legs you open. Jurors jump to your defense. Judges willingly close their eyes. Even the government lets you get away with warrantless surveillance, or collusion between the judge and prosecution. It’s like Open fucking Sesame!

So why do copyright lawyers consistently fuck up in the most asinine ways? They work in a fucking silver-spoon-in-the-mouth industry! It’s like giving them a spoon to drink soup with and they end up stabbing themselves with the fork! (But where did the fork come from, you might say. That’s how dumbfucked these copyright idiots are. Then again, considering some of the clients these assholes have, maybe it just runs in the IP-incestuous family.)

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: UPDATE: report on the hearing of 13 November

Ego, greed and assumptions based upon past events.

If someone gets away with a particular act multiple times then they will start to believe that it’s safe to do it more, even if they should have been punished for said actions in the past. It was only due to the judge digging in her heels and refusing to just let this slide that he got caught out after all, how many judges would have seen the settlement between the two parties and just washed their hands of the whole thing?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: UPDATE: report on the hearing of 13 November

his client was “not playing with a full deck,”

He’s one card short of a full deck
He’s not quite the shilling
One wave short of a shipwreck
He’s not his usual top billing
He’s coming down with a fever
He’s really out to sea
This kettle is boiling over
He thinks he’s a banana tree
Oh dear…

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