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Troll Lawyer Shows Up In Court To Explain His 'Dead Grandfather' Excuse, Gets His 'Fitness To Practice' Questioned By The Judge

from the putting-the-'lie'-back-in-'Liebowitz' dept

Just a few days ago, copyright troll lawyer Richard Liebowitz was being threatened with jail time for refusing to provide a judge with some evidence his grandfather had died. If that doesn’t seem like something most judges would demand, you’re right. It takes a special kind of lawyer to drive a federal court judge to start demanding proof of death from an attorney.

Liebowitz had blown off a discovery conference. When called on it, he claimed his grandfather had died on April 12th, forcing him to miss the scheduled conference. The judge had other reasons to doubt Liebowitz’s claim — like other screwing around he had performed during this litigation, as well as his short, but colorful (read: sanction-heavy) litigation career.

This information was demanded again and again by the judge. Liebowitz again and again refused to provide documentation of his grandfather’s death. Sanctions were handed down, rising from $100/day to $500/day as Liebowitz continued to refuse to respond to the judge’s order. The judge gave Liebowitz one more chance to turn up in court with the proper paperwork. If he failed to do so, he was to be arrested.

Since then, there have been a couple of developments. William Bastone of The Smoking Gun managed to find evidence of Liebowitz’s grandfather’s demise.

A TSG investigation has determined that Liebowitz’s maternal grandfather did, in fact, die in April. But not on April 12, the Friday morning he failed to appear before Seibel.

Jaime Radusky, 93, died on April 9 at Weill Cornell Medical Center on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Radusky, a Cuban émigré, lived in a penthouse apartment about 10 blocks from the hospital where he died. In the above Facebook photo, Radusky is seen poolside at the Miami Beach condominium complex where he owned a unit.

Details of Radusky’s death are contained in a probate petition filed in Surrogate’s Court in Manhattan by the two executors of Radusky’s estate, his son Henry Radusky and daughter Sara Liebowitz (Richard Liebowitz’s mother). Additionally, an affidavit sworn by an attorney representing Radusky’s heirs reported that, “The decedent died on April 9, 2019.”

So, the excuse wasn’t complete bullshit. But it was still mostly bullshit. Liebowitz swore repeatedly in multiple declarations that his grandfather died on April 12th. That was his excuse for missing the April 12th discovery conference. Liebowitz had a legitimate reason for missing this conference — the recent death of his grandfather — but for some insane reason, chose to give the judge the wrong date and spend the next six months adamantly swearing this falsehood was the truth.

Liebowitz’s last-ditch excuse — a filing that included some rather audacious assertions about the judge’s alleged inability to do her job — said the death of his grandfather was “too private” to be discussed in court. There’s not much that’s private about death. His grandfather’s death certificate is handed out to a number of government agencies to end benefits payments, cancel voter registrations, and — in this case — allow the state court to appoint a legal guardian for his grandfather’s surviving wife.

There’s more to this story. The Smoking Gun showed up in court for Liebowitz’s “tell me why I shouldn’t throw your ass in jail” hearing. This time, Richard Liebowitz showed up as well. Liebowitz showed up with representation. Good call. Not only was he facing possible jail time, but he had proven in this case (and multiple others) he probably shouldn’t ever represent himself, much less clients. It did not go well for the copyright troll lawyer.

[Judge Cathy] Seibel stated that Liebowitz knew he was lying about the date of his grandfather’s death, but “chose to repeat that lie six, eight, ten times” in court filings that the jurist said were part of a “long-term campaign of deception.” Liebowitz, Seibel remarked, “double-downed, triple-downed, quadrupled-downed, octupled-down, I don’t know what would come after that.”

“I question Mr. Liebowitz’s fitness to practice,” Seibel said at one point during the hearing.

There are many, many good reasons to question Liebowitz’s fitness to practice. This debacle is just the latest reason. Liebowitz has only been practicing for five years, but he’s been sanctioned multiple times and his shady litigation strategies have resulted in several orders to post high-dollar bonds before his clients’ cases can proceed.

His short history is catching up to him. It’s going to be a bit more difficult for Liebowitz to flood courts with speculative invoices.

Noting the significance of a lawyer who “intentionally lies to the court,” Seibel said she has referred the Liebowitz matter to the Grievance Committee for review and possible disciplinary sanctions. Seibel added that her contempt rulings against Liebowitz will require him to disclose the sanctions to other courts and prospective clients.

Good. This kind of litigation — threatening people with statutory damages and long, expensive litigation to extract quick settlements — is garbage. So are the people who practice it and profit from it. Liebowitz hasn’t been around long, but he seems determined to make the Prendas of the world look just a tiny bit better by comparison. If he’s forced to disclose his checkered courtroom past before approaching judges or clients, there will be fewer of each willing to entertain his bullshit.

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Comments on “Troll Lawyer Shows Up In Court To Explain His 'Dead Grandfather' Excuse, Gets His 'Fitness To Practice' Questioned By The Judge”

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32 Comments
James Burkhardt (profile) says:

Re: Much disappointment...

I think its a reasonable sanction. His grandfather did die, the court is going to adjudicate his claims of a need of time to grieve. The court was sanctioning the lies, and particularly repeating and octupoling down on the lies. But hes been sanctioned at least $8000.00 already. Additional Jail time might not play well.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Much disappointment...

His grandfather did die, the court is going to adjudicate his claims of a need of time to grieve.

Yeah, if you really believe that he gave the wrong date that just so happened to coincide with a hearing that went poorly for him, and then lied about it for months because he was overcome with grief I’ve got some great bridges to sell you.

Had he missed the hearing and then admitted afterwards that his grandfather had recently died and it hit him hard enough and/or imposed time-sensitive requirements that he not only couldn’t show but couldn’t remember to inform the court he wouldn’t be able to show that would have been one thing, but as the judge noted in her teardown of him his lying for months was anything but accidental. He knew he was lying but rather than own it and apologize he kept doing it.

But hes been sanctioned at least $8000.00 already.

Which sure seems to have taught him not to lie in court, no?

Sanctions are clearly not cutting it, he just shrugs them off and continues his schemes, at this point jail time seems more than justified for repeated instances of perjury, though I’d be perfectly fine with no jail time if instead he lost his license as blatantly unfit to practice.

Tactical Bra says:

The Best is Yet to Come

Leonard French (from Lawful Masses with Leonard French) went to the hearing as well. The Judge is only really issuing sanctions to remedy the immediate situation in front of her (failing to follow her orders). However, he’s been referred to the Court’s Grievance Office and Liebowitz’s bar. Those two offices get to issue their own sanctions. The pattern of his behaviour in other cases would carry more weight with his bar. However, it can take awhile for them to do their investigation and Liebowitz would have a chance to defend himself and offer to take remedial actions. This story isn’t done yet.

Ed 33 says:

Love that his own attorney said Liebowitz “was not dealing with a full deck.” My guess is that he gets suspended for at least 6 months.

That being said, comparing his practice to Prenda is not quite fair. Liebowtiz’s clients are real photographers and the people he sues are real businesses who should not be using images without a license.

Isn’t the entire criminal justice system predicated on the idea of “threatening people with statutory damages and long, expensive litigation to extract quick settlements”? If copyright holders are forced to police their own work, why should they not negotiate the same way?

Anonymous Coward says:

I feel bad the guys grandfather died. My step-grandfather and uncle died in one week many years ago and it was not a fun or productive time for other pursuits.

Getting a quick settlement on a claim is not in and of itself a bad thing.

Is there any evidence that he or his clients considered lawful reasons to be accessing online information even if they consider it fringe?

The normal troll stereotype implies they don’t care if there were a great number of fair use cases or mistaken identity cases from alleged infringing IP addresses. They also don’t care about the difference between commercial and non-commercial conduct. Those are the practices I find objectionable about the copyright trolling industry.

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

Re: Re:

What make Libeowitz a troll is that he files far more cases than he is capable of taking care of, and has been sanctioned multiple times for lying to the court and failing to follow proper procedure. Most of his clients probably have valid claims, however he does not have what we would call the “bandwidth” to adjudicate properly.

Ed 33 says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I am not sure what you mean by going rate, but If you mean the normal licensing rate, that would be silly. Copyright law is meant to be punitive and discourage infringement and it makes no sense to give someone who stole an image the same price as someone who did the right thing and paid for it.

Now a 100X multiplier is probably excessive in most cases.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I feel bad the guys grandfather died. My step-grandfather and uncle died in one week many years ago and it was not a fun or productive time for other pursuits.

Liebowitz might have had some sympathy there, if not for the following points:

  1. He lied about it, even when there was no good reason to, across a period of several months.
  2. The RIAA themselves set the gold standard by suing a dead man, then doubling down and giving the family 60 days to grieve, before promising to sue them after that.

The glorious heroes of copyright took a diarrhea dump in the bed they made and now they have to lie in it.

Michael says:

Re: Re:

We don’t know what was going on in his head.

It is conceivable that he learned of his grandfather’s death on the 12th and missed the hearing because he was simply distracted by grief. He may have learned of the death on the 9th and been so distracted with grief that he missed a hearing three days later. When initially asked, he may simply have not been in the right mindset because of his grief and gave a poor accounting of what and when things happened. After that, he may have been embarrassed or afraid of the ramifications of giving the wrong date and kept hoping the court would just let it go.

Or, he may have not cared at all for his grandfather, missed the hearing because of something else, and simply used the dead grandfather as an excuse.

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

What I don't get...

Here’s what I don’t understand… In this particular case, doing the right thing – spending two minutes to send an email asking to reschedule the discovery conference – would have been far easier than the path he chose. Even after he missed it, he could have explained that it slipped his mind due to his grandfather’s death (with the correct date of death), and nobody would have given it a second thought.

Instead, he chooses to lie to the court, and then double, triple, and quadruple-down on the lie when called on it. That cost him a pretty penny and potentially his livelihood if he’s disbarred over this.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: What I don't get...

Seibel said that it seemed Liebowitz thought that if he could drag the court proceedings out, that she would lose interest in him. Referring to the “multiple lies” offered by Liebowitz, Seibel said, “I’m sure he’s disappointed I didn’t go away.”

The judge proposed one possible explanation, that he was hoping that if he just dragged it on long enough she’d get tired of the whole thing and drop it, and I’d add another possible explanation of ego, in that once he made the first lie he simply couldn’t admit to having lied and instead just kept digging.

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