Legal Issues

by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:
nevada, state bar


Nevada Bar Investigating Righthaven Lawyers

from the keep-digging dept

It seems things keep getting worse and worse for Righthaven. With its lawsuits losing big time, and the underpinning of many of its lawsuits being dropped as a sham, it appears that the Nevada state bar is now investigating the company and its lawyers, after some grievances have been filed against the copyright trolling operation. People at the Nevada state bar have admitted that there are "two or possibly three" grievances being investigated. Steve Green has the details:
Court records suggest the State Bar in reviewing the Righthaven litigation is focusing on two broad areas:

-- Whether Righthaven and its attorneys have engaged in champerty and barratry – generally defined as the improper incitement and prosecution of lawsuits by parties with no real interest in the outcome – and that hope to profit by such lawsuits.

Attorneys for one of the Righthaven defendants, Thomas DiBiase, for instance, have charged: "DiBiase asserts that the purported copyright assignment from Stephens Media to Righthaven is a sham and that Righthaven is engaged in champerty and barratry by filing litigation on copyrights that it does not own."

-- Whether Righthaven and its attorneys have made misrepresentations to the court. If true, that would appear to be a violation of the Nevada Supreme Court’s Rules of Professional Conduct.

These rules say, in part, "It is professional misconduct for a lawyer" to "engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation." The rules also say, "A lawyer shall not knowingly make a false statement of fact or law to a tribunal or fail to correct a false statement of material fact or law previously made to the tribunal by the lawyer."
Both of those may end badly for Righthaven and its lawyers, especially the latter. The fact that Righthaven failed to reveal that Stephens Media was a 50% beneficial party to any legal results is a huge omission that I can't see the state bar brushing off as a minor infraction. It's still rather stunning that the company didn't realize that such information would eventually come out.

Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread

  1. identicon
    Peter S. Chamberlain, 22 Jun 2011 @ 7:14am

    Righthaven, bar discipline

    I'm a retired Texas lawyer, with lots of arcane experience including writing ethics opinions, but not an IP expert though I did one appeal on a trademark etc. issue. It has long puzzled me how either Righthaven, which is kind of like a collection agency, or RIAA, a trade association which represents content creators and copyright holders but isn't one, so that neither appears to be a "real party in interest" in such cases, has standing to and can maintain a suit on what are essentially somebody else's actual or alleged rights. Court can only adjudicate live cases or controversies, and those can only arise between the real owner and somebody. It's only after those jurisdictional issues, that go, among other things, to the court's power to decide a case, are resolved that issues of champetrry and barratry kick in. It like if the private security guard company rather than the store tried to sue or prosecute you for shoplifting or giving the store a bad check.
    I don't know the rules in Nevada, but here, the fact that someone has filed a grievance complaint against a lawyer with the State Bar is private, and the complainant is not allowed to publicize the filing, until after the Grievance Committee has investigated, held a hearing, and made its decision. You are not supposed to use either the Bar grievance or criminal processes to gain an advantage in a civil case.

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Use markdown for basic formatting. HTML is no longer supported.
  Save me a cookie
Follow Techdirt
Insider Shop - Show Your Support!

Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads


Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.