Team Prenda Does Not Show Up In Court; Judge Is Not Amused
from the bad-day-for-prenda dept
We'll have a more complete report soon from Ken "Popehat" White, who was in the courtroom for the Prenda hearing today and will be writing about it for us (and for his own site), but for the quick version of what happened, with a huge assist from both Adam Steinbaugh and White, is that the judge has not made a ruling yet, but he is not at all pleased, saying "the client has been running everything. I know who the client is." There was no direct admission of who owns AF Holdings (other than that it had been transferred to another holding company, LiveWire -- as Pietz pointed out in his chart), but nothing else directly came out in court, apparently, other than Judge Wright's claim that he knows what's going on. In fact, he noted that the shell companies are "not even shells." This does not bode well for Prenda.
Of all the people ordered to appear, Team Prenda decided not to bother -- instead telling the judge they were available by phone, though the judge chose not to call. The only person (outside of Gibbs and Morgan Pietz) who did make it was Alan Cooper. But just one of the Alan Coopers. The caretaker one, who claims that his name was used illegally on various documents. In other words, as expected, Prenda and John Steele have still failed to produce another Alan Cooper who actually was associated with the shell companies. Apparently, Cooper showed up with voicemails left by John Steele which sound vaguely threatening, promising to tie him up in litigation -- possibly the defamation case that Steele filed against Cooper and the anonymous internet commenters. This will not help Steele's case. At all.
Apparently, Judge Otis Wright was not particularly pleased about this turn of events. Similarly, he blasted Paul Hansmeier for his deposition in which he tapdanced around pretty much every question. Remember, Hansmeier gave the deposition as the official designated "representative" of AF Holdings, one of the mysterious shell companies at issue in these cases, but Judge Wright pointed out that Hansmeiers evasiveness suggested he "doesn't know anything about his own firm." Or, you know, he's choosing not to say things.
Gibbs was put on the stand to testify, and apparently continued his "I was just taking orders" defense, in which he pointed the judge to Prenda. He also apparently claims he left Prenda because of the "online harassment and unwelcome exposure," though that wouldn't explain why he then became "in house counsel" for LiveWire, the shell holding company that was "acquiring" various Prenda shells. Judge Wright pointed out that Gibbs was the official counsel of record, and therefore the person responsible, even if he was attempting to throw Prenda under the bus. Gibbs also claimed that while he was "in house counsel" for LiveWire for two months, he never got paid (just like the Hansmeier deposition). It seems that no one associated with Prenda ever seems to want to pay anyone. Funny, that.
Also, Gibbs and his lawyers apparently tried to push back on the Verizon filing, which suggested that Gibbs failed to inform Verizon that the order allowing subpoenas to move forward in one of the cases had been killed by the court, and, furthermore, suggested Gibbs then lied to the court in claiming that Verizon had been informed. However, Verizon's lawyers showed up, and that apparently silenced Gibbs' lawyers.
Anyway, that's our quick update... There will be a ruling soon enough, but come back tonight when we post a more complete analysis from inside the courtroom.