What Can Judge Wright Do To Team Prenda Tomorrow?

from the getting-ready dept

In case you'd forgotten, tomorrow is the date of the second big Prenda hearing by Judge Otis Wright, following the March 11th hearing, which clearly did not satisfy Wright's curiosity about Team Prenda. While I'm still wondering if anyone (other than Brett Gibbs) is going to show up, Ken White has a great run down of what Judge Wright has the power to do. So, in case you were hoping for something dramatic, it's not like he's going to order them dragged off and thrown in jail.

He has some power to issue sanctions or argue that they're in contempt, but all of those powers are somewhat limited. And while they can be damaging, it may not go as far as some people hoped. The bigger issue may be if Judge Wright decides to refer the matter to others -- including various state bars, the US district courts and circuit court bars, and (of course) to the US Attorneys' Office. While he notes that all of these places tend to be busy on other things, getting a referral directly from a federal court judge usually makes these folks wake up and pay some attention -- and, at the very least, begin an investigation.

Ken also doubts that Judge Wright will rule immediately, but will see how the hearing goes. Ken predicts that he then will issue "a carefully-worded order with findings of fact" and then likely make referrals to the state and federal bars. Either way, we'll cover the details...

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 1st, 2013 @ 4:27pm

    So change your MAC address is spoofing a network and worth 35-50 years, but lying to the judges/court system gets you a slap on the hands?

    That's justice for ya!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    out_of_the_blue, Apr 1st, 2013 @ 4:46pm

    @ AC#1: Yes, lawyers can and do get away with murder.

    They're all in the same guild; so long as they don't directly offend the guild, they're likely to escape with mere fines. -- THAT guild is one of the WORST evils Mike should focus on far more than Big Media, but instead, he's a lawyer groupie.

    Mike just loves discipline at the bench: he's a real masnickist!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 1st, 2013 @ 4:51pm

    What a birthday present for myself, hearing if these clowns get taken down a notch and stop making the system look bad.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. icon
    Austin (profile), Apr 1st, 2013 @ 5:02pm


    This is not entirely true.

    A judge, even at the district court level, can hold a lawyer in contempt - i.e. put them in a holding cell in the local jail - the exact same way they can with a defendant. The trick is, they must bring them back for hearing every 72 hours. But they can, if they're willing to have a rehearing every 72 hours, keep them there indefinitely.

    My boss was a district court judge for almost 2 years. One time, a deadbeat bought a car, made the down payment with a worthless check, then failed to make 11 months of payments before the car dealer finally sued him. When brought in for a hearing on the matter, the man said, and I quote "I have the money. I just don't see why I should pay them."

    After over a dozen hearings and almost 2 months in jail, he finally decided to pay them. She brought the man up for hearing every 3 days until he finally changed his mind. It was a lot of work on her part, but she was rather offended at his total lack of any intent to pay his bill, so she made the effort to force him to do it.

    So yes, if a lawyer (or defendant) refuses to follow a judge's orders, through the magic of every-3-day-hearings, they CAN (but rarely do) hold them there literally forever. The question is this: Will Prenda Law piss them off badly enough to tempt Judge Wright into doing something this drastic.

    Knowing Prenda, I'd bet the guys in the tank will be getting some company.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Apr 1st, 2013 @ 5:21pm

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 1st, 2013 @ 5:21pm

    It's hilarious how incredibly excited Pirate Mike gets at the thought of a pro-copyright person getting in trouble, yet whenever someone anti-copyright does something wrong he throws out every argument in their defense he can think of.

    Ah, Techdirt. Home of the Pirate Apologist Par Excellence. The best part is how he denies that it's true. Part of me thinks that he's so messed up in the head that he might really think that. But then I remember that he's a dishonest dirtbag and an obsessive liar.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Ken, Apr 1st, 2013 @ 5:29pm

    Re: Well...

    Actually, Austin, what you are describing is a coercive use of the contempt power, as I described in the post. Your judge was imposing contempt to coerce compliance -- in that case with a payment order.

    Here, aside from the order to appear, there's nothing to coerce.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. icon
    apauld (profile), Apr 1st, 2013 @ 5:32pm


    Love the fact that Hansmeier admits knowing about it
    the April 2nd hearing.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. icon
    That One Guy (profile), Apr 1st, 2013 @ 6:55pm

    So, out of curiosity, is anyone here expecting more than say half, max, of those ordered by the judge to show, to actually show up in court?

    Personally I'm expecting a veritable avalanche of 'my dog got sick/I missed my flight/I was never served/I had a medical emergency' and so on, should be good.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. icon
    That One Guy (profile), Apr 1st, 2013 @ 6:58pm

    Re: Well...

    Umm, yeah, that is a perfect example of what a judge should not be allowed to do, and a blatant abuse of power.

    If he'd committed a crime she could charge him with, great, hit him with it, but throwing him in jail via a technicality for two months just to get him to do what she wanted is wrong on so many levels.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. icon
    Wally (profile), Apr 1st, 2013 @ 8:41pm

    What ever the punishment may be.....contempt might not be the only thing Judge Wright has the power to do. Prenda Law could lose their liscense to practice law....that's if they actually have a liscensed to do so in the first place, which is something I'm beginning to suspect.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 1st, 2013 @ 8:50pm


    It's far more hilarious that for all the praises sung about copyright your glorious defenders have to tread on the grey areas of morality and law to enforce the damn thing.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Zem, Apr 1st, 2013 @ 9:01pm

    I fully expect the judge to hand out lollipops and tell all concerned to suck on it. Hoping to see flavours such as, lemon sour face, horse radish humiliation, and cream pie on your face.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. icon
    special-interesting (profile), Apr 1st, 2013 @ 10:09pm

    Have definitely not forgotten to go shopping today for the big pre discovery event tomorrow. Salsa and corn chips are the favorite besides a ton of half priced candy.

    Disappointment is not expected. Expect to be impressed by the preposterous legal wanking, technically not technical almost lies and literal shanking of the truth with never once actually breaking the law to the extent that rage and delight will be experienced several times upon reading of the event and commenting thereafter.

    What happens tomorrow depends much on who does and does not show up and the rational given for that. A lot of us might imagine immediate lighting and thunder thrown at the Prendaa group and or associates but that would only happen if they clearly defied orders to appear and explain very specific questions about the apparently funny paperwork and maybe who did and who did not sign them.

    Since most of the involved have already defied an order to show up there is already enough rope to yank if the judge sees fit.

    Its kind of obvious that Prendaa has already ticked off Judge Wright who was probably not happy to wade through the considerable obfuscation/weaseling already spewed out. I expect some sharp questions about such.

    If the past is a portent of the future and the similar excuses like declarations of non jurisdiction, claims of its somebody else's problem, hardship whining about having to show up, fascinating theories of how the apparent paperwork snafus don't matter, etc.

    My fave moment might possibly be when/if Peter (of 6 8 8 1 Forensics ?) takes the stand. Some brouhaha has been raised about seeding a possible honey pot and it seems likely that the rest of the Prendaa bunch does not have the technical wherewithal to do any such thing. -crosses fingers- (just making a wild guess.) Some careful groundwork might be laid for further questioning about this important matter.

    What does seem to be clear is that Prendaa and associates do not want to show up with media present and may not even under great threat. A relatively private hearing in a day or so even if it cost a few grand in fines may be a possible strategy.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 1st, 2013 @ 10:28pm

    I hope this article is wrong and they all get hauled out in cuffs. Haven't some of them at the very least perjured themselves? I wish this was being carried live. I usually sleep days but I would stay up for this!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 2nd, 2013 @ 12:29am

    This is like Jerry Springer: Courtroom Edition. I'm actually so eager to see how this plays out that I have a reminder on my calendar to check TD tomorrow!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 2nd, 2013 @ 12:49am


    It's funny how quickly Terrorist AC comes to the defense of groups that are morally wrong, yet refers to Techdirt as "pirate apologist(s)".

    Then I remember that he's defending people who are habitual liars and advocates of terrorising innocent people.

    Dishonest, unscrupulous filth, the lot of them.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. identicon
    PopeyeLePoteaux, Apr 2nd, 2013 @ 3:16am


    Funny that you mention "obssesive" because judging the kind, level and mount of idiocy you exhibit in everyone of your rants, makes me wonder if I can clasify it now as a rare form OCD.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 2nd, 2013 @ 4:57am


    Yeah, you're full of shit.

    Mike hasn't defended the actions of Thomas-Rasset, Tennenbaum or anyone else successfully sued. He's argued over the damages pretty consistently.

    But when the guys you venerate so have to resort to outright illegalities in order to get things done, then perhaps the law needs to be a ton clearer.

    IS there a way to remove the trolling model with changes to the law? Sure, but any attempts to legislate such will be met with howls of anguish from the MPAA and their ilk. And that, more than anything else, is a huge problem. Because there absolutely needs to be a considerable reform of copyright/patent law. Because as it is? It's one of the major reasons that China and India are winning economically (but not the only one - privacy issues are another reason why I think that India is going to do better than China in the mid-term).

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20. icon
    DannyB (profile), Apr 2nd, 2013 @ 5:36am

    Re: Re:

    Yes, twice he says: I'm not going to comment on the April 2 hearing.

    It would be funny if he were to later say he never knew of the April 2 hearing.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21. icon
    Nicholas Weaver (profile), Apr 2nd, 2013 @ 6:40am

    Actually, I'll bet that most show...

    Or at least the lawyers: Steele, Duffy, and Paul Hansmeier. From their point of view, its far less painful for them to attend.

    They tried their last minute "You have no jurisdiction" gambit, got bench-slapped for it hard, and Judge Wright in his writing has made it pretty clear that he wants those three in his courtroom, even if their lawyer won't accept service on their behalf.

    Thus they can either fly coach and turn up today or fly Con-Air and turn up for the next hearing.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22. identicon
    jackn, Apr 2nd, 2013 @ 7:31am


    They are not pro-copyright. Pro-copyright suggest respect for the law.

    Do you have a dog in this fight?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23. identicon
    AB, Apr 2nd, 2013 @ 7:34am

    Re: Re: Well...

    Not really. She did this because he was contemptuous of the court order, not just because she wanted him to comply. He could have simply appealed the matter, but instead he openly defied the judges decision. So I'd say holding him in contempt was reasonable in this instance. And since he continued to refuse to recognize the courts decision...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24. identicon
    AB, Apr 2nd, 2013 @ 7:41am

    Re: Re:

    Grey? I'd hardly call them grey. Morally they are well past the grey area and in the black mire of amorality. Given what they can legally get away with, it's pretty pathetic that they also go there with the law. But then it's not actually about copyright, is it. $$$

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25. identicon
    AB, Apr 2nd, 2013 @ 7:59am

    Re: Re:

    Interesting you should use that description since by the dictionary definition they are indeed terrorists. Why isn't the so called 'war on terror' targeting them as well?

    : the systematic use of terror especially as a means of coercion
    (Prenda Law seems like a good example)

    1. a person, usually a member of a group, who uses or advocates terrorism.
    (Such as the earlier commenter)
    2. a person who terrorizes or frightens others. (seems like a good description of most IP trolls)

    Remember that for many, many people the courtroom is a more terrifying threat then a gun.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26. identicon
    AB, Apr 2nd, 2013 @ 8:01am

    Re: Actually, I'll bet that most show...

    Well, there may be a couple of people who cannot show up simply because they do not exist. Hehe

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27. icon
    AB (profile), Apr 2nd, 2013 @ 8:06am


    This is better because it's real and the people deserve what they get. And more.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28. identicon
    DeP, Apr 2nd, 2013 @ 11:40am


    "Dishonest dirtbag and an obsessive liar". Hmm. This guy needs to be tracked down and taken to the cleaners. Anybody know who he REALLY is? Can't produce a convincing argument, so reverts to insults, as most folk of lowly intelligence do when they don't have an original thought in their heads.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 3rd, 2013 @ 2:29am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Which is why I used that definition.

    Admittedly, it's also a rather immature retaliation - if the pro-MAFIAA ACs can incorrectly refer to Mr Masnick as a "pirate apologist" and people he defends as "thieves", I have literally no problem correctly defining them as apologists for terrorism.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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