John Steele Shows Up In Judge Wright's Court; Bet He Wishes He Hadn't

from the so-you-made-it? dept

While John Steele insisted he only "just" found out about the hearing in Judge Wright's courtroom today, and insisted that it would be nearly impossible to make it, with Judge Wright quickly rejecting Steele's request, it appears that Steele somehow found a way to get to the courtroom on time this morning. And, while I'm sure that not showing up would have been a really bad decision, that doesn't mean that being present was a particularly enjoyable experience. Adam Steinbaugh was in the courtroom and has a detailed writeup of the continually no-nonsense Judge Wright's latest opportunity to respond verbally and in-person to John Steele's nonsense.

If you don't recall, the specific hearing was in response to Steele's motion for sanctions against Morgan Pietz for supposedly violating Steele's due process rights in "not serving" him the documents in the case since Steele began representing himself ("pro se"). As pretty much everyone who has been following the case has noted, the idea that Steele was not actually aware of the filings is pretty close to nil, and the decision to play more "playing dumb" games in front of Judge Wright -- who has made it abundantly clear that he is not impressed with John Steele's games -- is looking increasingly bad.

Steele appears to be betting heavily that arguing that his due process rights were violated is his best chance to somehow emerge from the deep pile of trouble that he's in. He's going to have a rather difficult time making that case, though, he must (at the very least) have to know that Judge Wright was going to shred him to pieces today -- and then hope he can make some progress in the inevitable appeal. That's still going to be a long shot, and I imagine that Judge Wright is going to do everything possible to make it abundantly clear to the judges handling the appeal just how ridiculous Steele's claim is -- starting with the details of today's hearing.
Judge Wright walked in promptly at the scheduled time. The first thing he noted is that Steele and other Prenda affiliates had kept submitting last-minute documents to the court, as late as this morning. Paul Hansmeier, for instance, had filed a motion to appear by telephone—“for what, I don’t know,” mused Wright, as Hansmeier’s motion was not the subject of the hearing.

He didn't like all the new filings, either. Among them were thick complaints from Mark Lutz and John Steele, to the California State Bar concerning former Prenda lawyer Brett Gibbs. “Why do I care?" snapped Wright. "You assumed I needed more paper?”

Defense lawyer Pietz was working with Gibbs, said Steele. Therefore, Gibbs' misdoings were part of a "pattern of fraud" by Pietz. Wright tossed it aside: the hearing today was about Steele's knowledge of particular filings, he said.
You get the feeling that Wright long ago had more than enough of Steele's bullshit, and Steele either doesn't realize that or simply can't stop. From there, the focus was on Steele's claims that he was unaware of what was happening in the case. Wright came prepared to have Steele explain how he could have possibly not known what was happening in the case -- including with suggestions that Steele was now actively trying to set things up so he could claim he was not being served.

Then the court's flat-screen monitors popped up with a copy of Steele’s substitution of attorney form. Had Steele ever seen this document, Wright demanded to know?

Steele sat for an awkwardly long period of time staring at the monitor before answering. "I'm sure I did at some point," he said. Wright asked if the address was correct, and Steele said that it was not.  The incorrect address was listed twice on the form, said Wright—and it was never corrected.

Next method of contact? Steele's e-mail address, which was sending bounce-backs to lawyers who tried to contact him. Steele said that he shut it down because of “spam and hacking and attempts to mess up not only my e-mail but websites.” At some point, he “literally could not open” his e-mail account, he said. He had used an auto-responder to tell people about his alternative address until June, he said.

Wright asked Steele if he had another e-mail address. "I have an old one,” Steele responded.  “Were you planning on letting anyone else in on it?" Wright asked, noting that the court’s Local Rules require litigants to provide an e-mail address if they have one.

Steele tried to flip the story over to his "due process" claims, and Judge Wright shut him down sarcastically. Steinbaugh's recounting is worth reading so head on over to get all the details of that part of the exchange. It includes Wright telling Steele it's "laughable" that Steele is claiming that opposing attorney Pietz is the one who has shown a "pattern of fraud." Either way, Steele's insistence that his due process rights are being violated, and that he knows he has to go through this process just to get to the appeal become quite clear:

Steele also had trouble identifying any legal authority for the motion to reconsider. He kept invoking the Fifth Amendment, saying that alone was the authority.

“How? You got this from the Fifth Amendment? This is absurd," retorted Wright. "Last time I let you assert [the Fifth Amendment], and let you go right back to the airport!"

"That's a different Fifth Amendment right," responded Steele. The court's actions here amount to an illegal "taking," which wasn't right. "My rights... I get them no matter what,” he said. His June motion had not been argued or heard, he said, as it was denied “within minutes.”

“You’re getting all the due process you can stand!” said Wright. Steele’s arguments had been made—by Steele. Steele, growing audibly and visibly frustrated, replied, “If Your Honor doesn’t care, [then] this is an appellate issue.”

Judge Wright also is well aware that it appears that Steele has been working closely with the rest of Team Prenda on all of these efforts, and called Steele out on that:
Wright had only a few more questions. “Who typed your papers?” he asked. Steele sheepishly responded: “I typed part of it," and some was typed by others.

“I couldn’t help but notice [that] Peter Hansmeier’s notice, Paul Hansmeier’s notice, Mark Lutz’ notice, and your motion... all followed the exact same format,” said Wright. They even had the same footer. "They're almost indistinguishable. No way they were not typed by the same person."

“It’s called cutting and pasting!” Steele bellowed.

"Raise your voice again and I’m going to introduce you to the United States Marshals," said Wright. "Get out.” Wright stood and walked off the bench.
It's not too difficult to guess how this is going to end up, and, like so many things that John Steele seems to do in court these days, it seems fairly likely that his plan is going to backfire in a big bad way. While Steele seems to be betting on a happier outcome at the appellate level -- and, is possibly even baiting Judge Wright to try to use the emotional and sarcastic responses in his own favor on appeal -- there's so much overwhelming evidence piling up against Steele, that it would be somewhat amazing if the appeals court doesn't end up with the same conclusion as Judge Wright concerning which parties are involved in questionable behaviors here.

Filed Under: john steele, morgan pietz, otis wright, pattern of fraud, sanctions
Companies: af holdings, prenda, prenda law


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  1. icon
    apauld (profile), 13 Jul 2013 @ 1:11am

    “You're getting all the due process you can stand!”

    Is this Judge Wright foreshadowing/telling Steele in subtle terms that he is about to face lawyer hell? I do think it's a subtle way of Judge Wright telling Steele that he is hanging himself. And that is just great.

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