Team Prenda Keeps Trying To Convince Judges That The Lawyers Who Exposed Them Are The Real Scammers
from the nice-try,-guys dept
The extent of the fraud that has been committed on this Court by Respondents [Pietz and Ranallo] is slowly, but steadily, emerging. The first category of fraud--failing to serve any of the pro se persons with any of the papers they have submitted over the course of this entire proceeding--has been definitively established by the papers before the Court; Pietz and Ranallo do not dispute they engaged in this fraud.It goes on and on. Of course, it's almost all entirely bogus. Pietz and Ranallo do dispute that they engaged in fraud, because they didn't. They explained, quite clearly, that Steele clearly had knowledge of what was going on, and then proceeded to do a variety of things -- including deleting his email account -- to claim that he was not being served and was somehow unaware of the proceedings.
Meanwhile, in the Navasca case in Northern California -- where a similar set of events appears to be playing out for Team Prenda, as judge Edward Chen seems to be recognizing what Team Prenda is trying to pull -- Paul Duffy has filed a similar attack on Pietz and Ranallo, once again trying to argue that it's those pesky lawyers who should be sanctioned. This is the case where, as we'd mentioned, Brett Gibbs filed a deposition to show that Mark Lutz was lying about the claim that Gibbs sent him documents, which Lutz signed as "Salt Marsh" (if you don't know what this is about, click the link to dig into the details).
Duffy is arguing that this is all some scam by Pietz and Ranallo to pay off Gibbs to lie to get Team Prenda in trouble.
There are however, two aspects of Defendant’s Motion that are highly troubling and suggest that if any sanctions are appropriate they should be imposed upon Defendant’s counsel [Pietz and Ranallo]. First, counsel has produced a declaration of former Plaintiff attorney Brett Gibbs (the “Gibbs Affidavit”) that Defendant’s counsel appears to have procured through a quid pro quo, in which Defendant’s co-counsel would assist Gibbs financially in the matter under appeal from the Central District of California before Judge Wright in exchange for Gibbs’ agreement to provide the Declaration. Leaving aside for now the many ethical infirmities arising from an attorney who offers a declaration against his own client, disclosing privileged communications and confidences, for his own personal gain, Defendant’s counsel knows, or should know, that statements in the Gibbs Declaration are, at a minimum, directly contrary to Gibbs’ sworn statements in other proceedings. Defendant’s counsel fails to notify the Court of that fact. Defendant’s counsel has also failed to inform the Court that, the Monday after Gibbs dated his Declaration, he and his co-counsel in the Central District filed in the Central District of California a motion seeking to relieve Gibbs of the obligation for a sanction in the amount of approximately $101,650 for which he was jointly and severally liable. (A true and correct copy of that as Exhibit “A” hereto and made a part hereof). The only purpose of counsels’ otherwise-inexplicable stipulation in the Central District is that they agreed to file it with that Court in exchange for a declaration that suits their interests in this matter. Indirect payment for testimony, and counsel’s failure to point out that Gibbs’ current declaration directly contradicts his prior statements, is conduct that the Court should sanction, at minimum, by denying the Motion in its entirety.Duffy also goes on to attack the EFF, as if a court -- in Northern California, no less -- is unfamiliar with the EFF or thinks of it as some sort of "vigilante group" as Duffy claims. I realize that Duffy is from Chicago, and perhaps isn't that aware of the EFF or its reputation, but pretending they're some crazy vigilantes just makes you look silly. Even folks who disagree with the EFF, for the most part, recognize the group's reputation and legal prowess. And, I'd imagine that goes doubly for judges in Northern California, EFF's home turf.
Defendant’s Motion is a dizzying accretion of conspiracy theories, invective and inadmissible evidence that betrays a motive on the part of his counsel other than representation of the Defendant. Indeed, Plaintiff is informed that Defendant’s counsel is a panel attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation (“EFF”), an anti-copyright vigilante group whose panel attorneys have filed dozens upon dozens of similar filings throughout the country. The EFF panel attorneys have taken to attaching mass numbers of filings and transcripts of other court proceedings as exhibits to their filings, apparently in an attempt to lend the appearance of legal and factual gravitas otherwise missing from their arguments.The motion goes on to suggest, strongly, that Pietz and Ranallo (a) effectively "paid off" Gibbs and (b) tried to pressure Duffy/Prenda into a settlement by claiming that it would file Gibbs' deposition claiming Lutz lied if they didn't. According to Duffy, this was a form of professional misconduct in trying to "induce a settlement."
Oh yeah, in the middle of all that, he also tosses in a bit claiming that Gibbs' deposition -- which shows that Duffy's client flat out lied to the court -- is "not credible." The "proof"? Gibbs, in the deposition, claimed that he believed Salt Marsh was a person, yet in Paul Hansmeier's now infamous deposition in this same case, Gibbs represented Hansmeier, where Hansmeier denied that Salt Marsh was a person. Of course, this ignores the timing of all this. The "Salt Marsh" signature came well before that deposition. To get around this, Duffy claims that it's somehow incredible that Gibbs believed Salt Marsh was a person -- though, anyone who's been following this case knows that's not incredible at all. Hansmeier and Steele insisted to him that Salt Marsh was a person, according to Gibbs, and (as has since come out), Steele's sister's boyfriend was named Anthony Saltmarsh. So, why is it so crazy? Duffy then tries to claim that if Gibbs had (a) believed that Salt Marsh was a person back when the ADR was submitted, and then (b) heard Hansmeier claim otherwise months later, then Gibbs "had an obligation to do something" to "correct any misunderstanding." Of course, Duffy is now using pretzel logic, suggesting that Gibbs had a duty to sabotage his own side (at the time) by publicly stating that he had filed falsified documents. Yeah, that's not going to happen.
Basically, Duffy's filing shows just how obnoxious Team Prenda is. From all of the information and details from Judge Wright's order, it appears that Steele, Hansmeier and (to a lesser extent, Duffy) had Brett Gibbs handle all the dirty work, insisting that various things were legit, when it turns out they weren't. Now that it's come out that things weren't legit, Steele, Hansmeier and Duffy are effectively blaming Gibbs for taking their word on the documents it seems likely they falsified. Talk about chutzpah. "Your honor, we didn't commit fraud on the court, but if we did, the real blame should go towards the guy we used to commit the fraud, for not telling the court about the fraud he was a part of." Yes, that appears to be the basic argument.
These guys really are quite incredible.