Paul Hansmeier Tries To Explain Away Brett Gibbs Revealing Prenda Spreadsheets
from the might-not-be-real-and-if-they-are,-so-what? dept
So, last week, Brett Gibbs dropped quite the bombshell in one of the key Prenda cases, in which he revealed some spreadsheets that had been shared with him via a Dropbox account, showing that John Steele and Paul Hansmeier had received about 70% of Prenda's proceeds, despite insisting they had no direct relationship with the firm. As expected, lawyers in other Prenda cases have rushed to file those documents in their cases as well. In Minnesota, Paul Hansmeier
has responded, seeking to block the filing of the documents to Magistrate Judge Franklin Noel, who has been overseeing an investigation into the possibility of fraud on the part of Team Prenda. The argument, summed up, is "who knows if those documents are legit, they don't show anything bad, they're not relevant and they were obtained illegally." Almost all of that is, in typical Hansmeier fashion, ridiculous:
Second, the documents Mr. Godfread proposes to file are inadmissible because
they are not authenticated. Mr. Godfread claims that the exhibits "appear" to be financial
records of Prenda Law, Inc. Perhaps he is right, but I have not reviewed Prenda Law's
financials and neither, presumably, has he. Until he can authenticate the documents, they
Seems like there's a pretty quick way to take care of that. Judge Noel can put one of the Prendaristas on the stand and ask them if the documents are accurate. Either way, claiming that they're not "authenticated" seems like pretty weak sauce at this stage of the game.
Third, the documents undermine Mr. Godfread's narrative. I have consistently
stated—often to deaf ears—that I sold my law practice to Prenda Law in late-2011 and
subsequently pursued other interests. That is what these documents show. I am labeled an
"old owner" throughout the documents. With one de minimus exception, the only
transfers I received from Prenda Law were in consideration of the sale of my practice;
As Gibbs detailed in his filing, the use of "old owners" was clearly done to leave open exactly this excuse, but it does not seem even remotely credible given the massive amount that continued to go to both Steele and Hansmeier long after the sale. While it's certainly not unheard of for service businesses like law firms and accounting firms to include a percentage of ongoing revenue for a few years after sale, having this much go to Steele and Hansmeier suggests something else. At the very least, it's quite relevant for a deeper discussion into Hansmeier's and Steele's claims of having no relationship with Prenda.
Fourth, the documents have no relevance to the subject-matter of this case, which
was filed as an action for copyright infringement. Although it has since morphed into a
different matter, the day-to-day ledgers of a law firm are not relevant to either inquiry;
Really? I mean, this one doesn't even require a response, since the "subject-matter" of the case is about whether or not Prenda and related companies and individuals were engaged in fraud. It seems highly relevant.
Fifth, if these documents are authentic, then they were stolen. No business would
release sensitive financial documents to its adversaries. I understand that this matter is
being investigated and will be reported to law enforcement, as appropriate.
Again, as Gibbs explained, it appears these documents were placed in a shared Dropbox account, meaning they were given to him. Yes, at the time he was still part of Team Prenda, but that doesn't mean the documents were "stolen." Anyway, there's something kind of funny about Hansmeier saying that this 'theft' "will be reported to law enforcement." It seems quite likely that law enforcement already knows... and that's because there's an ongoing investigation of Hansmeier.