from the oh-yeah? dept
Ridiculously, he argues that there's no jurisdiction over him, because despite Brett Gibbs' detailed testimony of how Steele (and Hansmeier) basically ran the entire litigation campaign, that Gibbs' testimony: "lacks specificity regarding Steele's involvement in the subject cases or any California cases, and is otherwise inconsistent or contradicted by others." Amazingly, in support of this, he points to lawyer Jason Sweet's "Perry Mason moment" during the March 11th hearing, in which Sweet noted that Gibbs had claimed to be counsel for AF Holdings. This is really throwing Gibbs under the bus. Sweet's statements were not meant as an exoneration of Steele or Hansmeier (by any means), but rather to show that Gibbs wasn't completely a puppet, but a willing participant in a scheme that was mostly managed by Steele and Hansmeier. Steele goes on to take other Gibbs' comments completely out of context to pretend that Steele had nothing to do with the case (or other cases).
For example, although Gibbs claimed he was supervised by Steele and Hansmeier at Prenda Law, when pressed for specifics about the degree of supervision he received, Gibbs only offered that Steele and Hansmeier gave him authority to file certain cases here. See Dkt 108-5, at 77:8-24. Gibbs' further testimony has revealed he had significant autonomy in handling the cases. See Dkt 108-5, at 77:25-78:4 (claiming Steele and Hansmeier "gave me certain parameters [pursuant to] which I could settle the case myself.");First of all, that is not the "only" thing Gibbs "offered." He also noted that Steele had the ability to use his email address and made it pretty clear that Steele was calling the shots. As for the "certain parameters" claim, that was Gibbs noting that Steele and Hansmeier gave Gibbs very limited autonomy within the context of controlling pretty much everything else. That's so obvious from the context that it's almost amazing Steele would try to bullshit a judge who clearly knows better.
On various other points, Steele dumps the blame on Gibbs (and a little on Hansmeier). And then we get to the Alan Cooper question. On that point, everyone has been consistent: Steele was the guy who got Cooper's signature. So how does Steele try to avoid being blamed for "fraud on the court" over that? First, he repeats the statement made by others that Cooper's signature is meaningless, since the copyright holder wanted to assign the copyrights, no matter who signed on behalf of AF Holdings. And then he completely avoids the question of whether or not he faked Cooper's signature, by saying, basically, it doesn't matter because it's not a sanctionable offense anyway (what....?) and then takes a dig at Cooper's "credibility." Uh, yeah.
The Court stated: "First, with an invalid assignment, Plaintiff has no standing in these cases." Dkt 48, at 9:8. Apparently re-articulating the same concern, the Court added: "Second, by bringing these cases, Plaintiff's conduct can be considered vexatious, as these cases were filed for a facially improper purpose." Dkt 48, at 9:9-10. As both Gibbs and Prenda/Duffy/ Van Den Hemel noted in their Responses To The OSC, the Court is mistaken about the law in this regard; the signature of the assignee is irrelevant to the validity of the assignment, so long as the assignor signs. See Dkt 49, at 25:9-26:19; Dkt 108, at 11:24-12:9.; see also 17 U.S.C. 204(a). Lastly, the Court stated: "the Courtm will not idle while Plaintiff defrauds this institution."; Dkt 48, at 9:10-11. However, even if the Court were to discount the evidence submitted impugning Cooper's credibility and blame Steele for this "fraud,"; it hardly rises to the level of fraud upon the court recognized by the Ninth Circuit, i.e., "a fraud perpetrated by officers of the court so that the judicial machinery cannot perform in the usual manner its impartial task of adjudging cases that are presented for adjudication." In re Intermagnetics Am., Inc., 926 F.2d 912, 916 (9th Cir. 1991).I'm sorry, but if anyone believes that the evidence to date impugns Cooper's credibility more than Steele's credibility, they haven't been paying attention. At all.
Regarding any other alleged fraud the Court may consider, as Section III above makes clear, except in rare circumstances not present here, this Court is not empowered to sanction Steele or anyone else based on conduct occurring entirely outside of the subject cases and the Central District. Based on its prior statements, the Court may have erroneously felt otherwise before.
On the question of hiding the ownership of various shell companies, Steele, amazingly, argues that "the evidence" shows that the Court is wrong to suggest that the folks from Team Prenda own/control the various shell companies:
Disturbingly, the Court's apparent conclusions about the relationships between the persons and entities named in the March 14, 2013 OSC wholly ignores evidence to the contrary. Compare, e.g., Dkt. 69-1, pp. 21:18-2, 38:22-39:15, 40:8-12 (regarding who owns AF Holdings) with Dkt 108-5, at 114:5-8 (I do have the picture, and I know who the client is. We have talked about the client, and the client has been running everything. Yeah, I know who the client is”); see also Dkt 108-5at 19:15-18 (suggesting Prenda law is "controlled by Mr. Steele.")This part strikes as the most incredible part of it all. The entire purpose of the April 2 hearing was to answer questions about this very point. And Steele chose not to respond to any questions. And now, in this filing, he's basically claiming "nope, I had nothing to do with it" without presenting any evidence to the contrary. Incredible.
However, Steele cannot be sanctioned for any of these alleged misrepresentations made to this Court regarding the relationships among the parties and entities named in the Court’s March 14 OSC because Steele has taken no actions nor made any representations to this Court of any kind, nor is there any evidence before this Court that he acted or was otherwise involved in anyone else's alleged misrepresentations to this Court.
I get the feeling that Judge Wright is not going to react well to this particular filing, which (like Hansmeier's before it) makes statements that clearly are at odds with what nearly all of the evidence has suggested is happening, without providing any actual evidence to support their claims.
Meanwhile, despite not being willing to talk to the court, Steele apparently has no problem talking to some in the press, and has told Xbiz that he "never even heard of the case" until two months ago. That seems rather difficult to believe given Gibbs' statements concerning Steele's involvement in his cases. I would imagine that someone involved in the case will quickly make Judge Wright of Steele's sudden willingness to "talk" and the details of his statements.