The Oatmeal v. Funnyjunk, Part XI: What Remains

Effluvia

[All of our coverage of Charles Carreon's journey from relative obscurity to fading infamy is collected under this tag.]

It's been a while since we visited the strange world of Charles Carreon's claims against Matthew Inman and The Oatmeal, hasn't it?

There's been nothing new on the direct confrontation between Charlie the Censor and Inman since Charlie slunk away braying that he had prevailed. Inman has done his level best to troll Carreon by raising more than $1.1 million for a Nikola Tesla Science Center, but Carreon has not risen to the bait. There hasn't even been so much as an effort to tie Tesla to the Freemasons or Rosicrucians or something.

If the Carreon/Inman battle has ended, Charlie the Censor's battles with his detractors have not. You may recall that in Chapter Seven I described how the author of the satirical blog Censoriousdouchebag, aided by Paul Alan Levy of Public Citizen and attorney and blogger Cathy Gellis, took the initiative by filing a declaratory relief action against Carreon. This allowed the blogger to preempt Carreon's contemptible and censorious threats against him by asking a federal judge to rule upon the threats without Carreon himself filing suit.

The suit proceeds — more about that later — but the most notable action has been outside of court. As the blogger himself describes, in July Carreon sent a letter to the blogger's employer, Walgreens. Ostensibly the letter asks Walgreens to preserve digital evidence based on Carreon's unsupported presumption that the blogger must have used Walgreens computers or internet connections to blog about Carreon. The context and content of the letter, however, suggest that Carreon's true motives are retaliation and intimidation. Carreon hopes to get the blogger in trouble with his employer and thus impose a high cost upon his decision to exercise his First Amendment rights to criticize and ridicule Carreon. Remember — Carreon has spent much of his career styling himself as a free speech lawyer.

Now, "please preserve digital evidence" letters can have a legitimate purpose, and are not uncommon. I've sent a few myself (for instance, when a stalker used CraigsList from work to post fraudulent "looking to trade sex for a room" advertisements in the name of a romantic rival.) But they are also a favored tool of legal thugs. Charles Carreon is not himself a convicted domestic terrorist, but by sending this letter he's using a tactic akin to what convicted terrorist Brett Kimberlin used in an effort to intimidate critical bloggers. Carreon's history of conduct in this case suggests his purpose in writing the blogger's employer in this manner. Stay tuned.

[Disclosure: I provided limited legal assistance to the blogger, mostly including helping him find suitable pro bono counsel. Since then, though I have not appeared in the case, I have continued to offer limited pro bono advice. Consider my words accordingly. Nothing in this post reveals attorney-client communications between the blogger, the legal team, and me.]

Last 5 posts by Ken White

37 Comments

37 Comments

  1. Adam Steinbaugh  •  Sep 10, 2012 @9:50 am

    Good thing I have no employer for him to whine to.

  2. Marcus  •  Sep 10, 2012 @9:53 am

    Isn't Walgreens a franchised chain? In which case, Walgreens corporate does not employ the blogger, does not own or control the location where the alleged activities occurred, and does not own or control the computers that Charles Carreon wishes preserved. That makes it likely that the entire "preservation of digital evidence" letter is improperly addressed. Not sure if that has any effect, as it appears the letter was passed along to the employee anyway (and thus presumably to the franchise owner).

  3. Wil  •  Sep 10, 2012 @10:23 am

    Do Walgreens retail locations even have PCs where employees can freely use the Internet without monitoring, blocking, etc.?

  4. Tali  •  Sep 10, 2012 @10:31 am

    According to the letter, he is an assistant manager, and I would assume there is a back office for management, which more than likely has a computer. But for the common employee, no.

  5. Zach  •  Sep 10, 2012 @10:32 am

    I don't believe that Walgreens is any more of a franchised chain than Walmart is. I think the only national retail chains to use anything resembling that model are the co-ops that supply independent hardware (TrueValue etc.) and rural grocery stores (in the West, Unified Grocers).

  6. Gavin  •  Sep 10, 2012 @11:21 am

    *sigh* What a mockery he has made of what had previously been a respectable career. I guess it's an important lesson to learn from at how quickly it is to fall from good standing without any hope of return.

  7. Gavin  •  Sep 10, 2012 @11:21 am

    *by a respectable career, I don't mean the career of practicing law. I mean his own personal career.

  8. AJ  •  Sep 10, 2012 @12:28 pm

    It would seem the denoument of this little drama will be when Carreon ends up accusing himself of defamation. I can't imagine anyone wanting to hire him for any purpose. Well, if you want to become infamous for 15 minutes you might consider it.

  9. Robert White  •  Sep 10, 2012 @3:13 pm

    Chuckles is factually known to have misappropriated employers resources to host his blogs (and pay rent) and whatnot.

    Theives and crooks, petty or grand, always assume that everyone else is just like them. (Other people do too, which is why most people regularly blurt out "why would anybody do that?" etc. because they could never do whatever.) So the my ex neighbor who is now doing 8 years for theft across state lines, had like nine motion detector flood lights on his property.

    So chuckle head probably cannot fathom that someone would use their own resources (or something free like wordpress) when they could just as easily misuse the resources of nearby people and businesses.

    So of course the guy _must_ have used Walgreen's computers, after all, it's what censorousdouchbag would do, and so it is what must have happened.

    This is probably why he sued Inmann. Chucky Cheater knows he would have stolen, misused, and otherwise appropriated a good fraction of the cash, so he must make sure Matt would not. Likewise his actions are always personal attacks so Inmann's bear love drawing _had_ to be a personal and intended-to-be-factual representation of CC's mom, just like everything on his blog is intended to be personal and mistake for fact when he posts about Nader and Condy and whomever passes his vision that day.

  10. Connie  •  Sep 10, 2012 @4:21 pm

    Thanks for the update. I was wondering if he was going to try anything with the Million + Tesla museum fundraiser.

  11. James Pollock  •  Sep 10, 2012 @8:22 pm

    So, does Mr. Carreon not understand that if he had been successful in severing the employment of his critic, the declaratory action against him would quickly be amended to include the pendant tortious interference state claim? This time with actual damages attached? Or could his plan be to include Walgreen's when it comes back denying there's any evidence that plaintiff used their equipment?

    For that matter, why didn't the judge quash this, seeing as how the first part of a declaratory judgment suit is "I did this" (the rest being "now would you please tell respondent that there's nothing wrong with that?" If he's already said what he did, why would the court need evidence of any kind showing where or how he did it?

  12. Nicholas Weaver  •  Sep 10, 2012 @8:51 pm

    James: The judge has no say in Carreon's thuggery-letter. Thats the whole point of such legal thuggery, you DON'T need a judge's approval to send it. No subpoena, no order, just your own letterhead saying "Douchebag Lawyer, esquire"…

    Such thuggish threats are how he GOT Satirical Charles's identity in the first place: thuggish threats on lawyer letterhead work.

  13. nlp  •  Sep 10, 2012 @9:08 pm

    There are times when I would almost pity him. His initial cease and desist letter to Inman played out in a totally different manner than he anticipated, and he was thrown into a world he didn't understand despite his claim that he was an internet lawyer. And now he is being mocked in a manner he doesn't understand, and it seems that no matter what he does he is going to be attacked. He seems to be drowning, alone without a lifejacket, in a sea of contempt, and I feel a flicker of sympathy or pity.

    And then I remember some of his really horrible attacks on other people, some of the awful things he has done, and the pity melts away.

    The more he attacks others, the more attention he gets, so at this point he needs his ego to be stroked on a regular basis, which is why he keeps the battle going.

    May he get what he deserves.

  14. Robert White  •  Sep 10, 2012 @9:29 pm

    Feel no pity. By outing himself he has saved some person from the horror of being his client and having this stupidity come out of _their_ livelihood.

    Hell, Inmann probably _saved_ FunnyJunk from Chuckles Douchbag Esquire.

    Mr. Polesmoke then went on to save the rest of us from him himself.

    (The comments about his previous career are likely unfounded as well. It looks like he just managed to stay under the radar by hiding in his ratcave. Barring some medical evidence of a late onset brain tumor, it is likely the case that he was always this kind of tard, but before social media nobody had a forum broad enough to make his actions seen, or to blow enough clean air to show what lay behind the Chuckles smoke-screen of doom.)

  15. AlphaCentauri  •  Sep 11, 2012 @12:03 am

    I'd love to hear the medical explanation for him and his family all being batshit crazy. Maybe they're smoking a Mexican folk-art bong glazed with lead pigments.

  16. V  •  Sep 11, 2012 @2:19 am

    Shouldn't CC have filed a response to the complaint by now? (even the amended one)

  17. Nicholas weaver  •  Sep 11, 2012 @4:41 am

    V: he has 21 days from the amended complaint and proof of service

  18. V  •  Sep 11, 2012 @5:42 am

    Nicholas, thanks. I thought so, but wasn't sure. The amended complaint and summons were filed on August 3rd, so he should've received the summons around that date.
    So unless he was served much later or we missed something, I'd guess that means his time is up by now and it'll go to judgement by default ( like the summons says).

  19. Nicholas Weaver  •  Sep 11, 2012 @8:50 am

    V: Yeup. http://ia700801.us.archive.org/13/items/gov.uscourts.cand.256701/gov.uscourts.cand.256701.docket.html

    Now unless he managed to really duck the process server, you can expect the next filing to be a motion for a default judgment, including Paul Levy and Catherine Gellis's attorneys fees.

  20. Nicholas Weaver  •  Sep 11, 2012 @9:52 am

    Also, its probably pretty hard for Charles to duck process servers, since he probably accepts service on behalf of a few remaining trademark clients. Especially since Charles does know about the lawsuit.

    So I'm suspecting Levy is drafting the motion for default judgment, if he hasn't already.

    "default. Woo-Hoo! the two sweetest words in the English language"

  21. Dan Weber  •  Sep 11, 2012 @3:13 pm

    The biggest evidence that he ducked the process server is that we have yet to learn about a lawsuit against the server.

  22. Robert White  •  Sep 12, 2012 @3:11 am

    @Dan Weber — You got that wrong. He can't sue the process server until the default judgment is issued. Then he can sue the server as part of the suit against the state for failing to serve him where he was clearly and publicly to be found obviously in residence (under the dumpster behind the Residence Inn on route 10, as expected) as fully presented to the court in his prescient psychic reply brief issued a full three days before the initial complaint, and further publicized in the renown international journal "The Nader Library".

  23. Joe Pullen  •  Sep 12, 2012 @4:30 am

    Word is Chuckie has indeed been ducking service. Maybe they should try his yurt.

  24. Nicholas Weaver  •  Sep 12, 2012 @8:50 am

    I'm surprised he's able to: He's a lawyer, and he has to accept service on the behalf of his clients. Isn't deliberately ducking service the kind of thing that makes the bar association mad? And its not like nobody knows where he and Tara live…

    The other thing, he's practically judgment proof: His house is worth far less than the Arizona homestead exemption, his car is not worth much more than the Arizona limit on a car, etc.

    Yet ducking service makes it worse: If he just went "ah, me bad" at the start of August, I'm certain Satirical Charles would have accepted it, and probably even have stopped the blog by now because it wouldn't be funny (well, Nazi-fighting dinosaurs are ALWAYS funny).

    Which means the odds are now much more that Levy will ask the court (and get) his time reimbursed. And although Charles is judgment proof, bankruptcy is still not pleasant.

  25. Nicholas Weaver  •  Sep 12, 2012 @9:17 am

    Oh, and worse for Chuckles: One possibility is the court might actually deem him already having been served, since his thuggery-letter makes it clear he is already aware of the case, since he cites it specifically.

  26. Gavin  •  Sep 12, 2012 @9:42 am

    Perhaps he'll keep up is antics and eventually go the way of Jack Thompson?

  27. Joe Pullen  •  Sep 13, 2012 @4:18 am

    @Nicholas – you are assuming of course that he actually has clients :-)

  28. Mark  •  Sep 14, 2012 @8:59 pm

    How about Carreon v. Inman et al? CC dismissed it, but I haven't heard anything from Judge Chen. They had a "case mgmt statement" due today and a "case mgmt conf" set for 9/21.

  29. Adam Steinbaugh  •  Sep 20, 2012 @2:49 pm

    Quiet. Too quiet.

  30. Mark  •  Sep 30, 2012 @8:46 am
  31. Robin Sijbesma  •  Oct 2, 2012 @3:11 am

    So everything is still on:
    CLERKS NOTICE Initial Case Management Conference set for 10/15/2012 10:00 AM

    http://ia700801.us.archive.org/13/items/gov.uscourts.cand.256701/gov.uscourts.cand.256701.docket.html

  32. Mark  •  Oct 6, 2012 @4:18 pm

    Indeed CC is evading being serviced.

    http://ia600801.us.archive.org/13/items/gov.uscourts.cand.256701/gov.uscourts.cand.256701.19.1.pdf

    God, everything CC does reeks of douchiness. Just look at the attached documents.

  33. Grifter  •  Oct 6, 2012 @8:03 pm

    I always had this image of servers in my head as waiting in bushes to jump out and serve you…it looks like the process server they got just mailed it certified mail?

  34. Grifter  •  Oct 6, 2012 @8:11 pm

    Oh, I just wasn't looking at all the right exhibits. He also knocked and called. Still a little less ambush-y than I expected from movies and TV, which, as we all know, portray reality perfectly.

  35. Mark  •  Oct 17, 2012 @3:41 pm

    CC's efforts to avoid being served via traditional methods are paying off. Judge Seeborg (cool name!) just denied the request to declare the service effective via the use of email and instead asked them to "try harder".

    http://ia600801.us.archive.org/13/items/gov.uscourts.cand.256701/gov.uscourts.cand.256701.24.0.pdf

  36. Grifter  •  Oct 17, 2012 @3:48 pm

    Hey, it looks like my view of process servers isn't utterly crazy!

    "The process server could easily wait outside the fence for defendant to enter or leave the residence and could then leave the papers in the defendant’s presence. Alternatively, the process server may choose to wait near a location defendant is thought to frequent, such as an office or grocery store. If the defendant still refuses to accept the papers, it will be considered sufficient if the “server is in close proximity to the defendant, clearly communicates intent to serve court documents, and makes reasonable efforts to leave the papers with the defendant.”

  37. Mark  •  Oct 17, 2012 @5:03 pm

    Problem is "could easily wait outside" == "more money".

    I wonder if Mr Recouvreur will be able to recover these costs from CC once this travesty is finished.