Prenda Law: Am I My Brother's Keeper?
Our coverage of the Prenda Law saga is collected here.
You know, if I got my brother involved in an enterprise that culminated in a furious federal judge demanding that he fly across the country to show cause why he shouldn't be sanctioned, I think I'd step up and represent my brother, or ask my attorney to represent my brother, or hire a separate attorney for my brother.
But then, I'm an only child; there may be nuances to this sibling relationship thing I don't grasp.
You may recall that when United States District Judge Otis D. Wright II ordered Prenda Law participants to appear in his Court for the March 11, 2013 hearing, one of the people he ordered to appear is Peter Hansmeier, brother of Paul Hansmeier. Judge Wright probably ordered Peter Hansmeier to appear because the Doe defendants allege that he, through a company called 6881 Forensics LLC, had been paid for "forensic" work related to Prenda Law's litigation activities.
You may also recall that John Steele, Paul Hansmeier, and Paul Duffy hired attorneys to appear for them and their paralegal and to file a request to excuse them from appearance on March 11. Those attorneys didn't appear for Peter Hansmeier. As far as we knew, nobody appeared for Peter Hansmeier.
Today we learn that back on March 8, 2013 — the Friday before the March 11 hearing, and the same day that Paul Hansmeier, Paul Duffy, and John Steele filed their unsuccessful ex parte application — Peter Hansmeier attempted to file a pro se ex parte application to relieve him from showing up on March 11, 2013. The application is here, and his supporting declaration is here. The clerk of the court only filed it to PACER today. Judge Wright rejected it back on March 12, 2013 because it didn't include proof that Peter Hansmeier gave notice to the other parties that he was making the application — a necessary element of an ex parte application (that is, a motion to the court filed outside the normal motion schedule required by local rules).
There are a few notable things about Peter Hansmeier's ex parte application.
First, Peter Hansmeier says he doesn't want to show up because he is not a party, could only be a witness, and has "no dog in this fight." Yet Hansmeier shrewdly captions his application as being from Peter Hansmeier of Livewire Holdings LLC — one of the Prenda Law plaintiff entities, which has also been ordered to appear, and which Judge Wright clearly suspects is connected to fraud on the court.
Second, Peter Hansmeier says in his one-page declaration that he lives and works in Minnesota and intends to continue to do so. Yet his declaration, like his ex parte application, is captioned Peter Hansmeier, pro se, of Livewire Holdings LLC at its Washington, D.C. address.
Peter Hansmeier's ex parte application has some law-talk in it; it's been worked upon by someone who is either a lawyer or an informed amateur. But making the "I have nothing to do with this mess and I live in Minnesota" assertion on a pleading captioned with Livewire Holdings LLC in Washington D.C. is a blunder of epic proportions. Moreover that blunder probably could have resulted in the document not being filed at all — someone appearing pro se can't appear for an entity in court, and the caption makes it somewhat ambiguous whether Peter Hansmeier is intending to appear pro se just for himself or also in some capacity for the entity Livewire Holdings LLC.
Maybe if someone had referred Peter to a competent lawyer, or even hired one for him, he might have avoided such a blunder. Instead, it appears that the lawyers who got him into this mess — including his own brother — let him appear pro se and effectively incriminate himself.
That's some cold shit, yo.
Edited to add: Commenter Robert points out something I missed — the "Peter Hansmeier" ex parte is just a cut-and-paste of arguments from the ex parte application filed by John Steele, Paul Hansmeier, and Paul Duffy. Yet someone still managed to stick the "Livewire Holdings LLC" into the caption. Ooops.
Edited again to add: "How about no."
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