Prenda Law: Paul Hansmeier Weighs In
All of my coverage of the Prenda Law saga is collected here.
Last night I talked about a new filing by Prenda Law, Paul Duffy, and Angela Van Den Hemel in response to Judge Wright's OSC.
Today, Prenda Law principal Paul Hansmeier has filed a brief. The brief is here, a supporting declaration from his attorney is here, Exhibit A is here, and Exhibit B is here.
Hansmeier's brief echoes the structure, and many of the arguments, of the longer and more detailed brief that Heather Rosing filed yesterday. In some cases it incorporates that brief by reference. The notable new points are these:
The Fifth Amendment Issue: Hansmeier expands on the argument that Judge Wright's OSC proceedings were akin to criminal proceedings, and that therefore Judge Wright may not draw negative inferences from Paul Hansmeier's invocation of his Fifth Amendment rights. Hansmeier adds some additional authorities to support that point.
Hey Brett Gibbs, Something's Wrong With the Underside of That Bus. Can You Go Check It Out For Me? Hansmeier's primary argument against sanctions is that he did not participate in this litigation or supervise conduct by Brett Gibbs, and that Gibbs' testimony to the contrary should not be accepted. Hansmeier says that Gibbs never claimed to be supervised by others "until threatened with sanctions," and that in a declaration filed in a matter in Florida (attached as Exhibit B) Gibbs described his job without mentioning any such supervision. Hansmeier asserts that he was not involved in the investigation or litigation of the matters before Judge Wright and therefore not responsible for what Brett Gibbs did. He attacks, for instance, Gibbs' testimony that Gibbs passed along Judge Wright's order staying discovery to Hansmeier:
Outside of Gibbs’ testimony, there is no evidence that Gibbs instructed Hansmeier to instruct Respondent Van Den Hemel to instruct Verizon to not comply with the subpoenas issued months before the court’s order to cease discovery efforts. Such an instruction would be incompatible with Gibbs’ earlier characterization of Hansmeier as a supervising attorney; supervisory relationships are typically a one way
So: Hansmeier didn't supervise Gibbs, which you know because Gibbs didn't mention it before, and Gibbs didn't pass along Judge Wright's order to Hansmeier, because you wouldn't do that to a supervisor. Gotcha.
Alan Cooper Contains Multitudes: What does Paul Hansmeier have to say about Alan Cooper's claim that his identity was stolen? Hansmeier says there's no evidence he is involved in any such — well, I'll let him explain:
Further, there is no evidence that Hansmeier obtained or represented that the signatures on the assignments over the name Alan Cooper were those of John Steele’s former caretaker, who bears that same name and who provided testimony to the court.
If you're paying attention, you'll see that Paul Hansmeier just coyly evaded the question of whether the "Alan Cooper" of AF Holdings is, or is not, the Alan Cooper who testified. He merely points out that Alan Cooper testified that he didn't talk to Hansmeier, and that there's no other evidence that Hansmeier secured the Alan Cooper signatures.
Interest? What Interest? Paul Hansmeier argues that there is no evidence that he concealed any financial interests in the Prenda Law plaintiffs, and repeats the now-familiar argument that any such concealment would be immaterial anyway. He also offers this:
But, the only evidence given regarding the financial interests to AF Holdings is that it is a limited liability company formed by Aisha Sargeant in May 2011 and is wholly owned by a trust with no defined beneficiaries. (ECF 69-1, pp. 21:18-2, 38:22-39:15, 40:8-12.) There has been no evidence that Hansmeier has an ownership interest in either AF Holdings or Ingenuity 13.2
Note that Hansmeier is referring to his own incredible deposition which Judge Wright aptly characterized as showing "so much obstruction" that "it's obvious that someone has an awful lot to hide." Paul Hansmeier had been presented at that deposition by AF Holdings as that entity's most qualified witness about AF Holdings' affairs. Hansmeier is therefore complaining that the record of AF Holdings' ownership is inadequate because it is based only on Hansmeier's own testimony in his role as the best witness for AF Holdings. This is, perhaps, not the most viscerally appealing argument anybody ever made.
Hansmeier's brief is decent, wisely relying on points deftly made by Rosing. But that farcical deposition Hansmeier gave will remain the albatross around his neck. It was a damned foolish way to act, emblematic of a hubristic crew of merely modest ability who believed that they could do what they wanted with impunity. That did not prove to be the case.
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