Monday, May 06, 2013

It is Refreshing to See Our Government Protecting Us

I have been very disappointed for at least 2 decades in how little interest our attorneys general and judges have in protecting citizens for abuse by those using fraud and abusing the legal system to harm people and society.

One judge has done a great job investigating abuse he suspected.  His suggestion that those responsible be tried criminally might get action due to the publicity involved.  But I wouldn't be amazed to see once again the abuse ignored by those who are tasked with protecting society from such abuse.  I hope my fears prove to be un-warrented.

Prenda hammered: Judge sends porn-trolling lawyers to criminal investigators

In today's order, Wright finds that:
  • Prenda shell companies like AF Holdings and Ingenuity 13 were created "for the sole purpose of litigating copyright-infringement lawsuits." They have no assets other than the pornographic movies they sue over. And despite their legal trickery using offshore vehicles, "the Principals [Steele, Hansmeier, and Paul Duffy] are the de facto owners and officers."
  • Their strategy of identifying IP numbers, issuing subpoenas to ISPs, and sending demand letters offering to settle for about $4,000 "was highly successful because of statutory-copyright damages, the pornographic subject matter, and the high cost of litigation." Steele, Hansmeier and Duffy got "proceeds of millions of dollars due to the numerosity of Defendants." And Wright added, "No taxes have been paid on this income."
  • The Prenda lawyers engaged in "vexatious litigation designed to coerce settlement." They showed little desire to actually fight when a "determined defendant" showed up. "Instead of litigating, they dismiss the case," notes Wright. "When pressed for discovery, the Principals offer only disinformation—even to the Court."
  • ...
  • Wright concludes: "Plaintiffs’ representations about their operations, relationships, and financial interests have varied from feigned ignorance to misstatements to outright lies. But this deception was calculated so that the Court would grant Plaintiffs’ early-discovery requests, thereby allowing Plaintiffs to identify defendants and exact settlement proceeds from them. With these granted requests, Plaintiffs borrow the authority of the Court to pressure settlement."
The harshest penalties are saved for last. First, Judge Wright suggests the Prenda lawyers should be disbarred, writing "there is little doubt that Steele, Hansmeier, Duffy, [and] Gibbs suffer from a form of moral turpitude unbecoming an officer of the court." In many states, including California, crimes reaching the standard of "moral turpitude" lead to automatic disbarment. Wright will be referring the four lawyers to every state bar in which they are admitted to practice.
Related: Police Failing to Enforce Law If Lawbreaker is a Police Officer - Watching the Watchmen - Capital One Bank Agrees to Refund $150 Million to 2 Million Customers and Pay $60 Million in Fines - Don't Excuse Immoral Looters - Disregard for Society by FedEX and UPS - Businesses Tell the IRS They Are Not American but Executives Stay in USA

Blind justice - Why have so few bankers gone to jail for their part in the crisis?, The Economist magazine

For better or worse, many people would love to see more bankers behind bars for their role in blowing up the West’s financial system. In Britain not one senior banker has faced criminal charges relating to the failure of his institution. A handful have faced the lesser sanction of being barred from running another bank or company, or agreeing in settlements with regulators not to do so.
The prosecutorial coyness of British and American authorities contrasts with the harder-charging approach taken by their predecessors and by authorities elsewhere. During America’s savings-and-loans (S&L) crisis in the 1980s more than 800 bankers were jailed. A decade later directors of Barings, a British bank that was felled by the rogue trader Nick Leeson, were barred from holding directorships despite having no direct connection to his wrongdoing. Other countries, such as Iceland and Germany, have taken a more muscular approach in this crisis.
But if locking people up for incompetence goes too far, regulators could still get a lot tougher. Summary justice isn’t desirable. Some justice is.
Like so many instances the connection between those giving large amounts of cash to politicians and favorable treatment seems to indicate the obvious - that people are buying favors for all the cash they give. Some times that amounts to favorable tax treatment, subsidizing mansions built in dangerous areas (flood plains or in the path of hurricanes). Sometimes that amounts to using the justice system as an arm of corporate policy. Sometimes that amounts to not prosecuting, or even seriously investigating, illegal acts committed by those that give lots of cash while prosecuting plenty of others (the USA has over 2 million people, .7% of the population, in prison and jail - far more than anywhere else - also nearly 5 million more are on probation or parole).

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