Ninth Circuit Denies Admission to Prenda Law Attorney

SAN FRANCISCO—Ninth Circuit Appellate Commissioner Peter L. Shaw filed an order Friday in a case called Ferreira v Brown that has denied Prenda lawyer Paul Hansemeier admission to the court’s bar in order to represent the objector-appellant in the case. To be more precise, Shaw ruled that Hansmeier’s “application for admission be held in abeyance pending the outcome of his referral to the Minnesota State Bar and the Central District of California Standing Committee on Discipline in Ingenuity 13 LLC v. Doe.”  

Ingenuity 13, of course, is the now legendary John Doe copyright infringement case that derailed into a criminal inquiry by District Judge Otis D. Wright II, who ultimately issued the sanctions heard ‘round the country. Hansmeier was one of the sanctioned lawyers. The Ninth Circuit also issued a separate ruling in an emergency motion filed by Hansmeier last week seeking a stay of the sanctions pending his appeal; more on that in a minute.

Unfortunately for Hansmeier, and probably also for his co-sanctioned colleagues—Prenda lawyers Paul Duffy, Brett Gibbs and John Steele—the Shaw order is a direct consequence of Judge Wright’s sanctions, which in addition to a doubled monetary fine of over 80 thousand dollars, payable jointly, included referrals to state and federal bar organizations and disciplinary committees; referrals to the United States Attorney for the Central District of California; referrals to the Criminal Investigative Division of the Internal Revenue Service; and the notification of "all judges before whom these attorneys have pending cases."

Shaw’s order also means, as Ars Technica noted, that until Hansmeier is admitted to the Ninth Circuit,” he'll have the right to represent himself, but he will not be able to represent other Prenda-linked parties.”

That part relates back to Hanmeier’s emergency motion filed last week to appeal Judge Wright’s sanctions, which today was also denied by two Circuit judges, who denied it without prejudice “upon the filing and disposition of such request in the district court.” In other words, with Judge Wright, something Hansmeier already mentioned in his emergency motion was doomed to failure.

Among other reasons, he wrote, “The district judge has prejudged the issues such that petitioning the district court for a stay would be futile. When a district court's order demonstrates commitment to a particular resolution, application for a stay from that same district court may be deemed futile and hence impracticable.” Obviously, the two Circuit judges found his arguments unpersuasive.

That’s two appeals court doors shut on Hansmeier, who, according to his University of Minnesota law school buddy John Steele, was the first lawyer in the country, along with Steele, to pursue illegal downloaders in court. Minnesota Public Radio reported today that Steele, who graduated a year ahead of Hansmeier in 2006, “said he got the idea to pursue illegal porn downloads when he was in law school.”

Steele continued, "Me and my partner were the first ones to ever really do it, about three and a half years ago. Clients hoped going after people would scare people away from stealing their content."

All four of the referenced legal documents can be found on TechDirt.