Michael Sean Quinn, Ph.D, J.D., Etc.

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Here’s the Prenda story, roughly speaking.  The relevant “disciplinary” cases are easy to find, so this should be treated as nothing but an introduction to the most ignoble and unjust lawyering I have nearly ever heard of except for deliberately (1) screwing one’s own client by stealing their money–money the lawyer is hanging on to, (2) selling them out, (3) buying her at an absurdly low price by fraud and then stealing the little bit of money she got money or–as they say–deliberately and with pleasure throwing the client under “the bus.” And, of course, things get even worse when the erotic is built in.

One of the things off things about the Prenda Matter is the number of people were screwed and the fact that the justice system was the one that probably sustained the greatest injury.


When I contemplate the desirable fate of these “M-Fer-ing,””C-S-ing” toads, and they countrywide band of cohorts, I am lead to wonder (a) whether the Inquisition wasn’t sometimes sometimes used to achieve just results (a proposition regarded as impossible by commentators in our time) and (b) whether the punishment of tar-and-feathering should not be re-instituted, so long as confined to t–ds like these. I confess that My wife Paula sees as too strident a punishment hawk when it comes to lawyer discipline. This is not true, as some of my blogs on this topic illustrate.)
(Pictures can be found on the Internet, and the use of feathers is important for the purposes of public humiliation, especially if only pine tar is used.  I can see it now in my imagination:  march the PPs around a public square with the court house in the middle, or close by. Think: Oxford Miss or Dallas Tex.)
The Prendahzians, are a group of  lawyers too immoral to be otherwise ranked (hereinafter consolidated, as it were, into one person, here named “Peter”) and such nihilistic justice-subversionists that they had no sense of what lawyering is really all about.  Their conduct is so bad might even make Trappist Monks want to change their name, for fear of confusion, or simply go back to being Cistercians.

Peter devised a plan. He arranged the purchase of defunct pornography (now simply known as “porn”) and obtained with it the copyrights attached.  It was arranged that the entities and the rights would be the ownership of a cooperating entity.  The porn was placed on the Internet and could be viewed there subject to a small fee.At the same time it was, in effect, made easy to obtain the stuff deviously, circumspectly without paying the fee, small though it was. However, it was also set up so that these porn thieves would be identifiable.  And sure enough these particular enthusiasts were identified specifically. The plan and the resulting pattern happened quite a lot of times.  Peter would threaten the thieves with exposure by way of filing a legal action alleging copyright violation, if they did not pay him a specified some of money–as these things so, a relatively small one per person–only a few thousand dollars.  But it, as already said, was directed to person, after person, after person.  
This sort of thing is often called EXTORTION.  Remember these are servants of justice doing all this.  There are officers of the justice system.  They have sworn oaths not to do this sort of thing.  At last a man–a “real” man–said enough is enough lets fight this out in court. Thank the LORD for “John Doe” cases.

At this point, as you might expect, Peter “petered out,” as it were.  The whole thing ended with sanctions, complaints by a federal judge to the state bar, and reference to the AGs, both state and federal.  This noble,
insistent, and persistent  judicial attitude began to spread and, I gather, is still spreading across the country,
thus proving that.

Thank God for Judge Otis D. Wright, II. See Ingenuity 13 LLC v. John Doe, 2013 WL 1898633 (C.D. Cal. May 6, 2013).


I taught “legal ethics” in a law school for a while.  Few reported cases regarding lawyer performance are interesting. In fact they are boring.  “Ho hum, same old stuff, over and over again.” Same cites. Same law. Similar analyses. Sleepy.  Punishments affirmed, approved, or reduced every once in a while. Decisions of bar disciplinary committee almost never tossed, no should they  be.  You’d think that cases on lawyer conduct would be interesting.  The whole idea is false.

No wonder so many law schools require the course. No one would take it if they didn’t have to.  And the same goes for CLE lectures.  The authorities that demand that lawyers get ethics credit usually demand that each CLE program include X number of hours of legal ethics. It is often the most boring hour during the whole program.  Planners try and avoid the problem by sticking a little here and a little there into other written material supposedly matched up to the lectures. It never works.  It always the same stuff; everybody already knows about it; those in the audience are not paying close enough attention to get themselves reminded of what they heard about last year or the year before.
So can the subject be taught in law school, first, and then in CLEs Law School: You focus on the rules, make up hypos, and outline the political interesting though obvious lawyer sins of the disgraced. Ho hum. CLE: So what have the courts said about legal malpractice in the context of X-type practice.  CLE: “Remember, ladies and gentlemen, the Supreme Courts around the country frown on or scowl  at Y, and when it comes to Z, they’ll kick you ass out.” 
The story of the Prenda Pricks is a different “cup of tea.” Teach ethics by telling the story. It involves crime, outrage, manipulation, sin, vice, corruption, greed, low-lifes, low-living and low-blows, judicial quasi-heroism, individual guts, charts of the cast of evil doers–with photographs even, elaborate and sound legal reasoning, sanctions and judiciary stamping on really flagrant–unbelievably flagrant–misconduct of members of the bar. This is a case that can be taught and maintain the interests of the audience.  Furthermore, the explicit citation to something like to what appears to be a holding in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982) won’t hurt.
There can even be arguments that as disgusting as Quinn says Peter is, did he really do anything illegal.  Is creating temptations for copyright violations and present them to scum-bag porn thieves really so bad? Is setting a trap for the sinful as earth-scattering as Michael says? Isn’t his acidity a bit to harsh?  Isn’t his wife right about him in the end?  What’s the point here? Arguments based on the outrageous are always a good foundation for teaching, learning and fun.  Too bad the Prenda scandal is not just a hypo.
Dreaming up the lecture title is not too hard.  It, the subtitle and, at least the opening paragraph, must contain the following words: Ingenuity, Doe, dough, Wright, copyright, flagrant, outrageous, foul, fowl, and the quote from Spock with which Judge Wright open the Ingenuity 13. Any use of the title of this blog may or may not be a violation of some copyright right or another.
P.S. I have written before about the overuse by lawyers of important words.  I did not list he word “flagrant” in my suggestion of words to be used only rarely. There can be all sorts of rule violations which are not flagrant; not ever mistake is a flagrant anything.  To tell the truth, the judges are sick of this kind of supposedly colorful argument.  Peter’s performance is an exception to the “Don’t Use It Rule.” His conduct really was flagrant, outrageous, and amazingly horrible.
Another P.S. (added 4/14/2015) It has not been reported that a Prendo-ex has created a new shake-down practice.  According the “author” TECHDIRT (“T”)one Paul Hansmeier (“L”) has begun suing business, including quite small ones, for technical violations of the Americans With Disabilities Act.  According to T plaintiffs sometimes don’t even know that they are such, though probably T meant to say in condemning L that that these plaintiffs did not know that they had hired L to be their lawyer.  According to T, citing Dan Browning of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Kahler Hotels has struck back filing a counterclaim seeking $50T+ in damages. 

Originally posted on 06/19/2014 @ 10:03 pm

Michael Sean Quinn, PhD, JD, CPCU, Etc

Michael Sean Quinn, PhD, JD, CPCU, Etc. (530)

One of Texas's leading insurance scholars, Michael Sean Quinn is a past chair of the Insurance Section of the State Bar of Texas and has a broad legal practice.

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