The long-awaited order following last month’s Prenda Law sanctions hearing is now out, and it’s a doozy. After a hearing that lasted 12 minutes and consisted of lawyers pleading the fifth, there was little doubt that Federal Judge Otis Wright was not best pleased, and it was evident in the order he released late yesterday.
When a federal judge’s contempt for a case is illustrated via a sanctions order littered with sci-fi references it doesn’t bode well for any attorney on the receiving end. Any judge that finds the time to do this is not doing it because he’s bored, but because he’s highly motivated to do so. The shenanigans of Prenda and its associates certainly rankled Judge Wright, and prompted him to make Steele and friends the subject of derision.
In the order, Judge Wright demolishes the claims of Brett Gibbs, by doing simple things like “looking them up on Google.” To demonstrate his point, the Judge includes a handy screen capture from Google Maps, pointing out that one of Gibbs’ statements was “a blatant lie.”
Towards the end, he starts laying down the damages, starting with attorney’s fees. Judge Wright assigned fees and costs totaling $40,659.86 to be paid to defense attorneys Morgan Pietz and Nicholas Ranallo. While that’s more than many expected, he then doubled the amount as a punitive measure, meaning a grand total of $81,319.72 will have to be paid by some combination of the plaintiffs (Steele, Duffy, Hansmeier, Gibbs, the shell companies and lawfirms) on or before May 20th.
And that’s not all. Judge Wright will also be referring the matter to the US Attorney for Central California requesting a RICO (racketeering) investigation, notifying all judges where plaintiffs have cases, and, as we noted a month ago, the IRS. Finally, there will also be disciplinary requests made to state and federal bars.
While some would have liked the order to have gone even further, its restraint will make it less likely to be overturned on appeal.
The next question is whether the Prenda ‘mob’ will pay up, or have another excuse to join the legion put forward so far. For that we’ll have to wait two weeks, if not more.