Assigned counsel

by Ron Coleman on July 5, 2011

Like Marc Randazza, I’m a little too close to the Righthaven litigation in Nevada — being co-counsel with him on a couple of Righthaven cases — to say much beyond what I have said about that issue here.  (Overlawyered in general suffers from no such limitation, of course.)  But as “Marco” notes, the following quote from a website called Righthaven Victims says plenty:

First it was a “clerical error” that caused Righthaven to sue an Ars Technica journalist for using an image that was part of a court filing, now Righthaven is blaming an undisclosed “Former In-House Counsel” for not disclosing Stephens Media as an interested party in hundreds of cases they have filed over copyright infringement.Righthaven submitted their answer to Judge Roger Hunt’s order to show cause why they should not be sanctioned for the omission. Their only answer was this unnamed rogue in-house counsel screwed up.

For the foregoing reasons, Righthaven respectfully requests that the Court find its failure to comply with Local Rule 7.1-1 through its former in house counsel does not rise to the level of sanctionable conduct given the circumstances described herein. Moreover, Righthaven has taken corrective action in response to the Court’s June 14th Order by filing amended disclosure statements in almost 120 pending cases in within this District and within the District of Colorado. Dated this 28th day of June, 2011.

See: Shawn Mangano’s response

Since so many lawyers have left Righthaven it is difficult to determine exactly who Righthaven is blaming which cannot go over well for any lawyer that has ever worked for Righthaven.

As Marc points out, Steve Green at Vegas Inc. has one possible answer to that question, which suggests one very big little problem with this throw-’em-under-the-bus strategy:

Ninety-eight. That’s the number of Righthaven LLC copyright infringement lawsuits in which Righthaven CEO Steven Gibson was one of the attorneys of record for his own company.

I’ve actually always said, in my professional life, that clients pay, in part, for the privilege of blaming you for no damned good reason.  It’s like being a baseball manager:  Can’t find a third starter or a decent third baseman?  Fire the manager.  Occupational hazard.

But this is a new one.  Can you actually throw yourself under the bus?  Now that would sure flatten you good.  And — again — it would be Mr. Gibson who would be doing the throwing:

In fact, Righthaven is half owned by Gibson and half owned by investors who are part of the family of Arkansas investment banking billionaire Warren Stephens. He and his family also own Stephens Media.

If that’s all true, and I don’t recall anyone denying it, it could be a long, flat summer in Nevada for Righthaven and its, uh, counsel.

{ 3 comments }

1 Smart Dude 07.05.11 at 7:16 pm

“Your Honor, I represent myself in this matter, and I respectfully ask the court for mercy since my counsel is utterly incompetent.”

2 Ron Coleman 07.05.11 at 7:31 pm

(Adversary lead counsel leaning over to second-chair: “It’s a trick, damn it!”)

3 Crabtree 07.06.11 at 10:09 am

Your honor, it is said that a lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client, something that in my experience is accepted as truth by the vast majority of practicing attorneys. As you know, the kernel that led to the current and glorious American system of jurisprudence was the Common Law as practiced in England. The presumption of innocence and the freedom of speech are, to quote the learned British barrister Horace Rumpole, the golden thread that runs throughout the thread of law. According to some scholars, the origin of the idea of freedom of speech began with the court jesters in early Anglo Saxon kingly courts. These jesters, these fools, were able to speak freely without fear of punishment. Since I am a fool, should I not be entitled to the same?

**Yes, this is supposed to be meandering, irrelevant, and generally bad! Fun to write, though, and it’s sometimes hard not to mess with people a bit when I write these things in real life!

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