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After Online Defamation Suit, Dismissal of Malicious Prosecution Claim Upheld

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the that's-a-shame dept.

The Courts 267

Christoph writes "I'm the Slashdot user who was sued for defamation (and six other claims) by a corporation over negative statements on my website. I prevailed (pro-se) in 2008. The court found the other side forged evidence and lied. In 2009, I sued the other party's lawyers for malicious prosecution/abuse of process (the corporation itself is dissolved/broke). One defendant had stated in writing their client was lying, but the trial court dismissed my claim for lack of evidence. I appealed, and this Tuesday the Minnesota Court of Appeals upheld the dismissal, completely ignoring the defendant's written admission (and other evidence). They further found it was not an abuse of process to sue to 'stop the publication of negative information and opinion.'"

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267 comments

Cry some more please (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34212128)

I'm not entitled to what I want... WAHHHHH

Re:Cry some more please (5, Insightful)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 3 years ago | (#34212216)

I'm not entitled to what I want... WAHHHHH

Huh? He got screwed by a criminal corporation and a gang of corrupt attorneys. He's "entitled" to some redress for what they put him through. Do you have a problem with that?

Re:Cry some more please (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34212276)

He screwed himself by not hiring a lawyer. Defending pro-se is one thing, attempting to prosecute the same way is naive at best and dangerous at worst.

Re:Cry some more please (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34212326)

Naive for expecting the legal system to actually be concerned about the law and dangerous to lawyers that are mostly nothing more than copy/paste artists that think they deserve to get paid $15 an hour to tell the paralegals what to do.

Re:Cry some more please (3, Insightful)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 3 years ago | (#34212376)

Naive for expecting the legal system to actually be concerned about the law and dangerous to lawyers that are mostly nothing more than copy/paste artists that think they deserve to get paid $15 an hour to tell the paralegals what to do.

I'm guessing you meant $150 an hour. It's the paralegals that make the fifteen.

Re:Cry some more please (0)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 3 years ago | (#34212498)

I LOVE Lawyers!

They stay crunchy in milk!

Re:Cry some more please (5, Insightful)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 3 years ago | (#34212960)

Naive for expecting the legal system to actually be concerned about the law and dangerous to lawyers that are mostly nothing more than copy/paste artists that think they deserve to get paid $15 an hour to tell the paralegals what to do.

On the other hand, I'm reminded of this story (there are many variations):

There was an engineer who had an exceptional gift for fixing all things mechanical. After serving his company loyally for over 30 years, he happily retired.

Several years later the company contacted him regarding a seemingly impossible problem they were having with one of their multimillion dollar machines.

They had tried everything and everyone else to get the machine to work but to no avail. In desperation, they called on the retired engineer who had solved so many of their problems in the past.

The engineer reluctantly took the challenge. He spent a day studying the huge machine. At the end of the day, he marked a small "x" in chalk on a particular component of the machine and stated, "This is where your problem is." The part was replaced and the machine worked perfectly again.

The company received a bill for $50,000 from the engineer for his service.

They demanded an itemized accounting of his charges. The engineer responded briefly:

"One chalk mark $1. Knowing where to put it $49,999"


Granted, most attorneys do make heavy use of boilerplate, but then again, most legal tasks are entirely routine. In any event, you're paying a professional for both his knowledge of the law, and knowing how to apply it to your situation. I know what you're saying and it's often true: many attorneys do milk the system. But I have lawyers in my family, and number them among my friends. Not all lawyers are crooks, most are honest and earn their keep.

I would say a more correct complaint would be towards a legal system that requires attorneys to be such an integral part of our lives. That wasn't always the case, but as the law has increased in complexity and overall retardedness, the need for a competent lawyer to navigate it's intricacies is frequently a necessity.

Re:Cry some more please (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 3 years ago | (#34212980)

to navigate it's intricacies

Dammit, I hate it when I do that.

Re:Cry some more please (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 3 years ago | (#34213022)

Naive for expecting the legal system to actually be concerned about the law and dangerous to lawyers that are mostly nothing more than copy/paste artists that think they deserve to get paid $15 an hour to tell the paralegals what to do.

As an aside, I've generally had a harder time trying to find a car mechanic who is both honest and competent, than I have had in finding a decent attorney.

Re:Cry some more please (1)

FatdogHaiku (978357) | more than 3 years ago | (#34212816)

My kingdom for a mod point... but alas I have none... Oh, no kingdom either...
Sorry if I got anyone's hopes up there.
You are being kind saying that trying to sue someone sans lawyer is at best naive.
Judges used to be... (drum roll)... LAWYERS!!!

Re:Cry some more please (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34213016)

My kingdom for a mod point... but alas I have none... Oh, no kingdom either... Sorry if I got anyone's hopes up there. You are being kind saying that trying to sue someone sans lawyer is at best naive. Judges used to be... (drum roll)... LAWYERS!!!

Yes, well, when they put on those robes and pick up that gavel, they're supposed to magically become utterly impartial and incorruptible paragons of logic, reason, and compassion.

Yeah, or something like that.

Okay. (2, Funny)

jdpars (1480913) | more than 3 years ago | (#34212132)

That sucks bro. And?

Re:Okay. (5, Insightful)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 3 years ago | (#34212188)

And it has far reaching implications.

They further found it was not an abuse of process to sue to 'stop the publication of negative information and opinion.'"

That line alone shows that they basically see suing people as a way to stop free speech - and that it should be allowed, even if the law isn't technically on their side. Basically, abusing the system to get people to stop saying things you don't like is considered legal.

Can you imagine how many people have been in a situation like Chris, but haven't had the money to go into a legal battle with them?

It sucks indeed.

Re:Okay. (3, Insightful)

jdpars (1480913) | more than 3 years ago | (#34212240)

People with lawyers use the system to hurt those who have no lawyers. News at 11.

Re:Okay. (3, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#34212312)

Most folks would consider an admission from the court that the court is a venue for the rich to abuse the poor news. We already know it to be true, but for a judge to admit it sure seems like news.

They further found it was not an abuse of process to sue to 'stop the publication of negative information and opinion.'"

That looks pretty clear to me.

Re:Okay. (4, Insightful)

jdpars (1480913) | more than 3 years ago | (#34212360)

But the court didn't admit that the rich were abusing the poor. The court decided that the events that occurred did not constitute negative information and opinion in the legal sense. It did not decide, however, that the plaintiffs were wrong for filing. The end. No significant precedent set.

Re:Okay. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34212252)

I dont know what your reading. In my mind (I know I cant be the only one thinking it), that was nothing but a excuse to excuse a fellow lawyer. You know, good old fashion protectionism/backscratching/whatever you want to call it.

In other words, all this says is: "dont sue lawyers" not "no free speech".

Re:Okay [sounds like a decent result] (5, Interesting)

brachiator (867046) | more than 3 years ago | (#34212256)

Looks like the OP settled with the non-lawyers early on the MP claims. What result there?

As for the lawyers, the sole piece of evidence the OP seems to have presented that the lawyers knew their clients were lying is a late-October 2007 note. This note was written well after the trial commenced. It doesn't indicate that the lawyers knew or had reason to know from jump-street that the clients were lying. It indicates only (if anything) that perhaps they were not aggressive enough in doing fact investigation or in terminating the litigation already underway.

Am I missing something? If not, the courts' decisions appear to be decent.

Re:Okay [sounds like a decent result] (5, Insightful)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 3 years ago | (#34212282)

Am I missing something?

Yes. This is Slashdot, and we don't much like judges who reach decisions that our cursory inspection of the article summary find wanting.

Re:Okay [sounds like a decent result] (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34212648)

yes the reason why if they knew thier clients lied why the story submitter has not had thier bar cards destroyed.

Re:Okay. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34212270)

Well shit, can I use this to stop lawyers from using the DMCA? Since their act is publishing "negative information and opinion" by submitting takedown requests, I could sue them improperly to force an injunction with malintent and use this precident to hold that up.

Re:Okay. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34212290)

And it has far reaching implications.

They further found it was not an abuse of process to sue to 'stop the publication of negative information and opinion.'"

That line alone shows that they basically see suing people as a way to stop free speech - and that it should be allowed, even if the law isn't technically on their side. Basically, abusing the system to get people to stop saying things you don't like is considered legal.

Can you imagine how many people have been in a situation like Chris, but haven't had the money to go into a legal battle with them?

It sucks indeed.

IANAL, but why not contact the ACLU? I'd think they'd love to take up this case.

Re:Okay. (1)

Barrinmw (1791848) | more than 3 years ago | (#34213020)

Appeal to the SCOTUS!

Context... (5, Interesting)

Alaren (682568) | more than 3 years ago | (#34212358)

That line alone shows that they basically see suing people as a way to stop free speech - and that it should be allowed, even if the law isn't technically on their side. Basically, abusing the system to get people to stop saying things you don't like is considered legal.

Read that again. The court didn't say you could prevail. Only that suing--that is, filing suit--to stop the spread of negative information is not per se an abuse of process. Were it otherwise, you couldn't sue someone for libel or slander. Notice that this is a different thing than prevailing at trial.

Can you imagine how many people have been in a situation like Chris, but haven't had the money to go into a legal battle with them?

This is by far the more troubling consideration. The expense of legal process makes every one of us a potential corporate serf, and it would be nice if we could find an effective way to prevent people with money from wielding the legal system like a club. But if we called that "abuse of process," then it would be impossible for the rich to seek justice against the poor--which makes no more sense and arguably less. It would be nice if we could just say, "well, obviously this corporation could not possible have believed it would prevail on the merits, and was just throwing money at the problem, so that's clearly abuse of process," but the standard of proof for intent is yet another obstacle that brings with it a host of other problems.

Re:Context... (1)

marcello_dl (667940) | more than 3 years ago | (#34212600)

Prevailing is not relevant, it happens AFTER the abuse. Asing the law and mobilizing judges, jury, etcetera for any other purpose than obtaining justice means the damage is already done. And What about bankrupting the opponent even before prevailing? And what about real crimes that will go unpunished because judges and corporations are suing 14 years old?

Re:Context... (2, Insightful)

Rich0 (548339) | more than 3 years ago | (#34212706)

Yup. The problem is that the legal system has gotten way out of hand.

In theory the way it is supposed to work is that two parties with a disagreement go to court, and the court decides who is in the wrong. Maybe the person in the wrong gets punished by the court via damages of some kind depending on the nature of the dispute.

The problem is that today simply going to court is effectively punishment, and the actual damages are just outrageous quite often. Courts do not value the time of participants, and a trial takes many hours of preparation and motion practice let alone showing up in court. The result is that simply being named in a suit is finacially ruinous. Even going pro se doesn't help a great deal, as it takes countless hours that you aren't paid for to go to trial. It might also cost you your job. If you go pro se you could end up messing up and paying sanctions for the other side's legal expenses. Oh, but if the other side messes up they won't pay for your legal bills since you don't have any, and your time is considered worthless since you aren't an attorney. When it comes to scheduling the opposing counsel can point out to the court various conflicts with other litigation that they need to pursue and the court will respect this, but the court will care little for a pro se defendant's other commitments, since they aren't court-related.

They really need to switch to a system where legal costs are balanced. Courts should stipulate a budget for each side, and the court pays the expenses of all counsel. It will be illegal to pay a lawyer, and lawyers cannot parter with other services/etc as a way to get money in the back door. Lawyers will work for the court, and not for parties themselves, essentially. Then, after the trial the entire cost of the trial becomes one of the matters at issue and the loser generally pays. Oh, wealthy plaintiffs will have to put up security in advance.

With such a system neither side can out-lawyer the other as the legal budgets of both sides are fixed and equal. Poor defendants are not subject to death-by-process either.

Re:Context... (4, Interesting)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 3 years ago | (#34212810)

Actually thinking about it there might be a way to fix this broken system. simply have BOTH SIDES forced to use public defender style lawyers, and if the corp wants better then they have to pay into a fund that half the money goes to opposing council thus insuring that neither side can just use "hired thugs" to overpower the other. After all the courts have ruled money is speech, so it should be only fair that in a court of law BOTH sides get free speech, yes? Because as it is now the law is a bad joke. The rich can do anything to anyone and short of taking the law into their own hands the poor have NO redress, simply because the rich can afford to drag a case on for decades.

I have seen this in action when a local ISP was screwed out of their backbone access by a big corp who basically said "Don't like it? Just try to sue us" and they were told by their lawyer "Oh no doubt you'll win, but it'll take a decade and cost a million and a half just in lawyers fees". Needless to say they just gave up their ISP and walked away. And THAT is the power the law has given the multicorps with this broken system today. You don't like competition? Well then just bury any startups in so much legal bullshit they can't even breath and will be forced to spend all their money on the courts.

We need more legal awareness, data (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34212950)

The main benefit that "the rich", be they corporations or individuals, currently have with the legal system is that people forget very quickly. Right now there is no simple way to check, if you are considering to enter a contract with someone, buy from somone, what their legal record is. Should my city council contract with XY to build Z? Do they have a history of lawsuits where people sue them for contract violations? Well, for the ordinary citizen there is no way to find out. Who's filed more lawsuits for non-commercial copyright infringement, Sony or Viacom? Well, you probably won't be able to find out. Who is running a lot of "defamation" lawsuits where people said bad things about them? Well, no dice. Who is Microsoft suing at the moment? Who's filed a patent law suit in Texas, even though both parties aren't really much engaged in Texas? Who has a really bad record in filing lawsuits and then settling or losing? We do not know, and thus we cannot make decisions based on what we may perceive as abuse of the legal system. Imagine, corporation X sues corporation Y and the newspaper article you read about it points out that 90% of such suits filed by X end in a out-of-court settlement, imagine how much more informed we would be. Are software patents a good idea? How many lawsuits have there been, what was the result? Does anyone not professionally engaged in the legal system know? Did you read about that on Slashdot recently? Well, I don't, and I haven't, but arguments about things like that would sure be a lot simpler if I could just look it up online in a click or two.

Not too surprised (1)

RingDev (879105) | more than 3 years ago | (#34212382)

He has to prove that the lawyers had ill intent for him. Defending their client, even while knowing he is lying, isn't against the rules, it just opens them up to the liability. But if they were pushing the issue because it allowed them to hurt the OP, then yeah, the should be held accountable.

It's a gray area. And as such, I would expect most judges (being judicially conservative) would error on the side of the defendant.

That, and by siding with the lower court's dismissal, it saves them the hassle of a trial over the appeal, a retrial of the issue, and a whole lot of paper work. Having been in a similar situation, where the judge told me "I am not familiar with the laws you have cited, so I'm going to side with the State," I have no belief that Judges are different from any other group of employees. There are always some looking to do the least amount of work for their 8 hour shift.

Never underestimate the lazy man's desire to do nothing.

-Rick

Re:Not too surprised (3, Interesting)

offsides (1297547) | more than 3 years ago | (#34212656)

He has to prove that the lawyers had ill intent for him. Defending their client, even while knowing he is lying, isn't against the rules, it just opens them up to the liability. But if they were pushing the issue because it allowed them to hurt the OP, then yeah, the should be held accountable.

Um, the trick is that the lawyers in question weren't defending anyone - they were representing the plaintiff in an attempt to win money/concessions from the defendant. And while a defense attorney is supposed to defend their client to the best of their ability, even they aren't allowed to outright lie to the court about something they know to be false.

That being said, I'm not sure if the OP would have prevailed at trial, but cases are supposed to be dismissed either because of facts that are not in dispute, or rules of law that require the case to be dismissed. If the only issue is that the facts are in dispute, that the whole purpose of a trial.

My biggest issue with this ruling is the judges statement that attempting to suppress protected speech is a legitimate use of the courts. This very much sounds to me like a legal maneuver to "protect" the interests of the lawyers by a) not acknowledging that they did something wrong and b) not taking away a source of revenue by discouraging lawyers from taking cases where they know their client is in the wrong...

Re:Okay. (1)

marcello_dl (667940) | more than 3 years ago | (#34212568)

Exactly, together with the undeniable fact that suing and being sued costs big money, it spells out that the law is the instrument of control of those who can afford to wield it.

All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.

People opposed to the system are usually labeled subversive, but they are instead opposing, ignoring, or getting in the way. The real subversion is what's described in this discussion.

Re:Okay. (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 3 years ago | (#34212762)

Not so much the suit to stop the speech, but the counter suit for malicious prosecution could be a problem. Remember, lawsuits (whether founded on fact or manufactured evidence) are the bread and butter of the legal business. Making an issue out of malicious prosecution could put a damper on civil suits, cutting into a profitable line of business.

The courts, after all, are made up of attorneys and have friends still in that business. They have kids to feed. Please! Think of the children!

Re:Okay. (2, Insightful)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 3 years ago | (#34212862)

And it has far reaching implications.

It's the Minnesota Court of Appeals, not the US Supreme Court. This decision is about as far reaching as the judgements of the Ennis District Court.

Corruption (4, Informative)

rsborg (111459) | more than 3 years ago | (#34212154)

Plain and simple.

We make fun of China and other places, but it seems that our judiciary is now pretty much bought in many places.

Check out this article [nakedcapitalism.com] on how many businesses see corruption as a barrier to entry to markets.

Re:Corruption (1)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 3 years ago | (#34212194)

Hey, it's lawyers looking out for their own. It's life.

Re:Corruption (0)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#34212220)

No it's not, stop being stupid.

Re:Corruption (4, Insightful)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 3 years ago | (#34212226)

Plain and simple.

We make fun of China and other places, but it seems that our judiciary is now pretty much bought in many places.

Check out this article [nakedcapitalism.com] on how many businesses see corruption as a barrier to entry to markets.

In this case it may simply have been incompetence. Seriously. We expect to be able to hold the judiciary to a higher standard, but sometimes it just doesn't work out that way. There's also the fact that he wasn't paying an expensive attorney.

But ... yeah, when you get right down to it, he was suing lawyers. That's not so easy to do, especially if they have friends (or friends of friends) on the bench. This decision does seem pretty raw, I mean, the other side admitted wrongdoing. Something smells here.

Re:Corruption (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34212572)

Something that bothers me about the conspiracy/incompetence dichotomy is that it seems to ignore other possibilities such as run of the mill negligence.

Re:Corruption (2, Insightful)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 3 years ago | (#34212890)

Something that bothers me about the conspiracy/incompetence dichotomy is that it seems to ignore other possibilities such as run of the mill negligence.

The net effect of incompetence on the part of the judiciary is much the same as negligence: justice is not done.

Re:Corruption (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34212634)

He sued the wrong party, simple as that. The corporation should have been the one sued, but he admits that it was broke, so he sued someone with money who was involved in a way. The lawyers weren't under oath at the trial (though perhaps they should be). Quite simply, they didn't do anything illegal. You can argue it should be, but currently it isn't. Case closed.

Re:Corruption (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 3 years ago | (#34212896)

He sued the wrong party, simple as that. The corporation should have been the one sued, but he admits that it was broke, so he sued someone with money who was involved in a way. The lawyers weren't under oath at the trial (though perhaps they should be). Quite simply, they didn't do anything illegal. You can argue it should be, but currently it isn't. Case closed.

I wasn't arguing anything, just commenting on the summary. You could argue that I should have RTFA, but I didn't. Case closed.

Re:Corruption (1)

frisket (149522) | more than 3 years ago | (#34212238)

The USA has the best judges money can buy. And a large number of very ignorant or stupid ones as well.

Re:Corruption (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34212500)

The judges issued a ruling that you don't like so naturally you go ahead and accuse them of having accepted bribes. You believe there is no way - none - that the malicious prosecution suit could fail because it lacks merit?

Look, the fact that the lawyers in question agreed to file a weak case on behalf of a client does not automatically make it an abuse of process. When you look at the linked evidence that they "knew" their client was lying, it turns out that one lawyer made a note that (to me) reads that she suspected one statement in their client's story was fabricated based on the circumstances. In an adversarial system lawyers in practice are supposed to represent their client, not judge the case for themselves. This may include putting forward arguments that they would themselves reject if they were the judge/jury, and may include accepting the representations of clients even if they doubt them. It is unrealistic to want lawyers to drop clients if they don't have complete faith in the 100% honesty of their client and the strength of their case. It would leave many (most?) people in court with no representation at all. That's why the bar for abuse of process/malicious prosecution is set high.

Re:Corruption (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34212520)

Plain and simple.

We make fun of China and other places, but it seems that our judiciary is now pretty much bought in many places.

Check out this article [nakedcapitalism.com] on how many businesses see corruption as a barrier to entry to markets.

And who do you think the judiciary (read "lawyers") has bought?

Here's a HUGE hint [opensecrets.org] :

Each cycle, the contributions significantly favor Democrats. In the 2008 election cycle, the industry contributed a massive $234 million to federal political candidates and interests , 76 percent of which went to Democratic candidates and committees.

Not an abuse of process? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34212160)

Not an abuse of process? Lovely that they hold themselves in such high regard.

Of course it's an abuse of process, and if they had any self-respect, they'd say so.

Re:Not an abuse of process? (-1, Flamebait)

MichaelKristopeit173 (1939496) | more than 3 years ago | (#34212246)

the anonymous coward calls for self-respect....

you're an ignorant hypocrite.

you're completely pathetic. if you had any self-respect you would claim it.

Re:Not an abuse of process? (1, Flamebait)

MichaelKristopeit172 (1936956) | more than 3 years ago | (#34212398)

The poser of posers calls others a hypocrite with one of his 150+ accounts? If you had any self-respect, wait what am I thinking? You are pathetic.

I'm MichaelKristopeit and I approve this post.

Re:Not an abuse of process? (-1, Flamebait)

MichaelKristopeit173 (1939496) | more than 3 years ago | (#34212426)

"MichaelKristopeit172" is operated by a pathetic individual attempting to steal my identity.

to the individual responsible: present yourself to me; admit what you've done, then i'll bring upon you the ultimate punishment for your transgressions.

Re:Not an abuse of process? (-1, Flamebait)

MichaelKristopeit171 (1939492) | more than 3 years ago | (#34212446)

if you recognize and make accusations that the collection of accounts as operated by 1 person, then what is the issue?

my posts all come from me. even your posts you make to appear as to have come from me. you've ignorantly and hypocritically demonstrated the power you believe my voice holds.

you are NOTHING.

Re:Not an abuse of process? (0, Offtopic)

MichaelKristopeit172 (1936956) | more than 3 years ago | (#34212470)

MichaelKristopeit173 & MichaelKristopeit171 replying to MichaelKristopeit172? I fell like I'm in the middle of a MichaelKristopeit sandwich.

Your voice holds nothing but your head holds many voices. One per account in fact.

Re:Not an abuse of process? (0, Redundant)

MichaelKristopeit171 (1939492) | more than 3 years ago | (#34212536)

"MichaelKristopeit172" is operated by a pathetic individual attempting to steal my identity.

to the individual responsible: present yourself to me; admit what you've done, then i'll bring upon you the ultimate punishment for your transgressions.

Re:Not an abuse of process? (1)

MichaelKristopeit172 (1936956) | more than 3 years ago | (#34212586)

"MichaelKristopeit172" is operated by a pathetic individual attempting to steal my identity.

It's identities. Plural. You know, like the Kristopeit choir shouting in your head.

Well done! (4, Informative)

droopus (33472) | more than 3 years ago | (#34212180)

Smart move to proceed pro se. I just finished a few years in the feds, paid my attorneys middle six figures total, and they did nothing. Only when I started writing my own civil motions on collateral attack (specifically 28 USC 2255 [cornell.edu] ) did I get any traction at all. If I had to do it all over, I'd proceed pro se.

Little tidbit: you are indeed entitled to counsel if you are arrested, while you are in criminal proceedings. But if you lose an appeal, and have to proceed with collateral attack, that is civil and you are NOT entitled to counsel. Many people sit in prison because they have only civil remedies left.

Re:Well done! (5, Interesting)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 3 years ago | (#34212274)

What the hell were you charged with that your legal bills totaled up to six figures? I got charged with a felony in two different jurisdictions and had to deal with two different cases and my legal bills only came to around $8,000. Granted, we beat it BEFORE trial (thank god for the Grand Jury....) but it would not have accumulated to >$100,000 even if it had gone that far.

BTW, my lawyer saved my ass. I would not have walked away from my situation without a criminal record if I had tried to do it on my own. Don't trash the whole profession just because you hired a lousy legal team.

Re:Well done! (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34212310)

Holy crap only $8000? I have spent literally hundreds of thousands of dollars over the past 7 years or so on 3 lawsuits and a handfull of other matters. The last civil case, which almost made it to trial cost me about $100,000 of legal fees.

Hell, I have a zoning issue that has cost me over $4,000 so far and we are very, very early along that one.

$250 - $350 an hour adds up mighty fast. It's like a hooker only the only person getting fucked is you.

How appropriate... the captcha is "lonely".

Re:Well done! (2, Informative)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 3 years ago | (#34212342)

Civil lawsuits can be dragged on longer than criminal ones. I invoked my right to a speedy trial and all that jazz -- there were a handful of court appearances and the Grand Jury testimony. That was it. No discovery, no depositions, no battle of motions. All of those can run up the legal bill pretty fast in a civil trial but aren't as relevant in a criminal trial.

Re:Well done! (5, Interesting)

droopus (33472) | more than 3 years ago | (#34212418)

$8,000? Damn, that's great. Hey I agree, there are good lawyers, I just was unlucky enough to not know any. I didn't hire a team at all. I had FIVE individual lawyers, one when I was arrested, who I fired when he failed to challenge the search (which was laughable), then another when the feds came for me, and the state dropped the charges. Him I fired after he blew a bail hearing HARD. Fucking moron, he pulled out some forensic psychiatrist who started challenging the case merits in a bail hearing. Asshole got me held without bail in Feds. The AUSA had a field day...he was actually laughing.

I studied fed law for the four years I did in the feds and if I had known then what I know now, I never would have spent a night in jail. And I don't think my attorneys were stupid, just amoral. Hey, if you can get a guy off for a bad search after a day, you won't earn much. Better to have to "fight" and charge $75k.

Here's the worst part: I spent almost $300,000, and still plead out. From the Alan Ellis [alanellis.com] site:

"Nearly 94% of all federal criminal defendants will plead guilty. Of the remaining 6% who go to trial, as many as 75% will be convicted; thus 97% of all federal criminal defendants will be sentenced. 80% of defendants will receive jail or prison time." If the feds want you, you're theirs.

you sir, have acted the damn fool (1, Flamebait)

Dever (564514) | more than 3 years ago | (#34212602)

What the hell were you charged with that your legal bills totaled up to six figures?
he would have likely told you if it was meant to be any of your business. to be blunt, perhaps something serious. not an 8000 issue, in other words. (mea culpa, assumption)

i'd recommend you charge up to someone with a "what criminal charge were you charged with?@!" and see whay that gets ya in Real Life. Results may vary.

what did you get charged with anyway, and when? felonious ass-hattery on both sides of your mothers basement door?

Don't trash the whole profession just because you hired a lousy legal team.
he didn't.

innocent until proven guilty takes on non subtle shades of new meaning when the six figures (yeah, i was there once. no, its not your fucking business why exactly.) pile up in the middle of that statement.

as a courtesy to your need to be authoritative on something, a spelling error has been inserted for you to find and correct, have a nice day son.

heh heh, your mother...

Re:Well done! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34212294)

I've had 5 separate legal motions filed against me. posting anon b/c its not something I need known professionally. The only one I lost was the one I went pro se.

It kind of depends on the stakes involved. If you're going to jail, if you're going to lose your kids, your business, your life... hire good* lawyers.

* rare, but out there. My 3rd lawyer was good, the first was incompetent, the 2nd was a bulldog who kept the wheels churning and cost me an extra ~ 60K for shits and giggles.

Judges used to be lawyers (4, Interesting)

goodmanj (234846) | more than 3 years ago | (#34212198)

The problem is, you tried to sue a laywer. The funny thing about judges: they used to be lawyers. You remember that old joke claiming that sharks don't eat lawyers out of "professional courtesy"? Same goes for judges. You can sue a doctor, a corporation, or your ex-wife, fine, but if you sue a laywer the entire legal profession closes ranks and roots for the home team.

Re:Judges used to be lawyers (4, Funny)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 3 years ago | (#34212250)

The problem is, you tried to sue a laywer. The funny thing about judges: they used to be lawyers. You remember that old joke claiming that sharks don't eat lawyers out of "professional courtesy"? Same goes for judges. You can sue a doctor, a corporation, or your ex-wife, fine, but if you sue a laywer the entire legal profession closes ranks and roots for the home team.

Yes. The Thin Armani Line.

Re:Judges used to be lawyers (2, Insightful)

DCFusor (1763438) | more than 3 years ago | (#34212538)

Rats, you beat me to it. That's about how it works in reality. Or, you can get "busted" with such lousy evidence that by the time you and your lawyer get to court -- it's been decided to "null pros" it -- just like it never happened. Can you then recover your legal expenses? No. Do you get anything for living in fear that you're going to jail (and your family starve) for a felony for months while they hem and haw and put things off, meanwhile demanding you show up multiple times to find out you're "continued" -- sometimes being picked up by cops, and put in handcuffs again when a phone call would have sufficed to get you there? No.

Can you then sue them for all this? GoodLuckWithThat. If a private firm broke that many laws, and caused you that much hassle and pain, you'd maybe not expect them to go to jail, but you could at least sue them and have a decent shot.

Of course the (other) golden rule applies. Had I rooted even one box, I'd be in a lot more hurt than say, anyone at Sony, right?

If corporations are legally people, and have "free speech" -- why don't we treat them like people ALL THE WAY -- things like the death penalty for heinous crimes, limited lifespans, jail time for officers (the buck should stop [i]somewhere[/i]), all the rest, when they do wrong? That's the problem.

System broken.

Re:Judges used to be lawyers (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 3 years ago | (#34212558)

The problem is, you tried to sue a lawyer.

I think lawyers suing other lawyers is a great idea. Their cases could burn up 100% of the court capacity. Then they would be so busy suing themselves, that they would leave the rest of us alone in peace.

Re:Judges used to be lawyers (5, Interesting)

Grond (15515) | more than 3 years ago | (#34212592)

but if you sue a laywer the entire legal profession closes ranks and roots for the home team.

Patently untrue. Case in point: legal malpractice suits, which are common and involve a lot of money: $4 billion per year back in 1995 [heinonline.org] . I assure you it's more today.

To the extent this guy got screwed it was because he tried to handle his case pro se. Just one little example of his mistakes: "The fact that I prevailed on all seven counts while representing myself in court pro-se further suggests they lacked probable cause." Whether someone is representing themselves or are represented by counsel is generally immaterial in Minnesota, as in most jurisdictions. "Pro se litigants are generally held to the same standards as attorneys." Heinsch v. Lot 27, Block 1 For's Beach, 399 N.W.2d 107, 109 (Minn. App. 1987).

Anyway, this is kind of a silly post for Slashdot. The plaintiff's appeals are not exhausted. He can make a motion for a rehearing, a rehearing en banc, and appeal to the Minnesota Supreme Court.

It's really hard to win malicious prosecution (2, Insightful)

gurps_npc (621217) | more than 3 years ago | (#34212202)

Judges don't want the loser of every case suing for it.

Re:It's really hard to win malicious prosecution (2, Interesting)

www.sorehands.com (142825) | more than 3 years ago | (#34212328)

Judges don't want the loser of every case suing for it.

Ain't that the truth.

In California there is a provision of the Civil Code of Procedure, Section 473(b) which permits a mandatory vacation of default of dismissal which results from attorney fault. If the attorney really screws up, the Court must grant this. The decisions of this is so that it reduces litigation that results from attorney malpractice.

Re:It's really hard to win malicious prosecution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34212348)

Uh... but he won...

Ditto abuse of process (1)

davecb (6526) | more than 3 years ago | (#34212384)

For similar reasons, courts interpret abuse of process narrowly, to what I'd consider using the court to threaten or abuse. Laying a charge or commencing a suit without proper evidence isn't enough: defrauding the court into issuing an unjustified order arguably would be in Canada.

If it were political speech, various states and provinces set a lower bar, and will dismiss "SLAPP" suits with costs against.

Repeated attempts to use legal processing to threaten, harass or abuse tend to get responded to, and the archaic charge of barratry can be laid.

I don't know what fits in the gap between, where you are. Something with "fraudulent misrepresentation" in it, perhaps? I suspect you need at least a part-time lawyer to do a bit of research on what to claim.

--dave
I'm a philosopher, not a lawyer

Re:It's really hard to win malicious prosecution (1)

marcello_dl (667940) | more than 3 years ago | (#34212646)

And people possibly and Justice for sure want lawyers who may have cheated to be put in the place of the accused, because they don't respect the system that feeds'em.

Further evidence (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34212204)

That Jefferson was right.

I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations which dare already to challenge our government to a trial by strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country.

oh, i get it (2, Insightful)

MichaelKristopeit162 (1934888) | more than 3 years ago | (#34212206)

you want to make lying illegal.

good luck with that...

i especially like your confusion and hypocrisy over the court's rejection of your admission of a statement by an individual that he is a liar as PROOF that he is a liar...

if you're still too dense to realize the obvious problem with your case: would a liar not be lying?

stop your pouting and learn some logic.

Re:oh, i get it (1)

itsenrique (846636) | more than 3 years ago | (#34212828)

Why -1? This is right on.

Appelate courts don't consider evidence... (3, Informative)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 3 years ago | (#34212210)

...when hearing appeals in civil cases. They consider only errors of law.

Re:Appelate courts don't consider evidence... (2, Informative)

droopus (33472) | more than 3 years ago | (#34212354)

Absolutely true, but that IMO allows extreme use of precedential law. I was arrested for something that did not involve the US in any way, nor any citizen or federal commerce. When I finally (three years later) was heard by my judge on my 2255 [cornell.edu] she did two things:

1) Cited Gonzalez v Raich [cornell.edu] a 2005 medical marijuana case decided by the SCOTUS. In it they say: "In assessing the scope of Congress’ Commerce Clause authority, the Court need not determine whether respondents’ activities, taken in the aggregate, substantially affect interstate commerce in fact, but only whether a “rational basis” exists for so concluding."

In other words, if the court can "rationally decide" (a distinctly subjective thing) that something MIGHT affect commerce, the case can absolutely be federal. So, she decided that my offense was federal because it MIGHT affect commerce.

2) Appeal to the Circuit, right? This is a slam-dunk. Nope. To proceed, the District judge must issue a Certificate of Appealability (COA). My judge decided that no Constitutional issue existed, and therefore chose not to issue a COA. I did appeal to the circuit for the COA, but apparently, if the district judge says no Constitutional issue exists, then it doesn't. Nothing for them to consider. Motion denied. Off you go then, there's a good lad.

So, sure, they only consider errors of law. Subjectively.

Re:Appelate courts don't consider evidence... (5, Informative)

Grond (15515) | more than 3 years ago | (#34212660)

This is not accurate at all. Appellate courts often review findings of fact, although they are reluctant to disturb factual findings, especially findings by a jury. To reflect this, there are different standards of review for matters of law and matters of fact. The usual standard for review of factual findings in Minnesota is the "clearly erroneous" standard. "Findings of fact shall not be set aside unless clearly erroneous, and due regard shall be given to the opportunity of the trial court to judge the credibility of the witnesses." Minn. R. Civ. P. 52.01. But make no mistake: appellate courts can and do review evidence.

This kind of fundamental error, which was made by the poster and the 3 people who modded up the post, is why representing yourself is such a bad idea.

Re:Appelate courts don't consider evidence... (1)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 3 years ago | (#34212686)

Bingo. Fact and law are what make courts go round, if you fudge it you have no one else but yourself to blame.

Judge got it right. (5, Insightful)

Spazmania (174582) | more than 3 years ago | (#34212284)

Lawyers aren't just allowed to believe their client, they're one or two hairs short of being required to. To be guilty of malicious prosecution, they'd have to have conspired with your particular nemesis to fabricate the case knowing full well there was no case. Except for factual claim #28 against Vladimir Kazaryan, none of your alleged facts, if found to be true, would support a finding of malicious prosecution. And you lose that one because count 5 (aiding and abetting malicious prosecution) only works if you can first prove that there was a malicious prosecution.

I hate to tell you this but the judge got it right: "Appellants complaint did not set forth claims of abuse of process and vicarious liability for which relief could be granted."

You should have tried something like, "[lawyer] could not have reasonably believed in the existence of Zubitskiy after [date] but failed to promptly terminate the case." The lawyer is both entitled and expected to believe his client, at least until the client's claim becomes utterly non-credible.

Sucks to be falsely sued. I know from first-hand experience. But you can't bust the lawyer for doing his job representing the client.

Re:Judge got it right. Oh Really? (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 3 years ago | (#34212336)

If the lawyers admitted that they knew that their client was lying and continued the case after that point how can you not have a finding that they aided and abetted in the fraud?

Re:Judge got it right. Oh Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34212556)

If the lawyers admitted that they knew that their client was lying and continued the case after that point how can you not have a finding that they aided and abetted in the fraud?

But did they "know"? To me the note just illustrates that one of the client's lawyers found his testimony as unimpressive as the judge did, not that the lawyer had access to additional evidence that was withheld.

Re:Judge got it right. Oh Really? (4, Insightful)

Spazmania (174582) | more than 3 years ago | (#34212682)

First, you misunderstand. The case wasn't dismissed because of evidence, it was dismissed because if all of the factual claims were proven to be 100% true they wouldn't add up to malicious prosecution.

Second, check the timeline. The note was written 10/27/2007 by the head of the law firm, not the particular lawyer. Nearly all the claims had been dismissed months earlier and the rest of the case ended the following week. Even if you were to conclude that the lawyer could not have reasonably believed the client following the note, the case was over! There was no more prosecution!

The OP probably has a decent tort against this Kazaryan fellow, since he was (allegedly) found to have participated in manufacturing the case. Libel or something, I don't know exactly the right tort. But the OP went after the folks with deep pockets instead.

I can't say I blame him for wanting to be paid but you don't get to go after the lawyers for doing their jobs.

Tough Call (5, Interesting)

Alaren (682568) | more than 3 years ago | (#34212286)

Right, so... I'm a lawyer. Without knowing more about the case it would be hard to say "they got it right" or "they got it wrong," but (while I often mistrust my profession that much more for seeing it from the inside) it's important for people to understand the tensions at play here.

American lawyers are often put in a bind by professional responsibility. On the one hand, we have a duty to the court--of candor, honesty, and to assist in reaching justice without placing endue burden on the judicial system. On the other, we have duties to our clients--from confidentiality and competence to doing as the client asks.

Fulfilling both duties simultaneously can be very difficult. We have some leeway; for example, trial strategy is often something a lawyer can override a client's wishes on. But if you agree to represent someone, you have to zealously represent their cause. And if we are too quick to hold lawyers personally responsible for client overreaching, then lawyers become reluctant to advocate zealously for a cause. Sometimes it's easy to look back and say, "that lawyer should have known better than to bring this to court," but more often it is difficult and courts have strong reasons to give lawyers the benefit of the doubt--some good, some bad.

In the end, lawyers are held responsible for their--and even their clients'--actions all the time. We get fined, suspended, disbarred, held liable, and otherwise disciplined on a regular basis. Does it happen often enough? Sometimes I doubt that. But chalking decisions like this up to "professional courtesy" or a broken legal system is overhasty.

Re:Tough Call (5, Interesting)

Grond (15515) | more than 3 years ago | (#34212694)

I'm an attorney, and I agree. If attorneys could rely on "professional courtesy" they wouldn't each pay thousands of dollars per year in malpractice premiums. There's no lack of legal malpractice suits, but I would say that attorney discipline, including disbarment, doesn't happen often enough. Just look at how long it took Jack Thompson to get disbarred.

Re:Tough Call (2, Insightful)

Roger W Moore (538166) | more than 3 years ago | (#34212844)

But chalking decisions like this up to "professional courtesy" or a broken legal system is overhasty.

That might be the case but it is hard to have confidence in a system where the lawyers police themselves. Would you be happy going to a doctor if you knew that, no matter how badly he might mess up a treatment, you would only be successful in suing him if a panel of other doctors agreed he had mistreated you? If it is fine for lawyers to police themselves then how about all the other professions as well?

Re:Tough Call (5, Informative)

dcollins (135727) | more than 3 years ago | (#34212886)

"In the end, lawyers are held responsible for their--and even their clients'--actions all the time. We get fined, suspended, disbarred, held liable, and otherwise disciplined on a regular basis. Does it happen often enough? Sometimes I doubt that."

For criminal prosecutors, as I understand it, not remotely often enough. Need some more of that:

"Significantly, of the 4,741 public disciplinary actions reported in the California State Bar Journal from January 1997 to September 2009, only ten involved prosecutors, and only six of these were for conduct in the handling of a criminal case. That means that the State Bar publicly disciplined only one percent of the prosecutors in the 600 cases in which the courts found prosecutorial misconduct and NCIP researchers identified the prosecutor."

http://thecrimereport.org/2010/10/04/justice-on-trial/ [thecrimereport.org]

Re:Tough Call (1)

sdguero (1112795) | more than 3 years ago | (#34212920)

But chalking decisions like this up to "professional courtesy" or a broken legal system is overhasty.

Don't fool yourself, the system is broken. It's broken bad.

Patents, Blagojevich, DUIs, family law, OJ, cops, big-pharma, it just goes on and on. Taking things to court means little chance of justice. Our courts have become just another tool of the rich and powerful.

What and When??? (1)

www.sorehands.com (142825) | more than 3 years ago | (#34212288)

The question is what they knew and when.

Did they knowingly make the false representations to the Court?

It is hard for a malicious prosecution type of action unless you can show when they knew it, when they used to false
information. They can always fall back on, well we believed the lying client.

So SLAPP is legal? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#34212298)

We need laws against SLAPP(strategic lawsuit against public participation). The courts are not for silencing your critics.

Congratulations - Stupid State (-1, Troll)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 3 years ago | (#34212318)

They further found it was not an abuse of process to sue to 'stop the publication of negative information and opinion.'

Congratulations for living in one of the stupidest states possible. Of course, this is also the state that elected Al Franken to the US Senate.

I hope that you have a higher appeal that you are able to pursue. Suppression of speech by SLAPP suits should be outlawed at the federal level and severely punished when attempted.

Re:Congratulations - Stupid State (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34212930)

Congratulations for being a political troll, when otherwise you might have something interesting to say. Ripping on Al Franken as a senator is not only unnecessary to the discussion, but akin to ripping on someone for picking the average kid to be the high jumper on your track team when everyone else is wheelchair-bound.

Missing the point. (0, Troll)

unr3a1 (1264666) | more than 3 years ago | (#34212324)

Amazing how many people are missing this point....

You filed a lawsuit basically for copyright infringement and won. Might have been a tough battle, sure. But you won. BE HAPPY. Besides that obviously judges are going to protect other lawyers yada yada yada, no offense, you got greedy. Instead of taking your $19,000 and change and being happy that you were a little guy who won a case against "the man" you had to be juvenile and take it to the next level and file a lawsuit because of what the lawyers tried to do during the original lawsuit? I am glad that you won your original case, and I am glad you lost this case.

Re:Missing the point. (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 3 years ago | (#34212438)

What? It just shows what we already knew: any idiot can sue for copyright infringement and win.. the law is totally stacked in favor of the copyright holder.

You have a high bar to jump over (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34212374)

There is a long list of things that are, in theory, an abuse of the courts. On the other hand, in the USofA, they are seldom successfully prosecuted.

It is standard practice to shut down a competitor by smothering it in legal costs and distraction. The competitor's time is completely taken up with defending against a frivolous law suit and they have no time to run their business.

SCO vs. the world is a great example. The whole thing is based on complete BS. The courts have been only too willing to let SCO keep it garbage going. Ask anyone who follows Groklaw.

The case in TFA is small potatoes by comparison.

Here's what I said last time (3, Interesting)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 3 years ago | (#34212394)

Who gives a shit. Chris runs a stock photos website. His business model is entirely money for jam and if ya can't get it, sue. Did you read the part of the judgment where it outlines the monetary demands and legal threats Chris made? This is classic stand-over copyright tactics and all these slashtards are applauding it because Chris has presented himself as being the little guy who took on the big corporation and won.

My opinion stands.. you're a copyright troll. If it wasn't for copyright law, no-one would ever give you a dime. That's the definition of non-fair trade to me.

better to stand up and let some make accusations (1)

sqkybeaver (1415539) | more than 3 years ago | (#34212412)

than to try to argue it out with them in court, eventually the truth will come out and make them look stupid.

Thank you for a good summary (2, Insightful)

noidentity (188756) | more than 3 years ago | (#34212416)

Thank you for summarizing things, but not injecting your opinion or cute sarcastic remarks about the companies involved. Slashdot needs more neutral summaries like this.

Did you make any money? (1)

billybob_jcv (967047) | more than 3 years ago | (#34212464)

You were awarded $19,462 [citmedialaw.org] Did that cover the costs of this litigation? Yes, I know you were pro se, but I'll also bet you could have been taking a lot of photos during the time you were researching and writing briefs...

What can you do..? (1)

Lanir (97918) | more than 3 years ago | (#34212518)

Just curious, but did the ruling happen to have any language that would keep you from doing the same sorts of web exposure for this case and all involved as you did to the original corporation? I mean, it pissed them off enough to engage in a stupid lawsuit, maybe it'll annoy the judge and the lawyers too.

Gives me hope (1)

BigBadBus (653823) | more than 3 years ago | (#34212818)

Perhaps those malicious pests at Allen and Overy will stop hassling me about my article [paullee.com] , Long live the Streisand effect.

Why is this on slashdot? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34212850)

What has this got to do with news, or nerds?

THAT'S WHY I AM ANON !! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34212984)

Well, maybe not.

You motherfucker, motherfucker !!

My 12th Step !!

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