Gay Marriage Angle Used in Porn Download Case

     ATLANTA (CN) – A lawyer for a group that made millions suing over illegal downloads of porn videos asked a federal judge in Georgia to disregard a California court’s order, citing the states’ differences on gay marriage and immigration policy.
     In November 2012, Georgia-based attorney Jacques Nazaire filed a copyright infringement lawsuit on behalf of AF Holdings, a St. Kitts and Nevis limited liability company, in Federal Court in Georgia.
     The lawsuit, which accused Georgia resident Rajesh Patel of failing to secure his Internet connection and allowing the illegal download of the plaintiff’s copyrighted video, was one of many similar actions filed on behalf of AF and its affiliates.
     AF Holdings and another entity, Ingenuity 13, are shell companies for Chicago-based law firm Prenda Law, which filed dozens of lawsuits against John Doe defendants and threatened action against thousands more to get Internet users to pay settlement fees for downloading pornographic files.
     Earlier this month, U.S. District Judge Otis Wright in California reprimanded Prenda lawyers and their affiliates for what he called “plaintiffs’ brazen misconduct and relentless fraud” in a similar case, and ordered them to pay more than $81,000 in sanctions.
     Wright described Prenda as a “porno-trolling collective” that made millions by filing “boilerplate” complaints – serial complaints that cut and paste new defendants in place of old ones – against Internet users.
     He said he would refer the matter to federal prosecutors, to the Criminal Investigation Division of the Internal Revenue Service, and to the attorneys’ respective bar associations.
     Wright also found that Prenda had defrauded the court by forging a signature on a copyright assignment using the name of Alan Cooper, a man who worked as a groundskeeper for John Steele, one of Prenda’s attorneys and principals.
     In response to a cross-motion for sanctions in the Georgia lawsuit, Blair Chintella, the attorney representing Patel, submitted Wright’s order as evidence of Prenda’s alleged misconduct.
     But Nazaire objected to the response and asked the Georgia court to disregard the California decision, claiming it should not influence the outcome of his case.
     “First and foremost the undersigned respects the California decision and believes that it was rendered in the best interest of the residents of California,” Nazaire wrote in his objection.
     “Nevertheless, this instant case is pending in a Georgia District Court and it is trusted that any decision rendered, whether for or against the plaintiff, will be done so in the best interest of the residents and practitioners of Georgia.”
     Nazaire said California has a different government with different laws and views, and thus a California court’s decision cannot benefit Georgia.
     “For example the California courts have legalized gay marriage,” Nazaire wrote. “Such a decision cannot serve as a mandate on Georgia courts to legalize gay marriage as well.
     “The California courts have eased the rules on immigration. Such decisions do not mandate that Georgia courts follow suit.
     “States’ rights go to the core of our Constitution and as such, decisions carried on by other states do not become mandates for Georgia courts.”
     He added that if Georgia attorneys can no longer use boilerplate complaints and answers, based on Wright’s decision, they will waste time drafting documents from scratch and will have to bill clients more.
     And while California requires attorneys to have 100 percent of their evidence before filing an action, Georgia only demands a good faith argument to initiate a case, according to the objection.
     In addressing the alleged fraudulent signature, Nazaire claimed he could not know for sure if the signature was forged, because he was in Afghanistan when the document was signed.
     However, Nazaire said he tried to find Cooper, who purportedly signed it, but Prenda Law had told him he could not be located after August 2012, according to the memorandum.
     “Therefore, even if the undersigned had placed a knife to the throats of each of Prenda’s members, none would have been able to give him Mr. Cooper’s contact information at the time on Nov. 5, 2012 when plaintiff commenced its law suit,” Nazaire wrote. “It is certainly not the first time a company has lost contact with an agent (or alleged agent as stated).” (Parentheses in original).
     Nazaire tried to distance himself from the Prenda enterprise, arguing that he, unlike Prenda lawyers, had successfully litigated cases in court and had never threatened defendants.
     “Plaintiff’s counsel is a litigator, not a shakedown artist as defendant would like this court to believe,” Nazaire wrote.
     He also blasted Chintella, a “star witness” in the California lawsuit, for submitting a confidential email as evidence to influence the outcome of the case.
     “While the undersigned will admit that the aforesaid tactic was quite clever, it also saddens the undersigned to see a fellow attorney utilize such a tactic to gain an upper hand,” he wrote.
     Nazaire urged the court to strike Chintella’s response, claiming it was not allowed under local procedure rules.
     Chintella in turn submitted a new motion on May 9, asking the court to strike Nazaire’s objection, which, he said, violated the very same rule it accused him of violating.
     “A party cannot file a ‘notice of objection’ and attempt to ‘rehash all the arguments already presented in the response brief to get “another bite at the apple,”‘”Chintella wrote, quoting caselaw.

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