|Photo by Danny Fulgencio|
During his storied tenure here, Patrick Michels took a deep interest in the legal doings of Denton attorney Evan Stone
, who's filed dozens of cases in Dallas federal court involving thousands of John Does who Stone says are illegally downloading movies, most of 'em pornos. As Patrick wrote in his cover story on Stone
It was a novel approach, suing thousands of anonymous defendants at a time, a strategy used by just a handful of lawyers around the country. Quicker than he could add defendants to his mailing list, though, Stone attracted enemies: Internet freedom advocates, technology lawyers, the ACLU and even lawyers for the porn industry, each with their own complaints.
To that list, you can now add District Court Judge David Godbey, who, I see here
, fined Stone $10,000 last week for subpoenaing Internet Service Providers after the judge told him not to. Godbey's order, which you'll find on the other side, is very heavy on the tsk-tsk
To summarize the staggering chutzpah involved in this case: Stone asked the Court
to authorize sending subpoenas to the ISPs. The Court said "not yet." Stone sent the
subpoenas anyway. The Court appointed the Ad Litems to argue whether Stone could send
the subpoenas. Stone argued that the Court should allow him to -- even though he had
already done so -- and eventually dismissed the case ostensibly because the Court was taking
too long to make a decision. All the while, Stone was receiving identifying information and
communicating with some Does, likely about settlement. The Court rarely has encountered
a more textbook example of conduct deserving of sanctions.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation, which came onboard to protect the nameless defendants, is particularly enamored
of that "staggering chutzpah" line. Meanwhile, one attorney writes
that $10,000 ain't nothin' to a guy like Stone, who's trying to get each John Doe to settle for $1,500 or more: "This seems like pennies to an attorney who is bringing in $2,500 per settlement at what he claims is a 45% settlement rate."
Godbey Fines Evan Stone $10,000