Shared posts

07 Apr 12:45

Case 128: The Prison of Infinite Pleasures

Winter had come to the Temple in full bitter force, so a novice of the Clan of Iron Bones chose to spend his leave time visiting brethren in Phong Province to the south. The monks of that place worked on the planes of a great render farm, where the directional light was gloriously warm regardless of the season.

All morning the novice watched as learned brothers scurried to and fro, planting random number seeds, building bounding-boxes, or wrapping wire frames around even the tiniest model so that its pixels would blossom in just the right places. Thus were produced succulent scenes of every shade and hue, to please the tastes of the Imperial Court.

As midday approached, the novice’s stomach began to rumble. Since he required an escort to venture into the temple proper, the novice approached a pleasant-looking boy about his own age, who was rigging artificial light sources above a grove of small quadtrees. The boy’s clothes were of a rough sturdy linen, yet as testament to the rigor of his duties the once-solid hues had been worn down to dithered bits, both knees were covered with bi-quadratic patches, and the right cuff showed signs of aliasing.

“Ten thousand pardons,” said the novice (feeling all the more guilty for his own idleness) “but this miserable body will gnaw at me until I feed it a bowl of rice. Where is your master, that I may beg or barter with him?”

“In his chambers, where very soon I must go to bring him his bowl,” said the boy. “Walk with me as I fetch it and I will fill your own as well, for at this time of year our buffers are always full.”

The novice accepted a generous helping of rice, then followed the boy on his errand up the dim spiralling staircase which was the temple’s only hallway. It was built thus, the boy explained, to baffle stray photons.

“For glare is ever our enemy,” said the boy, pushing open the door to his master’s chamber. “Although there are greater perils, as my master could certainly tell you, if he were here.”

The novice followed the boy inside, puzzled. The high windowless room was lit only by the diffuse glow of a monitor on a solitary desk. The surface of the wide monitor could not be seen from this angle, but the glassy stare of the motionless, drooling old man behind it made the novice’s hair stand on end as surely as if his scalp had commanded every follicle to indicate its normal vector.

The boy slowly set the bowl down in front of his master, then backed away, taking care to avert his eyes from the screen.

“He is lost,” explained the boy bitterly. “You see, long ago he devised an ingenious algorithm for rendering any part of the mandelblob in the wink of an eye...”

“I have heard of this shape,” interrupted the novice, unable to tear his gaze from the master’s visage. “Rumors, only... a dread equation so small it may be inscribed on my little finger, yet describing a fractal sphere of infinite complexity.”

“Not just a sphere,” continued the boy. “A world; a worm-eaten world, implicit in the laws of number theory. Permeated by caves within caves within caves, their walls scarred by gaping chasms, yawning cracks and belching crevices. Pick any taffy-twisted tunnel, the smoothest you like, and if you zoom in far enough you’ll find that the surface wriggles and blisters and boils like putrid flesh on the cusp of liquescence, sprouting flaccid stalagmites a-crawl with mushrooms, mushrooms on mushrooms on mushrooms too tiny to be imagined, until they vanish into their own asymptotes, erupting on the other side as spores above spores above spores; and each spore is its own worm-eaten world as infinitely complex as its progenitor, yet perversely different from it too...

“My master had barely begun to explore this shape when by some accident he zoomed too deep into one particular nanoscopic nodule, one random spore among billions, and found—or so he claimed—that it was a verisimilitudinous image of our own world. Yes! Mathematical mountains exactly where our mountains lie, bursting with needled protuberances like ferns or fir-trees—all the same sickly amber hue, like the virtual cumuloids that hover above, and the simulated shorelines gritty with picoparticles of amber sand, where amber waves of graininess stand poised to break but never do; for this is a three-dimensional world, and for want of fourth nothing moves, not even the people. Yes, people! Monochromatic statues grotesque in face and form, yet human down to the eyelash-hairs, to the pores in their nostrils, like caves within caves...

“But in his trembling haste to plumb the depths of this flyspeck world, my master clicked left instead of right. His cursor jumped sideways and the crucial coordinates were lost forever. I am told his howls of anguish could be heard in the surrounding hills. Every monk of the temple rushed to this chamber, frantic to learn what great disaster had befallen. And thus did he relate the tale of his discovery.

“The other masters laughed at him, called him a liar or mad. Even monks of low station shunned him. So he set out to clear his name by finding those fateful coordinates again.

“Days became weeks, became months, became years, and now see what he is reduced to: a prisoner of the Unit Sphere, forever wandering while going nowhere, held captive by his own obsession. For a time, perhaps, he believed he had stumbled onto some Great Truth of the Universe, a calculable correspondence between the world of flesh and the one of figures. Now I cannot guess what landscapes he wanders, or why—nor would I wish to, lest I succumb to some irresistable fascination and so share his fate. It is said that fore-warned is fore-armed, but for me at least... I fear my mind. When the real meets the imaginary, their product is always complex.”

The novice edged forward to peer around the edge of the screen, but the boy stopped him.

“Take your rice and leave this cursed place,” said the boy. “And bring this one truth back to your own temple: that the Render Farm of Phong Province is no better than a poppy field, where daily we sow the doom of our people.”

“I do not see,” said the novice.

“The Emperor has but to name a pleasure—the thrill of battle among the stars, the viewing of immodest persons engaged in lecherous activities—and we will serve it to his private chambers in six million pixels of sixteen million colors at sixty frames a second. But do not envy him this. Instead fear the day that you and I enjoy the same liberty. For though we have created an eternity of wonders here, none of us are given an eternity to explore them. How precious is time; and how empty, ultimately, is any world but our own.”

12 Mar 23:14

The Privilege To Shut Up

by Ken White

One of the most consistent messages I offer here is about interactions with law enforcement, and can be expressed in two words — shut up — although "oh you dumb son of a bitch will you for the love of God shut up" might capture the flavor better.

In brief, the reasons to shut up are these: cops are not looking out for your best interests. Cops are looking to make, or close, a case, which they seek to do according to their cultural preconceptions. If you answer their questions, cops' evaluation of your words will be colored by their habitual assumption that you are lying. That assumption may be premised on their culture, their simmering mood disorders, their pathological tendency to associate you (whoever you are) with the very worst people they encounter on the job, and their evaluation of evidence they may or may not have understood. If you talk to them, it is somewhere between possible and likely that you will incriminate yourself, whether or not you have done anything. If you talk to them, it is possible that some types of cops will turn around and have you charged with a crime based on the talking itself, upon a thoroughly transparent theory that you "obstructed" them. Your instinct is to talk your way out of the situation, but that is an instinct born of prior interactions with reasonable people of good faith, and inapplicable to this interaction with people (1) who have mostly unchecked power over your and (2) who are, at the most optimistic, indifferent to how the interaction will turn out for you, and (3) who are perfectly capable of lying about what you said (or getting it wrong because they didn't understand it) and having their word presumed true by the criminal justice system.

So, I say, don't talk to the cops. Ask to speak with an attorney, and get competent advice before you answer the cops' questions. Are there mundane situations in which you might rationally decide to talk to the cops — say, if a neighbor's house is burglarized, and they come to ask if you saw anything? Sure. But you should view each interaction with the cops with an extreme caution bordering on paranoia, as you would handle a dangerous wild animal. When you talk to a cop, you are talking to someone who is often privileged to kill you with complete impunity, someone whose claims about what you said during your interaction — however fantastical — will likely be accepted uncritically by the system even if the particular cop is a proven serial liar. Even the most mundane interaction carries the potential for life-altering disaster.

People ask commonly ask if this advice might lead police to suspect them of wrongdoing, or if it might even lead to their detention or arrest. Yes, it might. Life carries difficult choices and risk assessments. One of those risk assessments is whether, in an interaction with police, it is more dangerous to talk, or more dangerous to shut up. My point, in advocating shutting up, is to suggest that people's risk assessment is often misguided: distorted by the cultural message that cops are the thin blue line of heroes we should trust, colored by our misplaced faith in our ability to talk our way out of situations, and incorrectly premised on the belief that cops asking questions will react fairly or in good faith to the answers. People substantially underestimate the negative risks of interactions with law enforcement, and substantially overestimate the upside of such interactions. Moreover, people underestimate not only the amount of risk of bad consequences, but the extremity of those consequences if they occur. That's why I suggest that the risks of shutting up and asking to talk to a lawyer (which might include increased law enforcement suspicion of you, temporary detention, arrest, or even violence) are often outweighed by the downside risk of incriminating yourself or making a statement that cops will lie about or otherwise use against you.

Today I wanted to note that I recognize that my weighing of risks is colored by privilege.

"Privilege" is a term that's overused and misused in modern political discourse. Too often it's used like a crass "shut up, I win" button in an argument. But "privilege" is sometimes an apt descriptive term of a human phenomenon: a person's evaluation of a situation (like interaction with law enforcement) is colored by his or her own experiences, and those experiences are usually circumscribed by that person's cultural identity and wealth. Any criminal defense attorney who has served affluent clients is familiar with this: such clients often conclude that they are a victim of a conspiracy, or of a "rogue cop" or "loose cannon prosecutor," because their life experiences lead them to assume that the system can't possibly treat all people the way they are being treated. By contrast, clients who have lived in poverty (or clients who are African-American or Latino) tend to recognize outrageous conduct in their case as the system working the way the system typically works — business as usual. In my post about the prosecution and death of Aaron Swartz, I argued that Swartz' community showed such privilege in its reaction to his prosecution, seeing some sort of singular conspiracy where others saw the banal grinding of the system's unfeeling wheels.

My advice to shut up is colored, in part, by privilege. I was reminded of this yesterday when Los Angeles County Sheriff's Deputies searched Justin Bieber's house. I praised Bieber for shutting up and declining to talk to the cops, and joked that criminal defense attorneys could shame clients into better practices by asking why they aren't smarter than Justin Bieber.

But Justin Bieber and I — and many of my clients — share a crucial quality: we're affluent and fortunate. This privilege makes us better able to endure the potential downside risks of shutting up. If we get arrested on a petty or bogus charge by a pissed-off cop, we can make bail. We won't spend weeks or months in custody on that bogus charge because we can't scrape together a few thousand dollars. Maybe we'll spend the weekend in jail, because cops love to arrest you Friday afternoon, but we'll get out in a few days at most, and in the meantime we won't lose our jobs. Because we have families and support systems, if we do get thrown in jail on a bogus job by an angry cop, the Department of Child and Family Services won't take away our children, plunging us into another broken system we have neither the money nor the knowledge to navigate. If the cops tow or impound our car, we can afford to pay the few hundred to few thousand dollars to get it out, and we won't lose our jobs for lack of transportation. Even if we do lose our jobs because of a bogus and retaliatory arrest, we have savings, and families with savings, and we won't swiftly lose our homes. If the police choose to retaliate against our silence with petty tickets and infractions and fines rather than arrest, we can fight them or absorb them.

That's a privilege. Poor people don't have it. Poor people live on the razor's edge, and a bogus retaliatory arrest can destroy them. Retaliatory and capricious enforcement of petty crimes and infractions can destroy them financially. Police wield disproportionate power over them, and the criminal justice system and its agendas (like the War on Drugs) disproportionately impacts them. Police are more likely to use force against poor people and for the most part can do so without any significant risk of discipline.

When you and I weigh the downside risks of shutting up against the downside risks of talking, our downside risks are milder, and can be endured. People without our resources face a must starker choice: talk, and incriminate themselves, or shut up, and face an array of consequences they may not be equipped to survive.

I maintain my advice to shut up. But I acknowledge it's easier and safer for me — and for most of the people reading this blog — than it is for the people who most frequently encounter the police.

The Privilege To Shut Up © 2007-2013 by the authors of Popehat. This feed is for personal, non-commercial use only. Using this feed on any other site is a copyright violation. No scraping.

12 Mar 03:35

Case 123: Order and Chaos

A certain monk, known for the elegance of his code, had a habit of refactoring the code of his fellows to match. “For inconsistency multiplied becomes chaos,” he would explain, “and chaos breeds complexity, and complexity brings confusion, and confusion is the mother of ten thousand defects.”

Master Suku—who above all prized the cleanliness of code—heard of this. She approached the monk, saying, “I require your assistance in correcting a problem.”

Suku revealed to the monk a great repository, home to the source code for the Temple’s most ancient application. Over the course of decades an uncounted procession of monks and nuns had passed through its hallowed directories: adding, removing, refactoring, refining, trying a new framework here, a new approach there. Several times the entire code base had been migrated from one language to another, scarring the deeper layers with unfathomably bizarre design patterns. Within one utility class the naming conventions were so wildly inconsistent that the monk grew dizzy and had to lie down on the floor.

“Bring order to chaos,” said Suku, and went out.

The monk proceeded in earnest to rewrite the application in the style he had perfected over so many years. He chose a glittering new framework to replace the many rusty ones, then picked one dusty corner of the repository and worked slowly outwards: adding, removing, refactoring, refining.

- - -

The monk had converted the merest fraction of the files when there came a pounding on his door.

“Emergency!” said the breathless abbot outside, grabbing the monk by his robe and pulling him out the door. “Disaster! Disorder! Deadline! Doom! Not enough people and not enough time; you’re needed at once, come on, come on!”

The monk protested, calling for someone to fetch master Suku that she might intervene, but the abbot merely flipped the monk onto his backside and dragged him down the hallway like a noisy sack of rice.

That evening Suku found the monk, tied to his new workstation by many coils of strong rope.

“I have seen your commits in the great repository,” said the master, drawing a long knife which she placed at his throat. “Where once there had been a hundred styles, there now are a hundred and one.”

She made a quick motion. The monk cringed, expecting to feel his life blood spilling inside his robe. Instead the knife only severed one strand of his hempen bonds.

“Not perfect, but better,” said Suku, and went out.

She did likewise for one hundred evenings until the monk was freed.

- - -

Afterwards the monk meddled less with the code of his fellows, and instead began to pride himself on his ability to mimic the design patterns of others when modifying their applications.

“It is still a truth of refactoring,” he now said, “that sometimes one must introduce chaos to bring order, just as the road to the sea must sometimes scale a mountain before it turns downward again. Yet order is not a destination: merely a direction from complex to simple, from more to less. The master asked for less but I thought only of one, and chose a path worthy of a hailstone when simple subtraction would have sufficed.”

05 Feb 01:06

dateConvert Component

by Richard

Someone recently was trying to resolve a problem of changing the timezone on a date field for use within a VisualForce email template. I threw together this quick component that can change the timezone as well as the format. There is a brief demo VisualForce page below I used on Account to view the created date. I’ll update the post later with some more detailed instructions on how to install this into your org for non developer types. And I will write some test code since you’ll need it to move this to production, but first I’m going to go celebrate my birthday.


<apex:component access="global" selfClosing="true" controller="dateConvert">
    <apex:attribute name="format" assignTo="{!dateFormat}" access="global" type="String" default="M/d/yyyy h:mm a" description="Format of the datetime field"/>
    <apex:attribute name="field" assignTo="{!dateField}" access="global" type="DateTime" required="true" description="Field to convert"/>
    <apex:attribute name="timezone" assignTo="{!dateTimezone}" access="global" type="String" default="GMT" description="Timezone to convert to"/>
    <apex:outputText value="{!output}"/>


public class dateConvert {
    public String dateTimeZone {
    public DateTime dateField {
    public String output {
        get {
            return dateField.format(this.dateFormat, this.dateTimeZone);
    public String dateFormat {

Example usage in a VisualForce page

<apex:page standardController="Account">
    <apex:pageBlock >
        <apex:pageBlockSection >
            <apex:pageBlockSectionItem >
                <c:dateConvert field="{!Account.CreatedDate}" timezone="America/Chicago"/><br/>
            <apex:outputField value="{!Account.CreatedDate}"/>

The post dateConvert Component appeared first on Cloudy With a Chance of Code.

30 Jan 21:10

Your Criticism of My Holocaust Analogy Is Like Yet ANOTHER Holocaust

by Ken White

When Tom Perkins wrote his letter to the editor of the Wall Street Journal suggesting that very rich people are facing a "progressive Kristallnacht," the marketplace of ideas functioned as advertised. Tom Perkins said something very stupid, and was widely ridiculed as someone who had said something very stupid. He was the butt of many jokes and his former associates distanced themselves from him.

Perkins' comment was self-serious and inflammatory enough to be slightly novel. The reaction was mundane. So was the utterly predictable reaction to the reaction. This time, that sur-reaction is delivered by the Wall Street Journal, in an editorial helpfully titled "Perkinsnacht: Liberal Vituperation Makes Our Letter Writer's Point."

Maybe the critics are afraid that Mr. Perkins is onto something about the left's political method. Consider the recent record of liberals in power.

The Journal goes on to decry genuine abuses of power — like the IRS's despicable targeting of ideologically incorrect groups — and rhetorical douchebaggery from the likes of Andrew Cuomo and Bill DeBlasio. The Journal sullenly concludes:

The liberals aren't encouraging violence, but they are promoting personal vilification and the abuse of government power to punish political opponents.

But personal vilification isn't violence, and it is right and fit to call people out every time they say it is, and then call them out again when they double down.

Vigorous and hurtful and unpleasant speech is what we have instead of violence. Our ability to level such viscerally satisfying attacks on speech we don't like is a crucial part of what convinces us, as a nation, not to censor speech we don't like. In Europe, Tom Perkins might face official sanctions for saying the wrong thing about the Holocaust; here, he faces late-night jokes and insulting cartoons and the contempt of many. I like our way better.

It's common, now, to indulge in rhetoric that conflates criticism with violence or official oppression. People — mostly African-Americans — were actually lynched by mobs in this country less than a century ago. But now "lynch mob" is generally invoked when someone acts like an asshole and, in the judgment of their supporters, too many people are pointing it out at once. Real kids commit real suicide because of real bullying while advocates of the Right and the Left invoke "bullying" to describe having one's views criticized or questioned. In some countries people are still executed for witchcraft or condemned to jail or death by inquisitions; here when people say "witch hunt" or "inquisition" we generally mean we think public criticism of someone's obnoxious behavior is excessive. We're told that the "masculine and muscular" are at "risk" or "danger" because of feminized culture. As I understand it the particular risk is being made fun of on MSNBC, which muscular masculinity is apparently too timid to sustain.

All of this silly rhetoric is itself free speech, of course. But it's not harmless speech. It's pernicious. Conflating speech and violence encourages citizens to think that speech should be controlled like violence. That's not a abstract danger. It's real. States continue to pass idiotic "cyber-bulling" statutes, blundering around the legal landscape trying to determine which insults are hurtful enough to criminalize. American institutions continue to censor speech by willfully misconstruing protected rhetoric as unprotected threats. Police and prosecutors imprison kids for what are clearly jokes and investigate authors of critical reviews for "harassment." Left-leaning law professors argue that speech on the internet ought to be regulated to protect the civil rights of participants deterred from participation by harmful speech, using rhetoric that sounds suspiciously like what Right-leaning folks use when they complain that "political correctness" deters them from participating.

So: indulge yourself if you must. Call the people speaking ill of you a "lynch mob." Call that person criticizing your political screed a "cyber-bully." Cry "witch hunt" when someone doesn't like what you say. Cry "Holocaust" if you're rich and you don't like people pointing out that the system is rigged in favor of the rich.6 But just know that the price of your self-seriousness is the creeping notion that speech is just like action, and that therefore maybe we ought to regulate it a little more.

That's why I, as a defender of free speech, am going to keep calling out and ridiculing your Kristallnacht analogies, even if you think that's another Kristallnacht.

Your Criticism of My Holocaust Analogy Is Like Yet ANOTHER Holocaust © 2007-2013 by the authors of Popehat. This feed is for personal, non-commercial use only. Using this feed on any other site is a copyright violation. No scraping.

24 Jan 01:23

Government Weighs Government Role in Coercing Confessions ( From Innocent Citizens )

by Clark

The original headline is "Court Weighs Police Role in Coercing Confessions", but I like mine a bit better.

detectives told Mr. Thomas repeatedly that the baby’s condition was an accident and that he would not be arrested. Several times they threatened to arrest his wife if he did not confess to abusing the baby, prompting him to say he would “take the rap.” Later they told him his son, who was already brain-dead, might die if he did not help doctors by describing how he hurt the boy.

Of course, the boy was already dead, and the detectives lied to the father, basically promising him that his son would live if he agreed to the fiction that he had done it, even if he hadn't.

After two days of interrogation, the father broke down, and agreed to the police lie, to save the life of his son and the freedom of his wife.

He is now serving a life sentence.

The judges were not with out sympathy. Oh, they had sympathy aplenty:

During arguments, several judges — among them Judge Lippman, Robert S. Smith and Eugene F. Pigott — expressed sympathy for Mr. Thomas’s contention that his confession was made under unfair pressure.

But sympathy only goes so far. There's precedent to worry about, and if innocent men have to go to jail to uphold precent, well, then, government employees understand the relative importance of these two things:

“We have precedent that says the police can use deception,” Judge Victoria A. Graffeo said. “What we are trying to figure out is when you enter this area of inappropriate pressure?”

“Don’t threaten to arrest people’s wives whom you know are innocent,” Mr. Frost answered.

“That’s a narrow rule,” Judge Pigott said.

Still, the judges are positively Solomonic compared to the prosecutor.

Ms. Egan… insisted the detectives had done nothing that would cast doubt on the veracity of Mr. Thomas’s statement.

Government Weighs Government Role in Coercing Confessions ( From Innocent Citizens ) © 2007-2013 by the authors of Popehat. This feed is for personal, non-commercial use only. Using this feed on any other site is a copyright violation. No scraping.

14 Jan 00:46

The Political Is Personal. Why?

by Clark

A while back I blogged about shaming, civility, tolerance, etc.: Pax Dickinson: Thought Crime, Public Shaming and Thick Liberty in the Internet Age.

I've wanted to revisit the topic because I have more to say, but most of the events I've seen that would serve as a trigger / a convenient peg to hang my hat on have had a flaw: they've all been right-wingers getting their oxes gored in front of an audience of millions.

While, culturally, I lean more to the right than to the left, my take on this topic is content and viewpoint neutral, and so I've really not wanted to uncork while defending another righty, lest my point be buried under the appearance of always sticking up for members of the Coke party.

Today I have a few minutes to spare and an internet bullying victim who is on the left.


Let's talk about "#pajamaboy".

We all know the background: yesterday President Obama tweeted an ad designed to encourage people to tupperware-party his signature healthcare law to captive friends and family.

How do you plan to spend the cold days of December? #GetTalking

— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) December 17, 2013

As a quick aside, this is one of the most catastrophically tone-deaf pieces of propaganda I've seen since…well, since most of the other Obamacare ads I've seen. But that's neither here nor there.

The internet erupted in a tizzy. As predicted, photoshops ran wild.

…and then something really weird and, to my mind, unsettling happened.

People started doxing the model in the ad.

It quickly turned out that he is an Obama partisan and an employee at Organizing For Action, so this isn't quite as weird and wrong as possible.

…but it's still weird and wrong.

The Washington Examiner not only gave the model's name (which I, as a point of principal, will not repeat), pointed to his personal twitter feed, they screen-grabbed pictures he uploaded to Facebook.

Jamie Wearing Fools pulled his linked in resume.

Politico, Hot Air, etc. have all mocked him.

A site that I won't even link to has dug up his home address, Google streetview stalked him, and concluded based on the price of the house he lives in and the minivan parked out front that he lives with his parents.

My question, put succinctly, is: What. The. !@#$?

PajamaGuy clearly has politics different from mine. He's in favor of socializing healthcare in the US. He's even in favor of using force to do so: he likes the idea of a mandatory fine if I don't get my healthcare in the way he wants, and – presumably – he's in favor of State violence against me if I refuse to pay that fine.

So let us mock the ad if we want. Let us mock and debate the policy.

…but why in the name of all that's holy would we try to shame him? Specifically, shame him for being some twenty something nerdy man-child? I think it's safe to say that none of the people hurling this abuse has ever met the guy. We don't know if he's nerdy. We don't know if he's a man-child. And even if he is: so what? What has he done to deserve the weight of the entire internet raining abuse down on him?

One of my favorite political and economic writers, Megan McArdle, wrote recently (in a different context):

I’ve been trying to cut down on the snark…

why? Out of pity for my victims? Oh, sure, that’s a factor…

[ but ] the main reason I avoid the joys of snarky takedowns is that it’s not very good for you. Snark is immense, immense fun…

Whatever the ostensible subject of the snark, you’re always really saying the same thing: “Look at me! I am so smart and funny! Not like this stupid person I am making fun of! You should think less of them and more of me!”…

(By the way, it's one of Megan's better pieces, and given the high quality of her "average", that's saying a lot. Go. Read.)

So, anyway, this is why I defend Pajama Guy and suggest that – no matter how much he pushes the cultural buttons of those on the right – they should leave him – the real him, the actual human being him- alone:

1) It would be better for all of us to live in a culture where we can take political positions without being doxed, without having our personal pictures grabbed from social media and used to illustrate to an audience of millions how we are complete and utter failures.

2) It would be better to have a cultural norm where we can achieve step #1 via manners, instead of draconian privacy controls on social media and document sharing (think of the children deadweight loss!)

3) Using snark as a tool is like eating cookies for every meal. It's utterly delicious…and not only are you doing bad things to yourself, but you'll feel bad

4) Not a single one of us would (a) enjoy having the weight of the internet come down on us, nor (b) would we look particularly cool if the other side had infinite resources to pick over our online presence and cherry pick items to make us look bad.

Put down your stones of personal reputation destruction and mockery. Do it even if you think the other side (whichever side that is) is living to a lower standard. It's good for your soul.

The Political Is Personal. Why? © 2007-2013 by the authors of Popehat. This feed is for personal, non-commercial use only. Using this feed on any other site is a copyright violation. No scraping.

08 Jan 23:59

Alex Marthews Sees the Police State Being Forged and Does Not Like It

by Clark

This essay ( Quit Throwing 9/11 In Our Faces ) is quite something.

Like me, Alex Marthews prefers not to drop the f-bomb …but there are times that try men's souls, and our ongoing slide into an actual honest-to-God yes-it-can-happen-here police state is one of them, and it's pushed both of us into it recently.

What's got Alex's blood up today?

The facts that

(a) the NSA had all the intel it needed to prevent 9/11, as revealed in this open letter to the president from "Former NSA Senior Executives/Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)",

The sadder reality, Mr. President, is that NSA itself had enough information to prevent 9/11, but chose to sit on it rather than share it with the FBI or CIA. We know; we were there. We were witness to the many bureaucratic indignities that made NSA at least as culpable for pre-9/11 failures as are other U.S. intelligence agencies.


(b) in response to its failure, the NSA and other intelligence agencies have not done honest soul-searching but have instead engaged in coverups and a concerted push to increase the collection of data on US citizens, even though they have no ability to deal with that data and there is no argument that this increased domestic spying will help protect the people.

Here's Alex's rage money-shot, and as a fellow defender of liberty who – more and more – alternates between near tears and near screaming over how the corpse of our Republic is being raped, I applaud it:

I am fucking pissed off. What a fuckup. What a gargantuan, despicable, offensive fuckup.

These clowns gleefully threw the Constitution on the fire, and gave us NOTHING in return. We’re not safer. We’re certainly not richer. We have lost so much, so that a few people could become extremely rich and powerful, and our corrupt system is now incapable of holding them personally to account. Yet still they yammer on, clamoring for more funding for an NSA that doesn’t work, a TSA that doesn’t work, an FBI that chases imaginary plots instead of focusing on locking up actual criminals. They have played on our fears to make us exchange realistic risk assessment for a meaningless, nightmarish pantomime where we, the American people and indeed the people of the whole world, have to accept the loss of every freedom we hold dear in order to “do whatever it takes” to “catch the bad guys.”

I’m sick of it. Aren’t you sick of it? I am goddamn heart-sick of it.

I really hate to use the phrase "police state" (as I did above), because it makes one sound like a silly 19 year old who is upset that mom and dad wouldn't let him borrow the station wagon to get to the mall, and furthermore that when he got to the mall anyway, the fascist thugs at the CD store kept following him around as if he was a shoplifter.

The thing is, though, we are drifting into a police state. Or, rather, we've already crossed the boundary and we're drifting deeper and deeper into the funnel. This is a tragedy that's hard to explain (or, at least, requires more skill than I have at my command this morning). There's
a great deal of ruin in a nation, Adam Smith once famously said, but when we're spending $52.6 billion per year in
the black budget (that's $100,000 per minute) to wiretap on the citizenry, develop zero day exploits to give the government the ability to take over our infrastructure, launch spy satellites, and more, the a huge amount of ruin can happen at a speed far faster than Adam Smith ever imagined.

Again, I apologize for what sounds like melodrama, but we are destroying our Republic and our individual freedoms at an astounding rate. Like clear cutting and burning rain-forests, we are reducing to ash in years and months a tradition that took centuries to build.

It's far far easier to destroy a culture than it is to bring it back. Cultures, like rain-forests and cathedrals, grow slowly, and take centuries to mature and ripen…and yet can be smashed in a historical eye-blink. The problem isn't merely that the government is spying today; the problem is that we are teaching ourselves, our bureaucrats – and worst of all, our children – that this is acceptable, that the people exist to serve the State, that a prudent government keeps track of all of its citizens in the same way that a prudent farmer puts ear-tags on all of his cattle.

Go read Alex's masterful rant and make sure to read
the whistle-blowing letter that set him off.

Most days I frankly don't think it's possible to stop our slide into soft (if we're lucky) fascism. Today is one of those days….or maybe, just maybe it's not. I've got just a touch of optimism in my soul this morning.

Either way, we've got to try to prevent the police state from solidifying its grip, damn it.

No matter what, blood is going to be spilled, money is going to be wasted, and rights are going to be violated.

…but if we fight now, the blood will be that of a few hundred peaceful protesters cheerfully allowing themselves to be clubbed by riot police, the money that is going to be wasted is going to be kickstarted legal defense funds, and the rights are going to be those of modern-day Rosa Parks who allow themselves to be arrested so that the populace is confronted with the brutality of the system.

If we don't fight now, though, the national-security-police-state will win, and it will be our children, or our children's children, who will have to fight. And their fight might look a lot less like the American Civil Rights movement and a lot more like some goddamned bloody unwinable mess like the Syrian Civil War, or the horrific Khmer Rouge paroxysms.

My next post should be "How Do We Fight?"

The problem is, I don't know.

Alex Marthews Sees the Police State Being Forged and Does Not Like It © 2007-2013 by the authors of Popehat. This feed is for personal, non-commercial use only. Using this feed on any other site is a copyright violation. No scraping.

13 Dec 20:39

A Data Retention Mandate? NO

by Jim Harper

Jim Harper

The Wall Street Journal reports that a panel convened by the president to review the National Security Agency’s programs will recommend that “the records of nearly every U.S. phone call now collected in a controversial NSA program be held instead by the phone company or a third-party organization.” That recommendation is a non-starter.

Mandatory data retention has been floated for years using the most politically appealing rationale, child predation. In 2007, we characterized the idea as costly, outsourced surveillance, and Congress has consistently denied that power to the government. In fact, child protection bills containing data retention mandates were introduced in several Congresses but only passed once provisions deputizing communications providers into government surveillance were stripped out. Randy Barnett and I made this point in our brief urging the Supreme Court to take up the NSA’s mass surveillance of Americans’ telephone calling.

“Congress has declined to institute mandatory data retention laws because the costs, risks, and privacy consequences for innocent citizens outweigh their law enforcement and security benefits,” we wrote. “The Verizon order reverses this Congressional policy by requiring a telecommunications provider to turn all data over to the government for retention by the National Security Agency.”

How ironic it would be if the NSA’s illegal excesses delivered it a victory on a policy initiative that it lost years ago. Is secretly violating Americans’ communications privacy really rewarded by a policy requiring the violation of Americans’ communications privacy?

Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI), who claims authorship of the USA-PATRIOT Act, came to Cato two months ago to lament the NSA’s use of that law for domestic spying he did not intend the NSA to have. In the past, he has said that data retention “runs roughshod over the privacy rights of people who use the Internet for thousands of lawful purposes.” Assumedly, he believes the same as to people’s use of the phone, and he will continue working with other privacy-minded legislators to relegate data retention mandates to the dustbin of history.

26 Nov 01:32

A Post About Cops That Does Not Criticize Cops

by Clark

Today everyone and their brother is watching this video and attacking the police for firing shots when no officer was in danger and when the van was packed with children.

I'll let everyone and their brother take that ball and run with it; I've got nothing further to add.

However, I do have a different point to make:

As much as I dislike police culture, as much as I dislike 95% of the laws that they enforce, and more, I think that some criticisms of police ignore the fact that bad encounters with police sometimes – not always, but sometimes – are baked with a heaping cup of stupid citizen behavior mixed into the batter.

If you're hiding a Jew in your car and getting pulled over by the cops is a death sentence for both you and the refugee, yes, you might as well try evading, fist fighting, and resisting arrest.

…but for pretty much anything short of that, your smartest tactic is
* pull over
* speak calmly
* answer no questions
* consent to no searches

Even if you've got a pipe w pot residue in the car, there's a good chance that you won't get searched. Worst case, yes, the cops bring in a dog, manufacture "probable cause", search the car, find the pot, and arrest you. And, yes, your kids may go to foster care for a week and you may spend thousands of dollars in legal fees – thousands of dollars you don't have.

But, again, aside from the hidden-Jew scenario, there is no way that fighting, evading, and resisting is a better strategy.

I would think that this would be so obvious as to not need explaining, and yet, of the dozen or so websites I've seen covering this story, not one has said that while in bad police encounters it only takes one to tango, you're a lot more likely to get a newsworthy dance if there are two of you going through the movements.

Don't leave food near your tent in bear country.

Don't stick your hands into hollow logs in snake country.

Don't evade, fight, and resist cops.

A Post About Cops That Does Not Criticize Cops © 2007-2013 by the authors of Popehat. This feed is for personal, non-commercial use only. Using this feed on any other site is a copyright violation. No scraping.

26 Nov 01:29

Good News From The United Kingdom: Lesley Kemp Prevails Against Censorious Thuggery

by Ken White

Back in April I wrote about Lesley Kemp, a transcriber who was sued for defamation in England when she complained on Twitter about delays in being paid by Resolution Productions and its principal Kirby Kearns. When I wrote Resolution Productions seeking comment, I received a threatening-to-the-best-of-his-limited-abilities email from Barjinder Sahota of Sahota Solicitors who demanded that I "resist and desist" writing bad things about his clients. I responded like me.

Good news today: Ms. Kemp has won and the plaintiff Kirby Kearns has abandoned the field. Kemp was tremendously fortunate to secure pro bono help from Robert Dougans of Bryan Cave and no-win-no-fee help from Jonathan Price of Ely Place Chambers, with support from the Libel Reform Campaign and from censorious-thuggery survivor Simon Singh. Kemp reports that her team backed Kirby Kearns and Sahota off with a clever gambit: since Kirby Kearns is a resident of Qatar, they asked the English court to force him to post a bond to secure costs, which he was unwilling to do:

As Mr Kearns is resident in Qatar, my solicitors applied for an order requiring Mr Kearns to pay money into court as security for my costs of defending the claim. Despite his solicitors threatening me with indemnity costs orders for making this application and saying it was unfounded (although never explaining why), Mr Kearns on 18 November 2013 decided to 'discontinue the claim' 2 weeks from when my application was going to be heard. Mr Kearns explains this decision as being based on being unwilling to pay security for my costs.

Ms. Kemp was unfortunate to be menaced by a such a lawsuit, and unfortunate to be subjected to it in England (which, despite the best efforts of reformers, is still a haven for libel tourism thanks to its pro-plaintiff libel laws), but she's extremely lucky to get such an able team to help her without cost to her. Freedom of expression depends not just on laws and efforts to reform them, but on principled individuals like Mr. Dougans and Mr. Price donating their skills and standing up to contemptible censorship. Freedom of expression also depends upon citizens inflicting social consequences upon the plaintiffs who bring suits like this and the lawyers who represent them. People who bully should be treated like bullies.

Mr. Sahota never wrote me again after my reply to his threat to me. If anyone reading this has been threatened with a defamation suit by Mr. Sahota or his firm, I have been asked to convey that there are solicitors in England who stand ready to represent you for free or on a no-win-no-fee basis, depending on the case.

Stand up against censorship.

Edited to add: Mr. Kearns has released a public statement, which I have uploaded here for your review of his version of events.

Good News From The United Kingdom: Lesley Kemp Prevails Against Censorious Thuggery © 2007-2013 by the authors of Popehat. This feed is for personal, non-commercial use only. Using this feed on any other site is a copyright violation. No scraping.

25 Oct 23:15

Drop the ball

Chris Peterson

This might be my new favorite PHP code.

When your language manual straight-up has a page called Type Juggling, you’re gonna have a bad time.

Juggling is hard enough without adding knives and flaming brands to the mix, don’t you think?

From an oooold comment of the 2005 vintage:

In my much of my coding I have found it necessary to type-cast between objects of different class types.

function ClassTypeCast(&$obj,$class_type){
        $obj = unserialize(preg_replace"/^O:[0-9]+:\"[^\"]+\":/i", 
      "O:".strlen($class_type).":\"".$class_type."\":", serialize($obj)));

That’s a bit dense, so let it sink in. This person is serializing an arbitrary class, using regex to replace the serialized class name and its length, and unserializing to coerce PHP into some ghastly faux “typecast” of two different classes. I don’t even want to know what can go wrong here, because it can’t be pretty. I want to slam the lid shut on this idea and lose the key down a hell pit.

Just kidding, let’s go Pandora on this box of badness.

class MyClass {
    private $foo = null;

    function setString($str) {
        $this->foo = $str; }
    function awful() {
        return "This is awful!"; }

class MyClass2 {
    private $foo2 = null;

    function setString2($str) {
        $this->foo2 = $str; }
    function awful() {
        return "This is awesome!"; }

  $my1 = new MyClass();

  $my1->setString("kill me now");

  ClassTypeCast($my1, "MyClass2");

  echo $my1->awful() . "<br>";


  This is awesome!
  object(MyClass2)#2 (2) { ["foo2:private"]=> NULL 
  ["foo:private"]=> string(11) "kill me now" }

So as you can see, a quick test suggests that the resulting mangled class will have the data members of both classes. How in tarnation does that even happen, PHP? When there is a naming conflict, it seems the new type takes precedence, but you get all these lingering hangers-on if the two types didn’t have the exact same method and variable names. I bet there are all sorts of difficult-to-foresee side effects resulting from tampering with this nonsense.

The only saving grace of this post is that they actually managed to lose a critical punctuation mark somewhere in there (an exercise for the reader), which causes it to fail to compile as written, which should stop the first tier of naive PHP programmers from cut-and-paste catastrophe.

Put down the serialize() and back away slowly.

23 Oct 03:08

Comic for October 11, 2013

Dilbert readers - Please visit to read this feature. Due to changes with our feeds, we are now making this RSS feed a link to
21 Oct 04:48

All Across The Country, Prenda Law's Rubble Is Getting Bounced

by Ken White

All of Popehat's Prenda coverage is collected here.

It's been two months since I wrote about Prenda Law. Since then its fortunes — and the fortunes of its principals — have been on the wane. Prenda, John Steele, Paul Hansmeier, Paul Duffy, and Mark Lutz have been suffering devastating blows across the country. Any one of these developments would be grave for any normal lawyer or legal enterprise. Combined, they represent a swiftly accelerating rout. Each development makes it more and more plausible that Judge Wright's referral of Prenda's principals to federal prosecutors will yield a grand jury investigation and, eventually, federal criminal charges. To one side, career and financial ruin loom as multiple courts issue brutal and reputation-destroying sanctions; to the other side, the door to federal prison yawns open.

So what's been going on? Let's look at updates state by state, and then turn to last Thursday's big development in Los Angeles. Brace yourself; this is a long post.


In the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts, defendant Sandipan Chowdhury and his able lawyers from Booth Sweet LLP have been running rampant over a mostly absent Prenda. Prenda, through its entity AF Holdings, sued Chowdhury over alleged downloads of a movie called "Sexual Obsession." Chowdhury did not go quietly. Chowdhury filed a counterclaim setting forth Prenda's shady dealings and demanding cancellation of the copyright, and asked the court to order Prenda (through AF Holdings) to post a bond to continue. Prenda failed to do so. Prenda's local counsel sought and obtained leave to withdraw in an astonishing motion that suggests that the he had concluded that Prenda is engaged in fraud and wanted none of it. Chowdhury and his attorneys, not ones to pass up the opportunity to club a baby seal, asked the court to enter a default against Prenda, citing Prenda's failure to post the ordered bond and its failure to answer the counterclaim, as well as the emerging evidence of Prenda's misconduct and deceit. Crucially, Chowdhury asked the court to enter default against AF Holdings and its "known aliases." Prenda failed to respond once again. The court granted the motion, resulting in a default order that identifies Prenda Law, John Steele, Paul Hansmeier, and Paul Duffy as "aliases" of AF Holdings.6 Last week Chowdhury followed up with a request that the Court enter a final judgment based on the default order. Chowdhury's proposed final judgment would impose a sizable judgment against the whole Prenda team:

It is hereby ORDRED, ADJUDGED AND DECREED that Defendant Chowdhury recover jointly and severally from Plaintiff AF Holdings, Inc., Prenda Law, Inc., John L. Steele, Paul A. Duffy, Paul R. Hansmeier and Mark Lutz the principal amount of $21,393.60, with costs and attorney’s fees trebled pursuant to M.G.L. c. 93(A) §9 for a total judgment of $64,180.80 with interest as provided by law.

It remains to be seen whether someone from Team Prenda will finally show up to oppose this. If history serves Prenda's principals may revert to their "I wasn't served and didn't know about this" dodge. Even if they finally do show up, they're deep in the hole in this district.

tl;dr Prenda is abandoned by its local counsel in Massachusetts, ignores developments in a case, and suffers a default judgment that may result in a $64,180.80 judgment that adjudicates Paul Duffy, John Steele, Paul Hansmeier, Mark Lutz, Prenda Law, and AF Holdings to be "aliases" of each other.

Massachusetts Update October 23, 2013: Chowdhury's follow-up motion has been granted and judgment entered for $64,180.80 against Prenda, AF Holdings, Steele, Hansmeier, Lutz, Duffy as aliases.


When last we spoke of Georgia, Defendant Rajesh Patel was in a brutal struggle with Prenda Law in the person of its rather excitable local counsel Jacques Nazaire. Prenda — through its shell AF Holdings — had sought to abandon its case against Patel, but Patel had sunk his teeth into Prenda and wanted sanctions. The United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia permitted Patel limited discovery not on the merits of the dismissed case, but to gather information in support of a motion for sanctions, which is very rare and was not at all a good sign for Prenda.  As you will see, the court now probably regrets that.  Nazaire distinguished himself by arguing that the Georgia court should ignore Judge Wright's sanctions order against Prenda in California BECAUSE GAY MARRIAGE, ranting about Brett Gibbs and that notorious terrorist organization the Electronic Frontier Foundation, suggesting that Patel's court-permitted discovery into Prenda should be cut short because blogs are mean to Prenda and Nazaire, and resorting to mediocre "yo mamma" insults.

Patel and Prenda have been trading multiple accusations and demands for sanctions. Prenda has been asking the court to halt Patel's various discovery methods, and Patel has been asking the court to compel Prenda to answer that discovery.   United States District Judge William C. O'Kelley has finally had enough and issued an order telling the parties to stop filing motions, that he would hold a hearing on sanctions based on the motions to date in due course, and generally saying STOP THAT RACKET OR I'LL PULL THIS CAR RIGHT OVER SEE IF I DON'T. Patel — who may be lost to buck fever — has filed a motion asking for leave to file more motions despite the court's rather unambiguous signal. Maybe Patel thinks the federal judge doesn't really mean it. Federal judges always really mean it.

Patel may have overplayed his hand and eroded the court's goodwill and inclination to sanction Prenda. But it has not been in vain. Patel's subpoenas — permitted by the court as part of the discovery-to-support-sanctions process — uncovered crucial data that badly wounds Prenda. Among other things, Patel's papers discuss documents and recordings disclosed by GoDaddy demonstrating that: (1) John Steele's GoDaddy account was used to access a site registered to "Alan Cooper," (2) the same email address is used in connection with sites registered to "Alan Cooper," Mark Lutz, and John Steele, (3) recordings show the same male voice making tech support calls to GoDaddy and using the names John Steele, Alan Cooper, and Mark Lutz, (4) a purported "Alan Cooper" domain was registered using another John Steele email address. That information corroborates Alan Cooper's assertions that John Steele stole his identity and is powerful evidence that John Steele was far more involved in running the business than he has claimed in court.

More explosively, Patel's discovery to Comcast yielded IP address information showing that the same IP address (1) accessed John Steele's GoDaddy account, (2) accessed Prenda site, (3) was assigned to Steele Hansmeier PLLC, John Steele and Paul Hansmeier's former firm, and (4) is the same IP address that, as others have shown, uploaded the copyrighted works to the internet before Prenda claims that various defendants illegally downloaded them. What does that last part mean? It's compelling evidence in support of a previous allegation that John Steele was using Prenda to run a "honeypot": that is, rather than protecting copyrighted works, he was deliberately posting them in places where they were likely to be downloaded, and then suing the downloaders as a revenue-generating scheme. If true, that necessarily involved fraudulent misrepresentations and omissions to courts and to defendants, and undermined Prenda's right to sue on the copyright. To learn more about the significance of that, and how people traced the IP to John Steele, you can read Joe Mullin or TorrentFreak. Prior to the release of the Comcast documents, John Steele hotly denied that he ran a "honeypot." Technically, I suppose that is not evidence that he did.

Finally, Patel's discovery campaign yielded an increasingly familiar result: Mark Lutz failed to show up for something. You may recall that Mark Lutz is — according to him and the other Prendarasts — formerly a paralegal for Steele and Hansmeier, a thoroughly useless "corporate representative," an alleged unpaid "manager" or "CEO" of Prenda Law entity AF Holdings. AF Holdings is owned by a trust called Salt Marsh, the beneficiaries of which are Lutz's own hypothetical and unborn children. Nothing suspicious about that! Anyway, Patel noticed Lutz' deposition, and — in what will be a pattern in this post — Lutz didn't show. Patel moved to compel him. Nazaire, who can keep a straight face through anything, said there is no legitimate reason to depose Lutz and that the only reason that Patel wants to depose Lutz is so that mean blogs can humiliate him:

Additionally, Mr. Lutz has every reason not to appear for a deposition. The deposition is sought out, not for seeking discoverable evidence, but rather to ridicule him.

That's a great argument, Mr. Nazaire, because if Patel is investigating whether AF Holdings is involved in a large-scale fraud scheme there's absolutely no reason to depose the CEO/manager of AF Holdings, the guy whose unborn children are the only beneficiaries of the mysterious trust that owns AF Holdings.

tl;dr: In Georgia, the court may have lost its patience with sanctions motions against Prenda, but discovery has yielded information substantially strengthening the fraud case against Prenda and its principals. Also, Mark Lutz is AWOL.


I first started writing about Prenda Law when it blundered into my wheelhouse — frivolous defamation suits. John Steele, Paul Duffy, and Prenda law filed defamation suits simultaneously against Alan Cooper and his lawyer Paul Godfread in Illinois and Florida in retaliation for them revealing that Prenda had stolen Alan Cooper's identity. John Steele used those lawsuits in an attempt to threaten Alan Cooper and deter him from testifying. When last I wrote about those suits, Cooper and Godfread removed the Illinois cases to the United States District Courts in the Northern and Southern Districts of Illinois and filed counterclaims arising from the theft of Cooper's identity.

Since then the Illinois cases have not gone Prenda's way.  First, The federal judge in the Southern District of Illinois transferred the Prenda law defamation suit to the Northern District where the Paul Duffy defamation suit is pending; now the same judge will hear both. Coordination and consolidation of cases won't help Prenda, because it will be easier to observe Prenda's misconduct across consolidated cases.

Second, Prenda ran a brief and unsuccessful scam in an effort to get one of the cases cases returned to state court, which would have been slower to recognize and punish its misconduct. You have to know a bit of federal civil procedure to understand the scam and how it failed. To file something in federal court, you need subject matter jurisdiction — that means either a federal claim or diversity of citizenship. "Diversity of citizenship" means that the plaintiffs and defendants are from different states. That basis for jurisdiction is a throwback to when we assumed a citizen of one state wouldn't get fair treatment in the courts of another state. Diversity must be complete; if any plaintiff is from the same state as any defendant, there is no diversity jurisdiction. In removing the Prenda and Duffy defamation cases to federal court — a far more defense-friendly forum — Cooper and Godfread had to rely on diversity as the basis for federal jurisdiction because the cases did not involve state claims.

Prenda's scam worked like this – they demanded that the federal court send the Prenda Law defamation complaint back to state court because just before Cooper and Godfread removed it to federal court, Prenda added the Alpha Law Group as an additional plaintiff. Since Alpha Law Group is a Minnesota entity, and since Cooper and Godfread are from Minnesota, there would be no diversity jurisdiction. What does Alpha Law Group have to do with the case? Absolutely nothing. Prenda changed nothing substantive about the case and only added Alpha as a plaintiff to destroy diversity. That's the scam.

But Prenda got caught in deceit. See, under Illinois law, once Prenda and Duffy served Cooper and Godfread with the lawsuit, they couldn't amend it without leave of the Illinois court. They had served Cooper and Godfread — indeed, as is noted above, Steele called Cooper to gloat and threaten him immediately after that service. Steele also called Godfread to gloat about serving him. So how did they file the amended complaints adding Alpha Law Firm? They did it by telling the Illinois court clerk that the suits had not been served. Godfread and Cooper submitted a declaration from an Illinois court clerk who says that she asked the Prenda Law local counsel how he could amend the complaint without a court order, and he claimed the complaint hadn't been served. The amended complaint was therefore filed only because of a false statement, and filed in violation of Illinois law: it was a nullity and couldn't defeat diversity jurisdiction.

Faced with this evidence, Paul Duffy withdrew the motion to remand. But it was too late: the scam was revealed. Prenda claims that the lackey attorney who went to the clerk's office didn't know that the complaint had been served on Cooper and Godfread. That may excuse the lackey, but it makes no sense as to Duffy and Team Prenda — they knew the complaint had been served and they knew they had no court permission to file an amended complaint and they filed amended complaint anyway, fraudulently adding the irrelevant plaintiff Alpha in an effort to stay out of federal court. Cooper and Godfread have filed a strong motion for sanctions on that basis, putting Prenda's conduct in the context of the multiple sanctions levied against it across the nation. We'll see how Prenda responds.

Moreover, Cooper and Godfread have filed very strong amended counterclaims against Duffy and Prenda for identity theft and abuse of process.

Even if Team Prenda somehow defeats the motion for sanctions, the Illinois cases represent nothing but an opportunity for their strongest critics to conduct invasive discovery into their entire operation. They have literally no upside. The defamation complaints — filed in a feckless attempt to intimidate Alan Cooper — have backfired disastrously.

tl;dr: In Illinois, Prenda faces sanctions after a clumsy attempt to fake a reason to send its bogus defamation case back to state court.

Minnesota (State Court)

In Minnesota state court, Prenda — in the form of one of its shell entities, Guava LLC — has been sanctioned yet again for litigation misconduct.

The saga is detailed in Judge Tanya M. Bransford's sanctions order: Guava LLC sued Spencer Merkel in Minnesota state court for alleged illegal downloads despite neither Guava nor Merkel having an significant connection to the state. Guava was represented by Michael Dugas of the Alpha Law Firm — yes, the same Alpha Law Firm that Prenda tried fraudulently to add to the Illinois case, as described above. Paul Hansmeier and John Steele also appeared at various times for Guava. Dugas and Hansmeier swiftly used the case as a vehicle to seek orders directing ISPs to disclose subscriber information on various IP addresses. When subscribers objected, things fell apart, the center could not hold. Under scrutiny John Steele could not explain coherently why Guava sued in Minnesota, and could only describe Guava vaguely as a Nevis entity with offices in Las Vegas. Does that sound familiar? It should — it's the same thing Team Prenda said about another one of its entities, Ingenuity 13. Moreover, Spencer Merkel — the defendant — described what sounds like a scheme to set up a fake case in Minnesota, with a willing defendant and a Prenda-provided defense lawyer, as a ruse to obtain subscriber information from ISPs:

In the affidavit Merkel stated that he was a Beaverton, Oregon resident and that he received a September 26, 2012 letter from Prenda’s Paul Duffy (“Duffy”), claiming that Merkel had illegally downloaded a movie named Amateur Allure – MaeLynn 2 and that Merkel could pay Prenda $3,400 by October 11, 2012 to avoid being named in the lawsuit, Hard Drive Productions, Inc. v. Does 1-1,495, which had been filed in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. Merkel Aff. at ¶ 1; Exhibit A. Before the deadline, Merkel states that he called Prenda Law and spoke with someone named Mike or Michael. Id. at ¶ 2. Merkel attests that he informed“Michael” that he was unable to pay thesettlement amount butinquired if they couldsettle the case.Id. According to the affidavit,“Michael” told Merkel that to settle he would have to agree to the following: Merkel would be sued, Merkel had to provide a bit-torrent log from his computer, and Prenda would dismiss the claim against Merkel after receiving the bit-torrent information. Id. at ¶ 3. During the discussion with“Michael,” Merkel states that he was told that a pro-bono attorney may be willing to takethe case in Minnesota and that “Michael” did not know any pro-bono attorneys in Oregon. Id. at ¶ 4. Merkel states he agreed to be sued in Minnesota because he could not afford an attorney and obtained his attorney, Trina Morrison, based upon the information he received from Prenda. Id. Merkel also attests that he had never heard of Guava LLC or Alpha Law Firm LLC until this lawsuit; he believed that the opposing parties would be Prenda and Hard Drive Productions, Inc. Id. at ¶ 5-6. On January 15, 2013, Merkel received a voicemail from someone at Prenda stating that he “needed to make payment arrangements or [he] would be sued.” Id. at ¶ 8. According to Merkel, Guava had not requested either his bit-torrent log information or the names of any alleged co-conspirators. Id. at ¶ 9.3 Merkel’s counsel testified that she graduated from law school with Guava’s counsel Dugas and that she was approached to represent Merkel on a pro-bono basis after informing Mr. Dugas and Mr. Hansmeier that she may be interested in taking on a case pro-bono to gain experience. (See Hr’g Tr. At 17-20). (emphasis added)

Now, Dugas says that's not true. Judge Bransford made short work of that: "[t]his Court finds that Dugas lacks any credibility with this Court based upon the actions he has taken in this matter." Ultimately Judge Bransford concluded "Plaintiff Guava LLC and its counsel Michael K. Dugas of Alpha Law Firm LLC acted in bad faith and without a basis in law and fact to initiate this action in Minnesota State District Court," and sanctioned them $63,367.52 to pay the attorney fees and costs of the objectors.

tl;dr: A Minnesota court sanctioned a Prenda entity and a Prenda local counsel for creating a fake case to discover ISP subscriber information.

Minnesota (Federal Court)

You think that Prenda only has problems with open cases? They should be so lucky.

In the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota, upon reviewing Judge Wright's apocalyptic sanctions order against Team Prenda, a magistrate judge issued an order re-opening five cases and ordering Prenda shell AF Holdings to show cause whether Judge Wright's finding of fraud is binding on the Minnesota cases. Michael Dugas — the lawyer sanctioned by the Minnesota state court — was AF Holdings' lawyer in those cases. Paul Hansmeier filed a brief strugling mightily to convince the court that Judge Wright was wrong and that his order was misguided and not binding. Just to make things worse for Prenda, Alan Cooper (represented by Paul Godfread) sought and obtained leave to submit evidence that Cooper's signature had been forged in the Minnesota cases.

This led to a contentious hearing pitting Cooper and Godfread on one side and Hansmeier and Steele on the other. You can read a description of the hearing here at TechDirt or here at Ars Technica. As before, Prenda tried to portray Cooper as a disturbed man who had, in fact, agreed that his name could be used in Prenda's porn copyright enterprise. Steele, in particular, claimed that Cooper gave Mark Lutz permission to sign documents on Cooper's behalf, thus explaining Cooper's signature on various documents.

That argument suffered from (among other things) a glaring flaw: the absence of Mark Lutz. The Minnesota court had directed AF Holdings to produce a witness representing it and capable of authenticating the Cooper signatures. Yet Lutz was nowhere to be seen. Hansmeier, always the good soldier, did what he could:

Hansmeier said that Lutz was planning to come, and is the sole officer of AF Holdings, and did make it to an earlier conference in this case in person, but that he wasn't present today, and that Mr. Hansmeier hadn't been able to reach him by phone or email. He voluntarily elaborated that Steele and Lutz had been booked on the same flight from Miami, that Steele had gone to Lutz's apartment to meet him (because Steele had Lutz's boarding pass), but found him not home. Steele had then, according to Hansmeier, driven around Miami looking for Lutz, and even encountered some of Lutz's friends who said Lutz had told them the night before that he had to make an early night of it because he was traveling to this court in the morning.

If "looking for Lutz on the streets of Miami" isn't already on Urban Dictionary, representing some uncomfortable sexual practice, I shall be quite put out.

Hansmeier sought, and received, permission to file a supplemental declaration explaining what happened to Lutz. When he did so, it was rather less than observers expected:

Mr. Lutz was traveling with another witness to the Hearing. The witness indicated that Mr. Lutz was not on the flight from Fort Lauderdale, Florida. I have attempted to contact Mr. Lutz but have been unable to reach him as of the time of this declaration. Based on my prior experience with Mr. Lutz, including Mr. Lutz’s prior in-person attendance before this Court on August 5, 2013, I believe that Mr. Lutz will be able to provide a good-faith reason for failing to make his flight to Minnesota.

So. The court ordered AF Holdings to produce an officer and someone who could authenticate documents. Mark Lutz, who is the unpaid CEO/manager of AF Holdings (in addition to a former paralegal of Steele and Hansmeier) and whose ungotten and unborn children are the beneficiaries of the mysterious trust that owns AF Holdings, and who allegedly received permission to sign for Alan Cooper in the manner that is the key issue in this entire hearing, didn't show up, and hasn't explained why, but Paul Hansmeier is confident he had a good reason. Well okay then. I'm sure that wont have any impact on Team Prenda's credibility.

The judge has taken the motion under submission and will rule in "due course." There's no telling how long that will be, though I note that the hearing was weeks ago and orders saying "there is insufficient evidence to conclude fraud occurred and this matter is closed" don't take much time. Moreover, nothing in the descriptions of the judge's demeanor offered much hope.

An amusing coda: at the hearing, John Steele and Paul Hansmeier discovered through Alan Cooper's testimony how he learned that his signature was being used: John Steele's mother-in-law allegedly tipped him off by text. Joe Mullin offers this deathless line:

At this point, Steele exhaled loudly.

Team Prenda has subsequently offered new evidence claiming that John Steele's mother-in-law wasn't accusing anyone of fraud, and to the contrary Cooper had admitted to her husband that he knew his signature was being used. We'll see how that plays out. I note that the affidavit relies on hearsay statements by the father-in-law but oddly fails to include an affidavit from him.

tl;dr: In Minnesota federal court Mark Lutz fails to appear at a hearing at which he is a crucial and required witness, and family drama increases popcorn consumption.

San Francisco, California

Up in San Francisco, Prenda has been in full retreat, attempting to extricate itself from cases without sanctions. Cathy Gellis previously guest-blogged for us and described how Team Prenda struggledunsuccessfully — to dismiss AF Holdings v. Navasca "without prejudice," meaning with leave to re-file if they so desired. United States District Judge Edward M. Chen rejected that approach, dismissed the case with prejudice (meaning, permanently), and gave defense attorneys Nick Ranallo and Morgan Pietz leave to make a motion for attorney fees as the prevailing party.

Pietz and Ranallo did so. Judge Chen granted the motion, awarding $22,531.93. Judge Chen's order explicity concludes that the Alan Cooper signatures are forgeries, and that AF Holdings has litigated in a way that is "frivolous or objectively unreasonable," and that Prenda's motivation was not to protect copyright but "to sue people for downloading pornography in order to coerce settlements." Judge Chen also considered evidence that Prenda was itself uploading the copyrighted materials to pirate sites to troll for defendants. He not only concluded that evidence was credible — he pointed out that Team Prenda quibbled with the evidence but failed to rebut it meaningfully:

But notably, what AF has not done is offer any counterevidence such as a declaration from Mr. Steele in which he denies that he is “sharkmp4” or other evidence that AF did not take steps to induce users to download the subject works. This evidence could easily have been offered by AF as a part of its opposition brief. AF’s failure to submit any factual denial under oath is telling.

Bear in mind that was Judge Chen's conclusion even before the Comcast data was revealed in Georgia, as is discussed above. The case for Prenda itself uploading the materials to troll for defendants is now even stronger.

But the Northern District wasn't done with Team Prenda yet.

Pietz and Ranallo filed a new motion for sanctions, this time arguing that Judge Chen should make the sanctions payable by John Steele and Paul Hansmeier, not just the shell AF Holdings. In support of that proposition they offered a new declaration from Brett Gibbs, who talked about how Steele and Hansmeier had supervised his work for AF Holdings. Team Prenda — through Paul Duffy — predictably ranted, raved, and attacked Gibbs' credibility. Judge Chen assigned the motion to United States Magistrate Judge Nandor Vadas for hearing. In advance of the hearing, Magistrate Judge Vadas issued an extraordinary order detailing what he wanted to see at the hearing. That order called back to Paul Hansmeier's utterly bizarre performance when he appeared at a deposition to testify on behalf of AF Holdings, the plaintiff in the case. Why, Judge Vadas wanted to know, did Hamsmeier show up to testify for AF Holdings if Mark Lutz was the CEO and Hansmeier was so pig-ignorant about the details? Why couldn't he explain where the money from this enterprise goes? Who actually owns AF Holdings? Why did AF Holdings represent in court filings that it had no related parties if it was owned by the trust "Salt Marsh?" Vadas demanded that AF Holdings be prepared to answer those questions, and answering them clearly required the presence of CEO/manager Mark Lutz, and you already know what's going to happen, don't you?

The day of the hearing, Mark Lutz was a no-show. Steele and Hansmeier didn't show up, either. Paul Duffy carried the water for Prenda Law, and carried it badly. Pietz and Ranallo called Brett Gibbs, who testified that Steele and Hansmeier directed Team Prenda's litigation activities. Gibbs also testified that the voice on the GoDaddy customer service call tapes — revealed in the Georgia litigation, discussed above — was that of John Steele, notwithstanding that he identified himself as Alan Cooper and Mark Lutz in the calls. Finally, Gibbs testified that John Steele had said that "Salt Marsh" was an actual person who had signed documents in the case, an issue that Judge Chen had asked about. On cross-examination, Duffy flailed away, drawing questions from Judge Vadas about what he was trying to accomplish with his line of questions.

But Mark Lutz didn't appear.

Days later, Team Prenda filed an affidavit from Lutz in which he claimed that he didn't come to the hearing because he was mysteriously detained at the airport in Miami. Duffy asked for permission to file that under seal to protect Lutz from people saying hurty things about him. DENIED. Duffy asked to supplement the record with a declaration from Lutz about the substance of the hearing. DENIED. Judge Vadas pointed out that Team Prenda was attempting to insulate Lutz from cross-examination and called Duffy's requests "gamesmanship."

Soon thereafter Judge Vadas issued his order recommending findings of fact and conclusions of law to Judge Chen. It's exceptionally difficult to imagine how it could have gone worse for Team Prenda. Judge Vadas concluded:

  • That though Judge Chen could not immediately sanction Steele and Hansmeier — because they were not parties to the action — Judge Chen could and should issue an order to show cause forcing them to explain why they shouldn't be added to the attorney fee judgment as alter egos of AF Holdings;
  • That Team Prenda failed to address the points Judge Vadas told them to address, failed to introduce witnesses with relevant knowledge, failed to rebut — or sometimes even to address — the allegations against them, and that their attempt to start to do so only after the hearing showed that Duffy "is apparently not familiar with the rules of federal procedure, or with basic principles of motion practice";
  • That Judge Chen should adopt Judge Wright's conclusions about the relationship among AF Holdings, Steele, and Hansmeier, since they had an opportunity to litigate it but failed to do so;
  • That Duffy on behalf of Team Prenda failed to rebut the evidence that Prenda uploaded the videos at issue to the internet themselves, or the evidence that Prenda was "in cahoots" with the forensic "experts" who identified the downloaders, or that Prenda forged Alan Cooper's signature.

Judge Vadas, in short, found sufficient facts to prove that Team Prenda did everything that Pietz and Ranallo accused them of doing, and that Team Prenda utterly failed to rebut that evidence, or in some cases even to respond to it.

In short order, after some ineffectual objections from Team Prenda, Judge Chen acccepted Judge Vadas' recommended findings of fact and law and ordered Steele and Hansmeier to appear and show cause why they should not be added to the attorney fee judgment in the case, making them liable for that $22,531.93. The findings of fact are far more harmful to Steele and Hansmeier than that potential award. Judge Chen also rejected AF Holdings' objections, considering them even though Duffy filed them late. In doing so Chen made some telling points:

  • Rather than Steele and Hansmeier objecting to the proposed findings of fact and law, AF Holdings objected for them — including to the finding that Steele and Hansmeier control AF Holdings.  Yeah, chew on that one for a minute.
  • AF Holdings' argument amounted to "well, Gibbs should have done an independent investigation and not relied on Steele and Hansmeier."  But that does nothing to contradict the proof that Steele and Hansmeier controlled AF Holdings and directed Gibbs.
  • Judge Chen demolished, point by point, Team Prenda's suggestions that the evidence was insufficient to support Judge Vadas' conclusions.  He emphasized repeatedly that AF Holdings, Steele, and Hansmeier had a full opportunity to subpoena witnesses (Cooper, for instance) , appear themselves and testify, or otherwise present evidence, but suspiciously failed to do so.

So Judge Chen set a hearing, and made it clear that if Steele and Hansmeier want to have their assertions taken seriously, they had better show up and present live testimony:

While the parties and Mr. Steele and Mr. Hansmeier may submit declarations in support of their respective papers, the Court hereby forewarns all persons or entities involved that such declarations (or affidavits) will be given little to no weight because the Court shall be conducting an evidentiary hearing on the order to show cause on Thursday November 21, 2013. Thus, any testimony in a declaration (or affidavit) that a party or nonparty deems important, significant, or critical must be presented at the evidentiary hearing by a live witness, subject to cross-examination.  [boldface and indicia of imminent annihilation in original]

Judge Chen subsequently moved that date to December 19, 2013 and issued elaborate requirements for serving Steele and Hansmeier so they cannot pull their typical "I never got notice" routine.

The attorney fee number is modest, but this series of orders is perhaps the worst development for Team Prenda in this post — so far. It represents one more court making detailed findings of fact about Team Prenda's fraudulent activities. Moreover, there is no way that Team Prenda can make a credible argument that they lacked a fair opportunity to contest the issues.

tl;dr: A federal court in San Francisco held a hearing about Team Prenda's behavior, Team Prenda bizarrely failed to contest the issue competently, Mark Lutz failed to show up again, and the court make factual findings accepting nearly every material accusation of bad conduct levied at Team Prenda.

Los Angeles, California

That brings us to last week, in Los Angeles.

Last Thursday, in the case before Judge Wright that yielded so much drama, Brett Gibbs filed a curious document styled a "Motion for an Indicative Ruling" seeking to amend Judge Wright's order and eliminate the sanctions against him.  Gibbs, representing himself, spilled more details about Team Prenda and revealed tantalizing documents, all in service of the argument that Judge Wright should reconsider his findings about Gibbs and sanctions against him.

I don't think Gibbs will be successful in vacating the sanctions against him.  This is really a motion for reconsideration, and it's both untimely and procedurally improper — Gibbs offers some facts and evidence he could have offered before, which is not a valid basis for reconsideration.  Moreover, the sanctions order is on appeal before the Ninth Circuit; Gibbs may have a difficult time convincing Judge Wright that he has jurisdiction to alter the order while it's on appeal.

But I'm not sure that Brett Gibbs cares.  As he says in his conclusion:

While Gibbs is asking the Court to vacate the sanctions imposed upon him in its May 6 order, he is not asking the Court to withdraw the referrals the Court made to the U.S. Attorney, the Central District Disciplinary Committee, the State Bar and the Internal Revenue Service. Gibbs wants these investigations to proceed and will continue to cooperate fully with them. If the monetary sanctions against Gibbs are vacated, Gibbs will withdraw his appeal—which the Ninth Circuit has consolidated with the appeals of Prenda, the Principals and Plaintiffs. This will not prevent him from testifying about the actions and statements of the Principals in this or other cases.

I think Brett Gibbs may be trying to redeem himself and trying to put things right, and to gain a measure of justice against the low people who betrayed and abandoned him.  Good for him.

Gibbs' brief and exhibits are very damaging to Team Prenda's narratives:

  •  Team Prenda says that John Steele was not involved in directing the Prenda litigation or operating Prenda Law.  Yet when Gibbs wrote to Steele seeking Prenda Law's malpractice policy, Steele immediately provided information about the policy.  Why would Steele be involved or have that information if he wasn't running Prenda Law?
  • Team Prenda says that Prenda Law's clients have nothing to hide.  So why was Paul Duffy threatening Gibbs to try to keep him silent about the Prenda Law shell entities?
  • Team Prenda says that Gibbs was responsible for any misconduct, that he's not reliable, and that he's lied about Team Prenda.  So why, after Judge Wright issued his devastating May 6, 2013 sanctions order, did Steele and Hansmeier try to convince Gibbs to sign ridiculously one-sided agreements under which Steele and Hansmeier would pay for the appellate bond staying the sanctions order, and Gibbs would represent them on the appeal, agree to say that Steele had no involvement in a Florida case (something that Gibbs says is not true), and accept a "fiduciary relationship" with Steele and Hansmeier probably calculated to prevent him from testifying about them? Steele and Hansmeier also demanded, as the price of this epically ridiculous deal, that Gibbs promise to pay all sanctions arising from Judge Wright's order and that Gibbs waive all claims against them. Seriously? Also, if Steele and Hansmeier think that Gibbs is so awful, why are they demanding that he represent them in their desperate appeal of a life-destroying sanctions order?
  • And, perhaps most astoundingly, Team Prenda says that Steele and Hansmeier have no ownership interest in Prenda Law, AF Holdings, Ingenuity 13, or the various other Prenda shells.  Yet Gibbs submits Prenda Law financial records — records which Prenda Law shrewdly shared with Gibbs via DropBox. Those records seem to show that in 2012, when Prenda Law took in almost $2 million from its litigation exploits, it distributed nearly 70% of that to Steele and Hansmeier directly and through an entity called "Under The Bridge" — perhaps a coy reference to their chosen life of trolling. That percentage doesn't include payments to Steele's wife, payments to Paul Duffy, and payments of extravagant travel, meals, and entertainment. Every IRS Criminal Investigation Division agent looking at those spreadsheets — and I promise you there are some — just had a Stimulating Personal Moment.  Check out the coverage of the financials from Joe Mullin or Mike Masnick. This was big money, and Team Prenda's coyness or evasions to the contrary, these records suggest Steele and Hansmeier got most of it. I guess Mark Lutz' unborn kids are shit out of luck.

Brett Gibbs' brief is better written and more convincing than anything Paul Duffy, John Steele, and Paul Hansmeier have produced since Judge Wright's order.  It may not succeed in lifting the sanctions against Gibbs, but it's good lawyering.

The financial records, in particular, are very bad news for Team Prenda.  They are exactly the sort of thing that federal law enforcement likes to use as a jumping-off point for an investigation.  If this disclosure isn't worse for Team Prenda than Judge Chen's order, discussed above, it is at least a tie.

tl;dr:  In Los Angeles Brett Gibbs has filed a new motion releasing documents showing where the money went — and, despite Team Prenda's claims, it went to Steele and Hansmeier.

So What Does All Of This Mean?

So what does all of this mean?  Well, first it means that Team Prenda faces more imminent hearings at which its members will have to make difficult choices between incriminating themselves or defending themselves.  Those hearings include the show cause hearing in December before Judge Chen and any hearing Judge Wright chooses to hold on Brett Gibbs' motion.   Moreover, Team Prenda faces imminent rulings on under-submission rulings in Georgia and Minnesota.  They have little cause to hope those rulings will go their way.

Prenda's Civil Prospects

Civilly, the problems mount not just for the Prenda entities, but for Prenda figures Steele, Hansmeier, Lutz, and Duffy. Judges will evaluate each case individually — as a formal matter. But practically speaking, each sanctions order, each order rejecting Team Prenda's arguments, each order finding members of Team Prenda to be less than credible, and each finding of misconduct creates momentum against Prenda, makes judges more receptive to sanctions motions they might normally not consider, makes it more likely that judges and their staff will come into cases familiar with Prenda's history, and substantially increases the chances that Team Prenda will lose any particular dispute. At some point judges will start to treat Team Prenda's misconduct as so well established that they will resolve disputes in rather summary fashion against them.

Team Prenda's prospects for turning that trend around are grim for four reasons:

  • They are being outlawyered across the nation. Despite their pretenses to being the "big leagues," their written work and courtroom performance is mediocre. They continue to rely on Paul Duffy for hearings, and — as the San Francisco hearing shows — Paul Duffy is not much of a courtroom lawyer.  Of course, in his defense, he's got the clients from hell.
  • Team Prenda still hasn't picked a coherent and consistent narrative and stuck with it. Consider the Minnesota state case described above. Called upon at a hearing to explain the origin of Guava LLC and its connection to the forum, John Steele offered ambiguities and half-answers when the situation (an angry judge investigating accusations of misconduct) called for concise, specific, evidence-backed answers.  Misfortune ensued.
  • Team Prenda keeps touting Mark Lutz as the responsible answer man, but Mark Lutz keeps failing to appear at hearings where is presence is crucial to Prenda's case.
  • Finally, the facts are against them — the emerging evidence described above and in the various sanctions motions rather convincingly demonstrates an ongoing fraud scheme.

Prenda's Criminal Prospects

If you want federal prosecutors to launch a grand jury investigation, or federal agencies to investigate a fraud scheme, you need three things. You need a valid theory of a crime supported by some credible evidence, you need alleged misconduct serious enough (often as measured in dollars) to merit federal attention, and you need a spark — an X-factor. You need those things because federal prosecutors and federal agents have limited resources, and prefer to spend those resources by doing slow and (compared to local police) thorough investigations of fewer crimes rather than many short and slapdash investigations of more crimes. The FBI and U.S. Attorney's Office are awash with reports of fraud schemes; it takes something special to get their attention.

Judge Wright's order was something special. A direct criminal referral by a federal judge is unusual and powerful. But based on my experience with federal criminal law — both as a prosecutor and defense attorney — the developments above have significantly increased the chance that federal prosecutors and federal agencies will investigate Team Prenda. First, the increasing number of judicial findings makes the case against Team Prenda more credible from the outset. Second, the financial evidence Gibbs has now released is the sort of thing that makes the feds drool. The spreadsheets show large amounts of money moving around in a way that seems to contradict Team Prenda's claims about their operation; that will interest the IRS. Third, the evidence that Team Prenda uploaded the videos in question and then pretended to be outraged that they were pirated — thus defrauding courts and defendants — is exactly the sort of sexy x-factor that makes federal investigators and prosecutors pick a case out of a pile. Is federal criminal prosecution certain? No. But it's considerably more likely than it was when Judge Wright ruled.

When will it happen? Not soon. The feds have a competitive advantage — the ability to conduct methodical investigations over years, gather documents from multiple sources using grand jury subpoenas, and flip lower-level bad guys against higher-level bad guys. It wouldn't surprise me if we saw no reliable indication of a federal criminal investigation this year. But I suspect we'll see indications next year.

Credible evidence is piling up, and federal judges are accepting it.  That evidence suggests that Team Prenda has (1) uploaded its films to pirate sites and then sued people for downloading them without disclosing their role in the uploading, (2) made misrepresentations under oath about the structure, financing, and operation of Team Prenda, (3) orchestrated fake cases to provide an opportunity to conduct ISP discovery, and (4) conducted questionable transactions with the proceeds of these activities.  The feds, looking at all that, may investigate wire fraud, mail fraud, money laundering, obstruction of justice, perjury, and false statements to the government.  If Team Prenda has done the things that Judge Chen and Judge Wright have found, you may rest assured that the feds will find an approach to charging them for it.  Federal criminal law is broad and malleable to an unprincipled degree.  That's not a good thing in general for society, and in particular it's a bad thing for Prenda.

What can Team Prenda do about it? They can get competent federal criminal defense attorneys to advise them. I suspect Steele, Hansmeier, and Duffy are too swollen with hubris to do that.

Are the other current or former members of Team Prenda smart enough?  Maybe.  Brett Gibbs seems eager to cooperate.  Even if he has personally engaged in criminal conduct — and it's not clear to me that he has — as an early and important cooperator he could very plausibly avoid charges completely.  Mark Lutz, if he flipped early, might avoid charges or at least minimize his exposure and avoid jail time.  Local counsel, if they believed they had been used to advance a fraud scheme, could work with prosecutors to seek judicial determinations that the crime-fraud exception permits them to disclose their communications with Team Prenda.

I suspect nobody with Team Prenda is fond of me. But if any one of them would like a recommendation of a capable federal criminal defense attorney, I will give one. I would expect such an attorney to make no assumptions, and to evaluate carefully what course is in the best interests of the client, whether it is shutting up or cooperating. In Mr. Gibbs' case, out of respect for his attempts to make amends, I would pledge to use my best efforts to use my contacts to find an exceptional federal criminal defense attorney to represent him pro bono.

tl;dr: We thought Team Prenda's troubles couldn't get worse. We were wrong.

All Across The Country, Prenda Law's Rubble Is Getting Bounced © 2007-2013 by the authors of Popehat. This feed is for personal, non-commercial use only. Using this feed on any other site is a copyright violation. No scraping.

15 Oct 22:16

When "Zero Tolerance" Means Zero Logic

by Jason Bedrick

Jason Bedrick

Schools work very hard to curb drunk driving, so when a sober student offers to drive an inebriated friend home from a party rather than let her attempt to drive home herself, no doubt any school would hold her up as worthy of emulation, right? Wrong, sadly, at least at North Andover High School in Massachusetts:

Two weeks ago, Erin [Cox] received a call from a friend at a party who was too drunk to drive. Erin drove to Boxford after work to pick up her friend. Moments after she arrived, the cops arrived too and busted several kids for underage possession of alcohol.

A North Andover High School honor student, Erin was cleared by police, who agreed she had not been drinking and was not in possession of alcohol. But Andover High told Erin she was in violation of the district’s zero tolerance policy against alcohol and drug use. In the middle of her senior year, Erin was demoted from captain of the volleyball team and told she would be suspended from playing for five games.

One of the central purposes of education is to teach students to consider the consequences of their actions. In this sense, Cox and her friend demonstrated greater wisdom than school officials. While the students clearly considered the potentially lethal consequences of attempting to drive drunk, school officials apparently haven’t considered how their “zero tolerance” policy might discourage sobers students from aiding inebriated colleagues in the future. As Alexander Abad-Santos notes at the Atlantic, “Cox did not break any laws; she did not drink, did not party — yet was still punished by the school. By reprimanding Cox, North Andover High is likely sending out a confusing and contradictory message to teens about drinking, designated drivers, and asking for help.” The Cox family lawyer agrees:

“If a kid asks for help from a friend, you don’t want that kid to say ‘I’m sorry I can’t help you. I might end up in trouble at school,’” said attorney Wendy Murphy, who is trying to help the Cox family get the school’s decision reversed.

These “zero tolerance” policies are too often applied with zero logic. They encourage bureaucrats to harshly punish students without considering extenuating circumstances, the student’s intent, or even common sense. They are the reason we see schools that suspend 6-year-olds for eating a breakfast pastry into the shape of a gun or innocently using a camping tool to eat lunch, expel a student for taking Tylenol, suspend a student for wearing rosary beads (potentially a “gang symbol”) in memory of her grandmother, and even pressure a hearing-impaired 3-year-old named “Hunter” into changing the way he signs his name because it resembles a gun. Sadly, there are dozens of other examples. It’s long past time that schools abandon “zero tolerance” in favor of a more reasonable and proportional approach.

15 Oct 19:51

NYPD: It's Your Job To Do Things We'll Punish You For Doing

by Ken White

Over at Reason, Ed Krayewski has a story about a particularly outrageous Catch-22 at the intersection of police lawlessness and modern free speech law.

NYPD Officer Craig Matthews complained about an illegal quota system for stops and arrests. As anyone familiar with NYPD culture could predict, he experienced retaliation from his superiors for doing so. When he sued, the NYPD hit him with an argument that's outrageous but very likely legally correct: it's your job to report misconduct, so the First Amendment doesn't prohibit us from retaliating against you for doing so.

Wait, what?

The Association of Lawless Broomstick-Fetishist Brown-Person-Groping Can't-Shoot-Straight Thugs has a point. Because their employer is the government, public employees have limited First Amendment rights to be free of employer retaliation for their speech. But in in Garcetti v. Ceballos the Supreme Court said that right protects speech on matters of public concern unless the speech is part of a job duty:

We hold that when public employees make statements pursuant to their official duties, the employees are not speaking as citizens for First Amendment purposes, and the Constitution does not insulate their communications from employer discipline.

Thus in Garcetti the Court said a Deputy DA had no right to be free of retaliation for pointing out perjury in an arrest warrant application because doing so was his job. I explained how this doctrine works — and how courts have made an exception for professors at public colleges — in this post.

The result is that an entity like the NYPD can argue that its officers are required by their job to report unlawful activity by their superiors and fellow officers, and that therefore their act of reporting such misconduct enjoys no First Amendment protection. They may still enjoy protection under state or federal whistleblower laws, but not the First Amendment. (Whistleblower laws have their own issues, a subject for another post).

The district court's opinion dismissing Officer Matthews' complaint is here. The opinion is very likely correct under current Supreme Court precedent. I submit that it fails to confront adequately one massive problem with this doctrine: a public employer can claim it has a formal policy requiring public employees to report misconduct, while having an actual real-life policy of firing, retaliating against, and even brutalizing whistleblowers. Under this doctrine, as currently applied, the public employer's lie about its policy will protect it from First Amendment claims by whistleblowers. Whatever alleged obligation to report wrongdoing the NYPD may impose on its officers, functionally it has an unwritten doctrine of abusing whistleblowers. That doctrine is demonstrated in practice by case after case after case after case.

But Garcetti apparently permits the NYPD to indulge in a culture of lawlessness while claiming devotion to the law.

NYPD: It's Your Job To Do Things We'll Punish You For Doing © 2007-2013 by the authors of Popehat. This feed is for personal, non-commercial use only. Using this feed on any other site is a copyright violation. No scraping.

14 Oct 20:30

When Randall Met Jonathan: A Story Of A Shooting

by Ken White

Recently a man named Randall encountered a man named Jonathan in the early hours of the morning in Charlotte, North Carolina. Randall had a gun; Jonathan did not. Jonathan may have been agitated and confused, possibly from just having crashed his car. Their encounter concluded with Randall firing twelve times at Jonathan at close range and hitting him ten times, killing him. Neither man had a criminal record.

Prosecutors have charged Randall with voluntary manslaughter, a fairly light charge for shooting an unarmed man ten times. But Randall's supporters are outraged. They say Randall was charged too quickly, that an investigation of a man like Randall shooting an unarmed man like Jonathan ten times usually takes months. They say that charging Randall represents a rush to judgment. They say that charging Randall will chill and intimidate men like him out and about in the world from discharging their firearms in situations like the late-night encounter in Charlotte, North Carolina. They say that Randall didn't give up his constitutional rights when he walked into a police station, but he's being treated like he did. They're saying that Randall isn't getting a "fair shake" by being so quickly charged with manslaughter for shooting an unarmed man ten times. They're saying that when there's a shooting the best evidence comes out slowly, over time. They're saying Randall is presumed innocent and should be treated as such.

Are Randall's friends civil rights activists? Are they defense attorneys? Are they part of some community used to unfair prosecutions?


They're police. See, Randall is a cop. His supporters are other cops, and police unions.

“People are presumed innocent until proven guilty,” said James Pasco Jr., the national executive director of the Fraternal Order of Police, “and police officers are no exception. You don’t check your civil rights at the station house door.”

He said most departments took their time with investigations because they wanted to be thorough.

“They go very carefully. One thing to remember in the case of a shooting, generally speaking, the most accurate information will come out over a period of time,” Mr. Pasco said.

“Another thing,” he continued, “is that participants in a shooting — whether they were the shooter, whether they were shot or whether they were just there — all tend to suffer to a degree from post-traumatic shock for at least a short period of time. And that’s why the best and most accurate information is usually gathered from these folks 48 to 72 hours after the event.”

Mr. Pasco is right.

Everyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty. Nobody checks their civil rights at the station house door — whether they enter there with a badge, or in handcuffs. Sometimes the most accurate information about a crime doesn't come out in the first few hours. A rush to judgment can lead to wrong assumptions, and the criminal justice system can stubbornly cling to those assumptions rather than change course once charges have been filed.

The criminal justice system ignores those ideas every day.

Will Mr. Pasco be articulating those principles next time someone is accused of assault on a police officer? Will he be articulating them next time anyone who is not a cop is accused of anything? Will any of Officer Randall Kerrick's supporters tout the presumption of innocence, or the fallibility of witnesses, or equality before the law next time they discuss a defendant who doesn't wear a badge?

Or have they discovered these principles because Officer Kerrick is one of them, and therefore entitled to things that the rest of us are not?

Randall Kerrick should receive due process of law. But he doesn't deserve it because he's a cop. Deserve's got nothing to do with it. He should receive due process of law because we should extend it to everyone, good and bad and checkered, cop and civilian. He should not receive more, or less, due process just because the thin blue line forms behind him.

When Randall Met Jonathan: A Story Of A Shooting © 2007-2013 by the authors of Popehat. This feed is for personal, non-commercial use only. Using this feed on any other site is a copyright violation. No scraping.

01 Oct 18:02

"Yolo." How exotic. Don’t have any phrases like that in...

by vectorbelly

"Yolo." How exotic. Don’t have any phrases like that in Lava World. The only idiom on our planet is, "Fuck, our world’s made of lava."

— MOTH&SPIDER FUNTIME (@dvoted_hubsand) June 2, 2013
01 Oct 01:19

Elliptical Statements and Drawing Small Circles Around Government

by Clark

In response to my previous post, commenter @amblingon wrote:

You know, articles like this are frustrating because they imply a point, but avoid outright stating it

I am, in all seriousness, deeply sympathetic to this argument.

I've got an internet friend – a physicist and a certifiable genius – who is tons of fun to chat with, but who – with some regularity – dips into a mode of communication where he makes weird elliptical references instead of just G_d-damned stating his m_-f_ing point. And it pisses me off.

…so it's sort of odd to realize that I am – apparently – prone to doing the same sort of thing.

With that said, I seem to have two modes of blogging: massive 5,000 word essays, and quick juxtapositions of quotes. I don't always have time for the massive word bombs, so the choice is "word bombs and nothing else" or "word bombs and occasional elliptical juxtapositions". Which is to say, I'd promise to do better, but – to quote Doc Venture: "your father can't…because he doesn't care to." Which is kind of a dickish response, I admit, but there we are.

Especially when it's a silly point (what, the President shouldn't be protected from attacks?) like this one.

To go elliptical for a moment (but I promise I'll circle back), a short tale:

A few weeks ago I was visiting a much less urban area of the country and ended up reading a transcript of a town meeting. Officer Fred from the police department wanted $90 for ammo to practice with. Bill from the Department of Public Works wanted $1,200 for a new liner for the skating pond, and noted that they already had $940 in the savings account. All five women on the historical committee agreed that they should open the local museum on a Saturday.

Reading the transcript I had a really weird feeling, and it took me a while to figure out what it was.

I eventually did.

You know how progressives love to say things like "'government' is just a word for things we all do together"? And you know how I mock that with additions and ammendations such as "…like use drones to kill Afghani children!" ?

I realized what was so odd about this small town's town government.

It really was just a bunch of people.

I don't know if it's sheerly because of the limited budget, or because the number of people involved is close to the Dunbar number, or because there's greater transparency, or there's some step function where any government under a certain size operates categorically differently from bigger governments.

…but I had the very weird experience of seeing a government and not having my extreme hair-trigger anarcho-capitalist / voluntaryist hackles raised. I thought to myself "yeah, the skating pond probably does need a new liner".

I swear to God, I even thought "$90 isn't much – the cops really should get some more ammo to practice with".

With out exaggerating, this is the first time in my life that I saw a government that seemed reasonable to me, and I'm still slightly in shock at the idea and reverberating at bit in response to it.

Commenter @jdgalt responded to my post:

JohnC and Zack have a point, but I think they miss Clark's point, which is political:

The government, or most parts of it, have adopted the attitude that they are at war with us the people.

The White House's fortress-like properties are not really even relevant to that point, except symbolically. A more reliable indication is the way local police departments across the country have been arming themselves like an army for the last 10+ years. Even before the feds started selling them mortars, tanks, and body armor, one podunk town after another have created SWAT teams and stocked up on riot gear.

At the federal level, you mostly notice it (or at least I do) when the President goes somewhere and gives a speech. When Nixon and Ford and Carter gave one, there was always a heckler or two. You could do that in a free country. Now, it will get you detained by the Secret Service.

Similarly, peaceful demonstrations at a city council meeting used to be no big deal. Now they will get you tasered and/or pepper sprayed.

This is what it means to be a police state.



OK. Now it's time to circle back to @amblingon, who said:

Especially when it's a silly point (what, the President shouldn't be protected from attacks?) like this one.

My point is not that the president shouldn't be protected from attacks, but that he should – like most citizens – have no reason to be attacked.

Every now and then I read some article about a city mayor or the prime minister of a small European country who bikes to work, or takes mass transit, or drives a taxi to keep a finger on the pulse of the common man.

The small town in Maryland I visited didn't have to worry that anyone would assassinate the mayor – because what's a mayor? He's just some guy. One of us. His duties include reviewing the budget and mediating disputes between the historical committee and the DPW when they both want to use the same patch of land behind the high school.

The mayor did not need to defend town hall with lasers, anti aircraft missile batteries, bollards, or thousands of troops.

I suggest that any individual who is so powerful that he must be defended with a small army of private guards, laser weapons, missiles, continuously orbiting combat aircraft, and a private nuclear proof bunker ipso facto has too much power.

No one wants to kill the mayor of Duluth Minnesota. There are no laser weapons defending the executive board of the Humane Society. The New York Opera does not have a staff of 2,000 soldiers on hand. I'd be surprised if the founders of Google don't have a few private security guys following them and their children around, but they don't have tanks.

Some may suggest that a president so unimportant as to not be worth attacking is unrealistic for a government that employees 7 out of every 100 people in a population of 300 million, that spends $3.5 trillion dollars per year, and that rules over 3.8 million square miles.

Those objections might be correct.

I'd suggest that we scale back the size of the government – or perhaps even the territory it rules over – until spending $1,200 on a new rink liner and allocating $90 to the defensive force start to seem like reasonable decisions that we can all make together.

Elliptical Statements and Drawing Small Circles Around Government © 2007-2013 by the authors of Popehat. This feed is for personal, non-commercial use only. Using this feed on any other site is a copyright violation. No scraping.

19 Sep 04:36

Salesforce Standard Object Access by Community or Portal license type

by Steven Herod

Earlier this year, as part of my Technical Architect certification preparation I wrote a blog article showing the various portal license types and the standard objects they allowed access to.

In Summer ’13 Salesforce introduced a new product called Salesforce Communities that allows you to expose your Salesforce data to external parties and all in all offers a significant functionality improvement over Portals.  Yaron Wilf explores some of the benefits in his blog post on the Cloud Sherpa’s blog.

Portals are still available for purchase however so its useful to see both license types side by side and understand the subtle differences between the two.

Canvas 1 Portals Object Access


20 Aug 16:36

The Ballad of Sweet Old Bob

by David

When we elected Sweet Old Bob to represent our city,
He said he'd never take a bribe nor tap into the kitty.
We misconstrued, he turned out lewd, and isn't it a pity
That now we're screwed because his "private conduct" has been shoddy.

His platform failed to mention groping, feeling, copping, kissing.
I'm pretty sure that spooning, mooning, chi, and tea were missing.
And so he bagged a victory that left opponents hissing,
And set about to leave his mark, a man of poll and party.

Turns out "increasing public staffing" isn't what we thought,
And "touching every household" isn't quite what we were taught,
And "I'll scratch your back" isn't just a metaphor for "bought",
And kleenex, with a thousand uses, isn't just for sneezing.

So listen, Sweet Old Bob. It isn't you. It's me. It's we.
You quid pro quo, and I can't go for that with you, you see.
A swift kick in the recall may cut short your sunset spree,
So sail away. Your stream, now slow, will only finally peter.

The Ballad of Sweet Old Bob © 2007-2013 by the authors of Popehat. This feed is for personal, non-commercial use only. Using this feed on any other site is a copyright violation. No scraping.

12 Jul 20:37

If you don't want to be tased . . . .

by Ken White

On occasion, when police use tasers, their target dies.

Some people think that police should be better trained in the use of force, and that the use of tasers by law enforcement in general should be reconsidered and not driven by questionable taser-industry claims of safety.

Those people are soft on crime, and insufficiently vigilant about the threats posed to The Children. Will you not think of the children?

Miami Police Chief Manuel Orosa has a better suggestion to deal with folks dying when police tase them, which — I must point out — can be upsetting and inconvenient to police:

Miami Police Chief Manuel Orosa came up with a novel solution to the problem: those with heart conditions just shouldn't break the law in the first place to avoid getting Tased.

See? That's why we can count on the Thin Blue Line: because of the serious, contemplative, and principled analysis of public-safety issues we can expect from law enforcement.

Chief Orosa is right! Everyone knows that cops never question, arrest, tase, beat, or shoot you unless you committed a crime first. It's just logic. If you weren't a criminal, why would they tase you?

Chief Orosa is a very busy man, I am sure, so I will help him out by making other common-sense suggestions designed to avoid unpleasantness in interactions with law enforcement.

If you don't want police to shoot your dog when they come to notify you that your son has been murdered, then don't have a son who is a homicide victim.

If you don't want to be threatened with investigation by the District Attorney's Office, then don't charge a deputy prosecutor for lap dances, and certainly don't make him pay the cover.

If you don't want your yard dug up, don't get accused by psychics of having buried bodies there.

If you don't want your collie shot, then don't let her cross the path of a cop with a demonstrated history of violence.

If you don't want to be reduced to drinking your own urine while abandoned in custody over the weekend, don't smoke pot near a DEA facility that is understaffed.

If you don't want police knocking on your door at midnight, then be available at midnight if they want to dispute something you wrote about them in the newspaper.

If you don't want your disabled son beaten, pepper-sprayed, and tased, then get him a speech pathologist so police won't think he's dissing them. They're sensitive.

If you don't want to get kicked, then let go of the fucking ball, Rover. What's your issue?

If you don't want to be arrested, don't use a cell phone near an officer who is a Star Trek fan.

If you don't want to be pepper-sprayed and tased and "trip and fall on the pavement," then ANSWER THE GODDAM QUESTION, is that so hard?

If you don't want to be tased, then don't take an aggressive stance in bed, grandma! Jesus. You're 86, you should know better.

If you don't want your grandmother to go to prison, don't have a cold.

Really, if you've paid attention in America for the last half-century — if you've watched the law-and-order platitudes dominating politics, if you've seen the mindless worship of people who have guns and badges, if you've seen what conduct is tolerated, excused, and even cheered — all of this would really be common sense, wouldn't it?

If you don't want to be tased . . . . © 2007-2013 by the authors of Popehat. This feed is for personal, non-commercial use only. Using this feed on any other site is a copyright violation. No scraping.

26 Jun 22:46

An Exercise of Prosecutorial Discretion

by Ken White

Recently former employees of Bank of America filed declarations in federal court asserting that the venerable bank had instructed them to lie to lull homeowners seeking mortgage adjustments. This, the ex-workers asserted, was systematic:

Employees, many of whom allege they were given no basic training on how to even use HAMP, were instructed to tell borrowers that documents were incomplete or missing when they were not, or that the file was “under review” when it hadn’t been accessed in months. Former loan-level representative Simone Gordon says flat-out in her affidavit that “we were told to lie to customers” about the receipt of documents and trial payments. She added that the bank would hold financial documents borrowers submitted for review for at least 30 days. “Once thirty days passed, Bank of America would consider many of these documents to be ‘stale’ and the homeowner would have to re-apply for a modification,” Gordon writes. Theresa Terrelonge, another ex-employee, said that the company would consistently tell homeowners to resubmit information, restarting the clock on the HAMP process.

Worse than this, Bank of America would simply throw out documents on a consistent basis. Former case management supervisor William Wilson alleged that, during bimonthly sessions called the “blitz,” case managers and underwriters would simply deny any file with financial documents that were more than 60 days old. “During a blitz, a single team would decline between 600 and 1,500 modification files at a time,” Wilson wrote. “I personally reviewed hundreds of files in which the computer systems showed that the homeowner had fulfilled a Trial Period Plan and was entitled to a permanent loan modification, but was nevertheless declined for a permanent modification during a blitz.”

Former employees say they were rewarded with bonuses and gift cards to Bed Bath & Beyond.

Surely we can count on the criminal justice system to address such allegations of fraud, yes? Our investigators and prosecutors will focus on what is important — what is meaningful — and invest scarce government resources accordingly.


Well, no. Prosecutions from the mortgage collapse and its aftermath are scarce. However, you can count on the criminal justice system to punish people for menacing the likes of Bank of America with children's chalk.

In San Diego City Attorney Jan Goldsmith, through Deputy City Attorney Paige Hazard, are prosecuting Jeff Olson for 13 counts of misdemeanor vandalism. Olson wrote slogans like "Stop big banks" and "Stop Bank" in children's water-soluble chalk on sidewalks outside of Bank of America branches in San Diego.

Bank of America exercised its right to petition the government for redress of grievances (in this case, the grievance that someone was writing mildly critical things in children's chalk on their adjacent sidewalks) by repeatedly demanding that Olson be prosecuted:

"Any updates on this," Freeman wrote in an email to Miles and Deputy City Attorney Nicole Kukas obtained through a public records request.

Two minutes later, Kukas responded. "Thank you for checking in on this case. It is still under review. I will give you an update by the end of the week."

No update came. Ten days later, Freeman was back on the case.

"Any updates on a filing?"

"I appreciate your patience," wrote Officer Miles just three hours after Freeman's message. "I will forward this to the City Attorney."

Then on April 15, Deputy City Attorney Paige Hazard contacted Freeman with the good news. "I wanted to let you know that we will be filing 13 counts of vandalism as a result of the incidents you reported."

Deputy City Attorney Hazard, in further exercise of prosecutorial discretion, wants to be sure that the criminal trial of Mr. Olson focuses on his danger to the community and his defiance of the interests of the People of the State of California and the City of San Diego, and not on mere fillips and irrelevancies:

Judge Shore granted Hazard's motion to prohibit Olson's attorney Tom Tosdal from mentioning the First Amendment, free speech, free expression, public forum, expressive conduct, or political speech during the trial.

Hazard had explained to the court that Bank of America should not have to suffer the grave costs of chalk removal from its adjacent sidewalks. After all, is there no justice?

Circumventing the rules, without permission, under the color of night, and now waiving a banner of the First Amendment, does not negate the fact that defacement occurred, a private business suffered real and substantial monetary damages, and Defendant is responsible.

Money that Bank of America spends asking its janitors to hose down the sidewalk is money it can't use to buy Bed Bath & Beyond gift cards for its employees who are top performers at defrauding mortgagees.

As we frequently discuss here, prosecutors enjoy astoundingly broad discretion to determine how people are charged and punished, and for the most part face no consequences for their actions. We're told such discretion, and such protection, is a necessary and reasonable component of the criminal justice system, and that we can trust the good judgment and good faith of prosecutors.

Consider Jan Goldsmith and Paige Hazard, and their exercise of discretion. Aren't you filled with warm feelings of trust and confidence in our system?

An Exercise of Prosecutorial Discretion © 2007-2013 by the authors of Popehat. This feed is for personal, non-commercial use only. Using this feed on any other site is a copyright violation. No scraping.

23 Jun 15:21

“Look ma, no hands!” : Automating Install and Uninstall of Packages!

by Andrew Fawcett

imagesNo, your eyes are not deceiving you! Since the Summer’13 release, you can now automate the installation and uninstall of managed packages! The main use case for this I guess is for those building Continuous Integration build systems using Apache Ant. Where they are deploying code which requires dependent packages to be installed before deployment.

In addition this is also a useful API for building package management tools and UI’s to help administrators install other packages you offer via a kind of package menu! Thus I’ll show how to use it from my Apex Metadata API wrapper.

From Ant via <installPackage> and <uninstallPackage> Tasks

So first lets look at doing this via Ant. You’ll need to download the Migration Toolkit from your Tools page. I’ve placed the ant-salesforce.jar file in a lib subfolder as per the reference in the sample below.

You can only deploy the new InstalledPackage component type that describes the package to install, on its own. Though it still requires the usual folder structure and package.xml file before using the usual sf:deploy Ant task. To make things easier, I’ve put together a couple of Ant marcos to distill its use a bit further. You can download the ant-salesforce.xml file containing the macro. After that its as easy as this….

<project name="installdemo" default="build" basedir=".">
	<!-- Load standard properties -->	
	<property file="${basedir}/"/>	
	<!-- Import macros around sf:deploy to install/uninstall packages -->
	<import file="${basedir}/lib/ant-salesforce.xml"/>
	<!-- Default target -->	
	<target name="build">		
		<!-- Install the package with namespace packagea --> 
		<installPackage namespace="packagea" version="1.0" packagePassword="fred1234" 
		   username="${sf.username}" password="${sf.password}"/>
		<!-- Uninstall the package with namespace pacakgea -->
		<uninstallPackage namespace="packagea" 
		   username="${sf.username}" password="${sf.password}"/>		

Note: The packagePassword attribute is optional.

From Apex via Metadata API Apex Wrapper

This is how its done via the Metadata API directly, in Apex (though the following is more or less the same in Java). Note fullName in the samples below is used to pass the namespace of the managed package being referenced.

		// Install packageA, then pacakgeB
		MetadataService.InstalledPackage installedPackageA = new MetadataService.InstalledPackage();
		installedPackageA.versionNumber = '1.0';
		installedPackageA.password = 'fred1234';
		installedPackageA.fullName = 'packagea';
		MetadataService.InstalledPackage installedPackageB = new MetadataService.InstalledPackage();
		installedPackageB.versionNumber = '1.0';
		installedPackageB.fullName = 'packageb';
		MetadataService.AsyncResult[] results = createService().create(
		    new List<MetadataService.Metadata> { installedPackageA, installedPackageB });		

And to uninstall…

		// Uninstall packages
		MetadataService.InstalledPackage installedPackageA = new MetadataService.InstalledPackage();
		installedPackageA.fullName = 'packagea';
		MetadataService.InstalledPackage installedPackageB = new MetadataService.InstalledPackage();
		installedPackageB.fullName = 'packageb';
		MetadataService.AsyncResult[] results = createService().deleteMetadata(
		    new List<MetadataService.Metadata> { installedPackageA, installedPackageB });

As described in the Metadata API for Apex docs you need to handle the AsyncResult’s via VF actionPoller or Batch Apex. For Batch Apex, replace the last line of the install sample with the following to process the installation API calls in batch and have the job email you the results.
			new List<MetadataCreateJob.Item> { 
				new MetadataCreateJob.Item(installedPackageA ),
				new MetadataCreateJob.Item(installedPackageB ) },
			new MetadataCreateJob.EmailNotificationMetadataAsyncCallback());				

List Packages Installed in an Org

I recently answered this question on StackExchange that gives further information on dynamically listing packages in an org. The answer goes into more details but basically the following Ant tasks provided by Salesforce are quite handy!




For me the above is a really exciting possibility, you could for example develop a VF page as part of your core package that allows administrators to see other extension packages available with your package and install them directly! Now lets wait to see when the ability to API drive the packaging process arrives, in the meantime enjoy!

20 Jun 08:29

Optimising for arbitrary governors

by Richard
I’m currently working on a system which places arbitrary limits on the code in order to try to maintain performance. One such limit is the amount of statements that can be executed in a single transaction. The code must truncate a List. Looking at the list’s methods it appears to be an Array List. (Or […]
19 Jun 14:01

Javascript function invocation using square brackets

by Richard
This one caught me by surprise. Thinking about it, it makes sense. Basic functions Consider the object: When we try x.getFoo() we see “Hello World”. Consider: In this case the result is undefined. The function does not have the right…
13 Jun 13:31

Apex Method of the Day – Method (and other) Declarations in Anonymous Blocks

by Stephen

An anonymous block is Apex code that does not get stored in the metadata, but that can be compiled and executed using… Developer Console, IDE [or] The executeAnonymousSOAP API call

A method can be defined and called within an Anonymous Block:

Decimal d1 = 123;
Decimal d2 = 456;

Decimal multiply(Decimal val1, Decimal val2)
   return val1 * val2;

An exception can be defined and thrown within an Anonymous Block:

if(true) throw new AnonymousException('Foo!');
system.debug('We will not reach here');

class AnonymousException extends Exception {}

A class can be defined and instantiated within an Anonymous Block:

Mean m = new Mean();

for(Account item : [select AnnualRevenue from Account where AnnualRevenue<>null limit 100])


class Mean
   Decimal total = 0;
   Decimal count = 0;

   void add(Decimal value)

   Decimal get()
      return total/count;
} Apex Code Developer’s Guide - Anonymous Blocks

12 Jun 11:24

View Source for Rich Text Areas with CKEditor

by Derek Lansing

Special thanks to Kyle Barrett for his help on this.

Recently, Salesforce updated their rich text area editor to use CKEditor. This means if you had a workaround in place to see the HTML source of your fields, it probably doesn’t work anymore.

Here’s a quick way to see it again (in Chrome anyways).

    • Open Bookmark Manager (in a new tab, go to chrome://bookmarks/)
    • In your bookmarks bar , right click and select “New Page”
    • In the name, type something like “View Source”
    • In the URL, put the following:
      javascript:(function(){for(var key in CKEDITOR.instances){var editor=CKEDITOR.instances[key];editor.setMode("source");}})();

It should look something like this when you’re done.


Let’s take a look to see if it works.


Here we have a rich text area with some text copied and pasted from Microsoft Word.

Click the Edit button on the record detail page.


Click the Edit button on the page to see what can be changed here. There are some warning signs of extra markup but we can’t see it yet. (since there’s no Source button)

Find your “View Source” bookmarklet you created and click it.


When we click our bookmarklet, we see that there’s actually a full table hiding there that we might want to get rid of.

From here, you can directly edit the markup of your rich text area and get rid of any extra markup you may not want.

10 Jun 13:54

Setting up Debug Log for a site guest user.

by Steven Herod


In order to monitor the Guest User accoun in the Debug Log (as shown below)



You need to use the Site Name of your Site in the User Search dialog when setting up the debug log (note NOT the Site Label).

You won’t be able to search for the user using the lookup or use its ‘full name’ which if you notice in the screenshot above is actually ‘Site Guest User, Project Application’




The red box indicates the Site Name as found in the Site Details screen




03 Jun 20:24

The Secret Life of an SObject: Defaults

by Stephen

Default values, dirty field tracking, checkboxes / booleans, and the Winter’13 loadDefaults argument…

When creating custom objects, we can define default values for our fields which are automatically applied when inserting records.

Defaulted when?

Say we have a custom Sales Order object with an Order Date field that defaults to today’s date. To get some visibility of what’s going on during the insertion process, we’ll use a simple trigger:

trigger SalesOrder on SalesOrder__c (before insert)
    for(SalesOrder__c item :
        system.debug( 'Trigger Before: ' + item.OrderDate__c );

Now we insert a record via some Anonymous Apex:

SalesOrder__c salesOrder = new SalesOrder__c();
system.debug('New: ' + salesOrder.OrderDate__c);
insert salesOrder;
system.debug('Inserted: ' + salesOrder.OrderDate__c);
salesOrder = [select OrderDate__c from SalesOrder__c 
    where Id=:salesOrder.Id];
system.debug('Reloaded: ' + salesOrder.OrderDate__c);

USER_DEBUG|[2]|DEBUG|New: null
USER_DEBUG|[4]|DEBUG|Trigger Before: 2013-06-03 00:00:00
USER_DEBUG|[4]|DEBUG|Inserted: null
USER_DEBUG|[7]|DEBUG|Reloaded: 2013-06-03 00:00:00

As we can see from the debug log, the default value is applied to our record some time between submitting the DML insert and the trigger being executed.


We can also see that the default value is not immediately visible to us in our Anonymous Apex – either before or after inserting the record – we have to reload the inserted record to see the defaulted value.

Also note that any changes made to the SObject as a consequence of the DML (for example by a trigger) are not visible to our Apex without reloading the record


As you would expect, if we set our own value on the SObject before the insert, our value will be used in preference to the default value:

SalesOrder__c salesOrder = new SalesOrder__c();
salesOrder.OrderDate__c = Date.newInstance(2013,1,1);
insert salesOrder;

USER_DEBUG|[4]|DEBUG|Trigger Before: 2013-01-01 00:00:00

Overriding with null

What is interesting though, is that this holds even when the value we set is null:

SalesOrder__c salesOrder = new SalesOrder__c();
salesOrder.OrderDate__c = null;
insert salesOrder;

USER_DEBUG|[4]|DEBUG|Trigger Before: null

It seems therefore that there is an internal mechanism in the SObject which keeps track of whether or not the field has been set – you cannot set a field to null to mean “no value” and expect the default value to be used.

Checkboxes / booleans

This is particularly significant for checkbox fields. Whilst Apex boolean values have three states: null, false and true, SObject checkboxes do not have a null state, so when handling them in Apex, a checkbox value is either true or false. (You can set a checkbox to null, but its value will then be false.)

The loadDefaults argument

In Winter ’13 a very useful new feature was added for accessing default values in Apex. We can instantiate SObjects in Apex with default field values using the loadDefaults argument on the Schema.sObjectType newSObject method:

SalesOrder__c salesOrder = (SalesOrder__c)
system.debug('New: ' + salesOrder.OrderDate__c);
insert salesOrder;
system.debug('Inserted: ' + salesOrder.OrderDate__c);
salesOrder = [select OrderDate__c from SalesOrder__c 
    where Id=:salesOrder.Id];
system.debug('Reloaded: ' + salesOrder.OrderDate__c);

USER_DEBUG|[2]|DEBUG|New: 2013-06-03 00:00:00
USER_DEBUG|[4]|DEBUG|Trigger Before: 2013-06-03 00:00:00
USER_DEBUG|[4]|DEBUG|Inserted: 2013-06-03 00:00:00
USER_DEBUG|[7]|DEBUG|Reloaded: 2013-06-03 00:00:00

Links Apex Code Developer’s Guide - loadDefaults Apex Code Developer’s Guide – Triggers and Order of Execution