So… I was in the Southern District of Texas court this afternoon, and I thought that I would stop by and sit in on the Sunlust Pictures, LLC v. Does 1-75 (Case No. 4:12-cv-00695) case management hearing.
Prenda Law Inc.’s local counsel was a no show.
Using the court’s speaker phone, the clerk called Douglas Clemons, Prenda’s answer to Doug McIntyre’s withdrawal as local counsel from all of their cases.
RECEPTIONIST: “Manfred Sternberg & Associates, how may I help you?”
CLERK: “We are looking for Douglas Clemons. He has a hearing scheduled with Judge Ellison.”
RECEPTIONIST: “With who?”
CLERK: “Judge Ellison.”
RECEPTIONIST: “Let me see if he is here… No, he is not in the office. I don’t even see anything on his calendar for today. I’m going to transfer you to his cell phone. [click. dial tone.]”
In other words, Doug Clemons, local counsel to Prenda Law Inc. didn’t even know he had a hearing this afternoon. This baffles me — I’ve known about it for weeks. I expect that he has some explaining to do.
As far as the Sunlust Pictures, LLC v. Does 1-75 case is concerned, the hearing from today will probably be rescheduled with no consequences to the plaintiffs or to Prenda Law Inc.’s local counsel. That being said, I do want to point out that the John Doe Defendants in this case likely have nothing to worry about — well, at least the Comcast Cable Communications subscribers.
Comcast refused to comply with the subpoena issued to them to release the names of the accused defendants, and Prenda sued Comcast in DC in a “motion to compel” case entitled “Sunlust Pictures, LLC v. Comcast Cable Communications, LLC” (Case No. 12-mc-00383). They have done this before. The judge denied Prenda’s motion, and thus Comcast will not be complying with the subpoena which essentially means that any Sunlust Pictures, LLC clients here in the Texas lawsuits are home free. Your plaintiff attorneys will not know who you are.
As for non-Comcast defendants, there will be another case management hearing. It’s probably a good idea to mount a proactive defense and at least let yourselves be heard. Judge Ellison is a fair judge, and he will listen to you regardless of whether you are represented by an attorney or not.
I think more generally that it is probably a good idea for Doe Defendants across the country to start showing up to these hearings. If you don’t have an attorney, wear a tie and a jacket, and say hello to the judge and the clerk. If you do not have an attorney representing you, then represent yourselves. I don’t think one local counsel who doesn’t have his heart invested in these cases can stand up to many of you, especially when you are passionately against these kinds of lawsuits.