I love Star Trek. If you’re reading this blog, you already know that. And you also know that I really love judges who quote Star Trek. Star Trek has inspired many judges, but never to the extent that was recently on display by Judge Wright, a federal district court judge in California in his opinion, Ingenuity 13 LLC v. John Doe.
Judge Wright began his opinion with Spock’s famous quote from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan: “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.” And while I’ve come across several other court opinions that reference that line, I’ve never seen an opinion that actually starts off with that quote…above the introduction. He also works in references to redshirts, the prime directive, and boldly going places. (His great use of Trek references has even resulted in another e-discovery attorney/blogger outing himself as a fellow Trekkie.)
The opinion addresses plaintiffs’ lawyers abusing copyright laws to essentially extort money from defendants accused of illegally downloading a single pornographic video. When ordered by the court to support their cases, the lawyers lied to and/or refused to answer the court. The court also found clear examples of fraud by the plaintiffs’ attorneys and their clients.
As a result of these bad acts, the court ordered payment to the defendants of $81,319.72 in attorneys’ fees (doubled from the actual cost as a punitive cost). The court also referred them to the appropriate bar ethics committees, the IRS, and the US Attorney.
Plaintiffs had 14 days from May 6, the day of the original order, to pay the fees ordered. That deadline was up four days ago and they still haven’t paid up – filing instead a variety of papers without success in the district court and in the Ninth Circuit. As a result, the court has now added on an additional $1,000 a day for every day they fail to pay. The Wrath of Judge Wright continues…