UPDATE 07/13/11: TechDirt reports that judge Navarro wasted little time in responding to the situation. In a decision dated July 12, she ordered Righthaven to pay the full fee award by July 25.
New developments occurred this week in the ongoing dispute of attorney's fees in the case against former defendant Michael Leon. On July 5, U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro's ordered Righthaven to pay attorney Malcolm DeVoy and Randazza Legal Group $3,815 for representing Leon on a pro bono basis. Righthaven allegedly balked at the order, so on Saturday the Randazza firm asked for an injunction against Righthaven, freezing $3,815 of its assets to ensure payment. On Tuesday, Righthaven responded by asking Navarro to temporarily stay judgment of the fee award.
Details of the argument, as reported by VEGAS INC, include that Righthaven is refusing to pay based on the belief that any fee award would go to a non-profit legal group not to opposing council. "Had this fact been made clear, Righthaven would have unquestionably dismissed its claims against Leon with prejudice," they argued. Except that Righthaven did not agree to this and only agreed to dismiss Leon's case without prejudice. Later the same day, the Randazza group filed a brief opposing Righthaven's motion to stay the fee award. See parts of this brief below:
The Firm is well aware of the fact that scores of poor defendants in Righthaven cases have been bullied into making payments to Righthaven, despite the clear indications that the cases had no legally supportable foundation. If Righthaven can simply frustrate pro bono counsel’s efforts to collect fees, there will be less of an incentive for experienced counsel to get involved in these kinds of cases. For example, while the Electronic Frontier Foundation (“EFF”) is a non-profit entity with a noble mission to protect civil liberties on the Internet, it likely would have found it frustrating to secure co-counsel if there was a certainty that there would be no possible fee award, and no possibility of collecting that award...See: Opposition to Temporary Stay of Fees Award
The undersigned made numerous offers to Righthaven to resolve the attorney’s fee issue at the then much lower costs of the fees by donating them to non-profit entities such as the EFF or the Citizen Media Law Project, which Righthaven rebuffed. The Firm’s interest in rewarding non-profit organizations is evident from the Firm’s Reply briefing in the fee motion dispute. Righthaven cannot now complain that it would have made a different decision, had it only known that a firm, which took this case for public interest purposes, would be the recipient of a fee award rather than a non-profit entity. Not only should it make no difference where the fee award is paid, Righthaven’s “would have, could have, should have,” arguments are not in line with the facts...
Finally, it is not as though the relief sought is in any way extreme. All the Firm has sought is the maintenance of the status quo – that Righthaven should not be able to disgorge any of its assets, such as they are, until it pays the lawfully entered fee award. This injunctive relief is so soft in nature that it is shocking that Righthaven would even oppose it – unless it has some design or scheme up its sleeve to do exactly what the undersigned suspects. Righthaven’s stated reason for the stay is to ensure that “potential appealable issues related to the July 5th Order are properly evaluated and, if sufficient grounds exist, allow of adequate time to post any security required for appeal.” A stay would change nothing; the Firm has already met the requirements for a preliminary injunction.
The same VEGAS INC article also addresses the Denise Nichols case, who was not awarded attorney's fees by Navarro on Monday. Former defendant Leon, a friend of Nichols, expressed disappointment, but predicted that "Righthaven will get their comeuppance before the end of this calendar year." Lastly, attorneys for Dana Eiser, who are now litigating against Righthaven in four U.S. courts, filed a new motion Monday. Attorney Todd Kincannon wrote in the filing, "The lies worked for a while, but now the jig is up," and "Righthaven is just a gang of con artists, and bad ones at that."
See: Eiser's Amended Response to Righthaven's Motion to Dismiss
See: Related VEGAS INC article