jeudi 26 février 2015

Beclowning judges & fraudulent misrepresentations: Doug Handshoe's favorite topic. A commentary on "intrinsic" versus "extrinsic" in cases of fraud on the court

Consistency and candor with the court can make or break any case, but American judges who encounter "a deliberately planned and carefully executed scheme" to influence the court through machinations done outside the court's process is seen as among the most reprehensible conduct, which strikes at the very heart of the institution of justice.  A misrepresentation made within a proceeding, such as perjury, is called "intrinsic" while the latter kind of scheme is known as "extrinsic."

In June of 2013, homophobic blogger Douglas Handshoe was the Respondent in a copyright infringement lawsuit brought by Trout Point Lodge, Vaughn Perret, and Charles Leary in Nova Scotia Supeme Court. According to the U.S. Federal District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi, Handshoe was since 2011 on a "campaign" to harass, damage, and embarass, Trout Point, Leary & Perret online. This included publishing their copyrighted photographs without permission.

Unlike the previous lawsuit launched against Handshoe by the Trout Point plaintiffs, in this 2013 case Handshoe appeared and defended in Nova Scotia. He was, he stated on his blog, going to show the Nova Scotia judges how they had previously been "beclowned" by Leary & Perret, whom the Slabbed blog had targetted with a plethora of homophobic epithets including "queer fag scum."

In his "Reply to Applicants' Motion to Strike & Summary Disposal," signed by him and filed with the Nova Scotia Court on June 24, Handshoe made the following statement:
Remember that statement regarding an alleged link betwen Handshoe "and the Attorneys for Concrete Busters." That is that "any allegation of a connection is both fanciful and concocted from whole cloth." It is important because in April, 2013, Judge Louis Guirola filed in the court record a letter from Louisiana attorney Daniel Abel stating his belief that Handshoe and his attorney Bobby Truitt had confected a scheme to place false criminal allegations in an amended lawsuit by two waste disposal companies against Frederick Heebe and the River Birch Landfill. In particular, that lawsuit named Trout Point Lodge and another of Abel, Leary, and Perret's businesses, Cerro Coyote, S.A., as "shell companies" involved in a criminal RICO conspiracy with former politican Aaron Broussard. At that point, a waste disposal contract given to River Birch by Broussard's administrtion was under federal criminal investigation. The investigation of River Birch later collapsed.

When the Court filed that letter into the record in April, 2013, Handshoe and attorney Truitt remained silent: no response.

Trout Point, Perret, & Leary then succesfully moved the 5th Circuit Court of Appeal to expand the record of evidence on appeal to include Abel's letter and a letter from "Attorneys for Concrete Busters," specifically Smith & Fawer, LLC. The public record indicates the motion was opposed by Doug Handshoe and Bobby Truitt, but then when it came time to actually respond to the Plaintiffs' motion, Truitt filed nothing in response. Again, silence. A failure to disclose? Fearful of having to make positive assertions that were lies?

Smith & Fawer, for their part, ultimately retracted their accusations, dismissed the allegations in court, and said that they gleaned what was said about Trout Point Lodge and Cerro Coyote from "" The true URL for Slabbed is There was no mention of actual contact with Handshoe in the Smith & Fawer letter, signed by attorney Stephen Gele.

Daniel Abel wrote his letter to Judge Guirola because in his decision denying Trout Point, Perret, & Leary's enforcement of their 2012 $427,000 Canadian judgment against Handshoe, Judge Guirola referred to the allegations made in that waste disposal lawsuit despite the fact that it was never introduced into evidence. In legal parlance, he took "judicial notice" of not just the existence of the lawsuit, but also of the allegations contained therein. Judge Guirola also stated in the decision that he had looked at the Slabbed blog in October, 2012, that is, after the two sides had finished their submissions to the court. The record shows that in September, Trout Point, Leary, and Perret also filed an "emergency motion" asking the court to tell Handshoe to not publish about the plaintiffs while the court was deliberating. Judge Guirola took no action, other than to look at Slabbed.

His decision to deny Trout Point's effort to enforce its judgment, available on PACER, stated that in:

So, if Doug Handshoe and Bobby Truitt had nothing to do with placing those criminal allegations about Trout Point, Perret, and Leary in the lawsuit drafted by Smith & Fawer, then the judge's judicial notice might be unusual, but not devestating. Other than attorney Abel's suspicions, articulated in his letter to Judge Guirola, there was no other evidence that Handshoe and/or Truitt had contact with Smith & Fawer. In fact, as seen above, Handshoe denied any such contact in no uncertain terms, and in a court of law.

Then, last October, after winning their copyright infringement action against Handshoe in Nova Scotia, Trout Point, Perret, & Leary were trying to once again enforce a Canadian judgment in Mississippi.

Handshoe improperly removed the enforcement action to Judge Guirola's district court. It was remanded last November.

While that remand decision was pending, Handshoe filed a motion trying to convince Judge Guirola in Mississippi to enjoin Judge Piper Griffin in New Orleans from continuing with Mr. Abel's defamation lawsuit against Handshoe, Truitt, and Anne-Marie Vandenweghe in New Orleans Civil District Court. That was a crazy move, which Judge Guirola never entertained.

Nevertheless, Handshoe filed his own sworn affidavit along with his motion.You can see it on PACER.

Here is part of what he swore to in that affidavit filed with the federal district court:

Guess "both fanciful and concocted from whole cloth" was a bit of an eaggeration, no? Looks like an outright lie to the court. In addition, Handshoe & Truitt's silence before Judge Guirola and the 5th Circuit looks more and more like intentional non-disclosure. 

Beside the sudden admission in October, 2014, to what he had flatly denied to a court in June, 2013--that is to direct contact with "Attorneys for Concrete Busters"--Doug Handshoe made other statements of interest.

First, to anyone looking at the amended lawsuit by Concrete Busters, filed by Smith & Fawer, it was not "Steve Gele" that "drafted signed and filed" the complaint, it was Randall Smith. Knowing which attorney actually drafted the lawsuit would show some insider knowledge by Handshoe of how it was drafted before it was filed. How does Handshoe know he likes to be called "Steve" anyway?

Second, Handshoe says he "read the lawsuit online" but also that Mr. Gele "leaked" it to him. Which is it? He saw it online, or it was leaked to him? Maybe Mr. Handshoe needs to prepare his affidavits more carefully, checking for factual consistency? In addition, looking at the metadata of the PDF file published by Handshoe alongside other PDF's created by Smith & Fawer shows that the PDF file published by Slabbed most likely came directly from Smith & Fawer. So did the PDF of the lawsuit published on Third, Handshoe published the lawsuit online before the Times-Picayune did, not after. So, who gave the Times-Picayune the lawsuit? Handshoe?

Were Mr. Abel's statements to Judge Guirola that there had been "fraud upon the court"--that is "a deliberately planned and carefully executed scheme" to influence the court -- in the Trout Point Lodge v. Handshoe case correct? There are certainly lots of questions to ask Mr. Handshoe and Mr. Truitt, now that both will face discovery in New Orleans Civil District Court.

Handshoe practically admitted this was what was happening on October 5, 2012, when Handshoe published a lengthy post on the Concrete Busters allegations entitled “Civil District Court lawsuit filed by Concrete Busters against River Birch terms Trout Point Lodge Ltd. of Nova Scotia a 'shell company'.” He published: “I have an outstanding  matter in United States Federal District Court in Gulfport before Judge Louis Guirola that my lawyer, Bobby Truitt has me barred from commenting upon. But that does not mean that we can’t let Concrete Busters tell part of that story . . ."

Academic question: does this behavior rise to the level of criminality?

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