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BEFORETHEHEARINGBOARD

OFTHE
ILLINOISATTORNEYREGISTRATION
AND
DISCIPLINARYCOMMISSION
IntheMatterof:
JOHNLAWRENCESTEELE,
AttorneyRespondent,

CommissionNo.2015PR00068
FILEDAugust20,2015

No.6292158.

AMENDEDCOMPLAINT
JeromeLarkin,AdministratoroftheAttorneyRegistrationandDisciplinary
Commission,byhisattorneys,WendyJ.MuchmanandMaritaC.Sullivan,pursuantto
SupremeCourtRule753(b),complainsofRespondentJohnLawrenceSteele,whowas
licensedtopracticelawintheStateofIllinoisonJuly9,2007,andallegesthat
RespondenthasengagedinthefollowingconductwhichsubjectsRespondentto
disciplinepursuanttoSupremeCourtRule770:
ALLEGATIONSCOMMONTOALLCOUNTS
TheFormationofSteeleHansmeier,AlphaLaw,PrendaLaw,
andtheAntiPiracyLawGroup
1.Between2008and2010,RespondentSteelewasasolepractitionerwhomaintainedan
officeinChicago.Duringthattime,heconcentratedhispracticeintheareaofdomestic
relationsmatters.
2.Inorabout2010,RespondentSteelecreatedthelawfirmknownasSteeleHansmeier,
PLLC(SteeleHansmeier),withattorneyPaulHansmeier(Hansmeier),whowas
admittedtopracticelawinMinnesotain2007.BetweenSeptember2010andNovember
2011,SteeleHansmeiermaintainedanofficeat161N.ClarkStreet,Suite3200,in
Chicago,andconcentrateditspracticeincopyrightinfringementmattersfiledonbehalf
ofentitieswhichpurportedtoownexclusivecopyrightstopornographicvideos.Atall
timesallegedinthiscomplaint,SteeleHansmeieralsomaintainedaregisteredbusiness
addressattheAlphaLawFirm,80S.8thStreet,Suite900,inMinneapolis.

3.Inorabout2010,HansmeiercreatedthelawfirmknownasAlphaLawFirm(Alpha
Law)whichmaintainedanofficeinMinneapolis.AlphaLawwasaffiliatedwithSteele
Hansmeier,andRespondentSteeleappearedincertainmattersasanattorneyofAlpha
Law.InmatterswhichAlphaLawhandledforcertainpornographers,proceedswere
paidanddepositedintoabankaccountmaintainedbyPrendaLaw,anentityfurther
describedinparagraph4below.
4.InoraboutNovember2011,PaulDuffy,anIllinoisattorneylicensedin1992whodied
onAugust10,2015,andRespondentSteeleagreedthattheywouldcreateasuccessor
lawfirmtoSteeleHansmeierthatwouldoperateunderthenamePrendaLaw,Inc.
(PrendaLaw).PaulDuffyandRespondentSteeleagreedthatPrendaLawwouldtake
overSteeleHansmeierscopyrightinfringementpracticeonbehalfofpornographers.
RespondentSteeleandPaulDuffyfurtheragreedthatRespondentSteelewould
continuetoperformthesameworkforPrendaLawthathehadperformedforSteele
Hansmeier,includingfilingpleadingsandcommunicatingwithopposingcounsel,
handlingthefinancialaspectsofthefirm,andmanagingclientrelationships.
RespondentSteeleandPaulDuffyalsoagreedthatHansmeierwouldcontinueto
practicewithPrendaLaw.Atalltimesallegedinthiscomplaint,PrendaLaw
maintaineditsofficeat161N.ClarkStreet,Suite3200,inChicago,havingassumedthe
officespaceofSteeleHansmeier.In2012inaFloridalitigationmatter,PaulDuffyheld
himselfouttothecourtasaprincipalofPrendaLaw.
5.In2013,inCalifornialitigation,RespondentSteelewasidentifiedbyhisclientslocal
counselasadecisionmakerofPrendaLaw.
6.InoraboutNovember2012,RespondentSteeleandPaulDuffycreatedalawfirm
knownasTheAntiPiracyGroup,LLC(AntiPiracyGroup),asasuccessorlawfirmto
PrendaLawbecausePrendaLawslitigationpracticewasreceivingnegativepublicity.
TheAntiPiracyGrouptookoverthecopyrightinfringementpracticeofPrendaLaw,
andassumedPrendaLawsofficesuiteinChicago.
7.Atalltimesallegedinthiscomplaint,RespondentSteeleandPaulDuffyslawfirms
maintainedawebsiteatwefightpiracy.com.
RespondentsCopyrightLitigationPractice
8.AnInternetServiceProvider(ISP)isacompanythatprovidesservicesforaccessing,
using,orparticipatingintheInternet.AnISPassignsanidentifyingnumber,calledan
InternetProtocoladdress(IPaddress)toeachISPsubscriberwhosewirelessrouteror
othernetworkingdevicetheISPconnectstotheInternet.AnIPaddressreflectsthe

locationatwhichcomputerdevicesmaybedeployed,servestoroutetrafficthroughthe
network,butdoesnotidentifythecomputerbeingusedoritsuser.
9.BitTorrentisaprotocolforsharinglargefilesovertheInternet,inwhichthereisno
centralizedserver,andeachdownloadinguserbecomesasourceforanotheruserwho
wantsthesamefile.BitTorrentbreakslargefilesintosmallerones,andiswidelyused
fortransferringmoviesandvideos.
10.Between2010and2012,RespondentSteeleandPaulDuffyrepresentedbusiness
entitieswhichproducedpornographicmoviesandvideosincopyrightinfringement
matters.Beginninginorabout2012,Respondentsalsobeganrepresentinglimited
liabilitycompaniesorganizedintheFederationofSt.KittsandNevis,WestIndies.
Thesecompaniespurportedtoowntheexclusivecopyrightstoadultentertainment
videosthroughanassignmentofcopyrightinterests.Atalltimesallegedinthis
complaint,St.KittsandNevishadlawspreventingtherecordingordisclosureof
corporateownershipinformationofanyentityorganizedthere.Atvarioustimes,in
litigationfiledbyRespondentSteeleandPaulDuffytherewereattemptstoascertain
theownershipoftheWestIndianLLCs.RespondentSteeleandPaulDuffyalways
resistedthoseattemptsandtothisdate,theownershipoftheLLCsisunknowntothe
courts.
11.BetweenSeptember2010andFebruary2012,RespondentSteeleandPaulDuffyfiled
118copyrightinfringementactionsinvariousUnitedStatesfederaldistrictcourtson
behalfofpornographersandagainst15,878JohnDoedefendants.AsofFebruary2012,
RespondentSteeleandPaulDuffyhadnotservedanyoftheJohnDoedefendantswith
serviceofprocess.Duringthattime,RespondentSteeleandPaulDuffycommunicated
withtheJohnDoedefendantsbylettersandphonecallsinwhichtheyattemptedto
exactmonetarysettlementsrelatedtoallegationsthattheJohnDoedefendantshad
illegallydownloadedpornography,andinexchangefortheagreementtomaintainthe
confidentialityoftheDoesidentitybynotnamingtheminthreatenedpubliclitigation
ifsettlementfundswerereceived.RespondentSteeleandPaulDuffysentsettlement
demandlettersthatidentifiedanentitythatproducedapornographicworkorowneda
copyrighttothatwork,thenameofthemovieorvideo,andthedateofanalleged
illegaldownload.Respondentssettlementlettersdemandedanamountofmoney
rangingfrom$2,500to$4,000,andanexampleofoneofRespondentssettlement
demandletters,inpertinentpart,follows:
Dear_____:

WehavereceivedasubpoenareturnfromyourISPconfirmingthatyouareindeedthe
personthatwasassociatedwiththeIPaddressthatwasperforming[an]illegal
downloadingofourclientscontentlistedaboveontheexactdate(s)listedabove.
On[date]wefiledanactionagainstseveralanonymousdigitalpirates[givesexamples].
Undertheapplicablerulesofcivilprocedure,ourlawsuitagainstyoupersonallywill
notcommenceunlessweserveyouwithaComplaint.
WhileitistoolatetoundotheillegalfilesharingassociatedwithyourIPaddress,we
havepreparedanoffertoenableourclienttorecoverdamagesfortheharmcausedby
theillegaldownloadingandtoallowbothpartiestoavoidtheexpenseofalawsuit.
UndertheCopyrightLawoftheUnitedStates,copyrightownersmayrecoverupto
$150,000instatutorydamages(incaseswherestatutorydamagesareapplicable,which
mayormaynotbethecasehere)perinfringingfileplusattorneysfeesincases,
whereashere,infringementwaswillful.InatleastonecasewheretheCopyrightLaw
hasbeenappliedtodigitalpiracyandstatutorydamageswereapplicable,jurieshave
awardedover$20,000perpiratedfile.DuringtheRIAAs[RecordingIndustry
AssociationofAmerica]wellpublicizedcampaignagainstdigitalmusicpiracy,over
30,000peoplenationwidesettledtheircasesforamountsrangingfromanaverageof
$3,000to$12,000.Morerecently,onDecember22,2010,acaseinwhichadefendantwas
accusedofillegallydownloadingsixworksviaBitTorrent,asettlementwasreachedfor
$250,000.
Inlightofthesefactors,webelievethatprovidingyouwithanopportunitytoavoid
litigationbyworkingoutasettlementwithus,versusthecostsofattorneysfeesand
theuncertaintyassociatedwithjuryverdicts,isveryreasonableandingoodfaith.
Inexchangeforacomprehensivereleaseofalllegalclaimsinthismatter,whichwill
enableyoutoavoidbecominganamedDefendantinourlawsuit,ourfirmisauthorized
toacceptthesumof[exampleofdollaramount]asfullsettlementfortheclaims.This
offerwillexpireon05/19/2012at4:00p.m.CST.Ifyourejectoursettlementoffers,we
expecttoserveyouwithaComplaintandcommencelitigation.
Toreiterate:IfyouactpromptlyyouwillavoidbeingnamedasaDefendantinthe
lawsuit.
(hereinafterreferredtoassettlementshakedownletters)
12.AtthetimeRespondentSteeleandPaulDuffysentthesettlementshakedownletters
describedinparagraph10,above,whileRespondentSteelehadanIPaddress,hedid

notknowtheidentityoftheindividualwhohadactuallydownloadedthepornographic
workatissue,hadnottakenstepstodeterminewhohadillegallydownloadedthe
copyrightedcontent,anddidnothaveareasonablebasistobelievethattherecipientof
theletterwasanactualinfringer.
13.AsofOctober2012,RespondentSteeleandPaulDuffyhadsettledapproximately
5,000copyrightinfringementmatters,andrecoveredmillionsofdollarsinsettlement
funds.
COUNTI
(DishonestConductandFraudontheCourt
inIngenuity13LLCv.JohnDoe)
14.OnSeptember27,2012,RespondentSteeleandPaulDuffy,thenoperatingunderthe
firmnamePrendaLaw,andthroughCalifornialocalcounselBrentGibbs(Gibbs),
filedacomplaintintheUnitedStatesDistrictCourtfortheCentralDistrictofCalifornia
onbehalfofIngenuity13,LLC,allegingthatJohnDoeillegallydownloadedAPeek
BehindtheScenesattheShow,anadultentertainmentvideotowhichIngenuity13
claimedithadanexclusivecopyright.TheClerkoftheCourtreceivedthematterand
docketeditasIngenuity13,LLCv.JohnDoe,casenumber12CV8333.
15.InthecomplaintRespondentSteeleandPaulDuffyfiledincasenumber12CV
8333,RespondentonlyidentifiedtheIPaddressofJohnDoe.TheIPaddressidentified
inthecomplaintdidnotidentifythecomputerbeingusedtoallegedlydownloadthe
pornographicvideo,orwhowasallegedlydownloadingthepornography.Shortlyafter
filingsuit,RespondentSteelesoughtleaveofcourttoengageinpreservicediscoveryin
ordertoissuesubpoenastoISPstodeterminetheidentityofJohnDoe.
16.AtthetimeRespondentSteelecausedcasenumber12CV8333tobefiled,hehad49
casespendingintheCentralDistrictofCaliforniawhichRespondentandPaulDuffy
hadfiledonbehalfofIngenuity13andAFHoldings,LLC,anotherentitywhich
purportedtoholdexclusivecopyrightstopornographicvideos.Ingenuity13andAF
Holdingswerebothlimitedliabilitycompaniesorganizedunderthelawsofthe
FederationofSaintKittsandNevis,WestIndies,andRespondentidentifiedAlan
CooperastheprincipalofIngenuity13andAFHoldingsindocumentsfiledintheir
pendingcases,includingcopyrightassignmentformsandverificationsthatusedan
electronicsignatureforAlanCooper.
17.AtthetimeRespondentfiledthecasesdescribedinparagraphs13through15,
above,RespondentSteeleemployedAlanCooper(Cooper)asacaretakerofhis

vacationhomeandpropertyinMcGrath,Minnesota.DuringvisitstohisMinnesota
property,RespondentSteeletoldCooperthathehadaplaninvolvingcopyright
lawsuits,andthatifanyoneaskedCooperaboutcompanies,Coopershouldcall
RespondentSteele.
18.AtnotimewasCooperanownerorofficerofanyWestIndianentity,includingAF
HoldingsorIngenuity13,andatnotimedidCoopergiveRespondentSteelepermission
tousehisnameorsigndocuments.
19.AtthetimeRespondentandPaulDuffyassertedthatCooperwasaprincipalofAF
HoldingsandIngenuity13asdescribedinparagraph15above,thosestatementswere
falsebecauseCooperwasnotaprincipalofAFHoldingsorIngenuity13andheldno
positionwitheitherWestIndianentity.RespondentSteeleknewCooperwasinnoway
connectedwithAFHoldingsandIngenuity13atthetimethosestatementsweremade.
20.Atalltimesallegedinthiscomplaint,LocalRule831.3fortheUnitedStatesDistrict
CourtoftheCentralDistrictofCalifornia,titledNoticeofRelatedCases,providedin
pertinentpartasfollows:
ItshallbetheresponsibilityofthepartiestopromptlyfileaNoticeofRelatedCases
whenevertwoormorecivilcasesfiledinthisDistrict:
(a)Arisefromthesameoracloselyrelatedtransaction,happening,orevent;
(b)Callfordeterminationofthesameorsubstantiallyrelatedorsimilarquestionsof
lawandfact;or
(c)Forotherreasonswouldentailsubstantialduplicationoflaborifheardbydifferent
judges.
LocalRule831.3furtherrequiredthattheNoticeofRelatedCasesbefiledatthetime
anycaseappearingtorelatetoanotherisfiled,orassoonthereafterasitreasonably
shouldappearthatthecaserelatestoanother.
21.ThecasesRespondentSteeleandPaulDuffyfiledintheCentralDistrictofCalifornia
describedinparagraphs13through15,above,wereidenticalexceptfortheparticular
pornographicworkatissueandthevaryingIPaddressesidentifiedinthecomplaints.
22.AtnotimedidRespondentorPaulDuffyfileaNoticeofRelatedCasesinthe
CentralDistrictofCalifornianotifyingthecourtthatthecaseswhichtheyhadfiledon
behalfofIngenuity13andAFHoldingswererelated,asrequiredbyLocalRule831.3.

23.OnDecember3,2012,JohnDoesattorney,MorganE.Pietz(Pietz),filedaNotice
ofRelatedCasesincasenumber12CV8333onbehalfofJohnDoeinwhichPietz
identifiedmultipleIngenuity13casesfiledbyPrendaLawintheCentralDistrictof
California.IntheNoticeofRelatedCases,PietzinformedthecourtthatPrendaLawhad
filedmultipleJohnDoepornographiccopyrightinfringementactionsinUnitedStates
DistrictCourts,including49casesthenpendingintheCentralDistrictofCaliforniaon
behalfofIngenuity13andAFHoldings,LLC;thatthecomplaintsfiledbyPrendaLaw
wereidenticalexceptfortheparticularpornographicworkatissueandthevaryingIP
addressesidentifiedinthecomplaints;andthatcommonissuesoflawandfactrelating
totheproprietyofpreservicediscoverycouldbestbeaddressedinaunified
proceedingbeforeasinglejudicialofficer.
24.OnDecember18,2012,PietzfiledPutativeJohnDoesexparteApplicationfor
LeavetoTakeEarlyDiscoveryandForaFurtherStayoftheSubpoenaReturnDatein
casenumber12CV8333.Intheapplication,Pietzrequestedleavetotakelimited
discoverybecauseofconcernsthatPrendaLawmisusedAlanCoopersidentity.Pietz
raisedconcernsthatPrendaLawhadheldCooperouttobetheprincipalofIngenuity
13withoutCoopersknowledgeorconsent.Insupportofhisapplication,Pietzattached
anaffidavitofAlanCooperinwhichCooperaverredthathewasnottheownerorCEO
ofAFHoldings,andwasnottheownerormanagerofIngenuity13,andthathenever
gaveRespondentSteelepermissiontousehisnameorsigndocumentsonhisbehalf.
25.OnDecember19,2012,thecourtissuedaGeneralOrderbywhichallofthe
Ingenuity13casespendingintheCentralDistrictofCaliforniaweretransferredtothe
HonorableOtisD.Wright,whowasalreadyassignedtothecopyrightinfringement
actionsRespondentshadfiledonbehalfofAFHoldings.
26.OnDecember20,2012,JudgeWrightenteredanorderincasenumber12CV8333.
Inhisorder,JudgeWrightvacatedallearlierorderspermittingRespondentSteeleand
PaulDuffytoissuesubpoenas,orderedalldiscoveryeffortstocease,andquashedall
previouslyissuedsubpoenas.
27.InhisDecember20,2012order,JudgeWrightalsoorderedIngenuity13toshow
cause,inwriting,byDecember31,2012,whyearlydiscoverywaswarranted.Inhis
order,JudgeWrightstated:
TheCourtisconcernedwiththepotentialfordiscoveryabuseincaseslikethis.
Ingenuity13accusestheDoeDefendantofillegallycopyingapornographicvideo.But
theonlyinformationIngenuity13hasistheIPaddressoftheDoeDefendant.AnIP
addressalonemayyieldsubscriberinformation.Butthatwillonlyleadtotheperson

payingfortheinternetserviceandnotnecessarilytheactualinfringer,whomaybea
familymember,roommate,employee,customer,guest,orevenacompletestranger.
(citationomitted)AndgiventhesubjectmatterofIngenuity13saccusationsandthe
economicsofdefendingsuchalawsuit,itishighlylikelythatthesubscriberwould
immediatelypayasettlementdemandregardlesswhetherthesubscriberistheactual
infringer.ThisCourthasadutytoprotecttheinnocentcitizensofthisdistrictfromthis
sortoflegalshakedown,eventhoughacopyrightholdersrightsmaybeinfringedbya
fewdeviants.Andunlikelawenforcementinchildpornographyorotherinternetcrime
cases,theCourthasnoguaranteefromaprivatepartythatsubscriberinformationwill
notbeabusedorthatitwouldbeusedforthebenefitofthepublic.Thus,whenviewed
withthepublicinterestinmind,theCourtisreluctanttoallowanyfishingexpedition
discoverywhenallaplaintiffhasisanIPaddresstheburdenisontheplaintifftofind
otherwaystomorepreciselyidentifytheaccusedinfringerwithoutcausingcollateral
damage.
Thus,theCourtherebyORDERSIngenuity13TOSHOWCAUSEinwritingby
December31,2012,whyearlydiscoveryiswarrantedinthissituationIngenuity13
mustdemonstratetotheCourt,inlightoftheCourtsabovediscussion,howitwould
proceedtouncovertheidentityoftheactualinfringeronceithasobtainedsubscriber
informationgiventhattheactualinfringermaybeapersonentirelyunrelatedtothe
subscriberwhilealsoconsideringhowtominimizeharassmentandembarrassmentof
innocentcitizens.Ingenuity13mustalsoexplainhowitcanguaranteetotheCourtthat
anysuchsubscriberinformationwouldnotbeusedtosimplycoerceasettlementfrom
thesubscriber(theeasyroute),asopposedtofindingoutwhothetrueinfringeris(the
hardroute).
28.OnDecember26,2012,JudgeWrightgrantedPietzsexparteapplicationseeking
leavetopropoundlimitedwrittendiscovery.OnJanuary4,2013,Pietzpropounded
specialinterrogatoriesandarequesttoproducedocumentstoRespondentSteeleand
PaulDuffy,seekinganswersabouttheidentityofAlanCooper.
29.OnDecember31,2012,RespondentSteeledidnotshowcause,inwriting,whyearly
discoverywaswarrantedincasenumber12CV8333,asrequiredbyJudgeWrightin
theordersetforthinparagraph26,above.Onthatdate,RespondentSteeleandPaul
DuffycausedtobefiledamotiontodisqualifyJudgeWrightforcause.
30.OnJanuary15,2013,theHonorableMichaelW.Fitzgeraldenteredanorderdenying
RespondentsmotiontodisqualifyJudgeWright.Intheorder,JudgeFitzgeraldstated
[p]laintiffsargumentboilsdowntoitsdisagreementwiththemeritsofJudgeWrights
discoveryorders.Thisisnotacognizablebasisfordisqualification.

31.OnJanuary28,2013,PrendaLawfiledanoticeofvoluntarydismissalofaction
withoutprejudiceincasenumber12CV8333andthematterwasdismissedonthat
date.
32.OnFebruary7,2013,JudgeWrightissuedanOrdertoShowCausereSanctions
(OSC)incasenumber12CV8333statingthatthecourthasadutytosupervisethe
conductofattorneysappearingbeforeit.TheOSCrequiredRespondentSteeleand
PaulDuffy,throughlocalcounselGibbs,toaddressRespondentSteeleandPaulDuffys
lackofreasonableinvestigationofcopyrightinfringementactivityandlackof
reasonableinvestigationoftheactualinfringersidentity.TheOSCfurtherrequiredan
explanationofwhyRespondentSteeleandPaulDuffyignoredtheCourtsdiscovery
stayOrder,filedcomplaintswithoutreasonableinvestigation,anddefraudedtheCourt
byassertingacopyrightassignmentsecuredwithastolenidentity.JudgeWrightstated:
UponreviewofpapersfiledbyattorneyMorganE.Pietz,theCourtperceivesthat
PlaintiffmayhavedefraudedtheCourt.Atthecenterofthisissueistheidentityofa
personnamedAlanCooperandthevalidityoftheunderlyingcopyrightassignments.If
itistruethatAlanCoopersidentitywasmisappropriatedandtheunderlyingcopyright
assignmentswereimproperlyexecutedusinghisidentity,thenPlaintifffacesafew
problems.
First,withaninvalidassignment,Plaintiffhasnostandinginthesecases.Second,by
bringingthesecases,Plaintiffsconductcanbeconsideredvexatious,asthesecases
werefiledforafaciallyimproperpurpose.Andthird,theCourtwillnotidlewhile
Plaintiffdefraudsthisinstitution.
JudgeWrightscheduledahearingfortheOSConMarch11,2013.
33.OnMarch5,2013,JudgeWrightenteredanorderincasenumber12CV8333
requiringRespondentSteeleandDuffytoattendtheMarch11,2013hearingonthe
OSC.OnFriday,March8,2015,RespondentSteeleandPaulDuffycausedtobefiled
anexparteapplicationrequestingthatJudgeWrightwithdrawhisMarch5,2013order
requiringtheirattendanceonMonday,March11,2013.
34.OnMarch11,2013,JudgeWrightheldahearingontheOSC,atwhichneither
RespondentSteeleorPaulDuffyappeared.
35.OnMarch11,2013,attheOSChearing,AlanCoopertestified.Coopertestifiedin
courtthatthesignatureofhisnameonacopyrightassignmentagreementallegedly
relatedtotheIngenuitylitigation,wasnothissignatureandhehadneversigneditor

seenthecopyrightassignment.Hetestifiedthatseveralothercopyrightassignments,
corporatedocumentsandpleadingsinrelatedfederallitigationmattersappearedto
containhissignaturebutinfact,itwasnothissignature.Inaddition,hetestifiedthathe
hadnevergivenanyonepermissiontosignhisnameonanyofthedocuments.Further,
althoughhewaslistedasamanagerofIngenuity13LLC,thepresidentofVPR,Inc.and
theregistererofaninternetdomainnamecallednotissues.com,hehadnothingtodo
withanyofthoseentities,hadneversignedanyofthedocuments,givenpermissionfor
hisnametobesigned,wasneverthemanagerorpresidentofeithercorporationand
neverlivedinPhoenix,Arizona,theaddressofrecordforthoseentities.Inaddition,one
ofthedocumentscontainedanemailcontactaddressofjohnsteele@gmail.comwhich
Mr.Coopertestifiedwasneverhisemailaddress.
36.AttheMarch11,2013OSChearingBrettGibbstestifiedabouthisrelationshipwith
PrendaLaw.GibbswassupervisedatalltimesbyRespondentSteeleandPaul
HansmeierandGibbsstatedthattheywerethedecisionmakersatthatfirm.Gibbswas
toldbyRespondentSteeleandPaulHansmeierthatPrendaLawwastakingoverthe
businessofSteeleHansmeier.Gibbstestifiedthatatalltimes,hewasgivenauthorityto
dowhathewasdoingbyRespondentSteeleandHansmeier,includingtheywould
instructhimonwhatcasestofileandgivehimtheguidelinesonwhattodowiththe
case.
37.OnMarch14,2013,JudgeWrightenteredordersdenyingRespondentsex
parteapplicationandrequiringRespondentandPaulDuffytoappearonApril2,2013,
toshowcausewhytheyshouldnotbesanctionedfortheirparticipation,directionand
executionoftheactsdescribedintheFebruary7,2013OSCsetforthinparagraph31,
above;whytheyshouldnotbesanctionedforfailingtonotifythecourtofallparties
thathaveafinancialinterestintheoutcomeofthelitigation;whytheyshouldnotbe
sanctionedfordefraudingthecourtbymisrepresentingthenatureandrelationshipof
theindividualsandentitiesinvolvedinthelitigation;whyRespondentSteeleand
Hansmeiershouldnotbesanctionedforfailingtomakeaprohacviceappearancebefore
thecourt,giventheirinvolvementasseniorattorneysinthecases;andwhy
RespondentSteeleandPaulDuffyshouldnotbesanctionedforcontraveningthe
courtsMarch5,2013orderandfailingtoappearonMarch11,2013.
38.OnApril2,2013,JudgeWrightheldahearingincasenumber12CV8333onthe
OSC.Atthattime,RespondentSteeleandPaulDuffyappeared,invokedtheirrightto
remainsilentunderthe5thAmendmenttotheUnitedStatesConstitution,andrefused
toansweranyquestionsconcerningcasenumber12CV8333,oraddressthequestions
raisedbyJudgeWrightinhisFebruary7andMarch14ordersdescribedinparagraphs
31and36,above.

39.OnMay6,2013,JudgeWrightenteredanorderissuingsanctionsagainst
RespondentSteeleincasenumber12CV8333,andorderedRespondenttopayJohn
Doesattorneys,within14daysoftheorder,attorneysfeesandcoststotaling
$81,319.72,whichincludedapunitivemultiplierjustifiedbyRespondentsbrazen
misconductandrelentlessfraud.Inhissanctionorder,JudgeWrightfoundthat
RespondentSteeleandDuffyformedAFHoldingsandIngenuity13forthesole
purposeoflitigatingcopyrightinfringementlawsuits,toshieldthemselvesfrom
potentialliability,andtogiveanappearanceoflegitimacy;thatAFHoldingsand
Ingenuity13havenoassetsotherthanseveralcopyrightstopornographicmoviesand
theRespondentSteeleandDuffyarethedefactoownersandofficers;thatRespondent
engagedinvexatiouslitigationdesignedtocoercesettlement;thatRespondentSteele
stoletheidentityofAlanCooperandfraudulentlysignedhisnametoacopyright
assignmentandheldhimouttobeanofficerofAFHoldings;thatRespondenthas
demonstratedtheirwillingnesstodeceivethecourt;thatRespondentsrepresentations
abouttheiroperations,relationships,andfinancialinterestshavevariedfromfeigned
ignorancetomisstatementstooutrightlies;andthatthedeceptionwascalculatedso
thattheCourtwouldgrantRespondentsearlydiscoveryrequests,therebyallowing
RespondentSteeletoidentifydefendantsandexactsettlementproceedsfromthem.The
CourtalsostatedthatRespondent:
Demonstrated[a]willingnesstodeceivenotjust[that]Court,butothercourtswhere
theyhaveappeared.[Their]representationsabouttheiroperations,relationshipsand
financialinterestshavevariedfromfeignedignorancetomisstatementstooutrightlies.
ButthisdeceptionwascalculatedsothattheCourtwouldgrant[their]earlydiscovery
requests,therebyallowing[them]toidentifydefendantsandexactsettlementproceeds
fromthem.
40.OnMay17,2013,RespondentSteelecausedtobefilednoticesofappealofJudge
WrightsMay6,2013ordertotheUnitedStatesCourtofAppealfortheNinthCircuit
onbehalfofthemselvesindividually,aswellasPrendaLaw,Ingenuity13,andAF
Holdings.
41.InordersdatedMay21andJune6,2013,JudgeWrightrequiredRespondentSteel
andPaulDuffytopostbondtotaling$237,583.66,assecurityfortheMay6,2013
sanctionorder,andtocovercostsandattorneysfeesonappeal.OnMay23,andJuly
18,2013,Respondentcausedtherequiredbondtobeposted.OnMay4,2015,athree
judgepanelheardoralargumentsintheappeal,andthematterisunderadvisement.
42.Byreasonoftheconductdescribedabove,Respondenthasengagedinthefollowing
misconduct:

a. bringingaproceedingwithoutabasisinlawandfactfordoingso
thatisnotfrivolous,byconductincludingfilinglawsuitswithout
supportingfacts,underthenamesoffictionalentities,and
misusingtheidentityofAlanCooper,forpurposesofexacting
settlements,inviolationofRule3.1oftheIllinoisRulesof
ProfessionalConduct;
b. knowinglydisobeyinganobligationundertherulesofatribunal
byconductincludingfailingtoabidebyJudgeWrightsorder
quashingdiscovery,andfailingtoappearasorderedattheOSC
hearing,inviolationofRule3.4(c)oftheIllinoisRulesof
ProfessionalConduct;
c. inapretrialproceduremakingafrivolousdiscoveryrequest(s),by
conductincludingfilingthemotionsforearlydiscoveryonbehalf
ofshellcorporationsinviolationofRule3.4(d)oftheIllinoisRules
ofProfessionalConduct;
d. inrepresentingaclient,usingmeansthathavenosubstantial
purposeotherthantoembarrassorburdenathirdperson,orusing
methodsofobtainingevidencethatviolatethelegalrightsofsucha
person,byconductincludingsendingthesettlementshakedown
lettersinviolationofRule4.4oftheIllinoisRulesofProfessional
Conduct;
e. conductinvolvingdishonesty,fraud,deceit,ormisrepresentation,
byconductincludingfilinglawsuitswithoutsupportingfacts,
underthenamesoffictionalentities,misusingtheidentityofAlan
CooperasaprincipalofIngenuity13andAFholdings,for
purposesofexactingsettlements,inviolationofRule8.4(c);and
f. conductthatisprejudicialtotheadministrationofjustice,by
conductincludingfailingtorespondtoreasonableinquiriesposed
bythetribunalregardinglawsuitsRespondentsinitiated,in
violationofRule8.4(d)oftheIllinoisRulesofProfessional
Conduct.
COUNTII
(EntryofDefaultJudgmentinAlanCooperv.JohnLawrenceSteeleandPrendaLaw)
43.TheAdministratorreallegesparagraphs13through40ofCountI,above.

44.OnJanuary23,2013,CooperfiledsuitagainstRespondentSteele,PrendaLaw,AF
Holdings,andIngenuity13intheFourthJudicialDistrictCourt,HennepinCounty,
Minnesota.TheClerkoftheCourtreceivedthematteranddocketeditasAlanCooperv.
JohnLawrenceSteele,PrendaLaw,LLC,AFHoldingsandIngenuity13,casenumber27CV
133463.Inthecomplaint,CooperallegedthatRespondentengagedinidentitytheft,by
usinghisnameinconnectionwithAFHoldingsandIngenuity13spurportedpurchase
ofcopyrightstopornographicmovies,andthenbringinglawsuitsusinghisidentity
withouthispermission.
45.OnoraboutApril21,2015,RespondentSteeleagreedtosettleCoopersclaims
againsthimintheamountof$35,000.Onthatdate,thecourtalsodismissedAF
HoldingsandIngenuity13fromcasenumber27CV133463becausetheentitieshad
neverbeenserved.
46.AsofApril27,2015,RespondenthadnotfiledanansweronbehalfofPrendaLawin
casenumber27CV133463.Onthatdate,thecourtenteredanorderfindingPrenda
Lawindefault,andscheduledahearingforJune10,2015,todeterminetheappropriate
damagestobeawardedCooper.
47.OnJune10,2015,thecourtheldahearingincasenumber27CV133463to
determineCoopersdamagesatwhichPaulDuffyappearedinhispersonalcapacityas
aformerprincipleofPrendaLaw.Atthehearing,PaulDuffystatedthatPrendaLawis
nolongerinbusiness.ThecourtallowedPaulDuffyuntilJuly10,2015,torespondto
Coopersaffidavitsregardinghisdamageclaim.PaulDuffythenrequestedadditional
timetorespondtoCoopersaffidavits,andthecourtextendedthetimetoJuly13,2015,
forPaulDuffyandRespondentSteeletosubmittheresponse.
48.AtnotimedidRespondentSteeleorPaulDuffyfileanyresponsetoCoopers
affidavitsincasenumber27CV133463.
49.OnJuly15,2015,thecourtenteredanorderforjudgmentincasenumber27CV13
3463.ThecourtfoundthatCooperwasentitledtoajudgmentagainstPrendaLawin
theamountof$5,000asdamagesforhumiliation.ThecourtalsofoundthatCooperwas
entitledtojudgmentagainstPrendaLawintheamountof$250,000aspunitive
damages,stating
Attorneyshaveaspecialobligationnottouseanotherpersonsnamewithouttheir
explicitpermission.Ifsuchpermissionhadbeengiven,Prendaasalawofficecould
haveandshouldhavegottenthatpermissioninwriting.ItisalsoobviousthatPrenda
undertookthisdeceptiontoavoidnamingitsprinciplesasthedrivingforceofthis

scheme.Cooperwasastrawmanputuptoprotectthemfromobviousethicalviolations
ofcreatinglitigation.AlthoughthecourtisuncertainabouttheexactgainsthatPrenda
reapedfromthisenterprise,ithasnodoubtthatsubstantialgainsweremade.Thegains
weresufficientlytemptingthatPrendawaswillingtooverlookwhatitconsidered
minimalrisk.Punitivedamagesarecriticalinsituationslikethiswheremoneydamages
doesnotadequatelyencompassthewrongdoneinstealingapersonsnameforones
ownbenefit.Punitivedamagesmustbesufficienttodetersimilarabusesofprofessional
integrity.Thecourtfindsthat$250,000inpunitiveisappropriateandnecessarytoactas
sternwarningnottoengageinthistypeofconduct.
50.AtthetimethiscomplaintwasfiledwiththeHearingBoardoftheCommission,
RespondentSteelehadnotpaidthejudgmentsenteredagainstPrendaLawincase
number27CV133463.
51.Byreasonoftheconductdescribedabove,Respondenthasengagedinthefollowing
misconduct:
a. bringingproceedingswithoutabasisinlawandfactfordoingso
thatisnotfrivolous,byconductincludingfilinglawsuitsunderthe
namesoffictionalentitiesandmisusingtheidentityofAlan
Cooper,forpurposesofexactingsettlements,inviolationofRule
3.1oftheIllinoisRulesofProfessionalConduct;
b. conductinvolvingdishonesty,fraud,deceit,ormisrepresentation,
byconductincludingfilinglawsuitswithoutsupportingfacts,
underthenamesoffictionalentities,misusingtheidentityofAlan
CooperasaprincipalofAFHoldingsandIngenuity13,for
purposesofexactingsettlements,inviolationofRule8.4(c);and
c. conductthatisprejudicialtotheadministrationofjustice,by
conductincludingfilinglawsuitswithoutsupportingfacts,under
thenamesoffictionalentities,misusingtheidentityofAlanCooper
asaprincipalofAFHoldingsandIngenuity13,forpurposesof
exactingsettlements,inviolationofRule8.4(d)oftheIllinoisRules
ofProfessionalConduct.
COUNTIII
(BadFaithLitigationandImproperUseoftheJudicialSystem
inGuavav.SpencerMerkel)

52.OnoraboutSeptember28,2012,SpencerMerkel(Merkel),aresidentofBeaverton,
Oregon,receivedaSeptember26,2012settlementshakedownlettercausedtobesentby
RespondentSteeleonPrendaLawletterhead,signedbyPaulDuffy.Theletterstated
thatthefirmhadbeenretainedbyHardDriveProductions,Inc.tofilelawsuitsagainst
peoplecaughtstealingitsmovies.TheletterstatedthatMerkelsIPaddresswas
identifiedbyRespondentsclientsforensicexpertsasillegallydownloadingHard
DrivesmovietitledAmateurAllureMaelynn.TheletterfurtherstatedthatPrendawas
authorizedtoacceptthesumof$3,400asfullsettlementofHardDrivesclaimsagainst
Merkel,andthattheofferwouldexpireonOctober11,2012.Thelettergavetheaddress
ofPrendaLawinChicagoformailinginthesettlementpayment.
53.TheSeptember26letterstatedthatcopyrightownerslikeHardDrivemayrecover
upto$150,000indamagesperinfringingfile;thatotherswhohadengagedinsimilar
conductandcontestedtheallegationsendedupsubjecttodamageawardsof$222,000;
thatifMerkelwishedtoavoidthestressoflitigationhecouldsettlenowfor$3,400and
avoidbeingsubjecttoapubliclawsuitwherehewouldbenamedasadefendant.The
letterstatedthattheirclienthadweighedaspectsofthecaseincludinglikelihoodof
success,recoveryofdamagesandtheburdenoffederallitigationonallpartiesandwas
willingtoacceptasettlementofferinexchangefornotfilingalawsuit.Theletter
containedlitigationholdlanguageandthreateneddamagesforspoliationofevidenceif
Merkeldeletedanyfilesonhiscomputer.
54.ShortlyafterMerkel,wholivedbelowthepovertylevelinOregon,receivedthe
letterfromPrendaLaw,hephonedthePrendaLawofficesandspokewithaPrenda
employeewhoidentifiedhimselfasMikeorMichael.MerkelinformedMichaelthat
hecouldnotaffordthe$3,400settlementpayment.Atthattime,andatRespondents
direction,MichaeltoldMerkelthatPrendaLawwouldsettleHardDrivesclaims
againstMerkelunderthefollowingterms:Merkelwouldagreetobesued;inthe
lawsuitfiledagainstMerkel,PrendaLawwouldrequestacopyoftheBitTorrentlog
fromMerkelscomputerunderthepretextofcorroboratingPrendasevidenceof
MerkelsIPaddress;uponreceiptofMerkelsBitTorrentlog,Prendawouldthen
dismissthelawsuitagainstMerkel.MichaelinformedMerkelthathedidnotknowof
anyprobonoattorneysinOregon,butthathecouldprovidethenameofaMinnesota
attorneywhowouldrepresentMerkelprobonointhelawsuitPrendawouldfileagainst
Merkel.MerkelagreedtoberepresentedprobonobyaMinnesotaattorney,Trina
Morrison(Morrison),andfurtheragreedtobesuedbyHardDriveandPrendaLawin
theStateofMinnesota.
55.OnoraboutOctober15,2012,RespondentSteeleandPaulDuffy,operatingasAlpha
Law,notPrendaLaw,servedMerkelwithacomplaint,purportedlyonbehalfofGuava

LLC,notHardDrive,whichwastitledGuavaLLCv.SpencerMerkel.OnOctober17,
2012,RespondentSteelecausedthecomplainttobefiledintheFourthJudicialDistrict
Court,HennepinCounty,Minnesota.MichaelDugas(Dugas),aMinnesotaattorney
whowenttolawschoolwithMorrison,hadbeenanassociateforPrendaLaw,and
handledcaseswithRespondent,signedthecomplaintonbehalfofAlphaLaw.The
ClerkoftheCourtreceivedthematteranddocketeditasGuavaLLC,v.SpencerMerkel,
casenumber27CV1220976.Inthecomplaint,GuavaLLCwasdescribedasalimited
liabilitycompanythatownsandoperatesprotectedcomputersystemsaccessible
throughoutMinnesota,andallegedMerkelengagedintheinterceptionofelectronic
communicationsinviolationofaMinnesotastatute,andalsoengagedincivil
conspiracytoviolatethesamestatute.
56.OnOctober25,2012,Guavafiledanunopposeddiscoverymotionforauthorizing
order,inwhichitsoughtthecourtsapprovalofsubpoenasdirectedtomorethan300
InternetServiceProviders,purportedlytodiscoverMerkelsallegedcoconspirators
names,addresses,telephonenumbers,emailaddresses,andmediaaccesscontrol
addresses.
57.OnOctober31,2012,thecourtheldahearingonGuavasdiscoverymotion,at
whichneitherMorrisonnorMerkelappeared.Atthattime,thecourtdeniedthemotion,
findingthatGuavahadnotdemonstratedthatthepersonallyidentifyinginformation
possessedbyover300InternetServiceProvidersisrelevantandmaterialtothis
matter.
58.OnNovember6,2012,Guavafiledanemergencyrenewedunopposeddiscovery
motionforauthorizingorderincasenumber27CV1220976.Inthemotion,Guava
soughttheapprovalforsubpoenasdirectedto17ISPs,andassertedthatthesespecific
ISPsunquestionablypossessinformationconnectedtotheissuesinthislitigation.
59.OnNovember7,2012,thecourtheldahearingincasenumber27CV1220976on
Guavasemergencymotion.Atthattime,thecourtissuedanordergrantingGuavas
motion,butallowingthetargetedISPsaperiodof30daystofilemotionstoquashthe
subpoenas.
60.InoraboutNovember2012,Guavaissuedsubpoenastothe17ISPsoutlinedinits
emergencymotion.AfterserviceofthesubpoenasfromGuava,certainISPsand
individualInternetsubscribers,referencedasJohnDoes,movedtoquashthe
subpoenas.

61.OnNovember27,2012andJanuary12,2013,RespondentSteele,throughAnti
PiracyLawGroup,notPrendaLaworAlphaLaw,causedalettertobesenttoJames
Jungers(Jungers),aresidentofNebraska,settlementshakedownletterssignedby
PaulDuffy,advisingJungersofcasenumber27CV1220976.Intheletters,Jungerswas
informedthatRespondentsclientsengineershadobservedJungersIPaddressas
associatedwithanIPaddressengagedinactivitiesviolatingcomputeraccessstatutes
attemptingtocircumventtheirclientGuavascomputersecuritymeasures.TheJanuary
12,2013letterofferedtosettleGuavasclaimsforthesumof$4,000,orelseJungers
identitywouldbedisclosedinapubliclawsuit.Theletterscontainedlanguagesimilar
tothelanguageinthesettlementshakedownletterdescribedinparagraph10,above,
andMerkelsletterdescribedinparagraphs51and52,above.
62.OnJanuary15,2013,Merkelreceivedavoicemailmessagefromaphonecallon
behalfofPrendaLawstatingthatheneededtomakepaymentarrangementsorhe
wouldbesued.
63.OnJanuary25,2013,thecourtheldahearingonthemotionstoquashtheGuava
subpoenasincasenumber27CV1220976.RespondentSteeleandHansmeier
representedGuavaatthehearing.RespondentSteeleassertedthatGuavawasnot
requiredtofileacertificateofauthority,whichwasastatutoryprerequisiteforforeign
entitiesdoingbusinessinMinnesotabeforebringingsuit,becauseGuavawasnotdoing
businessinMinnesota,anddespiteGuavasandMerkelslackofconnectionsto
Minnesota,personaljurisdictionwasproperbecausethepartiesconsentedtoit.
CounselfortheISPsandJohnDoesassertedatthehearingthatthelitigationwasbeing
pursuedfortheimproperpurposeofusingthirdpartydiscoverytoobtainnamesof
Internetsubscribersfromwhomsettlementscouldbeextorted.Insupportoftheir
position,counselfortheISPssubmittedanaffidavitfromMerkeldescribinghis
interactionswithPrendaLawpriortotheinitiationofthelawsuit,asdescribedin
paragraphs51through53,above.
64.AttheJanuary25,2013hearingincasenumber27CV1220976,thecourtalsoheard
testimonyfromMorrison.Inhertestimony,Morrisonstatedthatshegraduatedfrom
lawschoolwithMichaelDugas.ShestatedthatHansmeierandDugastoldhertheyhad
someprosedefendantswhotheywouldrefertohersoshecouldgetexperienceand
becauseitwaseasiertodealwithlawyersthanproselitigants.Subsequenttoher
conversation,MerkelcontactedMorrisonandsheagreedtorepresenthim.Morrison
testifiedthatbasedonwhatshehadbeentold,sheexpectedalawsuitagainstMerkel
filedbyHardDriveandPrendaLaw,andthat[t]heresbeensomebaitandswitchyou
mightcallitinthiscase.AttheJanuary25,2013hearing,counselfortheISPsandJohn

Doesalsoassertedthattheimproperpurposeofthelitigationwasevidencedby
GuavasfailuretoseekanydiscoveryfromMerkelhimself.
65.AnaffidavitfromMerkelwaspresentedtothecourtattheJanuary25hearing.
MerkelstatedunderoathintheaffidavitthattheHardDriveProductions,Inc.movie
thatheadmittedtodownloadingwasdownloadedfromanowdefunct
websitewww.cheggit.com.Thewebsiteoperatedonamembershipbasisthatwas,
whenMerkeljoined,freeandopentoanyonewhowasinterestedinjoining,andMerkel
didnotillegallydownloadHardDriveProductionscopyrightedmaterial.
66.AttheconclusionoftheJanuary25hearing,thecourtindicatedthatitwouldtake
thematterunderadvisement,butwasinclinedtodismisstheentireactionbasedon
GuavasfailuretofileacertificateofauthorityasrequiredbyMinnesotastatute.
67.OnFebruary26,2013,RespondentSteele,throughAntiPiracyLawGroupin
Chicago,causedanothersettlementshakedownlettertobesenttoJungers,signedby
PaulDuffyadvisinghimofcasenumber27CV1220976andofferingtosettleGuavas
claimsagainstJungersforthesumof$4,000.TheletteralsoadvisedJungersthathe
wouldbenamedinapubliclawsuitifhedidnotpaythemthedemanded$4,000and
settlewiththem.
68.OnMarch1,2013,beforethecourtissuedarulingonthemotionstoquash,Guava
andMerkelfiledastipulationfordismissalwithprejudiceincasenumber27CV12
20976.
69.OnMarch1,2013,counselforonegroupoftheJohnDoesfiledamotiontorecover
attorneysfees,andrequestedthatthecourtissueanordertoshowcause(OSC)why
Guavaanditscounselshouldnotberequiredtopaytheattorneysfeesincurredbyall
oftheISPsandJohnDoesindefendingagainstthesubpoenasincasenumber27CV12
20976.
70.OnMarch6,2013,thecourtissuedanOSCincasenumber27CV1220976requiring
Guava,Dugas,andAlphaLawtopersonallyappearandshowcauseatahearingon
April23,2013,whythecourtshouldnotorderthemtopaythereasonableattorneys
feesandcostsincurredbythenonpartiestothisaction.
71.OnApril23,2013,thecourtheldahearingontheOSCincasenumber27CV12
20976.NocorporaterepresentativefromGuavaappearedatthehearingasrequiredby
theOSCandneitherRespondentappeared.TheonlyattorneytoappearwasDugas.

ThecourtinquiredwhytherewasnoevidencepresentedregardingGuavasstructure
oritsbusiness,andstated
SoifyouwanttoshowmethatyourenotdoingafraudontheCourt,thenwhy
wouldntyousayYourHonor,thisiswhollyunjust,howdaretheysaythesethings?
LookheresmyaffidavitfromthePresidentandCEOofGuavaLLC.Thisisthenature
ofthebusinessthatwedo.ThisishowwefoundoutaboutwhatMr.Merkelwasdoing.
WhydontIhaveanythinglikethat?
72.OnAugust7,2013,thecourtissuedanordergrantinginpartthenonparties
motionsforattorneysfeesandcostsincasenumber27CV1220976.Thecourtordered
Guava,Dugas,andAlphaLawjointlyandseverallyliabletopaywithin30daysatotal
of$63,367.52inattorneysfeesandcoststooneattorneyandfourlawfirms
representingtheISPsandJohnDoes.
73.OnAugust30,2013,thecourtissuedamemoranduminsupportofitsAugust
7thorderincasenumber27CV1220976.Inthatmemorandum,thecourtconcluded
that
WithnogoodfaithpursuitagainstMerkelinthiscase,theCourtisleftonlywith
GuavasattemptstoharassandburdenNonPartiesthroughobtainingIPaddressesto
pursuepossiblesettlementratherthanproceedwithpotentiallyembarrassinglitigation
regardingdownloadingpornographicmovies.
74.OnSeptember20,2013,thecourtenteredajudgmentwithfindingsoffactand
conclusionsoflawandheldthattheplaintiff,GuavaLLCandRespondentSteeleand
PaulDuffy(throughAlphaLawfirm)actedinbadfaithtotheNonPartyJohnDoes,
NonPartyISPsandtheircounsel,andfoundthemjointlyandseverallyliableinthe
totalamountof$63,367.52.
75.OnOctober30,2013,Guavafiledanoticeofappealofthecourtssanctionorderin
casenumber27CV1220976.InanAugust4,2014opinion,theStateofMinnesota
CourtofAppealsupheldthecourtsorderofattorneysfeesandsanctionsagainst
Guava,findingthatGuavapursuedthelitigationinbadfaithandengagedinan
improperuseofthejudicialsystem.
76.AsofJuly14,2015,thedatetheInquiryPanelvotedtofilethiscomplaintagainst
RespondentSteele,theattorneysfeesandcoststotaling$63,367.52hadnotbeenpaid.
77.Byreasonoftheconductdescribedabove,Respondenthasengagedinthefollowing
misconduct:

a. bringingaproceedingwithoutabasisinlawandfactfordoingso
thatisnotfrivolous,byconductincludingfilinglawsuitswithout
supportingfacts,underthenamesoffictionalentities,forpurposes
ofexactingsettlements,fortheimproperpurposeofusingthird
partydiscoverytoobtainnamesofInternetsubscribersfromwhom
settlementscouldbeexacted,inviolationofRule3.1oftheIllinois
RulesofProfessionalConduct;
b. knowinglydisobeyinganobligationundertherulesofatribunal
byconductincludingfailingtoappearasorderedattheOSC
hearing,inviolationofRule3.4(c)oftheIllinoisRulesof
ProfessionalConduct;
c. inapretrialproceduremakingafrivolousdiscoveryrequestby
conductincludingfilingthemotionsforearlydiscoveryonbehalf
ofashellcorporation,inviolationofRule3.4(d)oftheIllinoisRules
ofProfessionalConduct;
d. inrepresentingaclient,usingmeansthathavenosubstantial
purposeotherthantoembarrassorburdenathirdperson,orusing
methodsofobtainingevidencethatviolatethelegalrightsofsucha
person,byconductincludingsendingthesettlementshakedown
letters,inviolationofRule4.4oftheIllinoisRulesofProfessional
Conduct;
e. conductinvolvingdishonesty,fraud,deceit,ormisrepresentation,
byconductincludingfilinglawsuitswithoutsupportingfacts,
underthenamesoffictionalentities,forpurposesofexacting
settlements,andfortheimproperpurposeofusingthirdparty
discoverytoobtainnamesofInternetsubscribersfromwhom
settlementscouldbeexacted,inviolationofRule8.4(c);and
f. conductthatisprejudicialtotheadministrationofjustice,by
conductincludingfilinglawsuitswithoutsupportingfacts,under
thenamesoffictionalentities,forpurposesofexactingsettlements,
andfortheimproperpurposeofusingthirdpartydiscoveryto
obtainnamesofInternetsubscribersfromwhomsettlementscould
beexacted,inviolationofRule8.4(d)oftheIllinoisRulesof
ProfessionalConduct.
COUNTIV
(BadFaithLitigationandDishonestConduct
inLightspeedMediaCorp.v.AnthonySmith)

78.OnDecember14,2011,RespondentSteelecausedtobefiledsuitonbehalfofan
onlinepornographysitecalledLightspeedMediaagainstoneJohnDoedefendant,who
wasidentifiedonlythroughhisIPaddress,inthecircuitcourtofSt.ClairCounty,
Illinois.TheClerkoftheCourtreceivedthematteranddocketeditasLightspeedMediav.
JohnDoe,casenumber11L683.Inthecomplaint,RespondentSteeleandPaulDuffy
allegedthatDoesIPaddresswasassociatedwiththeunlawfulviewingofLightspeeds
pornographicmovies,whichwasmadepossiblebytheuseofawidelyshared,hacked
password.Thecomplaintidentifiedapproximately6,600otherIPaddressesasalleged
coconspiratorsinanallegedschemetostealpasswordsandcontent.
79.OnDecember16,2011,thecourtincasenumber11L683grantedtheex
partemotionforleavetoobtaindiscoverybysubpoenafromISPswhowerenotparties
tothelawsuitwhichRespondentcausedtobefiled.Inthesubpoenas,Respondent
SteeleandPaulDuffyrequestedthepersonallyidentifiableinformationofeachofthe
6,600allegedcoconspirators,noneofwhomhadbeenjoinedasparties.
80.InoraboutJanuary2012,twooftheISPswhichhadbeenservedwithsubpoenas
throughRespondent,SBCInternetServices,LLC,d/b/aAT&T(AT&T)andComcast
CableCommunication(Comcast),filedmotionstoquashthesubpoenasthatissuedto
themincasenumber11L683.InoraboutFebruary2012,thecourtdeniedtheISPs
motiontoquash.Atthattime,PaulDuffycalledanattorneyrepresentingtheISPsand
requestedthenameandtitleofeachemployeewhodecidedthatanISPwouldnot
complywiththesubpoenas.OnApril26,2012,RespondentSteelesubmittedan
affidavitincasenumber11L683statingthatanISPattorneyrefusedtoprovidethe
requestedinformation.
81.BeginninginoraboutMay2012,AnthonySmith(Smith),a27yearoldnursing
studentlivinginCollinsville,Illinois,beganreceivingsettlementshakedownletters
fromPrendaLawstatingthatifSmithpaidPrendaLaw$4,000,LightspeedMediaCorp.
woulddropitsallegationsthatSmithhadillegallydownloadedpornographicvideos
fromtheinternet.SmithdidnotrespondtothelettershereceivedfromPrendaLaw.
82.OnJune27,2012,theIllinoisSupremeCourtissuedaSupervisoryOrder,requiring
thetrialcourttoquashthesubpoenasin11L683.
83.OnAugust3,2012,RespondentSteeleandPaulDuffyfiledanamendedcomplaint
incasenumber11L683.Intheamendedcomplaint,Smithwassubstitutedfor
defendantJohnDoe.Theamendedcomplaintalsonamedasdefendantsandco
conspiratorsAT&T,Comcast,andunidentifiedcorporaterepresentativesofAT&T
andComcast.ThecomplaintallegedviolationsoftheComputerFraudandAbuseAct,

deceptivepractices,andaidingandabetting.Afterfilingtheamendedcomplaint,
Respondentcausednewsubpoenastobeissuedseekingthepersonallyidentifiable
informationofSmithspurported6,600coconspirators.
84.OnAugust9,2012,AT&Tremovedcasenumber11L683tothefederaldistrict
courtfortheSouthernDistrictofIllinois.TheClerkoftheCourtreceivedthematterand
docketeditasLightspeedMediaCorporationv.AnthonySmith,etal.,casenumber12CV
00889.
85.OnAugust16,2012,RespondentSteeleandPaulDuffyfiledanemergencymotion
incasenumber12CV00889requestingthatthecourtordertheISPstoproducethe
samecoconspiratorspersonallyidentifiableinformationthatRespondentSteeleand
PaulDuffyhadpreviouslysoughtinthesubpoenasincasenumber11L683.
86.OnAugust20,2012,theHonorableG.PatrickMurphyheldahearingon
Respondentsemergencymotionincasenumber12CV00889.Atthehearing,
RespondentSteele,PaulDuffyandHansmeierappearedonbehalfofLightspeed.
RespondentSteeleidentifiedhimselfasbeingwiththefirmofSteeleHansmeierPLLC;
PaulDuffystatedhewaswithPrendaLaw;andHansmeier,whohadmovedforprohac
viceadmission,statedthathewaswithAlphaLaw.Duringthehearing,Respondent
SteelepresentedargumentstothecourtastoRespondentsneedfortherequested
information.Attheconclusionofthehearing,JudgeMurphydeniedRespondents
emergencymotion.
87.BetweenAugust29andSeptember18,2012,thedefendantsincasenumber12CV
00889filedmotionstodismiss.
88.AsofMarch21,2013,defendantsmotionstodismissremainedpendingincase
number12CV00889.Onthatdate,Respondentcausedcasenumber12CV00889tobe
voluntarilydismissed.
89.AtthetimeRespondentSteeleandPaulDuffyvoluntarilydismissed12CV00889,
theywereunderanorderenteredbyJudgeWrighttoexplainthequestionsheposedin
hisFebruary7andMarch14ordersincasenumber12CV8333,asdescribedinCountI,
paragraphs31and36,above.RespondentSteelevoluntarilydismissed12CV00889
becausewhenhefiledthecasetheydidsotoobtainthenamesofindividualIP
subscriberstowhomhecouldsendsettlementshakedownletters,nottodeterminethe
identityofactualinfringers,andonlysoughtearlydiscoverytoidentifyindividuals
fromwhomhecouldexactsettlements.RespondentSteeleandPaulDuffydismissed

casenumber12CV00889becausehedidnotwanthislitigationstrategytocomeunder
scrutinybythefederalcourtinIllinois.
90.OnApril5,2013,attorneysforSmithfiledamotionforattorneysfeesandsanctions
againstRespondentSteeleandPaulDuffyincasenumber12CV00889.OnOctober30,
2013,JudgeMurphygrantedthemotion.Inhisorder,JudgeMurphyfoundthat
RespondentslitigationagainstSmithsmackedofbullyingpretense.
91.OnNovember8,2013,attorneysfortheISPsfiledamotionforfeesandcosts.On
November13,2013,thecourtheldahearingontheISPsmotionforfees.Atthe
hearing,thecourtstatedthatRespondentSteeleandPaulDuffywereengagedin:
abusivelitigationsimplyfilingalawsuittododiscoverytofind
outifyoucansuesomebody.Thatsjustutternonsense.
OnNovember27,2013,JudgeMurphyawardedattorneysfeestotheISPs,andordered
RespondentSteeleandPaulDuffytopayattorneysfeestotaling$261,052.11within14
days.
92.OnDecember12,2013,Respondentcausedtobefiledanoticeofappealtothe
UnitedStatesCourtofAppealsforthe7thCircuit,appealingthedistrictcourts
impositionofattorneysfeesandsanctionsagainsthimandPaulDuffy.
93.AsofDecember27,2013,neitherRespondentnorPaulDuffyhadcompliedwiththe
CourtsOctober30andNovember27,2013ordersawardingfeesandcostsincase
number12CV00889,andhadnotsoughtastayoftheorder.Onthatdate,counselfor
SmithandtheISPssubmittedajointmotionforcontempt,orinthealternative,foran
ordertoshowcausewhyRespondentSteeleandPaulDuffyshouldnotbeheldin
contempt.
94.OnFebruary13,2014,theHonorableDavidR.Herndonheldashowcausehearing,
atwhichRespondentSteeleandPaulDuffyadmittedthattheyhadnotpaidanypartof
thesanctions,andclaimedaninabilitytopay.Basedontheirclaim,JudgeHerndon
orderedRespondentSteeleandPaulDuffytosubmitafinancialstatementfroma
certifiedpublicaccountantthatverifiedRespondentsandDuffysassertedlackof
resourceswithin10days.Duringtheshowcausehearing,andinresponseto
Respondentsclaimofaninabilitytopay,BartHuffman,attorneyforAT&T
(Huffman),informedthecourtthatRespondentSteelehadpreviouslystatedthatthey
hadmademillionsofdollarsinthistypeoflitigation.RespondentSteeleobjectedto
thischaracterization,askedHuffmantoindicatewhereRespondentSteelewouldhave

madesuchastatement,andHuffmanadvisedthecourtthattherewasanarticlein
ForbesinwhichRespondentSteelehadmadesuchastatement.Inresponseto
Huffmansassertions,RespondentSteelestated:
No,absolutely,Ineverdid,andIresentbeingtoldthatIvesaidsomethingthatsnot
true.IfMr.HuffmanwouldliketopresentsomethingthatIpersonallymademoneyof
acertainamount,feelfree,butitwillnevercome,YourHonor.
95.RespondentSteelesstatementattheshowcausehearingthathehadneverstated
thathehadmademillionsofdollarswasfalseandRespondentSteeleknewitwasfalse.
RespondentSteelewasinterviewedinOctober2012foraForbesmagazinearticle
titledHowPornCopyrightLawyerJohnSteeleHasMadeAFewMillionDollarsPursuing
(SometimesInnocent)PornPirates.Inresponsetothearticlesauthorssuggestionthat
RespondentSteelehadmade$15millionsettlingcopyrightsuits,RespondentSteele
statedMaybealittleless.Wedonttracktheamountweverecovered.Morethanafew
million.
96.OnoraboutFebruary23,2014,RespondentSteeleandPaulDuffysubmittedtheir
financialstatementsincasenumber12CV00889.AttachedtoRespondentSteeleand
PaulDuffysstatementswasaletterfromRespondentscertifiedpublicaccountant
statingthatRespondenthadelectedtoomitsubstantiallyallofthedisclosuresrequired
bygenerallyacceptedaccountingprinciples.
97.OnMarch24,2014,JudgeHerndonenteredanordergrantingthedefendants
motionforcontempt.Inhisorder,JudgeHerndonfoundthatRespondentSteeleand
PaulDuffyhadwillfullyviolatedthesanctionsorderandmadenoefforttocomply.In
makinghisruling,JudgeHerndonnotedthatthemagnitudeofharmwassignificant,
particularlyastheunderlyingcasewasbaselessandamisuseofthecourts.Judge
HerndonfurtherfoundthatRespondentSteeleandPaulDuffymade
misrepresentationsandpresentedhalftruthsattheshowcausehearing,showing
cleardisrespectforthecourt,andcitedtoRespondentSteelesstatementsandthe
Forbesarticledescribedinparagraphs93and94,above.JudgeHerndonsanctioned
RespondentSteeleandPaulDuffyintheamountof10%oftheoriginalsanctionand
orderedthesumtobedividedequallyamongthem,andalsosetupascheduleof
additionalfinesifRespondentSteeleandPaulDuffydidnotpay.
98.OnMarch31,2014,RespondentSteeleandPaulDuffycausedanoticeofappealto
befiledtotheUnitedStatesCourtofAppealsforthe7thCircuit,appealingJudge
Herndonscontemptfinding,whichwasconsolidatedwiththeirearlierappeal.

99.OnApril8,2014,RespondentSteelepostedabondintheamountof$287,300in
connectionwithRespondentsnoticesofappealdescribedinparagraphs91and97,
above.
100.OnJuly31,2014,theUnitedStatesCourtofAppealsfortheSeventhCircuitissued
adecisioninwhichitupheldtheimpositionofsanctionsandattorneysfeesagainst
RespondentSteeleandPaulDuffy,andthecontemptfinding.Initsaffirmance,the
SeventhCircuitstatedthat:
LightspeedssuitagainsttheISPswaspremisedonthenotionthatbecausetheISPs
challengedappellants[Respondents]subpoenaofthepersonallyidentifiable
informationofSmiths6,600coconspirators,theysomehowbecamepartofa
purportedplottostealLightspeedscontent.Iftherewasanyconceivablemeritinthat
theory,thenperhapsfeeswouldhavebeeninappropriate.Buttherewasnot.
TheSeventhCircuitaffirmedthesanctionsorderimposedagainstRespondentSteele
andPaulDuffy,andalsoaffirmedtheorderholdingRespondentSteeleandPaulDuffy
incivilcontemptandimposingfines.TheSeventhCircuitfurtherheldthatthecostsof
appealweretobetaxedagainstRespondentSteeleandPaulDuffyjointlyandseverally.
101.InitsopiniontheSeventhCircuitnotedthatthefirmaffiliationsofRespondent
SteeleandDuffywereprovisional,toputitkindly.Attheemergencymotionhearing
RespondentSteeleidentifiedhisfirmasSteeleHansmeierPLLC,RespondentDuffysaid
hewaswithPrendaLaw,andHansmeiersaidhewaswithsomethingcalledAlpha
LawFirm.ThecourtnotedthatSteeleHansmeierandPrendaarelistedatthesame
streetaddress,161NorthClarkSt,Chicagoindifferentsuites.
102.Byreasonoftheconductdescribedabove,Respondenthasengagedinthe
followingmisconduct:
a. bringingaproceedingwithoutabasisinlawandfactfordoingso
thatisnotfrivolous,byconductincludingfilingalawsuitforthe
improperpurposeofusingdiscoverytoobtainnamesofInternet
subscribersfromwhomsettlementscouldbeexacted,inviolation
ofRule3.1oftheIllinoisRulesofProfessionalConduct;
b. inapretrialproceduremakingafrivolousdiscoveryrequest,by
conductincludingfilingthemotionsforearlydiscoveryin
violationofRule3.4(d)oftheIllinoisRulesofProfessional
Conduct;

c. inrepresentingaclient,usingmeansthathavenosubstantial
purposeotherthantoembarrassorburdenathirdperson,orusing
methodsofobtainingevidencethatviolatethelegalrightsofsucha
person,byconductincludingsendingthesettlementshakedown
letters,inviolationofRule4.4oftheIllinoisRulesofProfessional
Conduct;
d. conductinvolvingdishonesty,fraud,deceit,ormisrepresentation,
byconductincludingfilingalawsuitsolelyfortheimproper
purposeofusingdiscoverytoobtainnamesofInternetsubscribers
fromwhomsettlementscouldbeexacted,andmaking
misrepresentationstoJudgeHerndonduringtheshowcause
hearing,inviolationofRule8.4(c);and
e. conductthatisprejudicialtotheadministrationofjustice,by
conductincludingfilingalawsuitfortheimproperpurposeof
usingdiscoverytoobtainnamesofInternetsubscribersfromwhom
settlementscouldbeexacted,inviolationofRule8.4(d)ofthe
IllinoisRulesofProfessionalConduct.
COUNTV
(ObstructingDiscoveryandDishonestConduct
inLightspeedMediaCorp.v.AnthonySmith)
103.TheAdministratorreallegesparagraphs77through100ofCountIV,above.
104.InoraboutJanuary2014,inresponsetoRespondentsclaimsofinabilitytopaythe
sanctionsawardenteredagainstthemincasenumber12CV00889,Smithissued
subpoenastoJPMorganBank(JPMorgan)andSabadellUnitedBank(Sabadell)
requestingRespondentsfinancialrecords.
105.OnJanuary29,2014,RespondentSteeleinformedofficialsatJPMorganthathe
intendedtofileamotiontoquashsubpoenasissuedbySmithrequestingRespondents
financialrecords.
106.OnJanuary30,2014,RespondentSteelefiledamotiontoquashsubpoenasissued
bySmith.Onthatdate,Steelesentacopyofthemotiontoquash,withoutafilestamp,
toJPMorgan.SeveraldaysafterreceivingthemotiontoquashthatRespondentSteele
hadsenttothem,officialsatJPMorganrequestedthatRespondentsprovidethemwith
afilestampedcopyofthemotiontoquash.

107.OnFebruary19,2014,JudgeHerndonenteredanorderdenyingRespondents
motiontoquashthesubpoenasSmithissuedincasenumber12CV00889.Respondent
learnedoftheordershortlyafteritwasentered.
108.OnMarch3,2014,twoweeksafterJudgeHerndonhaddeniedRespondents
motiontoquash,atRespondentsdirectionPaulDuffysentafilestampedcopyofthe
motiontoquashtoJPMorgan.
109.PaulDuffysactions,insendingthefilestampedmotiontoquashtoJPMorgan
afterithadalreadybeendenied,wereintendedtomisleadJPMorganofficialsinto
believingthattheydidnothavetorespondtoSmithssubpoenabecauseitwassubject
toamotiontoquash.
110.AsofApril16,2014,therewasnostayinplacein12CV00889.Onthatdate,
RespondentSteelesentanemailtoofficialsatSabadellinformingthemthatastaywas
inplaceincasenumber12CV00889.RespondentSteelesstatementwasfalseand
RespondentSteeleknewitwasfalsebecauseheknewthatastaywasnotinplacewhen
hemadethatstatementinhisemail,andhisstatementthatastaywasinplacewas
intendedtomisleadSabadellofficialsintothinkingthattheydidnothavetocomply
withthesubpoenaSabadellhadreceived.
111.OnNovember18,2014,SmithfiledamotionforsanctionsagainstRespondentsfor
theiractionsdescribedinparagraphs104through109,above.
112.OnJune5,2015,JudgeHerndonenteredanorderincasenumber12CV00889,in
whichhefoundthatRespondentSteeleandPaulDuffyengagedinunreasonable,
willfulobstructionofdiscoveryinbadfaith,andawardedsanctionstoSmithinthe
amountoftheadditionalexpensesincurredinconductingthirdpartydiscovery.Judge
HerndonalsofoundRespondentSteeleincontempt,forstatementshemaderegarding
hisinabilitytopayincourtattheFebruary13,2014showcausehearingwhenfinancial
recordsshowedotherwise,includingRespondentSteeles$300,000depositintoanew
bankaccountatSabadelltwomonthsbefore.JudgeHerndondirectedSmithtosubmit
hisreasonablecostsandattorneyfeesincurredinconnectionwithRespondentSteeles
andPaulDuffysobstructionofdiscoverybyJuly3,2015.
113.OnJuly23,2015,JudgeHerndonawardedsanctionsagainstRespondentinthe
amountof$94,343.51,apportionedequallybetweenRespondentSteeleandPaulDuffy.
JudgeHerndonfurtherorderedthatRespondentSteeleandPaulDuffypaythesanction
awardonorbeforeAugust10,2015.Atthetimethiscomplaintwasfiled,thesanction
awardhadnotbeenpaid.

114.Byreasonoftheconductdescribedabove,Respondenthasengagedinthe
followingmisconduct:
a. makingafalsestatementoffacttoatribunal,byconductincluding
claiminganinabilitytopaythesanctionawardsimposedagainst
them,inviolationofRule3.3(a)(1)oftheIllinoisRulesof
ProfessionalConduct;
b. knowinglydisobeyinganobligationundertherulesofatribunal
byconductincludingfailingtocomplywithreasonablediscovery
requests,inviolationofRule3.4(c)oftheIllinoisRulesof
ProfessionalConduct;
c. conductinvolvingdishonesty,fraud,deceit,ormisrepresentation,
byconductincludingobstructingdiscoveryandmisleadingthe
courtinanefforttoavoidpayingsanctionawardsimposedagainst
them,inviolationofRule8.4(c);and
d. conductthatisprejudicialtotheadministrationofjustice,by
conductincludingobstructingdiscoveryandmisleadingthecourt
inanefforttoavoidpayingsanctionawardsimposedagainstthem,
inviolationofRule8.4(d)oftheIllinoisRulesofProfessional
Conduct.
COUNTVI
(BadFaithLitigation,DishonestConductandFraudontheCourt
inGuavav.ComcastCableCommunication,LLC)
115.OnNovember20,2012,RespondentSteeleandPaulDuffy,purportedlyonbehalf
ofGuavaLLC,filedapetitionseekingdiscoverypriortosuitintheCircuitCourtofSt.
ClairCounty,Illinois,fromComcastCableCommunication,LLC(Comcast).The
ClerkoftheCourtreceivedthematteranddocketeditasGuavav.ComcastCable
Communication,LLC,casenumber12MR417.RespondentSteeleandPaulDuffy
broughtthepetitionpursuanttoIllinoisSupremeCourtRule224,andpurportedly
soughttoidentifyresponsiblepersonsandentitiesthatPaulDuffyallegedhad
committedcomputerfraudbyhackingGuavascomputersandobtainingtheiradult
videos.PaulDuffyattachedtothepetitionadocumentlabeledExhibitA,whichlisted
approximately300IPaddressesthatwerepurportedlyidentifiedbyGuavatobe
associatedwithindividualswhohadusedstolenusernamesandpasswordstogain
unauthorizedaccesstoGuavasprotectedcomputersystems.RespondentSteeleand
PaulDuffyfurtherassertedinthepetitionthatGuavahaddeterminedComcastwasthe
ISPthatissuedthose300IPaddresses.RespondentSteeleandPaulDuffyalsoattached

averificationtothepetitionwhichwassignedbyanAlanMonyDeclarant.The
verificationwasnotarizedonNovember20,2012,byaMinnesotanotarypublic,andthe
relationshipofAlanMonyDeclaranttoGuavawasnotstatedinthepetitionorinthe
verification.
116.OnDecember10,2012,ComcastfiledamotiontodismissRespondentspetition.In
itsmotion,ComcaststatedthatGuavasoughttodiscovertheidentitiesofpersonswho
didnotresideinSt.ClairCounty.ComcastalsonotedthatGuavadidnotpleadthatit
wasincorporatedinIllinois,didanybusinessinIllinois,orthatitwasaregistered
foreigncorporationentitledtobringlawsuitsinIllinoiscourts.
117.OnDecember12,2012,thecourtenteredanorderdenyingComcastsmotionto
dismissandgrantingGuavaspetitionfordiscoverybeforesuit.Theorderrequired
ComcasttoprovidealloftheJohnDoesthatwereassociatedwiththe300IPaddresses
withcopiesofthepetitionandorderbyDecember26,2012,andthatanyJohnDoe
seekingtofileanobjection,oramotiontoquashordismissthepetition,wasgivenuntil
January25,2013.
118.BetweenDecember12,2012andJanuary25,2013,fortyfiveJohnDoesfiled
objectionstothecircuitcourtsorderthattheirpersonalinformationbedisclosedto
Guava.
119.OnJanuary14,2013,oneoftheJohnDoesfiledaPetitionforRuletoShowCause
WhyPetitionerGuavaLLC,a/k/aLightspeedMedia,ItsOfficersandDirectors,
DeclarantAlanMony,SteveJones,PaulA.Duffyand/orKevinT.HoernerShouldNot
BeHeldinContemptofCourtandforotherSanctions(petitionforruletoshow
cause).ThepetitionforruletoshowcauseallegedthatPaulDuffyfiledhundredsof
copyrightinfringementlawsuitsacrossthecountryallegingthatISPsubscribers
illegallydownloadedpornography;thepetitionfordiscoverybeforesuitwasfrivolous
becauseGuavahadadmittedinfederalcourtproceedingsthatidentifyingasubscriber
associatedwithanIPaddressdoesnotnecessarilyidentifyanallegedhacker;andthat
Guavausedtheinformationreceivedpursuanttothecourtsordertosendextortionate
settlementdemandletterstosuchsubscribersbeforeascertainingtheiractual
involvementwiththeallegedhackingactivity.Thepetitionforruletoshowcausealso
assertedthatthepetitionwasverifiedbyanindividualwhomaynotexist.
120.OnoraboutJanuary30,2013,RespondentSteeleandPaulDuffycauseda
settlementshakedownlettertobesenttoaJohnDoewhoseinformationwasdisclosed
byComcastpursuanttothecircuitcourtsinitialorder.Thelettercontainedlanguage
similartothelettersdescribedinparagraphs10,51,52,and60,above,andwassigned

byBrettGibbsanattorneyactingatRespondentsdirection.Theletterstatedthat
GuavascomputerswerebreachedandtheirdatawasstolenandthatGuavas
engineersdiscoveredJohnDoesIPaddressaccessingfilestakenfromGuavas
computers.FurthertheletterstatedthatComcasthadconfirmedthatJohnDoewasthe
accountholderoftheIPaddresssoGuavawasseekingtoholdhimliableforthe
conduct.ThelettercontinuedthatinorderfortheJohnDoetoavoidbeingnamedasa
defendantinthepubliclawsuit,Guavawouldacceptapaymentof$4,000.Theletter
alsodetailedthehighcostsoflitigationandstatedthattheamountitwaswillingto
accepttoresolvethematterwouldincreaseovertime.
121.OnFebruary11,2013,RespondentandPaulDuffycausedtobefiled,onbehalfof
Guava,responsestothevariousobjectionsoftheJohnDoesandthepetitionforruleto
showcause.Inresponse,RespondentandPaulDuffystatedthat[u]nknown
individualshackedintoPetitionerscomputersystemsandgainedunauthorizedaccess
toprivateandprotectedinformation.Petitionerdoesnotknowthetrueidentitiesof
theseindividuals,buthasidentifiedtheindividualsbytheIPaddresses.Theresponse
furtherstated[i]nordertoidentifytheseunknownindividualsandbringalawsuit
againstthem,PetitionersoughttoidentifythemthroughaPetitionforDiscoverybefore
suit.
122.OnFebruary12,2013,RespondentSteele,listinghislawfirmassociationasPrenda
Law,filedanentryofappearanceonbehalfofGuavaincasenumber12MR417.
123.OnFebruary13,2013,ahearingwasheldincasenumber12MR417,atwhich
RespondentSteeleappearedonbehalfofGuava.Atthehearing,anattorneyforoneof
theDoedefendantspresentedacopyofthesettlementdemandletterdescribedin
paragraph119,above,andthecourtenteredanordercontinuingallpendingmattersin
casenumber12MR417toFebruary21,2013.
124.OnFebruary21,2013,thecourtheldahearingonallpendingmotionsincase
number12MR417.RespondentSteeleappearedonbehalfofGuava.Atthattime,the
courtenteredanorderstatingAllDoeobjectionstothedisclosureofidentifying
informationareoverruledanddenied.ThecourtalsoallowedGuavasmotiontostrike
Doespetitionforruletoshowcause.
125.OnMarch1,2013,someoftheDoes(Doeappellants)incasenumber12MR417
filedanoticeofappealfromthecourtsFebruary21,2013order.TheClerkofthe
AppellateCourtofIllinois,FifthDistrict,receivedthematteranddocketeditasGuava
LLCv.ComcastCableCommunications,LLC,DocketNo.5130091.TheDoeappellants

alsofiledanemergencymotiontostaythejudgmentpendingappeal,whichthe
appellatecourtgranted.
126.OnMay20,2014,theIllinoisAppellateCourt,FifthDistrict,issueditdecisionin
casenumber5130091.Initsdecision,theAppellateCourtfoundthatthetrialcourt
erredingrantingGuavasrequestfordiscoverybeforefilingsuit,sincethepetition
failedtoallegesufficientfactstosupportacauseofactionagainstthepersonsthe
petitionsoughttoidentify.TheAppellateCourtfurtherheldthatthetrialcourterredin
denyingthepetitionoftheJohnDoesubscribers,whowereidentifiedonlybyanIP
address,whichsoughtaruletoshowcauseandsanctionsagainstGuava,especially
whentheunderlyingquestioninthematterwaswhetherGuavaintendedtostatea
causeofactionagainstthesubscribers,orwasactuallyseekingtoharassorextortthe
subscriberswithoutformingareasonablebasisforbelievingthattheywereculpable
parties.TheAppellateCourtdirectedthetrialcourtonremandtodismissthepetition
fordiscoverybeforesuitandtoconductanevidentiaryhearingonthepetitionforrule
toshowcause,andadjudicatethemeritsoftheDoeappellantsallegationsoffalseand
frivolouspleading,harassment,extortion,identitytheft,andforgery.
127.OnOctober29,2014,thecourtheldastatusconferenceincasenumber12MR417.
Atthattime,thecourtenteredaschedulingorderwhichrequiredthepartiestobriefthe
issueswhichweretobethesubjectoftheevidentiaryhearingonthepetitionforruleto
showcauseandmotionforsanctions.
128.Byreasonoftheconductdescribedabove,Respondenthasengagedinthe
followingmisconduct:
a. bringingaproceedingwithoutabasisinlawandfactfordoingso
thatisnotfrivolous,byconductincludingfilingapetitionseeking
discoverypriortosuit,underthenamesoffictionalentities,for
purposesofexactingsettlements,andseekingdiscoverytoobtain
namesofInternetsubscribersfromwhomsettlementscouldbe
exacted,inviolationofRule3.1oftheIllinoisRulesofProfessional
Conduct;
b. inapretrialproceduremakingafrivolousdiscoveryrequest,by
conductincludingfilingapetitionseekingdiscoverypriortosuit
onbehalfofashellcorporation,inviolationofRule3.4(d)ofthe
IllinoisRulesofProfessionalConduct;
c. conductinvolvingdishonesty,fraud,deceit,ormisrepresentation,
byconductincludingfilingapetitionseekingdiscoverypriorto

suitsolelyfortheimproperpurposeofusingthatdiscoveryto
obtainnamesofInternetsubscribersfromwhomsettlementscould
beexacted,inviolationofRule8.4(c);and
d. conductthatisprejudicialtotheadministrationofjustice,by
conductincludingfilingapetitionseekingdiscoverypriortosuit
fortheimproperpurposeofusingthatdiscoverytoobtainnames
ofInternetsubscribersfromwhomsettlementscouldbeexacted,in
violationofRule8.4(d)oftheIllinoisRulesofProfessional
Conduct.
COUNTVII
(BadFaithLitigation,DishonestConductandMisrepresentationstotheCourt
inPrendaLaw,Inc.,v.PaulGodfread,AlanCooper,andJohnDoes110)
129.OnFebruary12,2013,RespondentandPaulDuffycausedtobefiledacomplaint
onbehalfofPrendaLawagainstPaulGodfreadandAlanCooper,whowereboth
citizensofMinnesota,andJohnDoes110,intheCircuitCourtofSt.ClairCounty,
Illinois.TheClerkoftheCourtreceivedthematteranddocketeditasPrendaLaw,Inc.,v.
PaulGodfread,AlanCooper,andJohnDoes110,casenumber12L75.Inthecomplaint,
PrendaLawallegedclaimsoflibel,defamation,andtortiousinterferencewith
contractualrelationshipsinconnectionwiththeclaimsCooper,andPaulGodfreadas
hislawyer,hadmaderegardingPrendaLawstealinghisidentity,asdescribedinCount
I,paragraphs15through18,andCountII,paragraph43,above.
130.OnMarch1,2013,thedefendantsincasenumber12L75removedthematterto
federalcourtfortheSouthernDistrictofIllinois,assertingtherewasfederaljurisdiction
basedondiversityofcitizenship,becausePrendaLawwasanIllinoiscompanyand
GodfreadandCooperwereMinnesotacitizens.TheClerkoftheCourtreceivedthe
matteranddocketeditasPrendaLaw,Inc.,v.PaulGodfread,AlanCooper,andJohnDoes1
10,casenumber13CV207.
131.OnApril10,2013,RespondentandPaulDuffycausedtobefiledamotionto
remandcasenumber13CV207toSt.ClairCountycircuitcourt.Themotionasserted
thatonFebruary21,2013,anamendedcomplaintwasfiledincasenumber12L75inSt.
ClairCountycircuitcourt,whichincludedAlphaLaw,aMinnesotacompany,asa
plaintiff,andthattherewasnowalackofdiversitysothemattercouldnotremainin
federalcourt.
132.OnJune6,2013,theHonorableDavidR.Herndon,ChiefJudgeofthefederal
districtcourtfortheSouthernDistrictofIllinois,deniedthemotionforremandand

enteredanordertransferringcasenumber13CV207tofederalcourtintheNorthern
DistrictofIllinois,notingthatavirtuallyidentical,firstfiledactioniscurrently
pendingintheNorthernDistrictofIllinois.
133.InhisJune6,2013opiniondenyingPrendasmotionforremand,JudgeHerndon,
adoptingthereasoningcontainedinthedefendantsoppositiontothecasebeing
remandedtostatecourt,foundthatpriortoremoval,PrendaLawfiledanamended
complaintinSt.ClairCountythatwouldallegedlydestroydiversitybyaddinga
Minnesotaplaintiff,AlphaLawFirm;thatthepurportedamendedcomplaintwasa
legalnullitybecausePrendaLawneverfiledthenecessarymotionforleavetoamend
theSt.ClairCountycomplaint;andthatPrendaLawknewthatthedefendantshad
alreadybeenservedwiththeoriginalcomplaint,butrepresentedtotheClerkoftheSt.
ClairCountyCourtthatdefendantshadnotyetbeenservedinordertofilethe
amendedcomplaintnamingAlphaLawasaplaintiff.
134.Upontransferofcasenumber13CV207totheNorthernDistrictofIllinois,the
matterwasconsolidatedwithcasenumber13CV4341,whichwasassignedtothe
HonorableJohnW.Darrah.
135.OnAugust12,2013,RespondentSteeleandPaulDuffycausedtobefiledamotion
toremandcasenumber13CV4341tostatecourt,whichwasidenticaltothemotion
thathadbeenpreviouslydeniedbyJudgeHerndonincasenumber13CV207.
136.OnAugust14,2013,astatushearingwasheldbeforeJudgeDarrahincasenumber
13CV4341,atwhichtimePaulDuffyappearedandpresentedarenewedmotionfor
remand.Atthehearing,PaulDuffystatedtoJudgeDarrahthatthecourtinthe
SouthernDistrictdeniedthemotion.TheyindicatedtheCourtindicatedthaton
thefourcornersofthecomplaint,itstatedthatitwasaMinnesotacorporation.
However,thecomplaintalsostatesthatitsprincipalplaceofbusinessisinMinnesota.
AttheAugust14,2013hearing,counselforthedefendantsexplainedthefactsand
reasoningadoptedbyJudgeHerndoninhisdenialofthemotionforremand,whichdid
notincludethestatementsDuffyattributedtoJudgeHerndon.
137.PaulDuffysstatementsattheAugust14,2013statushearing,setforthin
paragraph135,above,werefalse,becauseJudgeHerndondidnotaddresswhetheror
notAlphaLawwasaMinnesotacorporation.
138.PaulDuffyknewhisstatementssetforthinparagraph135,above,werefalseatthe
timehemadethembecauseheknewthatJudgeHerndondidnotaddresswhetheror
notAlphaLawwasaMinnesotacorporation.

139.OnAugust14,2013,Respondentcausedtobefiledamotiontowithdrawhis
renewedmotiontoremandincasenumber13CV4341,statingplaintiffvehemently
disagreeswithrepresentationsmadebyDefendants[sic]counselattheAugust14,2013
hearingregardingitsMotion,butneverthelessduetotheapparentconfusionarising
fromPlaintiffsMotion,Plaintiffseekstowithdrawit[sic]motion.Ratherthanrenewits
motion,Plaintiffintendsto,attheappropriatetimeifany,amenditscomplainttoad
[sic]AlphaLawGroupLLCasaPlaintiff.
140.OnSeptember24,2013,Defendantsfiledamotionforsanctionsincasenumber13
CV4341,allegingPrendasactionswithrespecttoitsmotiontoremandamountedto
frivolouslitigationandabusivepractice.
141.OnFebruary13,2014,JudgeDarrahgrantedDefendantsmotionforsanctionsin
casenumber13CV4341,imposingsanctionsagainstPrendaLawandPaulDuffydue
tohisunreasonableandvexatiousconduct.Inhisdecision,JudgeDarrahstated:
AfterthecasewastransferredtotheNorthernDistrictofIllinois,Prendaagainmoved
toremand,filingessentiallythesamemotionthattheCourtoftheSouthernDistrictof
Illinoishasdenied.Prendahadnolegalbasisforrenewingthispreviouslyrejected
motion.
Whenpressed,attheremandhearingonAugust14,2013,Duffy,counselforPrenda,
admittedhefiledsubstantiallythesamemotionintheSouthernDistrict.Asdiscussed
above,whenaskedwhattheSouthernDistrictofIllinoissaidaboutthemotion,Duffy
statedtotheCourt:Theydeniedthemotion.TheyindicatedtheCourtindicatedthat
onthefourcornersofthecomplaint,itstatedthatitwasaMinnesotacorporation.
However,thecomplaintalsostatesthatitsprincipalplaceofbusinessisinMinnesota.
However,therecordreflectsthattheSouthernDistrictofIllinoisCourtsaidnothingof
thesort.DuffyhadtheopportunitytoaddressthislieinhisresponsetotheMotionfor
Sanctionsanddidnot.Tofabricatewhatafederaljudgesaidinarulingbeforeanother
courtfallswelloutsidetheboundsofproperadvocacyanddemonstratesaserious
disregardforthejudicialprocess.
JudgeDarrahfurtherinstructedthedefendantsincasenumber13CV4341tosubmitan
itemizedstatementofattorneysfeesoccasionedbythemisconductofPrendaLawand
PaulDuffy.
142.OnJune12,2014,JudgeDarrahenteredanorderawardingsanctionsagainst
PrendaLawintheamountof$11,758.20incasenumber13CV4341.

143.OnJanuary22,2015,JudgeDarrahamendedhisJune12,2014order,andheldthat
PrendaLawandPaulDuffyjointlyandseverallyliableforthesanctionsawardedtothe
defendantsintheamountof$11,758.20.JudgeDarrahfurtherorderedthat,ifeither
PrendaLaworPaulDuffyassertaninabilitytopaytheorderedamount,Duffywasto
submitfinancialstatementsfromacertifiedpublicaccountantverifyinghisfinancial
statusandstatinganyandallassetsofPrendaLaw.
144.AtnotimedidPaulDuffyorPrendaLawpaythe$11,758.20sanctionaward
orderedbyJudgeDarrahonJanuary22,2015.AtnotimedidPaulDuffyorRespondent
provideanyfinancialstatementsonbehalfofDuffyorPrendaLawasaresultofan
assertedaninabilitytopay,asrequiredbytheJanuary22,2015orderdescribedin
paragraph142,above.
145.OnApril9,2015,JudgeDarrahenteredanorderincasenumber13CV4341.Inthe
order,JudgeDarrahstatedthatPrendaLawandDuffyhavebeengivenmultiple
opportunitiestofiletherequestedinformationandtoestablishtheinabilityofeitherto
paytheleviedsanctions.JudgeDarrahfurthernotedthatRespondentSteeleandPaul
Duffyhaveexhibitedaseriousandstudieddisregardfortheorderlyprocessofjustice.
146.AsofthedatetheInquiryPanelvotedtofilethiscomplaintagainstRespondent
Steele,neitherPaulDuffynorPrendaLawhadpaidthe$11,758.20insanctionsawarded
incasenumber13CV4341.
147.Byreasonoftheconductdescribedabove,Respondenthasengagedinthe
followingmisconduct:
a. bringingaproceedingwithoutabasisinlawandfactfordoingso
thatisnotfrivolous,byconductincludingfilingamotionthathad
previouslybeendeniedwithoutalegalbasisforrenewingthat
motion,inviolationofRule3.1oftheIllinoisRulesofProfessional
Conduct;
b. knowinglydisobeyinganobligationundertherulesofatribunal,
byconductincludingfailingtocomplywiththesanctionorders
enteredbyJudgeDarrah,inviolationofRule3.4(c)oftheIllinois
RulesofProfessionalConduct;and
c. conductthatisprejudicialtotheadministrationofjustice,by
conductincludingfailingtocomplywiththeordersenteredby
JudgeDarrah,inviolationofRule8.4(d)oftheIllinoisRulesof
ProfessionalConduct.

WHEREFORE,theAdministratorrequeststhatthismatterbeassignedtoapanelofthe
HearingBoard,thatahearingbeheldandthatthepanelmakefindingsoffact,
conclusionsoffactandlawandarecommendationforsuchdisciplineasiswarranted.
WendyJ.Muchman
MaritaC.Sullivan
CounselfortheAdministrator
AttorneyRegistrationand
DisciplinaryCommission
130EastRandolphDrive,Suite1500
Chicago,Illinois60601
Telephone:(312)5652600

Respectfullysubmitted,
JeromeLarkin,Administrator
AttorneyRegistrationand
DisciplinaryCommission

By:WendyJ.Muchman
By:MaritaC.Sullivan