Federal Building and US Courthouse, San Francisco, CA Ty Walker / flickr When one imagines a tense cross-examination, the image that springs to mind is of a witness sweating under the rapid-fire questions of a lawyer. That wasn’t what happened as Paul Duffy, a lawyer for embattled p**n-troll Prenda Law, grilled a former colleague in a San Francisco courtroom yesterday. It was Duffy himself who appeared sweating and nervous, questioning his former colleague Brett Gibbs in rapid-fire, repetitive sentences that were at times hard to understand. Gibbs just spent about 45 minutes testifying that Paul Hansmeier and John Steele were the true bosses behind the Prenda Law scheme, which involved mass-copyright lawsuits against Internet users who were accused of downloading p**nographic films. In his cross-examination, Duffy tried to suss out any inconsistencies in what Gibbs said—with little success. Duffy’s performance was a last-ditch attempt to avoid a serious sanctions order against Prenda, which may be imminent for a second time. Prenda Law became infamous for suing thousands of Internet users at once, alleging they illegally downloaded p**nography. But the operation has now ground to a halt, and the lawyers who apparently led the charge are in serious trouble. Earlier this year, a Los Angeles federal judge slapped Duffy, Hansmeier, Steele, and Gibbs with an $81,000 sanction order which also included a referral to criminal investigators. Gibbs has since “switched sides” and has worked with defense lawyers, testifying against his former Prenda colleagues. 1     

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