Call it the Nuremberg defense.
Last week, I told you that Facebook counsel Gibson, Dunn &
Crutcher demanded discovery-dispute fees from Paul Ceglia, an
erstwhile wood-pellet salesman from upstate New York who claims
to own half of the company. Lawyers for the beleaguered Ceglia,
who has fled to Ireland in the wake of assertions that the
contract at the heart of his claim is a forgery, asked Buffalo
district court magistrate Leslie Foschio not to sanction them
because (in part) they were following their client's
Late Friday, Facebook's legal team shredded that argument.
"In attempting to defend their own conduct, Ceglia's
lawyers effectively acknowledge that their client deserves a
severe sanction when they accuse him of instructing them to
disobey the orders of this court," the Oct. 14 filing said.
"But in their haste to pin the blame on their client,
Ceglia's lawyers ignore their duties as officers of the court.
Attorneys have an ethical duty to resist a client's entreaties
to break the law -- and if they fail to persuade their client
to change direction, their proper course is to withdraw, not to
assist their client's obstruction by stonewalling discovery and
filing frivolous and misleading motions."
The Gibson filing argued that Ceglia's lawyers -- solos
Jeffrey Lake and Paul Argentieri -- should be sanctioned on two
grounds: Not only did they obstruct discovery, but in
attempting to excuse that conduct, they betrayed their client.
"The decision by Ceglia's lawyers to turn on their client
and publicly accuse him of wrongdoing by disclosing their
confidential communications with him -- as part of an effort to
protect themselves and shift the blame to their client --
raises serious questions as to whether hey have violated their
professional duties and may continue to represent Ceglia in
this matter," the brief said.
Orin Snyder, Facebook's Gibson Dunn attorney, said in a
statement: "We believe that Ceglia and his counsel should be
held accountable for their extreme and disturbing behavior."
Neither Lake nor Argentieri returned my calls, but here's a
bit of solace for them: Even Gibson Dunn doesn't always win
when it goes after the other side's lawyers. Just ask Nancy
(Reporting by Alison Frankel)
(Adds statement by Facebook attorney)
Follow Alison on Twitter: @AlisonFrankel
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