*I AM POSTING THIS ENTRY UNEDITED BECAUSE OF THE IMPORTANCE OF ITS CONTENT. I WILL EDIT, ADD LINKS, AND WILL CLEAN UP LATER*
If you were a plaintiff attorney suing thousands of defendants, what would you do if the judge figured out that you were not allowed to practice law?
Terik Hashmi, owner of the Transnational Law Group, LLC just received a note from U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle essentially freezing each and every one of his 28 cases filed against John Doe Defendants, at first glance because he was not licensed to practice law in the state where he lives.
In short, in order for an attorney to gain admission to practice as an attorney in a federal court, the court requires that you be licensed to practice law and be in good standing in the state in which you are licensed. Without delving too deeply into this, on Terik Hashmi’s letterhead, it says, “PRACTICE LIMITED TO FEDERAL COPYRIGHT PROTECTION AND ENFORCEMENT LAW,” which essentially says, “I’m not licensed in this state and this state’s bar, but I’m not practicing any state law,” which is usually a way out of being charged with the unauthorized practice of law (“UPL”), or practicing law without a license.
Looking a bit deeper, when Terik signs his name, he signs it as “Terik Hashmi, JD, LLM (OH, FL/ND)” suggesting that he is licensed in the State of Ohio and in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida (the court that issued this ruling).
Taking a look at the Ohio Bar’s website he appears to be licensed as an attorney and in good standing. Apparently he was sanctioned three (3) times during the years 2000-2001, 2002-2003, and 2004-2005 for failing to comply with the continuing legal education (“CLE”) requirements [he just had to pay fines for this], but other than these, I see nothing that indicates that he is not licensed as an attorney in Ohio.
The problem is that it would NOT be the unauthorized practice of law if he lived in ANOTHER STATE and he was filing cases in the Northern District of Florida Federal Court as he has been. However, because Mr. Hashmi RESIDES IN the State of Florida (meaning he appears to be running his law practice while being in the physical borders of Florida — hence the “limited to federal practice” notation on his letterhead), the judge is suggesting that he is in violation of the Florida State Bar unauthorized practice of law statutes (and probably as a result will be in violation of his Ohio state bar’s ethics rules as well).
For this reason, all of his 28 cases [for the time being] have been merged into Case No. 4:11-cv-00570 and are FROZEN. Lastly, quoting from the judge’s order, “Mr. Hashmi must show cause by March 9, 2012, why these cases should not be dismissed on the ground that he has no authority to practice law in Florida or in this court.”
What this means to you is that as things stand, “…Mr. Hashmi must not attempt to settle any of these cases, must not accept any payment in settlement of any of these cases, and must not take any other action in any of these cases.” In other words, for the time being, Terik Hashmi’s cases (listed below) are DEAD.
THIRD DEGREE FILMS, INC. v. DOES 1-259 (Case No. 4:11-cv-00570)
THIRD DEGREE FILMS, INC. v. DOES 1-375 (Case No. 4:11-cv-00572)
DIGITAL SIN, INC. v. DOES 1-208 (Case No. 4:11-cv-00583)
DIGITAL SIN, INC. v. DOES 1-145 (Case No. 4:11-cv-00584)
DIGITAL SIN, INC. v. DOES 1-167 (Case No. 4:11-cv-00586)
NEXT PHASE DISTRIBUTION, INC. v. DOES 1-126 (Case No. 4:12-cv-00006)
PATRICK COLLINS, INC. v. DOES 1-85 (Case No. 4:12-cv-00007)
ZERO TOLERANCE ENTERTAINMENT, INC. v. DOES 1-52 (Case No. 4:12-cv-00008)
MEDIA PRODUCTS, INC. v. DOES 1-34 (Case No. 4:12-cv-00024)
SBO PICTURES, INC. v. DOES 1-92 (Case No. 4:12-cv-00025)
SBO PICTURES, INC. v. DOES 1-97 (Case No. 4:12-cv-00026)
METRO INTERACTIVE, LLC v. DOES 1-56 (Case No. 4:12-cv-00043)
EVASIVE ANGLES ENTERTAINMENT v. DOES 1-97 (Case No. 1:11-cv-00241)
ELEGANT ANGEL, INC. v. DOES 1-87 (Case No. 1:11-cv-00243)
ELEGANT ANGEL, INC. v. DOES 1-115 (Case No. 1:11-cv-00245)
ELEGANT ANGEL, INC. v. DOES 1-85 (Case No. 1:11-cv-00246)
ELEGANT ANGEL, INC. v. DOES 1-77 (Case No. 1:11-cv-00247)
MEDIA PRODUCTS, INC. v. DOES 1-175 (Case No. 1:11-cv-00248)
DIGITAL SIN, INC. v. DOES 1-150 (Case No. 1:11-cv-00280)
DIGITAL SIN, INC. v. DOES 1-131 (Case No. 1:11-cv-00281)
EXQUISITE MULTIMEDIA, INC. v. DOES 1-178 (Case No. 1:12-cv-00002)
MEDIA PRODUCTS, INC. v. DOES 1-43 (Case No. 1:12-cv-00003)
NEXT PHASE DISTRIBUTION, INC. v. DOES 1-93 (Case No. 1:12-cv-00004)
PATRICK COLLINS, INC. v. DOES 1-159 (Case No. 1:12-cv-00018)
THIRD DEGREE FILMS, INC. v. DOES 1-195 (Case No. 1:12-cv-00019)
MEDIA PRODUCTS, INC. v. DOES 1-168 (Case No. 1:12-cv-00020)
SBO PICTURES, INC. v. DOES 1-98 (Case No. 1:12-cv-00021)
On a personal note, do I really think this is the end of these cases? No, and this is merely because I am still floored that these cases are still around almost TWO YEARS no after they first started to appear. Plaintiff attorneys have come and gone, but the cases still appear to continue [for the most part] unhindered by the various Judges. Obviously many of them have smartened up the the mass extortion scheme being perpetrated on now a hundred or so thousand John Doe defendants, but the fact that the “Plaintiff v. John Doe 1-25” or “Plaintiff v. John Doe 1-250” cases are still around in the first place suggest that the attorney generals and the U.S. attorney generals are doing ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to make these cases go away as they did with the Trevor Law Group automobile repair shop extortion scheme cases (look them up) a few years back in the Northern District of California.
Do I think Terik Hashmi is finished? Probably not. I am sure he’ll find a way to overcome this obstacle, but again, I say this only because I’m a bit dark and jaded from the fact that plaintiff attorneys still have their law licenses and are still filing lawsuits long after their cases have been shown to be what they are.
For now, we should enjoy our victory and not get overly confident that these cases cannot reappear in the near future. Congratulations to all.
Most importantly, THIS IS THE FIRST TIME A JUDGE HAS TAKEN DOWN ALL OF THE SMALLER “JOHN DOE” LAWSUITS AT ONCE. Other plaintiff attorneys should sit up and take notice.
20 thoughts on “Florida Judge consolidates and freezes ALL SMALLER BITTORRENT CASES for plaintiff attorney.”
Another great post. Does that mean that the victims of his actions while practicing Law while unlicensed can go after him for a refund of sorts?
Rob, what do you think about the news reported by DieTrollDie that Hashmi had previously signed an affidavit in which he swore not to practice law in Florida and understood that doing so without a license is a 3rd degree felony?
According to a quick Google search a 3rd degree felony in Florida carries a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison and $5000 fine. Considering the large number of cases and Does this guy has filed against I don’t see how regulators can let this slide; it’s not like this guy skirted the rules one time to help a friend out or some other circumstance that might garner sympathy. He clearly made a premeditated decision to commit a felony in order to build a business and profit from his crimes. Totally shameless and flagrant.
I’m letting my excitement get ahead of me now, but this strikes me as having the potential to blow the lid off this thing with respect to regulators in Florida. This guy has given them a reason to ask questions about these scams and as long as they are busy tearing Hashmi apart they may just decide to have a look and see what all those guys other guys are up to. Other operations like Prenda that are in Florida but operating through proxies may have opened themselves up to trouble too, as we all know that guys like Steele who are not licensed to practice in Florida are actually pulling the strings and may also find themselves in violation of the law if regulators decide to start looking.
If I were a Copyright Troll in Florida I would be losing sleep right now.
Attorney General? Fla attorney general has a new assistant now: Joanne Diez (search LinkedIn – her title is “Assistant Attorney General at Office of the Attorney General” ), but she worked (or still works?) for Steele filing troll cases. Her email address is email@example.com
There is always hope she was a deep cover mole =)
Someone commenting on DTD’s blog noticed Terik Hashmi’s Transnational Law Group has been delisted from the Copyright Enforcement Group’s partner’s page. So they are paying attention and must be concerned – hope they don’t think we didn’t notice.
I called this move over in the comments at SJD’s site when this broke, but you’ll have to take my word for at as I’m just another Anonymous poster 😀
I immediately saw this as well. I went onto the “Way Back Machine” on the http://www.archive.org website to pull up a copy of their website, but apparently the website itself is so new (from a creditor’s perspective, this detracts from their credibility), it was never archived in the first place. Google doesn’t seem to have archived it either. -Rob
I do have a screenshot – it was anticipated. I’ll fire a post in the evening.
Another reason is a mysterious guy Marvin Cable – he is on EFF list and was not caught trolling, even defends some Randazza/Silverstein victims. Whoever he is, partnership in this sleazy outfit does not add to an attorney’s reputation.
Visit Mr. Hasmi’s Transnational Law Group website, you get this message:
“Due to system upgrade we are currently down for maintenance.
We apologize for the inconvenience …”
Are the ISPs informed not to release the identities of the John Does per the original subpeona automatically due to this Freeze, or do the John Does and/or their lawyers still need to do something to delay the release of their identity?
THE JOHN DOES (OR THEIR LAWYERS) NEED TO CONTACT THEIR ISPS TO INSTRUCT THEM *NOT TO COMPLY* WITH THE SUBPOENA. GET A COPY OF THE ORDER, AND ATTACH IT TO YOUR LETTER.
Great! Where do we get a copy of the order so we can attach it to the do not comply letter? Once we do this, is it smart to disconnect service to prevent future harassment? Thank you everyone!
The order has been posted all over the web, and I’ll be putting it on my site as soon as I update the aticle. As far as disconnecting service, that will do ABSOLUTELY NOTHING FOR YOU because many of my clients were served subpoena MONTHS after disconnecting their service. Quite frankly, however, if you have a mainstream ISP (one of the big five), then you’re in the 80% of the defendants; if you are in an obscure ISP, you’re in the 20% of all defendants. That being said, if you’re going to do any activity which you fear may incur civil liability or lawsuits such as this one, your best bet quite frankly is to hide your tracks using proxy servers or other anonymization strategies.
Thanks for your prompt response. I am definately in the 80%. That being said, what do I do now? I would like to take steps to move past this. When looking at the new order, I see it says the plaintiff could technically secure a FL based lawer and continue. Does that mean it is critical that I hire a lawyer now? Can I fax a do not comply letter w/ the order and be done with it? (betting it will be dismissed by March) If so, what exactly should I have in the fax to them? DIGITAL SIN, INC. v. DOES 1-150 (Case No. 1:11-cv-00280) Thanks Again!
Well it looks like this is heating up. Mike Meier, the Weretroll, is trying to substitute for Hashmi in the new Omnicase. Seems like an odd choice on CEG’s part as Meier is also not licensed in FL, but DC and NY where he has been doing CEG’s dirty work.
Looks like the court has permitted Meier to represent plaintiffs insofar as they are required to show cause by March 9 why the cases should not be dismissed as a result of Hashmi’s transgressions. There has also been a load of motion to quash, motion to dismiss and motion to sever action.
Next Friday will be a day to mark on your calendars. Would love to hear Rob’s professional commentary in the mean time 😀
Is it just me or did Judge Hinkle state in his order on 16 February 2012 that …..”An attorney who resides in Florida but who is not a member of the Florida Bar cannot properly appear in this court.” Then on 9 March 2012 Terik Hashmi’s Response to Show Cause Order he signs his name with the following.
“Terik Hashmi (OH Supreme Court #0064329)
N.D. Florida: Practice limited to Federal Law.
Not Admitted in Florida.
Is the above issue only about him signing his name with (OH, FL/ND) or did he just put his foot in his mouth again?
If I understand the Judge correctly, I believe Terik practice is limited to OH and only if he moves back there can he be admitted to practice in the Northern District of Florida.
Terik Hashmi’s Response to Show Cause Order (I’m sorry letter) really does not cut it either, since he signed a cease and desist affidavit in 5 August 2010 indicating that practicing law etc. in the state of Florida was a 3rd degree felony.
If Terik Hashmi cases are allowed to survive it pretty much says to other people that anyone in the state can practice law until you get caught (even if it is for the second time). Then when caught, say “I’m sorry” and just hand off the cases to somebody who is qualified to appear in court.
Additionally someone should also mention to Judge Hinkle that if he throws out the cases that the Plaintiff will not be out any money, as Terik Hashmi or his associates at Copyright Enforcement Group are the ones paying for the filling fees per their arrangement. The Plaintiff only gets a cut of what the Troll can extract from the Does in settlements (60% Troll/40% Plaintiff).
The problem is black-and-white unauthorized practice of law. In short, I am licensed to practice law in New York STATE and Texas STATE. I can file and respond to copyright lawsuits ANYWHERE IN THE COUNTRY (as long as I remain in the physical state borders of New York or Texas where I am licensed). If I move to New Jersey (or to ANY STATE where I am not licensed), and I practiced law there without a license, I would likely be violating that state’s unauthorized practice of law statutes.
Terik was licensed in Ohio STATE, but he was running his law practice while being in the physical state borders of FLORIDA STATE. If he was living in Ohio, there would be NO ISSUE with him filing cases or fighting copyright cases in Florida.
The murky grey zone (which Terik made the mistake) was that in some cases, and attorney can LIMIT HIS PRACTICE TO THE PRACTICE OF FEDERAL LAW and have his law practice in a state in which he is not licensed. This is what Terik did, thinking that it was okay to do in Florida. However, he got caught, signed an affidavit saying that he won’t do it again, and then did it again and again. Now he’s in trouble.
@The Tod, as for your other comments, you are completely correct. I am not sure about the 60/40 cut, but I agreed with everything else you wrote.
-I guess that can be stricken from the post.-
What do you think of Mr. Simon’s – John Does’ Memorandum in Opposition to Planintiff’s Response to Show Cause Order. Dated 12 March 2012. #45
Stateing “Because Mr. Hashmi is no longer affiliated with the Consolidated Actions following the Court’s determination of his improper practice in Florida, all of these essential verification are invalid and should be declared null and void. Consequently, the “verified” complaints in the Consolidated Action cannot stand and should be dismissed.”
Haha now he’s taking on immigration cases in Az while sitting in Fl. hope his clients get what they paid for I think he’s gona buy a boat with their money and sail off into the sunset. Crook.