A federal judge has fined Texas lawyer Evan Stone $10,000 for sending out subpoenas and then settlement letters to a group of file sharers. Judge David Godbey was furious when he discovered that Evan Stone had sent out the subpoenas and settlement letters for those accused of sharing a German porn film called Der Gute Onkel without the judge's permission.
In September 2010, Stone brought suit on behalf of Mick Haig Productions against 670 accused file-swappers. He asked permission to take early discovery and the Judge said no. Godbey asked the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Public Citizen to represent the interests of the people sued, since none of them had yet been named and therefore had no counsel to speak for them.
However EFF and Public Citizen lawyers began hearing from people who said that Verizon had turned over their information to Stone, information generally obtainable only by subpoena. They asked Judge Godbey what was going on and found out Stone if he had in fact issued subpoenas without the court's permission.
Godbey ruled yesterday that Stone "grossly abused his subpoena power," obtained subscriber names he was not entitled to learn, and then contacted an unknown number people to demand money or they would be taken to court.