Charles Carreon (Almost) Concedes in Satirical Chas First Amendment Case

When we last jumped off the Charles Carreon train, he had finally been served after evading service in the Satirical Chas case.  As you might recall, Carreon was mighty upset that a satirical blogger had taken up residence at charles-carreon.com.  With a mighty roar and great bravado, Carreon issued one of the greatest censorious threats of internet history, raising the specter of a trademark infringement case and promising to litigate the unique trademark and First Amendment issues up and down the appellate courts.

It may be that Charles Carreon realized that the moment he stops making an ass of himself, Satirical Chas will start to run out of material and Carreon can fade back into the internet ether from which he came.  Or it may be that he doesn’t want to waste the time or money litigating a case he stands a good chance of losing.  Or maybe – just maybe — this holiday season, Charles Carreon’s heart grew three times in size and he realized the error of his ways.

For whatever reason, Charles Carreon is crying uncle.

Yesterday, the parties agreed to extend the deadline (PDF) for Mr. Carreon to respond to the lawsuit, meaning that Mr. Carreon’s response would now be due on December 20.

However, it appears (PDF) that Satirical Chas and Carreon have reached a tentative agreement to settle the case. Carreon has proposed that the following judgment be entered, though it is unclear whether Satirical Chas has accepted these terms:

The court shall enter a declaration declaring that:

1. Plaintiff’s domain name “charles-carreon.com,” plaintiff’s use of the domain name, and plaintiff’s current manner of using his web site, do not violate defendant’s rights;

2. Plaintiff’s use of the domain name “charles-carreon.com,” in its current manner of use, is fair use and protected under the First Amendment, and does not infringe on defendant’s mark;

3. Defendant is not entitled to an injunction against plaintiff using the domain name “charles-carreon.com” or operating the Web site located at the URL “www.charles-carreon.com;” and

4. Plaintiff shall take a total money judgment inclusive of costs in the amount of $725, being the sum of the filing fee and service costs claimed.

That’s essentially the ballgame.  After much gusto in threatening endless litigation against Satirical Chas, Charles Carreon is offering to concede that his censorious threats were baseless.

But Mr. Carreon isn’t getting away that easy.  After Mr. Carreon refused to play nice and waive service of process, he opened himself up to paying the costs of actually being served.  Satirical Chas’ attorneys asked Mr. Carreon to pay a few hundred dollars to cover those costs and told him they would ask the court to order him to pay those costs.  Mr. Carreon declined, suggesting they wait until the end of the case.

In the game of litigation chess, this was an unforced error: Satirical Chas’ attorneys sought (PDF) not only the few hundred bucks it cost to serve process, but much more.  Because they had to spend time asking the Court to tell Carreon to pay what he already owes, it cost even more money.  Grand total: $4,664.45.

Charles Carreon doesn’t want to pay that much, so he’s asked the Court to give him more time (PDF) to explain why he shouldn’t have to pay those costs.  He’s very busy, you understand.  In doing so, he’s also whimpering that he just might refuse to settle and will continue the litigation on the merits.

So, it’s unclear where the parties stand.  They may not fully agree on the exact terms of settling the matter, or they may just disagree on how many simoleons Carreon has to hand over to pay the cleanup costs of the mess he created.

Perhaps Mr. Carreon’s proffered concession isn’t sincere and he just wants out of this mess.  Perhaps he has seen the light.   But that’s not important.

What is important is the strong message this will send to the censorious.  If you trumpet trumped-up threats of litigation against your critics, people like Ken White will put up the Popehat Signal seeking assistance for those in need, and attorneys like Paul Alan Levy and Cathy Gellis will answer its call.  If you leave your threat hanging in the air, there are people who will clear the air.  They won’t wait for you to file suit; they’ll force you to defend your censorious threats.  And you will wind up paying with more than your reputation*.

Stay tuned.  This case will either be wrapped up like a present for Christmas, or it’ll carry on into the new year.

(My gratitude to Nicholas Weaver for pointing out this filing. Stupid ECF not alerting me…)

*Sorry, I meant rapeutation.

  • Nicholas Weaver

    Its also interesting. Paul Levy stipulated an extension to Charles’s regular filing deadline, but did NOT stipulate an extension for the motion to pay for cost of service. Thus Chuckles had to file a separate motion for delaying that deadline. With a 5 page declaration that would probably be MORE effort than simply filing the motion objecting to having to pay for the cost of service!

    Oh, and Chuckles committed a (trivially minor) bit of perjury in his exhibit 1:

    He included this text in his proof of service.

    I am a citizen of the United States with a business address of 2165 S. Avenida Planeta. I am over the age of 18 years, and not a party to the within action. I declare that, on the date subscribed below, I served the following document described as (emphasis added)

    Uhh, I hate to say it, but Chuckles most certainly is a party to this action, as much as he may disagree with that…

    • Tali McPike

      Charles filed an Ex Parte requesting for an extension on the cost of service motion. Levy has responded with an objection with begins with “In thirty-five years of practice at Public Citizen, undersigned lead counsel can count on one hand the number of times that he has objected to another lawyer’s request for an extension of time.” http://ia700801.us.archive.org/13/items/gov.uscourts.cand.256701/gov.uscourts.cand.256701.35.0.pdf

      • Tali McPike

        Curses! The affidavit with exhibits Y & Z (which include more emails with Carreon) aren’t available on the archive of the docket (and I don’t have a subscription to PACER) I was looking forward to reading those emails…

        • Nicholas Weaver

          Ask and ye shal receive…. http://www.archive.org/download/gov.uscourts.cand.256701/gov.uscourts.cand.256701.35.1.pdf

          Serious popcorn, serious serious popcorn…

        • Nicholas Weaver

          In particular on the popcorn front:

          a) Charles HAS made it clear he’s going to claim jurisdictional “standing” issues. Which is amazing chutzpa, since he practices in that very building and was served in that very building when representing a paying client in court!

          b) Charles has gone from 4 months ago saying “i can hire a lawyer and bury your client” to “I’m poor, waaa”, and Paul Levy called him on it, big time…

          Overall, it appears that Charles not only committed a huge unforced error in refusing service, compounded by refusing to stipulate to pay the cost of service, he’s seemingly intent on, once again, going Full Carreon: threatening to drag things out, to sue Public Citizen.

          Which seems unfortunate for Charles because, unlike Toyota, Paul Levy seems intent on seeing this through. And unlike Penguin, there is standing to sue Charles in California.

          Also, I don’t think Charles realizes the implications yet of Paul Levy’s pro bono status and awards of attorneys fees: Charles’s attempts to run up the cost of litigation can’t hurt Satirical Chaz, but will only hurt Charles if there are awards of attorneys fees in any matter.

          And I think Paul Levy’s hardball on the motion for fees for recovering the cost of service is his way of trying to teach Charles the danger of running up costs in this manner. But Charles still doesn’t seem to be learning.

          • Tali McPike

            “given that you have never looked at the issue, it is very odd that you are basing your assumption that you are right.”
            I think that sums up the case, and Carreon, perfectly. What is that saying? “Pride goeth before the fall”?

          • Tali McPike

            Grab the Popcorn! Carreon responds to Levy’s objection.

            Of particular note is where he commits more purjury by stating “I did not tell Mr. Levy that I have a reputation for “delaying litigation.” Indeed, I believe I have a reputation for moving litigation along with alacrity. I simply told him, in response to his threat to take appeals, that I too have been litigating for some 26 years, and once engaged,
            do not tire easily.”
            To which I believe Mr. Levy will simply laugh and quote Charles’ original letter to Levy back when this whole thing began “8….I have the know capacity to litigate appeals for years (check my westlaw profile and of course the drawn out history of Penguin v. American Buddha, now in its third year…).”

            This just keeps getting better. (And I am seriously doubting that they are going to accept his OoJ with this crap he’s pulling)

  • Nicholas Weaver

    Oh, and here’s hoping that if Charles objects having to pay Levy’s time for the “pay us” motion on service costs, that the cost of responding to Charles’s objection can be further tacked on to the bill. With luck, Paul Levy will end up owning Charles’s Prius. :)

    • Joe

      Unfortunately I don’t even think Charles owns his Prius. My bet is the bank still owns it.

  • Tali McPike

    Charles states in his Ex Parte motion that if his Offer of Judgment is not accepted (which, given that he only wants to pay for cost of service, and not the legal fees associated with filing the motion to have the fees awarded, would not necessarily be out of the question) that he will file for dismissal for “lack of a case or controversy.” If this does happen will his threatening letters (including the one to Walgreens), be enough to prove the existence of a case or controversy? Or could a judge be swayed by even a psudo “come to Jesus” moment where Carreon states that he has no interest in pursuing this further (despite this threat of waiting to the end of the statute of limitations or another time when Satirical Chas does not have the Pro-Bono help of Gellis and Levy)?

    • Nicholas Weaver

      Oh, there is still controversy, namely, Should Charles pay the bill in ducking service and then deliberately fighting the bill that FRCP says he has to pay for…

      As well as Charles’s continued threats make it darn clear that, without a formal judgement, Satirical Chaz is at risk from Charles’s legal thuggery.

  • Nicholas Weaver

    Oh, Charles got his motion, so he has until the 20th to respond to everything, assuming that Satirical Chaz and Paul Levy don’t accept Charles’s offer of “absolutely nothing”

    Frankly, I can’t wait to see Charles’s attempts to say:

    a) Because the case will be thrown out, I don’t owe the cost of service and the cost of getting me to pay (uhh, I Am Not A Lawyer), but I think you do: its specifically structured that way to punish those who duck service and then refuse to pay).

    b) This isn’t the right court to sue me in because I am a resident of Arizona. (Pay no attention to the fact that I was served in this very building, that I am only licensed to practice in CA and Oregon, NOT in Arizona, so any client activity must be in this state or Oregon, that I specifically threatened to sue in California, and that my paying client activities that caused me to seek a delay are all in California…)

    c) I made no legal threats. You see, it was just a friendly observation in my original letter and my letter to Walgreens and my letter to Satirical Chaz’s registrar. Similarly, its just a friendly observation that if my home refinance fails due to this lawsuit, Nope, no threats at all, so there is nothing to sue over.

    Its not like I’m writing Chuckles’s brief for him, I’m just predicting the arguments he’s going to use. But I’m looking forward to seeing his job, and Paul Levy’s reply which would undoubtedly cite several of Charles’s own declarations and exhibits in showing how ridiculous they are…

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