A pair of Bit Torrent defendants remind me of why we do pro bono

Ask any lawyer. Pro bono clients are never in the middle of the spectrum. They are usually the biggest pain in the ass clients. When someone isn’t paying you, they feel (and they are right) that they are just as entitled to your time as your hourly clients – but they have no disincentive to keeping you on the phone for an hour.

But, sometimes they are also the most rewarding clients. They are the ones who you meet on the phone, with the cracking voice, who say “I need help.” They are the ones that awaken your faded sense of altruism, that suppress your cynicism for a few minutes, and they wind up convincing (or conning) you into sending them an engagement letter that says “pro bono” on it.

One of the things I like to do pro bono is defend bit torrent defendants. Many who know me will likely fall out of their chair upon reading that. I’m more well known for handling plaintiff’s bit torrent cases. If you Google my name and “bit torrent” you’ll likely find a lot of articles about cases where I am the plaintiff’s lawyer in bit torrent litigation.

You likely won’t find any articles about when I defend torrenters. That’s not because I don’t do it. I do. But, it serves my clients to keep my mouth shut about any particular torrent defense. Someone who calls me, in trouble for torrenting porn, doesn’t want me screeching to the press about it. We don’t settle the cases with a triumphant marching band. The defendant is happy to be done with the case and moving on with their life. I’m most successful at it when I don’t have to file a motion. I’m successful at it when I don’t have to raise specious arguments, just to try and assert myself in a case. My strategy is a little different — approach opposing counsel like a gentleman, collegially and ethically. Sometimes it requires more than that, but usually, that’s enough to get my client a good deal.

And that makes me feel like I did a good day’s work. The client is always grateful. But, sometimes, they really reach out in a way that makes me receptive to taking the next one pro bono.

Nom nom nom… I didn’t even have a chance to take a picture and it was half eaten!

Today, a fruit basket arrived — from a pro bono torrent client. Thoughtful? You betcha. I’m chowing down on a pear right now, courtesy of someone I wouldn’t take money from. Being Sicilian, the gift of food is a high compliment. It isn’t just nourishing my aging body — I can feel the appreciation giving me life. Restoring my childish desire to give away my time just to hear someone say “thank you” (or send me food to say the same).

On the same day, another package came… with a card that said:

Thanks so much for getting me out of this lawsuit. A little token of my appreciation.”

With it, a pair of First Amendment cufflinks.

A gift from a pro bono torrenter client. Awww….

Does this person get me or what?

Had I charged these defendants, I’d have made some money. That money would be co-mingled with all the other money I made. I wouldn’t have looked at a stack of bills in a few years and said “this is something I earned in a case back in 2012.”

But, I’ll always remember the thoughtfulness of two defendants who needed my help. Just when I was getting really jaded about pro bono clients, I get the double whammy today… reminding me that being a lawyer is, above all, about helping people. We have a responsibility to do pro bono work. But, it isn’t just so that everyone can afford a lawyer — I believe that pro bono helps keep me more human. It reminds me of the fact that my pleadings and filings and agreements affect real people — and lets me deliver some positivity into the karmic whirlwind.

Sometimes, they give us back something more valuable than any money they could have paid us. They give us a little “thank you,” that also says “I get you.”

10 Responses to A pair of Bit Torrent defendants remind me of why we do pro bono

  1. Roy Warden says:

    Dear Mr. Randazza:

    How does one go about referring a constitutional case to you? I’m the guy who got arrested for challenging the Tucson City Policy re-garding speech before the Mayor and Council during the “Call to the Audience.”

    Ps: I beat them on that in Superior Court in what we in Arizona call a “Special Action” which, in essence is a Writ of Prohibition; they changed the policy, prior to the judge’s ruling, put in a “new policy” and, because I had not been arrested under the “new policy,” got my suit dismissed for want of standing, but I have not yet filed a federal claim for damages.

    Roy Warden
    (520) 284-0089

  2. Well don’t go getting all crazy sending everyone with no ducats to me!

    But, if someone you know needs help and they think I can help them, I’m pretty easy to track down. I prefer not to actively solicit clients on here though, since this is technically not part of my firm’s endeavors.

  3. Roy Warden says:

    Ok, I’ll track you down in a couple of weeks. But here’s a kicker to think about: It won’t be “pro-bono.”

    Cash money down on the table. And the case may yield significant consequential and punative damages, based on an underlying case that precedes this case and a federal jury which returned 2.9 million for the plaintiff in 2006 for conspiracy and first amendment retaliation.

    One of the defendants in the 2006 case is current Tucson City Manager Ricahrd Miranda, who was Assistant Tucson City Police Chief in 1999 when he harmed the Plaintiff,

    Miranda is a defendant in the current case.

    Google: Kevin Gilmartin v Richard Miranda, and see what Miranda did to Gilmartin in 2006.

    What the current case needs is a good trial lawyer.

  4. Mr. Warden, these communications are not privileged and are not a good idea to have in a comments section of a blog. For your own protection, I am banning you from making further comments.

  5. Hit Marc up on Facebook instead. (I kid! I kid!)

    I’ve yet to receive a legal threat, but I am near positive I would have given up on my site by now if not for you.

    I’ll have to keep the fruit basket in mind.

    • A fruit basket?! Fruit is for weenies. Real men send each other pork.

      In fact, if you push it, I may mail you some scrapple. When you mix egg, bread, and scrapple for breakfast, it will be the most delicious day of your life. Your mornings will never be the same.

  6. banawho says:

    mmm fruit. healthy. good to know you lawyers dont always drink the blood of the innocent ;P

    • The blood of the innocent isn’t what it’s cracked up to be. Seriously, I don’t want to go into it here, since this blog isn’t privileged communication, but I know this guy that once drank vintage blood of the innocent and I—I mean him—couldn’t tell the difference between this and the regular blood of the innocent. Hell, I—I mean him—couldn’t even tell the difference between innocent blood and the vulgar blood of infidels.

      Seriously, don’t waste your time. Go for the cheap blood. That’s what I—I mean my friend—does.

    • G Thompson says:

      Blood of the innocent? Nah that’s bad for you – says so right there on the label. Would the FDA lie?

      Instead I prefer the “tears of your enemies” [ http://geekhideout.net/post/16104544436 ] a dish served best with a dash of altruism, a smattering of humility, a touch of cynicism, and a side order of a fruit basket

      Oh and Marc, this just confirms you are human first, and lawyer second (or is that third after ‘consumer of all things NOM’ ) ;)

  7. [...] The Legal Satyricon – A Pair Of Bit Torrent Defendants [...]

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