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Two past prosecutions for forged court orders in libel takedown cases


The Michael Arnstein prosecution reminded me to post about two other cases where people were prosecuted—and convicted—for forging court orders aimed at getting material taken down from the Internet.

1. Don Lichterman, who runs some small independent music labels (Sunset Recordings and some related companies), was sued for copyright infringement (Abshier v. Sunset Recordings)—and got so upset about what he saw to be libelous statements about him made as a result of the lawsuit that he forged a libel takedown order to send to WordPress, which hosted the blog that contained the statements. Lichterman was caught and prosecuted for forgery (U.S. v. Lichterman), and eventually pleaded guilty.

2. Garner Ted Aukerman is an aspiring but apparently not often employed actor, whose IMDb profile says that he "is a cousin of actor Robert Downey Jr." Some also say that he had been romantically involved with working actress Lacey Chabert, who achieved some prominence in the TV show "Party of Five." He got incensed by some posts about him and about Chabert, and he sued for a protective order against the alleged author of the posts. [UPDATE: See UPDATE below for Aukerman's response as to Chabert and as to whether he is an aspiring actor.]

But then he got impatient and took a court document from the case and converted it into an apparent court order, which provided (among other things):

An Injunction for protection against stalking will be in place from now until December 19, 2016, which will immediately restrain Respondent [James C.] Adams from committing any acts of stalking, and which will provide any terms the Court deems necessary for the protection, including …

c. Removing websites and web biogs Respondent Adams created to cyber stalk Petitioner Aukerman and Chabert.

d. The Court further orders all internet search engine company providers remove the name(s) James C. Adams, Jr., also known as "Jaycee Adams", Garner "Ted" Aukerman and Lacey Chabert whenever and wherever these names appear together in internet search results content and related search terms.

e. The Court orders the following URL webpages blocked from internet search engine providers content; Bing, Google, Ask, Yahoo, MSN, Dogpile et. Al.:

Aukerman also got caught, but was prosecuted for criminal contempt of court rather than for forgery; he pleaded guilty, and was sentenced to 30 days in jail.

Finally, recall also the Haas v. Berriault story, though I'm unaware of any prosecution as to that.

UPDATE: Aukerman insists that he was never romantically involved with Chabert, and I'm happy to pass along his statement on that, which I have no particular reason to doubt. He also says that he was never an aspiring actor but had just worked as a stuntman, which I'm also happy to pass along; my read of his IMDb page, his online resume, his Google Plus page, and his Twitter accounts was that he was indeed an aspiring actor, but if he says otherwise then that's fine by me.