March 2002 update: read about the case in the Chronicle of Higher Education.
December 2002 update: the plaintiff's appeal to the US Court of Appeals has failed, the January 23, 2002 verdict was affirmed.
On January 23, 2002, US District Court Judge William Shubb (Chief Judge, 9th Circuit for the Eastern District of California) dismissed case number CIV S-01-1480 WBS DAD PS, a copyright infringement suit. The plaintiff, Paul Andrew Mitchell (also known as Mitch Modeleski) had named the Etext Archives, and Paul Southworth (founder of the Etext Archives), as defendants. Other defendants included America Online, Steve Case, Earthlink Networks, several major universities, and dozens of private individuals.
Mr. Mitchell is the operator of the "Supreme Law Firm" web site and a self-appointed expert on matters of Federal law. It appears that the "Supreme Law Firm" is not a law firm in the sense that it is not operated by attorneys. After more than three years of threatening, posturing, boasting and demands for money, Mr. Mitchell filed a complaint (pro se) in 2001.
In his complaint, Mr. Mitchell asserted that over one hundred named defendants (and thousands of others, unnamed) had violated the copyright of an electronic book entitled "The Federal Zone: Cracking the Code of Internal Revenue" which he had written pseudonymously and distributed as shareware.
The major corporate and institutional defendants retained counsel and filed motions to dismiss the case. Paul Southworth of the Etext Archives wrote a letter to the court asking for the case to be dismissed on the grounds that the complaint did not describe any specific violation of the law, and on the grounds that service of the complaint was past deadline.
Judge Shubb asked Magistrate Judge Dale Drozd to review and comment on the case. Judge Drozd's findings and recommendations were filed with the court on December 31, 2001 with a ten-day window for objections. Mr. Mitchell silently allowed the deadline to pass. On January 23, Judge Shubb adopted Judge Drozd's recommendations, dismissing the case with prejudice for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and failure to state a claim. The dismissal document is two pages. A scan of it is reproduced here: [page 1] [page 2]
Paul Southworth and the Etext Archives endorse the dismissal of this case. We are delighted that the dismissal came so quickly. Since the Etext Archives is not a corporation, has no institutional benefactor, and generates no revenue, we do not have a "war chest" for the purpose of litigating copyright issues. We did not violate Mr. Mitchell's copyright, we don't know whether his copyright is valid or not, and we believe his legal case had no merit.
Judge Drozd made several remarks that we have reproduced for you here. These sections were transcribed by hand and may contain typographical errors. Please ask the court if you need authoritative copies. From page 5 of Judge Drozd's recommendations:
At the outset it must be noted that the plaintiff has chosen not to file written opposition to any of the instant motions. Since August 1, 2001 he has demonstrated a steady ability to inundate the court with documents, but at no point has he filed written opposition. This failure alone justifies granting defendants' motions.
In the same document, on page 14:
Given the numerous fatal deficiencies of plaintiff's complaint discussed above, and in light of plaintiff's frivolous arguments and the extent to which he has harassed the named defendants, it appears clear that he cannot cure the defects of this action. Granting leave to amend would be futile.
And later on pages 14-15:
...some of the other 129 defendants named by plaintiff have filed motions to dismiss this frivolous complaint which have not yet been heard, while many others have never been properly served by plaintiff. The court 'may properly on its own motion dismiss an action as to defendants who have not moved to dismiss where such defendants are in a position similar to that of moving defendants or where claims against such defendants are integrally related.' [Cites deleted -- ed.] Here, all of the 129 named defendants are similarly situated to the moving defendants with respect to the court's lack of subject matter jurisdiction over this complaint and plaintiff's failure to state a claim. Accordingly, dismissal with prejudice as to all named defendants is appropriate at this time.
The Etext Archives wish it to be known that we take authors' rights very seriously and we endeavor to promptly investigate and respond to all copyright issues that are brought to our attention. The Etext Archives asserts no ownership rights over the materials archived. We insist that submissions to our site must be legally redistributable. Unfortunately we cannot investigate the copyright status of submitted works before accepting them and submitted works may not have been reviewed by the Etext Archives staff. In the event of a dispute, we always attempt to err on the side of protecting the rights of the copyright holder. If you are aware of any materials in the Etext Archives which are being distributed in violation of copyright, please notify us immediately. These issues receive immediate attention and highest priority.
The documents filed with the court (and quoted above) pertaining to this case are not confidential and are available to the general public. You can find contact information for the clerk at the web site for the US District Court Eastern District of California: http://www.caed.uscourts.gov/.
If you are interested in reading "The Federal Zone", we do not have a copy and we will not assist you in obtaining one.
Mr. Mitchell has used a variety of mailing addresses during this litigation. Here is a partial annotated list of them.
40960 California Oaks Road
Murrieta, CA 92562
This appears to be a Postal Connections store.
|05/09/2002||Paul Andrew Mitchell|
c/o PO Box 370
Sunset Beach, CA 90742
This address is also associated with the "Freedom Mall" operated
|04/03/2002||We The People|
c/o PO Box 370
Sunset Beach, CA 90742
c/o General Delivery
Phillipsville, CA 95559
(Actual 03/01/2002 postmark is from zip 90742 in Sunset Beach, CA)
350 - 30th Street, Suite 444
Oakland, CA 94609-3426
(Actual 02/06/2002? postmark is from zip 95542 in Garberville,
11230 Gold Express Dr. #310-188
Gold River, CA 95670-4484
(This is the letter from "Ronnie Holmes" entitled
c/o 345 Estudillo Ave #104
San Leandro, CA 94577
Here are links to other web sites that mention Mr. Mitchell's suit. No association or endorsement of any web site is implied.
KEYWORDS: paul andrew mitchell, mitch modeleski, supreme law firm, supremelaw.com, supremelaw.org, the federal zone, fedzone, federal citizen, common law copyright, income tax, internal revenue, sovereign citizen, firstname.lastname@example.org, ronny holmes, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, federal witness, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, private attorney general, chisholm v. georgia, u.s. v. lopez, howard freeman, us v. lopez, us v lopez, u.s. v lopez, otto skinner, supremacy clause, clearfield doctrine, constructive notice, coppage v. kansas, irs kleinpaste, dan meador, senator barbara boxer, counselor at law, downes v. bidwell, supreme law library, affidavit of rescission, 31 questions and answers about the internal revenue service
Last modified: 01/24/03 16:04 EST