Richard Jones, King County Superior Court

Rating: Average

Richard Jones presided over case 05-2-13649-9 SEA, in which a friend of mine, Joel Hodgell, sued EFinancial LLC for spams he had received at his Hotmail and Yahoo Mail accounts.

EFinancial hired an "expert witness" named Larry G. Johnson, who submitted a declaration arguing that the only way to "determine the authenticity and source" of the messages Joel received at his Hotmail and Yahoo Mail accounts was to make a "clone copy" of Joel's hard drive, in order to "view them in the environment in which they were generated or received". As such, they asked the court to order Joel to turn over a copy of his hard drive to the spammers that he was suing.

I volunteered to write a rebuttal brief pointing out how ridiculous this was, because messages in a Hotmail or Yahoo Mail account are never stored on your hard drive (and Joel had already agreed to provide copies of all the e-mails with full headers anyway), so the intent of the request was just to intimidate Joel into dropping the lawsuit -- since the last thing you want is to give a spammer your hard drive's contents. The declaration I submitted is here. At the time, I said publicly that on the basis of Larry Johnson's credentials (which included a license to practice law in Washington, 21 years of computer consulting, and playing a character called "Sheriff Tiny" in a movie called Easier Said), there was no chance that he really believed it was necessary to get a copy of Joel's hard drive, and that it was outrageous that the judge would, at best, simply ignore him, instead of having him arrested, which is theoretically what is supposed to happen if you get caught lying under oath.

Instead, on June 6, 2006, Judge Jones issued granting EFinancial's motion and ordering Joel to give EFinancial a mirror of his hard drive.

Since even my Mom understands that Hotmail messages are not stored on your hard drive, it's pretty clear that Judge Jones either didn't read any of the declarations, or was intent on throwing the case to the spammer to discourage further lawsuits.

Joel filed a motion for reconsideration, but that was denied as well. In October 2006, the parties reached an out-of-court settlement, the details of which are not public, but the case has been dropped.

Bennett Haselton