Dead Solid Pluperfect

A Hot Buttered Guff™ Production

Arbortext Royalty Fraud #22: The Cab Ride Begins

Chapter Twenty-Two
The Cab Ride Begins

Dick Blair’s “interpreting” period lasted three months.

Let’s see, excluding weekends, during which I presume the door was closed to the sweat shop in Dick’s brain where interpretations were stretched on the rack of incredulity, this period represented roughly twelve days per page of the judge’s five page Order.

Serious, extraordinary head scratching. A brain that scorched across the landscape at the speed of a one legged turtle with a torn Achilles tendon, a fractured arch, and a broken toe.

For economic reasons, Mary and I had relieved our lawyer Mr. Bill Hansen of his duties, albeit leaving him $70,000 better off after his year long handling of our court matter with Kevin Dwan, and we now embarked on a perilous, some would say suicidal, course of action known as Representing Ourselves. In Federal Court, not People’s Court. Dwan continued his steadfast muteness, however, by continuing to retain his mouth piece Larry Bernheim and leaving all communications up to him. Kind of chicken shit, if you ask me. 

Mary had approached him after the trial to see if he was open to both of us ditching our attorneys and dealing with the Receiver without the expense of lawyers. He had recoiled away from her like a snail squoozing itself back inside its slime tissue at the first terrifying whiff of a nearby grain of salt. Pathetic.

“He needs Bernheim,” Mary said. “Larry’s the master of dirt ball lawyering. He’s going to do everything he possibly can to muddy up the judge’s ruling. It’s never going to end.”

And so began our saga of being spectators at our own hanging.

It was apparent from the get-go that Blair was also a master of dirt ball lawyering and he and Bernheim quickly formed a first-name-basis relationship that bordered on footsies under the table. Email after email between the two, referring to untold amounts of mutual phone calls which did not bother to include Mary or me. We were cced only when they were ready to ram some decision down our throat. Our responses were simply ignored. Unless I made a derogatory remark about some aspect of events, in which case I received a scalding lecture from Bernheim. Proper legal etiquette required. Advice from the Pot to the Kettle.

The Receivership was confirming our worst fears. It would not be an impartial representation of two ex-partners, but a one-sided screw job. So much for the Court Case being final and definitive. Au contraire. It was merely the first step in the long, long cab ride of the illusion called Justice.

At the end of the three months, Blair set up a date to go back before the judge and get Clarification on the issues raised relentlessly by Bernheim regarding his poor, befuddled, abused and mute client. Also, Blair was quite confused himself about his own duties and responsibilities as the Receiver. Apparently the three or four sentences in the judge’s Order delineating his rather pedestrian role had proved too obscure for a mere three month investigation to properly fathom.

These concerns were raised via a letter from Blair to the court. Dick’s letter somehow managed to overlook any of our concerns. Rather than point this out to Dick and perhaps overburden his cranial capacity, Mary and I chose to write a letter to the court ourselves. This maneuver was undoubtedly going to incur Dick’s everlasting ill-will towards us, but at this point it didn’t seem like that mattered much. He had already determined which side of the ex-partnership his bread would be buttered with and adding relish to his sandwich, via enjoying having us for lunch as opposed to merely digesting us, seemed inconsequential in terms of reality.

So, what the heck, we were Lay Lawyers now. May as well go for it. See if we were going to be any good at “legalese.” This would mark the first collaborative effort between us. Much to our dismay, there would be many, many more to come. Our modus operandi generally was that I would rant and rave through a first draft, then Mary would clean it all up and sound like a nice person voicing a few diplomatic concerns.

In this first effort, we suggested as tactfully as possible that Dick had forgotten to include a few concerns that we felt the judge might want to consider also. With apologies, of course, if this was improper court etiquette and to please forgive us for our boundless ignorance if that was the case. But as long as we had breached etiquette, here’s what’s bugging our beans.

Mainly, we thought the judge might like to know that Dwan had completely ignored his Court Order and had continued to do business as Blueberry and Blue Tools without missing a beat. He hadn’t turned over control of the web site or anything else that belonged to Blueberry. We had mentioned this concern to Blair and he had done nothing about it.

Blair spent most of his letter delineating the gargantuan scope of his Receivership, which he had managed to gouge out of the few brief lines in the Order that mentioned him. The focus of his three months spent getting up to snuff was now abundantly clear. He unabashedly intended to detour as much of Blueberry’s royalties into his own wallet, and away from mine and Dwan’s, as he could possibly get away with.

The only thing about the two partners that concerned Blair was how to reimburse Dwan, and thus please Bernheim, while not paying me and thus being able to properly please himself. Since all of our concerns involved strict adherence to the Judge’s ruling and thus a limited scope for Dick Blair, we were the de facto enemies to Dick Blair’s wallet fattening agenda.

Blair and Bernheim believed that Dwan should be paid all royalties received until he reached his half of the $160,000 figure that the court had concluded was Blueberry’s net worth. Not exactly a Fortune 500 amount, I suppose, but that does not justify putting this tome down for a prolonged attack of snickering. The court had not factored in the VistaSource debt, so actually Blueberry was worth more like $280,000. So there.

The judge pointed out that his Order specified Dwan was to be paid out of Arbortext and VistaSource royalties concurrently with me, not before me.

Blair then delivered a vivid example of his $350 an hour cab driving skills by employing a technique we would become all too familiar with in the days and months ahead. It was called Playing Really Really Dumb.

He pretended not to understand how to accomplish this concurrent disbursement dictum. When a royalty check came in, despite the above fairly direct explanation from His Honor, Blair still fondled the idea that he would credit half of it to me and half of it to Dwan, but he would then give my credited half to Dwan.

The judge demurred, saying his Order clearly specified that I would get my half and Dwan would get his half and the half that Dwan got would go towards retiring his half of ownership, even though he would continue to get half of the royalties after that figure had been reached. The logic for this was that if the royalties dried up before Dwan got his half, then I would owe him personally out of my own pocket for the difference. Part of my reward for getting to be sole owner of Blueberry.

It may not be possible for mere legal lay people out there in the real world to properly digest the spectacle of a $350 an hour Receiver and a taxpayer funded Federal Judge dribbling words back and forth like two remedial illiterates, but I swear they did. On second thought, maybe it’s not that hard to imagine. They were both lawyers, after all.

Mary and I, sitting alone at the Plaintiff table, naked of representation, spent this interminable interlude of duncemanship carefully nudging knees and making very unobtrusive facial expressions which more or less indicated to each other that we could not believe the manure being excreted before our very eyes.

Do we dare to interject?

To be continued . . .
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July 14, 2008 - Posted by | Business, Law, Software, Stories, Writing | , , , ,

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