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In the ongoing drama of Paul Ceglia, the New York wood-pellet salesman who claims he owns a huge chunk of Facebook, both sides are going to have to lay their cards on the table-starting with Ceglia. The U.S. Magistrate Judge handling the evidence-gathering portion of the case signed an order this morning that gives Facebook the quick access to Ceglia’s documents that it had been asking for.
Facebook had filed a big pile of evidence with the court, asking for a sped-up discovery process so that it could prove Ceglia is a fraud. Ceglia, meanwhile, agreed to speed up discovery but wanted Facebook to hand over evidence at the same time.
The order signed today gives Facebook pretty much everything it wanted, and it gives Ceglia some of what his side wanted as well.
Importantly, Ceglia will have to hand over his evidence first-by July 15. That will include the original contract between himself and Zuckerberg, which Facebook’s lawyers say is a forgery. Ceglia also has to hand over all copies of that contract, and all the emails in his lawsuit must be submitted in “hard-copy form.” (Presumably that means the Word files that Ceglia claims is how he saves his emails.)
Then five days it gets Ceglia’s evidence, Facebook will have to give his lawyers copies of all the 175 emails exchanged between Ceglia and Zuckerberg that it found when it scanned Harvard’s server. (Facebook made three of those emails public earlier this month, and they have a very different tone than the alleged emails that Ceglia attached to his complaint. But many more haven’t been made public.) Facebook will also have to find some handwriting samples of Zuckerberg’s from the 2003-04 time period, and hand those over as well.
Once Facebook has the documents it wants, it will have one month to examine them. Then it will have four more weeks-until September 9-to file a report in court about what it found.
That was the first hearing in which Ceglia was represented by his new lawyer, Jeff Lake of San Diego. Lake’s firm has already launched a website describing the Ceglia v. Facebook litigation and offering court documents. The website includes a press release indicating that Ceglia is talking to “several nationally recognized law firms,” looking for one to help out with the litigation. The last big law firm representing Ceglia, DLA Piper, dropped out of the case earlier this week.