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Facebook has said for months that the contract Paul Ceglia presented to the world in April is an elaborate fraud-a “cut-and-paste job.” Now, after weeks of poring through Ceglia’s computers, Facebook says it’s found the real 2003 contract between Ceglia and Mark Zuckerberg-and it has no mention whatsoever of Facebook. Not only that, Ceglia sent the “authentic contract” to a law firm back in 2004, Facebook’s lawyer told a judge yesterday.
The case is still in discovery, but the contract appears to have at least convinced the judge overseeing the case to allow Facebook to finish its document review before Ceglia’s lawyers get anything.
At a court hearing yesterday, Facebook’s lawyer said that Ceglia’s behavior indicates he’s feeling desperate. “The noose is tightening around the neck of the plaintiff in this case and he knows it,” Facebook attorney Orin Snyder told a judge, according to a Bloomberg report on the hearing. Snyder also said that Ceglia e-mailed the real contract to a Chicago-based law firm, Sidley Austin, back in 2004.
The two-page contract [PDF] was produced in papers filed with the court on Monday. Facebook lawyers said their team found the contract after combing through the hard drives that Ceglia provided. This appears to be the ‘smoking gun’ evidence that Facebook alluded to in recent filings.
What was Ceglia’s reaction to the ‘smoking gun’? The contract was actually planted by Facebook, he told ZDNet in a rambling interview. He also offered ZDNet gems such as: “This time though he [Zuckerberg] isn’t just going to get away with it and buy himself out, you will face a jury of our peers Mark, and your PR team won’t be there to save you.” Ceglia also said that media covering the case were biased in favor of Facebook.
For true Ceglia fans, it’s well worth reading ZDNet’s full story, which includes a long email from Ceglia in which he connects his lawsuit to the Arab Spring and the recent London riots. Ceglia muses that he is “starting to have all sorts of opinions as to what I’ll do when I’m at the helm” and insists that “I won’t let any government have the power to silence it’s citizens, especially during an uprising.”
Ceglia is now living in Ireland, a country he moved to to escape “harassment” by private investigators hired by Facebook, according to the Wellsville Daily Reporter.
Following yesterday’s hearing, Ceglia’s lawyer said that during discovery, he’ll want to see computers, e-mails and instant messages from Mark Zuckerberg, as well as Facebook source code. But the judge ruled that before he gets documents from Facebook, including 175 early Zuckerberg emails that the company has already collected, Ceglia will have to allow Facebook’s experts to examine his Web-based email accounts.
The idea that Facebook’s people actually forged a contract and somehow “planted” it on Ceglia’s computer is pretty wild, to say the least. And if Sidley Austin is still holding a copy of that contract from 2004, it will be proved false pretty quickly. At this point, one has to wonder how long Ceglia can keep this going. Ceglia, who has cycled through a few law firms at this point, seems only marginally connected to his current attorney, telling ZDNet he’s being represented by Jeff Lake on an “interim” basis and that he’s looking for a more “collaborative” law firm.