Last month we reported that Paul Ceglia, the indefatigable, indicted Buffalo businessman who claims to own half of Facebook Inc., might soon reveal the latest "nationally recognized" law firm willing to take his case. Ceglia showed he wasn’t just bluffing on Monday, when prominent California plaintiffs lawyer Joseph M. Alioto made an appearance on his behalf.
"I looked at the case and I looked at the evidence," Alioto told us Monday. "I think that [Ceglia] has a strong case. I think [his claims] follow a pattern that Mark Zuckerberg has had in the past with regard to people who have tried to help him."
Alioto isn’t the first big name to represent Ceglia, or the second or the third. DLA Piper, Milberg, Connor & Vilardo, Calihan Law, Jones & Skivington, Lippes Mathias Wexler Friedman, and San Diego attorney Jeffrey Lake have all entered and subsequently exited the case on Ceglia’s behalf at some point during the three-year litigation.
Lawyer Paul Argentieri of Hornell, New York, who filed Ceglia’s July 2010 complaint in U.S. district court in Buffalo, has been a mainstay of Ceglia’s legal team. Dean Boland of Boland Legal in Lakewood, Ohio has been on the case for the long haul too, but that’s not by choice. His motion to withdraw from the case was denied in late March.
Alioto enters the dispute just over a month after a magistrate judge recommended dismissing Ceglia’s lawsuit on the grounds that the contract at the heart of the case is fake. Ceglia also faces criminal charges related to his claims in the civil case: An indictment filed in October accused him of fabricating and destroying evidence.
But on Monday San Francisco-based Alioto was optimistic about his client’s chances. "We plan to ask for an injunction of the criminal indictment," Alioto said. "The government has a lot of important cases to bring and this is not one of them." As for the civil case, Alioto said he hopes the judge will be swayed by his team’s objections to the magistrate judge’s March 26 recommendation. "We think the magistrate judge usurped the function of jury under the Seventh Amendment."
Orin Snyder of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, who represents Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
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