A U.S. civil judge in a little known court case has issued a breathtaking ruling that a defendant must erase entirely from his personal devices and the internet any and all information that they’ve ever posted, sent, or created about a former business partner.
In Bogaerts v. Schoenberger et al, Judge Daniel S. Murphy of the Los Angeles County Superior Court in California recently ruled that the defendant, Thomas Schoenberger, was “permanently enjoined” from violating the rights of the plaintiff, Beth Bogaerts, “for any reason” and was ordered to follow the court’s instructions which included:
“All websites, comments, pictures, videos, hashtags, and/or other information Defendant has posted, sent, and/or created about Plaintiff or her family members must be completely erased, deleted, and removed from the internet and Defendant’s electronic devices (e.g. mobile phone, desktop, laptop).”
The judge’s statement “and/or other information” is obviously vague and completely open to interpretation but what’s more terrifying is that I don’t think most Americans realize that the U.S. courts are forcing citizens to delete material and data from their personal devices even if the material is completely legal to possess. Have the civil courts created some sort of elite Stasi unit to enforce this?
Wipe Your Personal Electronic Devices Clean
Aside from failing to clarify that the material in the defendant’s possession must be deemed illegal to possess, the judge in this case didn’t distinguish whether or not it had to be defamatory or threatening in nature, either, in order to face the wrath of one’s electronic trash bin. And frankly, when it comes to your own personal electronic devices, does that even matter?
At what point did it become acceptable for a civil judge to order someone to wipe clean their personal devices entirely of everything they created (but didn’t necessarily post publicly) that contains a person’s name or alludes to them when you haven’t even been convicted of a crime in relation to the case? What I mean is that we’re not talking about something like child pornography here. Far from it.
Bogaerts’ initial complaint contains nine allegations which include fraud, negligence, breach of contract, negligent misrepresentation, extortion, and civil harassment. In a nutshell, Bogaerts co-founded a company with some of the defendants (I believe the others were involved in some way), she had a falling out with them, and then sued them years later after her associate, a so-called “hacktivist” named Ray Johansen, publicly encouraged her to do so, alleging that the defendants had harassed and taken her for a financial ride.
The only allegation that seems to pertain to the judge’s “please erase everything from history” instructions is the civil harassment. Civil harassment in violation of California’s Code of Civil Procedure § 527.6 states that a person who has suffered harassment may seek a “temporary restraining order and an order after hearing prohibiting harassment.” That temporary restraining order only remains in effect for 21 days unless the court decides to extend/renew it.
In § 527.6, subparagraph (B), an order enjoining a party from “specified behavior that the court determines is necessary to effectuate orders described in 527.6, subparagraph (A) such as “harassing, intimidating, molesting, attacking striking, stalking, threatening, sexually assaulting, battering, abusing, telephoning…contacting, either directly or indirectly, by email or otherwise, or coming with a specific distance” of the plaintiff can be issued against a party.
This appears to be what the judge used to instruct Schoenberger to wipe the internet and all of his personal devices of any information pertaining to the plaintiff that he “posted, sent, and/or created.” Just to point out how ludicrous this ruling appears to be, if you were in the defendant’s shoes and kept, say, a personal diary on your computer detailing your history with the plaintiff or notes pertaining to this court case, you’re now legally obligated to delete those personal and private documents unless, of course, you omitted her name and never referred to her in any way.
I mean, maybe. I guess. That’s how vague and broad (I’m not using that as a legal term) this ruling appears to be.
Again, this isn’t just about threatening content that the defendant has allegedly posted publicly or sent the plaintiff privately. The order specifically states (with emphasis), “All websites, comments, pictures, videos, hashtags, and/or other information Defendant has posted, sent, and/or created about Plaintiff…must be completely erased…” There’s no distinction about the information that needs to be deleted—as long as it pertains to the plaintiff and it was posted (e.g. online), sent (e.g. emails), and/or created (e.g. privately) about the plaintiff, it must be destroyed.
What’s equally questionable is why the plaintiff, Beth Bogaerts, would even remotely find this order acceptable. She has accused the defendant of threatening and harassing her for at least the last two years and now she wants the court to order him to delete any and all evidence that might exist on his private devices that might prove this alleged criminal behavior? And yes, the police have been granted warrants for electronic devices over crimes like harassing phone calls so don’t think they couldn’t get one for his devices if Bogaerts decided to also file charges and the police obtained enough evidence to establish probable cause to conduct a search.
Let me be very clear: In no way am I stating that there is evidence of criminal behavior on the defendant’s devices. I’m simply pointing out that based on Bogaerts and her associates’ ongoing allegations, it’s surprising that she would want possible incriminating evidence destroyed.
I can tell you as a victim of a violent crime, the last thing I would want a judge instructing my assailant to do is to delete/erase everything off all of his electronic devices that pertained to me just in case I decided to press charges. Like, do NOT encourage, instruct, or persuade him to destroy potentially incriminating evidence. Or vice versa, can you imagine if my assailant sued me and the judge forced me to delete my private notes or emails about the assault? What?
Another thing to consider is that a second defendant in this case, Trevor Fitzgibbon, asked the courts to move the plaintiff’s case against him to another state arguing that the California courts do not have jurisdiction to rule on it. This defendant also worked with Bogaerts and Schoenberger at the same company they co-founded and is now countersuing Bogaerts for breach of fiduciary duty.
In the meantime, the judge in California essentially just gagged Schoenberger and gave him the green light to delete potential evidence that might have been subpoenaed in that case. For example, if at any time Bogaerts admitted to Schoenberger via email or direct messaging that she breached her fiduciary duty before Fitzgibbon filed his 2018 defamation lawsuit against attorney, Jesselyn Radack, Schoenberger is no longer legally allowed to share that confession publicly and it seems questionable if he would even be allowed to share it privately. Convenient, eh?
Bogaerts and two of her associates including Ray Johansen have already admitted that Bogaerts tipped Radack off about Fitzgibbon filing a lawsuit against her after allegedly signing a legal agreement with Fitzgibbon and/or his attorney (per Fitzgibbon).
Then there’s the issue about source material. The defendant has either been used as a journalistic source and/or has spoken with journalists via the internet e.g. emails, Twitter DMs about the internationally known puzzle called Cicada 3301 that he was allegedly running between 2016-2018, the Cicada trademark, and the company he co-founded with the plaintiff called “Shadowbox.”
Shadowbox boasted as one of its clients Seth Rich conspiracy theorist, Ed Butowsky, in order to improve his public image after a Fox News story about the DNC staffer’s murder was retracted in late May 2017. To say that this is/was in the public interest is an understatement especially in light of the fact that some Shadowbox members claim Butowsky asked them to wiretap Rich’s family (Bogaerts agreed to be used as an anonymous source in an MSM story about this) and he recently settled with Rich’s brother in a defamation case he filed against the Texas financier.
But regardless of the fact that the plaintiff was a co-founder of Shadowbox and controlled at least some of the company’s money, it would appear that any emails in which the defendant discussed his former business partner’s role in the company with journalists—or even Cicada 3301 which she publicly boasted about being a member of in 2018 and then basically claimed Cicada started Qanon—has now been ordered for destruction by the California court system.
Even emails between the defendant and the plaintiff in which the defendant discussed the plaintiff’s role or involvement in the company or Cicada 3301 apparently have to be destroyed so if you were ever planning on suing Shadowbox, don’t bother. A judge is trying to destroy the company’s records.
I’m not an attorney and it’s entirely possible I’m a bit more concerned about this ruling than I should be which is why is would be beneficial if an attorney (First Amendment, free speech, free press, privacy) could weigh in on this. In the meantime, take a look at this hypothetical scenario: A source sends a journalist his company’s financial statements and emails that pertain to the company that show money was used to finance criminal, online harassment and targeting. Great story, right? Wrong.
The documents just so happen to include the name and involvement of the source’s former business partner who recently obtained a civil judgement ordering the source to “erase, delete, and remove” all materials from the internet and his own personal devices pertaining to the former business partner that he posted, sent, and/or created. This would obviously include the company documents that he “sent” to the journalist. So what happens now?
In this hypothetical story, not only has the judge ruled that evidence proving criminal behavior must be destroyed, one wonders if the source is obligated to circle back around to journalist and ask them to remove from the internet the company documents that he sent to them and that they, in return, published? What if the journalist refuses (as they should) because how in the world can this court ruling be binding to a party not even involved in the case? And if the journalist refuses, has the defendant violated the court order? What I’m specifically talking about is non-defamatory material that shows criminal behavior sent to a journalist which has now been ordered by a judge to be destroyed as a so-called remedy for harassment.
I don’t believe that this ruling directly affects journalists in any way who received and published non-defamatory/non-threatening material from the defendant such as background material on Cicada 3301 (even if they did and they chose to publish it, the journalist/publisher isn’t threatening the plaintiff, they’re simply publishing or reporting on it). The problem that I see is that the plaintiff will use this ruling as a springboard to continue proven, ongoing defamation campaigns she and her associates have been running against people, including activists and journalists, who have publicly called out wrongdoing.
I’m assuming she can also use the ruling to bolster future lawsuits she might file, this time directly targeting journalists she doesn’t like in an effort to make them take down any and all non-defamatory material that came from the defendant and that a civil court has now ruled the defendant must destroy because the material is considered “harassment” towards the plaintiff. Or maybe this is exactly why the judge made this ruling—to deliberately prevent the defendant from sharing anything about the plaintiff with the press.
Perjury and Lawfare
As if this case can’t get any more weird and absurd, Bogaerts deliberately perjured herself in multiple court documents and her targeting of me personally in the case (which I literally have nothing to do with aside from her dragging me into it via defamatory statements) appears to be one way she could use the ruling as a springboard to file more lawsuits, this time directed at journalists she wants to target.
For example, on Line 40 in her initial complaint she stated, “Defendants and their cohorts have posted false, derogatory, or threatening comments about Plaintiff on various websites…” and she included a link to a story published on my website. At no point has Bogaerts ever filed in this court case or released in the public area any evidence that shows the article on my website contains “false, derogatory, or threatening comments” about her nor has she ever produced evidence that I’m a “cohort” of the defendants (because I’m not and she knows this). Exceedingly worse, she goes on to imply that I’ve been involved in threatening her and her family. These are egregiously false, malicious, and deliberate, if not criminal, defamatory statements.
Eight months later, she filed more documents in which she stated under oath that I work for or have been paid by Schoenberger to post content on his behalf. This, too, is a blatant, malicious, if not criminal defamatory statement that of course she’s never backed up with a shred of evidence, either. So she’s recklessly and maliciously used her own defamatory statements to cry, “Defamation and harassment!” and has obviously felt protected enough to break the law repeatedly.
Now, if you go back to the judge’s ruling it also states that the “Plaintiff has met her burden of proof as to all causes of action since there are no triable issues as to any material facts…” The judge then instructed the defendant not to “hire, designate, or instruct any third party to post any kind of messages, comments, pictures, videos, and/or hashtags regarding Plaintiff or her family members.” These instructions are in direct response to the false statements Bogaerts provided to the court about me that I was hired and/or paid by Schoenberger because I’m the only one she’s levied those accusations against despite a myriad of other (mostly male) journalists speaking with Schoenberger.
This is perhaps one of the most disturbing rulings I’ve ever seen because I know firsthand that it reveals the plaintiff feels protected enough to perjure herself repeatedly and/or the judge is either corrupt, incapable of discerning whether or not a party in a case has provided legitimate evidence to back up their claims (Bogaerts provided exactly nothing to back up these claims), or simply doesn’t take the time to read, study, and learn anything about the cases he’s ruling on.
According to the therobingroom.com which tracks California judges, the Republican judge has received multiple public reviews accusing him of ignoring the law, evidence (or lack thereof), and ruling based on his own opinions:
“He will not follow the law and will make decisions from the hip. In employment cases he appears to biased in favor of employers or against minority plaintiffs. He won’t review the pleadings and is purely one of those judges that if he likes or dislikes a case his rulings are driven by that. Doesn’t like race cases.”
“Judge Daniel S. Murphy does not listen to any family’s complaint. It is as if he already has his decision made up before his court begin.”
“Read the comments. They sum up this horrible judge. No evidence for erroneous decisions. False statements. No knowledge of law. As an abused senior, he has consistently made rulings that caused me much more additional harm. He should be removed immediately from the bench. A disgrace.”
“Judge Daniel Murphy does not look at evidence, he goes by his opinion not based on the evidence or facts. He misquotes testimony, doesn’t pay attention to detail…”
“Incredible…Can’t seem to make a decision even with obvious facts…What a sham for justice..”.
“Murphy needs to be exposed and the public must know what he has done and the hell he has allowed innocent people to go through because of his unjust rulings.”
“He is the worst judge ever. He will stand before the Judge of the Universe and give an account as to why he allowed injustice in his kangaroo courtroom…He violated our constitutional rights, and I firmly believe that he was in bed with the opposition’s lawyers…”
“He is horrible, unfair, doesn’t follow the law, and is a lazy disgrace to the bench.”
“A horrible judge! Totally disregards evidence…”
“A very unfair judge. It appears the lawyers and him are in bed together…He disregards all of our evidence and this needs to be exposed to the public.”
“He makes major decisions that effect peoples lives, that can effect families forever without letting evidence of the innocence to be provided and explained…He makes a major decision by what one lying attorney says without any proof of what he said was true or not.”
Not surprisingly, a letter I personally wrote to this judge that was entered into the docket and is chocked full of evidence of what Mrs. Bogaerts and Mr. Johansen have deliberately lied about, took a backseat to Bogaerts’ deliberate, empty, and malicious lies. The bottom line is that Bogaerts now has a ruling under her belt that has legitimized her own defamatory statements from a judge that some people who have been in his courtroom feel is unjust and possibly even a corrupt public servant.
I understand that the plaintiff would like to erase from history her involvement with Schoenberger and the other defendants which included activities like apparently stalking an attorney, co-founding Shadowbox, and promoting herself as a member of the internationally known puzzle, Cicada 3301, which Schoenberger was apparently running between 2016-2018.
I also understand that more than a few people have a deep-seated hatred for the defendant in this case (Schoenberger) who has been accused of criminal behavior (I believe he was also convicted of stalking someone not related to this case) and can be less than truthful at times. I, myself, have been a target of his both publicly and privately at one time or another. I just don’t cry about it on the internet. There’s some simple advice you can follow when these things happen like “do not respond,” which is exactly what I’ve done on occasion when Schoenberger has accused me of things that simply aren’t true.
But regardless of whatever he’s done to her or others, journalism and journalistic source material should not be on trial. Nor should U.S. courts have the power to make you delete perfectly legal material stored privately on your personal devices.
At this rate, all you have to do is sue someone in court, lie in court filings stating a journalist was paid by the person you’re suing to post defamatory and/or threatening information about you without having to provide any evidence that proves this and voila! You now have a court ruling under your belt that has legitimized your steaming bowl of lies so you can use it to bolster another lawsuit directly targeting them. Or you can just keep using the court’s ruling to criminally defame journalists and/or publishers’ reputations until someone finally decides enough is enough and sues you.
If this judgement means what it seems to mean in terms of privacy and potential destruction of evidence and/or source material (which is why it would be helpful if some attorneys could weigh in on this because I don’t know if that’s what this ruling means), anyone cheering it on has been completely blinded by absurd loyalty and hatred or is purposely standing on a side of history that seems super fascist in nature.
Ya’ll were worried about attorney Steve Biss subpoenaing your Twitter DMs in terms of privacy (myself included) meanwhile a U.S. civil court just ruled that they can force a U.S. citizen to delete perfectly legal, private information off all of their electronic devices and ya’ll are cheering it on because the ruling is against someone you hate. Let’s ask Mrs. Jesselyn Radack how she would have felt if the civil judge in both of the defamation cases filed against her had ruled that she had to delete her own personal notes or documents that she created, all of her communications stored on her devices, and all of the emails and Twitter messaging she sent out where she mentioned or alluded to Trevor Fitzgibbon, regardless of the content. How legit does this ruling sound now?
Or maybe this kind of ruling was the end game Bogaerts and her associates were disturbingly hoping for all along. I don’t know about you but it feels like this isn’t going to end with this case. It’s merely a continuation of what Trump was trying to accomplish while in office: Kill the media.
So while propagandists distract you with Steve Biss’ endless lawfare (but yeah seriously most of his cases are ridiculous), and while they cry about what Julian Assange’s case means for journalism, the courts have already brought the hammer down on privacy, preservation of evidence, and source material here in the U.S. Or so it would seem.
Not only that, the one person Bogaerts and her associates seem to despise the most has been given a free pass to delete any and all evidence of alleged wrong doing and potential discovery. How’s that for the sketchiest win ever? And whose rights exactly are being protected with this judgement versus whose are being trampled on?
Disclaimer: Ten more pages of disclaimers to follow.
Specific to this article, I want to articulate that, again, I am in no way proposing that any of the defendants in the Bogaerts vs. Schoenberger et al case have evidence of criminal activity on any of their electronic devices. Hypothetical stories have been used to show the seriousness of this ruling which appears to be the government ordering the destruction of documents/emails pertaining to a registered U.S. company and/or possible criminal activity based on the plaintiff’s allegations. The California civil court ordering the destruction of documents or communications is not hypothetical nor is the fact a judge has ordered someone to destroy any and all personal and private material they may have created on their personal electronic devices regardless if the material is legal to possess and its content.
For more background on Bogaerts’ failure to produce any evidence to back up some of the claims she’s made in court filings and/or the public area see my op-ed series (strictly opinion orientated) The Rabbit Files: A Flood Approaches and The Rabbit Files: Puttin’ on the Fitz. Now, onto our regularly scheduled disclaimers…
If you were mentioned in this article because your associate(s) did or said something stupid/dishonest, that’s not a suggestion that you did or said something stupid/dishonest or that you took part in it. Of course, some may conclude on their own that you associate with stupid/dishonest individuals but that’s called having the right to an opinion. If I’ve questioned something that doesn’t make sense to me, that’s not me spinning the confusing material you’ve put out. That’s me trying to make sense out of something that doesn’t make sense. And if I’ve noted that you failed to back up your allegations that means I either missed where you posted it or you failed to back your shiz up.
If I haven’t specifically stated that I believe (my opinion) someone is associated with someone else or an event, then it means just that. I haven’t reported an association nor is there any inference of association on my part. For example, just because someone is mentioned in this article, it doesn’t mean that they’re involved or associated with everyone and everything else mentioned. If I believe that there’s an association between people and/or events, I’ll specifically report it.
If anyone mentioned in this article wants to claim that I have associated them with someone else or an event because I didn’t disclose every single person and event in the world that they are NOT associated with, that’s called gaslighting an audience and it’s absurd hogwash i.e. “They mentioned that I liked bananas but they didn’t disclose that I don’t like apples. Why are they trying to associate me with apples???” Or something similar to this lovely gem, “I did NOT give Trish the thumb drive!” in order to make their lazy audience believe that it was reported they gave Trish the thumb drive when, in fact, that was never reported, let alone inferred.
That’s some of the BS I’m talking about so try not to act like a psychiatric patient, intelligence agent, or paid cyber mercenary by doing these things. If you would like to share your story, viewpoint, or any evidence that pertains to this article, or feel strongly that something needs to be clarified or corrected (again, that actually pertains to the article), you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or concerns.
I cannot confirm and am not confirming the legitimacy of any messages or emails in this article. Please see a doctor if sensitivity continues. If anyone asks, feel free to tell them that I work for Schoenberger, Fitzgibbon, Steven Biss, the CIA, or really just about any intelligence agency because your idiocy, ongoing defamation, and failure as a human is truly a sight to behold for the rest of us.
This is an opinion piece about my own theories and viewpoint. You should research this story and events yourself and come to your own conclusions.
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