Join 3,572 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Reliving a nightmare
August 24, 2009 9:18 AM   Subscribe

After serving a prison term for molesting an eighth-grader in Ohio, David Copeland-Jackson moved to the District to live with his mother. He e-mailed a buddy and together, federal authorities said, they came up with a plan that would fool a respected judge into issuing a $3 million defamation order against Copeland-Jackson's victim. posted by orrnyereg (52 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
That's pretty fucked up, I'll grant. I guess I'll start posting all the crazy shit that happens in Memphis to the blue, as well. We have a pretty crazy mayoral-replacement race going on.
posted by absalom at 9:23 AM on August 24, 2009


That's remarkable.

What was that paralegal thinking? The part where you go from "I believe this man was unjustly accused and I want to help him" to "so I'll defraud the complainant in his case" is the part that eludes me.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:30 AM on August 24, 2009


U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon is right: this is "like something out of a [really bad, or possibly really hilarious] novel." Nonetheless:

Because the sex abuse case occurred in Ohio, Huvelle ordered Copeland-Jackson to explain why she had jurisdiction in the D.C. civil suit. That's where Xavier Justice came in.

I may have to start using that last phrase. "My cat knocked my plate off the table and there was broken ceramic and spaghetti all over the floor. That's where Xavier Justice came in."
posted by DaDaDaDave at 9:32 AM on August 24, 2009 [35 favorites]


doesn't seem right that the one guy can just submit papers on behalf of everyone in the case without any other confirmation
posted by ofthestrait at 9:39 AM on August 24, 2009


It's an interesting reminder of how many things rely on signatures on sheets of paper for security, and how trivial they are to fake if someone is unscrupulous. Once that's done, the burden falls on the person whose signature was forged to discover and dispute whatever took place in their name.

It surprises me that things like that don't happen more often.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:42 AM on August 24, 2009 [2 favorites]


doesn't seem right that the one guy can just submit papers on behalf of everyone in the case without any other confirmation

Copeland forged Cutlip's signature several times to avoid needing confirmation from him. That was the illegal part.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 9:42 AM on August 24, 2009


What was that paralegal thinking? The part where you go from "I believe this man was unjustly accused and I want to help him" to "so I'll defraud the complainant in his case" is the part that eludes me.

And how did they expect it to work out in their best case scenario? The whole scheme involved keeping the lawsuit a secret from the victim, and yet he's the one on the hook for $3 million at the end of it. What possible end result were they expecting that didn't involve the whole thing unraveling at some point and backfiring horribly for them?
posted by burnmp3s at 9:49 AM on August 24, 2009 [6 favorites]


His mother said she can't believe this is happening. "He would do anything for to anybody," Peggy Copeland said.
Fixed that for her.
It surprises me that things like that don't happen more often.
It shouldn't be too surprising. If it did happen more often, people would rely on signatures far less.
posted by delmoi at 9:53 AM on August 24, 2009


Either I need coffee or a flowchart to follow all this.
posted by crapmatic at 9:59 AM on August 24, 2009 [2 favorites]


...I've seen no mention of it so far, so maybe it's just me being funny in the head (I am a bit ill), but was that Washington Post article incredibly badly written? It was difficult to follow and unclear, had many sentences that didn't parse in any meaningful way at all, and a key bit of on quote left outside the quotation marks, confusing me even further.

So... is it just me?
posted by Dysk at 9:59 AM on August 24, 2009 [2 favorites]


And how did they expect it to work out in their best case scenario? The whole scheme involved keeping the lawsuit a secret from the victim, and yet he's the one on the hook for $3 million at the end of it. What possible end result were they expecting that didn't involve the whole thing unraveling at some point and backfiring horribly for them?
posted by burnmp3s


I think the thought process would have been something along the lines of when we win the suit (because losing is not part of The Plan), the guy (he's not a victim after all in The Plan) will have to pay us the money, and if he doesn't we can file a judgement on him, and he won't be able to do anything about it because our evidence is so good (and we know its good because we Made It Good). Not a terribly good thought process, mind you. People rarely examine possible consequences of their actions beyond the good outcome they hope for.

As for the paralegal, if he'd been that convinced of Copeland-Jackson's innocence, he may very well have believed it was defamation. A false accusation. And in the pursuit of Justice, he sold his principles one by one.

Just speculation of course.
posted by sandraregina at 10:03 AM on August 24, 2009


The whole scheme involved keeping the lawsuit a secret from the victim, and yet he's the one on the hook for $3 million at the end of it. What possible end result were they expecting that didn't involve the whole thing unraveling at some point and backfiring horribly for them?

The desired result was the Copeland-Jackson's criminal record being expunged and revenge not $3 million.
posted by Pollomacho at 10:04 AM on August 24, 2009


Nope, Brother Dysk. It definitely needs a top-to-bottom rewrite. There's no need to hide the ball in a news article, much less so in one this factually complex.

On the merits: this is some wild shit. I wouldn't call it a widespread problem, but I have definitely encountered forged documents, even forged court filings, in my relatively young career. If you're crazy enough, and don't care about what happens to you, I guess it's easy enough to do. Making a forgery stick to the point of securing a judgment, however temporarily, is pretty astonishing and, one hopes, pretty rare.
posted by kosem at 10:05 AM on August 24, 2009


It's an unspoken truth about our justice system (one that most cops will reveal in unguarded moments): Most criminals are dumber than a sack of wet mice.
posted by fatbird at 10:10 AM on August 24, 2009 [4 favorites]


Detention bias.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 10:25 AM on August 24, 2009


My experience with mice suggests that if you put a bunch of them in a wet sack, they would be quite squeeky about it. sorry
posted by a robot made out of meat at 10:30 AM on August 24, 2009


Every time I sign something I think of how weird it is that, in this day and age, a signature is still considered so important. What about biometrics or that number-of-the-beast thingie we're all supposed to be getting?
posted by JoanArkham at 10:41 AM on August 24, 2009 [4 favorites]


My experience with mice suggests that if you put a bunch of them in a wet sack, they would be quite squeeky about it.

Robot, you have to wet the mice before you put them in the sack. What are you, criminal?
posted by fatbird at 10:41 AM on August 24, 2009


Rogue justice works!

Except when it doesn't.
posted by mazola at 10:45 AM on August 24, 2009


It's an unspoken truth about our justice system (one that most cops will reveal in unguarded moments): Most criminals are dumber than a sack of wet mice.

Dude was still clever enough to get a judgment (albeit a quickly reversed one). I'd say he's significantly smarter than a wet mouse-bag, and with about as much moral consciousness.
posted by solipsophistocracy at 10:45 AM on August 24, 2009


The desired result was the Copeland-Jackson's criminal record being expunged and revenge not $3 million.

Yeah, obviously they were not going to get $3 million in any case because the victim wouldn't have that kind of money and even if he did it would be extremely difficult to collect. It's just odd that unlike most fraud cases there's not really any big payoff that would make the scheme seem worth the huge risk. They had to know that there was a good chance that Cutlip would eventually find out and have pretty good evidence that the whole thing was made up, and all things considered getting the records expunged (when he's already changed his name and moved to another state) or winning some phony lawsuit against Cutlip wouldn't have been worth much even if they had gotten away with it.
posted by burnmp3s at 10:48 AM on August 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


Instead of alleviating my painful rectal itch, the supposedly soothing salve exacerbated it. That's where Xavier Justice came in!
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:54 AM on August 24, 2009 [2 favorites]


Just crazy enough to (not) work!
posted by klangklangston at 11:01 AM on August 24, 2009


...was that Washington Post article incredibly badly written? It was difficult to follow and unclear, had many sentences that didn't parse in any meaningful way at all, and a key bit of on quote left outside the quotation marks, confusing me even further

Yeah, I noticed that too! I wonder if the reporter just said "hey, this article doesn't need to be any good or make any sense, because anything that slams a child molester will catch people's attention."
posted by Melismata at 11:03 AM on August 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


MetaFilter: That's where Xavier Justice came in!
posted by mosk at 11:10 AM on August 24, 2009


I had to rebuild an entire wall to repair the massive hole in the side of my house. That's where Xavier Justice came in!
posted by Faint of Butt at 11:10 AM on August 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


You'd be amazed what a sack of wet mice can do. It was a sack of wet mice that, famously, designed the Erie Canal.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:14 AM on August 24, 2009


It's just odd that unlike most fraud cases there's not really any big payoff that would make the scheme seem worth the huge risk.

My experience tells me that sex offenders as a group are not the very best at either impulse control or long-term strategic planning. "Seemed like a good idea at the time" and "how could I have known it could go so wrong?" are frequent laments of folks in this category.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:21 AM on August 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


"I'd say he's significantly smarter than a wet mouse-bag"

Ooh, I like that. That's some useful vocabulary. As in, "Hey, stupid! Yeah, you, wet mouse-bag! Take that python out of your mouth!"
posted by Servo5678 at 11:28 AM on August 24, 2009


Wow. Who needs John Grisham novels when shit like this happens??

But seriously, what a batshitinsane asshole.
posted by Lutoslawski at 11:32 AM on August 24, 2009


Can someone explain this to me like I'm an idiot? That was confusing what with its words and stuff.
posted by kbanas at 12:18 PM on August 24, 2009


Ooh, I like that. That's some useful vocabulary. As in, "Hey, stupid! Yeah, you, wet mouse-bag! Take that python out of your mouth!"

If we're going to do this, do it right. It's wet-mouse bag, not wet mouse-bag. As someone pointed out up thread, you have to wet the mice first.
posted by The Bellman at 12:24 PM on August 24, 2009 [3 favorites]


Can someone explain this to me like I'm an idiot? That was confusing what with its words and stuff.

Some guy molested a kid and got sent to prison. After getting out of prison, he teamed up with his paralegal friend to use a phony small claims court case to trick the victim into signing some forms. He and his friend then used the signature on a bunch of forged documents in a $3 million defamation suit against the victim, in order to make it seem like the victim was saying that the allegations of sexual abuse were false. He ended up winning the lawsuit, and the victim didn't find out about any of that until he was notified that he had lost the suit. At which point the victim contacted the judge to figure out what was going on, and the judge figured out that the whole thing was based on fraudulent evidence, and vacated (voided) the judgment. Now the guy and his paralegal friend are facing jail time for perjury and conspiracy.
posted by burnmp3s at 12:30 PM on August 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


Man, that's as slick as a wet mouse.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 12:39 PM on August 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oh boy, sleep! That's where Xavier Justice comes in!
posted by nicepersonality at 12:56 PM on August 24, 2009 [10 favorites]


If we're going to do this, do it right. It's wet-mouse bag, not wet mouse-bag. As someone pointed out up thread, you have to wet the mice first.

Wetting individual mice doesn't seem very efficient. Why can't you put them in the bag and then dunk it?
posted by solipsophistocracy at 2:09 PM on August 24, 2009


That's where Xavier Justice came in.

Hello new porn name.

"My justice may be blind, but it is hard and unyielding and most of all... probing. Baby."

*queue wacka wacka bass line*
posted by quin at 2:31 PM on August 24, 2009


I don't like where this is going.
posted by fleetmouse at 2:31 PM on August 24, 2009


If you're lucky, you'll get the wet bag.
posted by fleacircus at 2:37 PM on August 24, 2009


certainly an indictment against the 'justice' system. peter j. brandel, the paralegal, faces 2 1/2 years in prison for knowingly helping to set this up. i don't care if he is 71 years old, that bastard should fry. copeland-jackson/xavier justice, is 'contrite' & 'trying to resolve this matter by way of plea.' THAT bastard should fry twice.
posted by msconduct at 3:11 PM on August 24, 2009


That's where Xavier Justice came in.

Not the kind of Justice you were counting on.
posted by doobiedoo at 5:02 PM on August 24, 2009


Wetting individual mice doesn't seem very efficient. Why can't you put them in the bag and then dunk it?

I think that's the general idea. Post-wetting, the bag of mice will be dumb. By virtue of death.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:21 PM on August 24, 2009


Every time I sign something I think of how weird it is that, in this day and age, a signature is still considered so important. What about biometrics or that number-of-the-beast thingie we're all supposed to be getting?

Um. A signature is, in many ways, a form of biometric information. It tells a great deal about a person's fast-twitch muscle growth and kinetic memory. It is also far more unique than a retinal scan.
posted by jock@law at 2:11 AM on August 25, 2009


That paralegal deserves just as much jail time as Copeland-Jackson. What sort of rational person would help such slime get back at a person who was molested? Yet again, humanity proves its shortcomings.
posted by reenum at 9:29 AM on August 25, 2009


That's where Xavier Justice came in.

Hello new porn name.


Xavier's love is like Xavier's law.

Hard and fast.
posted by Mr Bismarck at 11:47 AM on August 25, 2009


And how did they expect it to work out in their best case scenario?

Someone told him "You can Xavier Justice, and eat it too."
posted by dhartung at 8:00 PM on August 25, 2009


If you have a sack full of mice, and you dunk it in the river say, and then pull it out & wave it about, I'd imagine the mice wouldn't drown, they'd just be wet and angry & in a wet sack with a bunch of other wet & angry mice.

They'd be struggling & wriggling & pretty incoherent as a mass, but not dead and yet still wet all at once. No need to be transferring wet mice into a dry bag, that's just nonsense. Wet sackcloth is part of the whole thing, it's an important part even.
posted by stinkycheese at 8:12 PM on August 25, 2009


Well, y'see, that's why you don't merely dunk a sack of mice. You hold them under for a good five, maybe even ten minutes.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:45 PM on August 25, 2009


But then this sack ceases to be a good metaphor for a harried state of mind, right? Dead mice in a wet sack is more like unconsciousness.
posted by stinkycheese at 9:00 PM on August 25, 2009


Look, I've said this before and I'll say this again; under the right circumstances, mice in a sack should be a perfectly viable form of currency.

Drowning them just seems like a pointless capital loss from a monetary perspective.
posted by quin at 9:58 PM on August 25, 2009


"How'd you catch that anaconda, Xavier Justice?"
"With a bamboo pole and a wet-mouse sack."
posted by notashroom at 6:54 PM on August 26, 2009


Someone needs to sell a signet-style ring digital signer that pipes the output of some public key algorithm out over something like rfid on contact. They'd make a mint.
posted by feloniousmonk at 8:37 PM on September 2, 2009


« Older Mouse. No, not that oneā€¦ hmmm, no, not this one ei...   |   Pan Am Flight 103 saw the deat... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments