Lies & Damn Lies
by Charles Carreon
August 1, 2013
Order in the Court! How many times have we heard that?
Order in the Court! What’s that mean? That means that all
the rabble can pipe down and gentlemen will speak. There’s
no free speech in the courtroom, I can tell you that. Tell
you a quick story to put it in focus. It’s kinda fun, as it
involves guns, dope, Mexicans, and a chicken coop.
There’s no way you win against the Feds unless you’re
sneaky, so Federal Public Defenders are of two types –
sneaky lawyers, and useless ones. One afternoon the
Assistant U.S. attorney was doing his sentencing hearing for
my client, who had been busted after the search of what some
folks might call a rustic lodge, but the DEA considered some
type of drug safehouse. In the attic of the safehouse was a
backpack, with a gun, a bag of meth, and my client’s ID
papers. Well, for sentencing purposes, that was his meth,
all right. Can’t remember the exact amount, but it was
under the mandatory minimum threshold of 100 grams of cut
meth. But they found more meth in a chicken coop about 300
feet from the lodge. Like three pounds, way over the
mandatory minimum threshold. Fortunately for my client,
reading the lab report, I discovered that the chemist at the
DEA lab had mixed these
two quantities of meth before testing them. So that meant
you couldn’t really attribute any of the meth to my client,
because maybe what was in his backpack was all cut, and no
meth! Well, somehow the AUSA hadn’t really noticed this
angle in the case, but Judge Aiken had, and she could see I
was boxing in the government witness. So she kept asking
the prosecutor if he wanted a continuance to deal with
this. He didn’t pick up on the problem and said no. I
continued questioning, setting up the cross, and it was
driving Judge Aiken crazy that the prosecutor couldn’t see
me sneaking around in the weeds, getting ready to ambush the
So Judge Aiken began prodding me to speed it up, and I got
my back up, and I said, “Your Honor, this case obviously
means more to my client than it means to you.”
Judge Aiken lifted herself slightly in her seat, and in a
level voice, asked me, “What did you say?”
To which I responded, “You heard me, your Honor.”
Judge Aiken then stopped everything with a look, stood up
fully, and said, “We’re going to take a recess, and you’re
going to think about what you just said. Then we’ll resume,
and I’ll ask you how you’d like to proceed.”
You can imagine of course that I apologized for my conduct,
once I realized how fortunate I was that my head was still
attached to my neck. It was a comment you could make to a
regular person without much consequence, but to a judge, it
was crossing the Rubicon. Unlike Julius Caesar, however,
who crossed the Rubicon and continued in open rebellion
against Pompey all the way to Rome, I turned around
midstream and got back on the safe side of the river.
Because there’s no free speech in court.
The reason there’s no free speech is because the judge is
supposed to be administering the proceedings according to
the rules of evidence, and the rules of evidence operate
like a movie director who only gets one take at every shot,
and the lines all have to be lines that the actors are
allowed to speak. These actors are first of all supposed to
tell the truth, but this isn’t just a subjective thing –
they can say whatever they want if they think its true. No,
it’s not like that. With the help of one lawyer or the
other, the judge will know, before a witness gets on the
stand, what the hell he or she is going to add to the
progress of the action. Now the lawyers are like two
competing sub-directors. They want the other director’s
actors (witnesses) to be denied a chance to testify, if
possible, or they will try to restrict their testimony to
narrow issues. The judge will decide which actors get to
testify and what questions they can answer based on what
story the lawyers claim they are trying to tell. If it’s a
story about mugging, then we want to hear about what time it
was, what the mugger looked like, whether there was good
lighting, whether threats were made with speech and
gestures, whether a weapon was used or displayed, what
property was stolen, and what injuries were sustained.
Anytime a witness gets away from that story line, the judge
will start to fidget and pretty soon, one of the lawyers
realizes he’s being prompted to object, and maybe he says to
himself dandy, the other guy’s pissin’ off the judge.
Meanwhile, the jury is surprised a lot of the time how well
the story gets told, and how they get a sense of the truth
even though hardly anyone seems one hundred percent
truthful, or one hundred percent accurate in their
perceptions or recollections. This is beautiful work to do,
and only trial lawyers get to do it. It’s actually pretty
addictive, and if you do it often, the rest of your law
practice seems utterly tame and boring. Mastering the art
of evidence becomes a delightful activity. Understanding
the hearsay rule and its ten, twelve or thirteen exceptions,
depending on how you count them, is a genuine intellectual
delight, because you see how past generations of jurists
have evaluated the trustworthiness of out-of-court
statements of various different types. Evidence, at its
most elevated level of practice, is a set of rules for
extracting the gold of truth from the ore of common human
recollection. If you could see how little of the evidence
that the lawyers would try to put on at trial actually gets
presented to the jury, you would be amazed. Trial judges
are constantly counseling efficient presentation, and
lawyers often want to throw in the kitchen sink. Good trial
lawyers, though, are incredibly efficient at extracting
relevant testimony from both helpful and hostile witnesses.
They don’t go over the jury’s head, they don’t ask
irrelevant questions, they know how to get crucial evidence
in and how to evade objections by offering evidence for
Without this careful pre-presentation analysis of evidence,
juries would be completely confused by free-ranging
testimony presented in an amateurish fashion. Because we
see inaccurately, and misunderstand what we see, due mostly
to inherent biases that operate without our knowledge. The
most tragic misunderstandings in the criminal justice
business are when people who suffer from disabilities are
mistaken for recalcitrant drunks, and get all the wrong
treatment, ending up dead a lot of the time because cops
misread symptoms of disability as criminal misbehavior. But
the more commonplace prejudices – such as assuming that poor
people have good reason to steal and therefore probably did,
and assuming that wealthy people have no need to steal and
therefore probably didn’t – are as omnipresent as the sky
So it was no surprise to me to discover that so many people
who had been dished up a ration of misinformation about me
would end up painting a portrait of me that is laughably
untrue. Legions of people hold forth about me for hours
based on knowledge they acquired in a nano-second, so of
course none of them subjectively feel like they’re lying.
They’re like people telling Columbus, “You’ll sail off the
edge of the earth before you find the Indies, you fool!” Or
to be more au
courant, they’re like people saying, “Quantitative
easing will cause hyperinflation!” This is to say, they are
so ignorant they cannot know they are talking nonsense.
This doesn’t absolve them of blame, of course, because when
sounds are emitted from the pie hole, we are, in fact,
responsible for their effects.
Order in the court! Tara has brought order to the data, and
that helps us bring an analytical eye to consider the
facts. We now know based on a rough survey of some of the
main screeds written by 105 rapeutationists, that the most
popular six lies about me were:
#1: Charles Carreon threatened to sue Inman; his letter was
abusive, extortion, shakedown, blackmail.
#2: It’s outrageous and immoral to sue charities.
#3: Charles Carreon sued charities to suppress speech of
critics and harass defendants.
#4: Charles Carreon wanted to divert charity moneys
#5: FunnyJunk stole Inman’s content; FJ is a scraper and
aggregator site; FJ gave no attribution.
#6: Charles Carreon sued Inman for FunnyJunk.
Let’s discuss these a little.
On Charging Someone With Extortion
Extortion is defined under California Penal Code § 518 as
“Extortion is the obtaining of property from another, with
his consent, or the obtaining of an official act of a public
officer, induced by a wrongful use of force or fear, or
under color of official right.”
So the question is simple: Was Charles Carreon’s letter a
“wrongful use of force or fear” intended to “induce” Inman
to give up his property? Let’s go with an easier
hypothetical for starters.
Written and drawn by Matt Inman of The Oatmeal
[Bob 1] Hey you ugly little NardMango, give me that
[Bob 2] Don’t make him ask twice, Billy. You don’t want to
see him angry. Bob’s like a fighter jet when he’s angry.
[Bob 1] That’s right, you little NardBucket. Hand over the
pudding cup or I’ll come down on you with the agony and
suffering of a thousand Panzer tanks. I am Genghis Khan. I
am the sword. I am your horror, your plague, and your death.
[Bob 2] I’m trying to work with you here, Willy. I’m the
good guy. Just give him your pudding cup and everyone wins.
[Willy] Sniff. Well okay …
[Bob 2] Smart move, little man.
[Willy] You know what Bob?! One day you’re going to grow up
and you’ll see the world differently. You’ll find that
kindness and compassion are how you get ahead in life. Not
violence. Not hate.
[Bob 1] What’s that little NardCopter rambling about? He’s
disturbing my pudding feast.
[Bob 2] I’m pretty sure he just called you Captain Booger
Balls. You just gonna sit there and take it, Bob?
[Bob 1] IS THAT SO? You like the taste of mulch, you little
nardbagel? Do you?!! HRMFPFACKTHPTTH.
[Bob 2] You shouldn’t have hurt his feelings, Willy. This is
what happens when you hurt Bob’s feelings.
[Bob 1] I said, give me that tasty sandwich, you little
[Bob 2] Don’t make him ask again. You don’t want to see him
angry. Bob’s like a fighter jet when he’s angry.
If I had threatened to blow up
Inman’s aggressive cat, “Bob” by sticking a cherry bomb up
Bob’s butt, unless Inman drew a cartoon just for me of Ken
White getting raped by a polar bear, that would
be extortion. Because threatening to blow up a cat would be
what we call an “element of the crime” under Section 519(a),
that defines “fear, such as will constitute extortion,” as
fear induced by the threat to infict “unlawful injury to the
person or property of the individual threatened….”
Okay, now let’s go back to the Charles Carreon letter fact
scenario and see if we could charge him with extortion. But
first, let’s get you into an honest frame of mind. Let’s
pretend that you wanted to be a lawyer, and you have
finished law school, and you’re taking the California Bar
Exam. You open a packet with three hours on the clock, and
out spills a file. The first thing in the file is a letter
that reads verbatim just like Charles Carreon’s letter to
Matt Inman, except the lawyer’s name is Hokum, and the guy
who’s just like Inman is named Scrotum. As you read the
hypothetical facts, they say this: “You are an Assistant
District Attorney in the City of Buttstool, California.
Scrotum is a prominent citizen and a well-known cartoonist.
Your boss, the District Attorney, is a big fan of
Scrotum’s. He has asked you to determine whether Hokum can
lawfully be charged with extortion for sending Scrotum a
letter just like Carreon’s in every respect, under Section
518 of the California Penal Code, a copy of which is in the
file. While your boss is angry on behalf of his friend
Scrotum, he reminds you not to get him in hot water, and to
consider the implications of the following ABA Standards for
Criminal Justice, and California Rule of Professional
Conduct 5-110, of which he’s given you a copy. He wants a
memo on his desk in three hours, ready to discuss with
Scrotum after they come back from lunch.”
ABA CJ Standard 3-1.2 (c):
The duty of the prosecutor is to seek justice, not merely to
California RPC 5-110:
“A member in government service shall not institute or cause
to be instituted criminal charges when the member knows or
should know that the charges are not supported by probable
cause. If, after the institution of criminal charges, the
member in government service having responsibility for
prosecuting the charges becomes aware that those charges are
not supported by probable cause, the member shall promptly
so advise the court in which the criminal matter is
So, now that you know you have to come up with the “right”
answer, and not just the one that will suit your
confirmation bias, go ahead and answer that question. I
feel like I’m skatin’ on this charge.
The Immorality of Suing Charities
Charity fraud is a booming business in the age of instant
disaster reporting. Very likely the majority of the money
raised through large-scale charitable giving is entirely
diverted to causes inconsistent with a charitable purpose.
I was accused of acting immorally in suing the American
Cancer Society and the National Wildlife Fund; however, I
intended only to benefit them, and achieved that goal. The
fact was, Inman hadn’t talked to either ACS or NWF before
starting the Bear Love spite donation campaign on Indiegogo,
and had no commitment to either one to give them anything.
The only thing binding him to give even one dollar to either
one was his commitment to give – to give what? To give
$20,000. That’s all he promised to give to charity, and the
way Indiegogo acted, he could have given it all to himself,
or his Mom, or Bob the aggressive cat.
Now of course, most of the people who made spite donations
did so because they wanted to throw a ten-dollar-shaped turd
at their concept of Charles Carreon. So of course they
didn’t care how Inman dispensed the money. Giving the money
to ACS and NWF were simply the inducement to act
“philanthropically” by putting down “douchebaggery.”
However, the law of charitable giving does not say, “If
people don’t care who you give the money to, you don’t have
to give it to the people you said you were collecting the
money for. You can collect it for Haiti and give it to the
Texas Rangers. If it’s okay with the givers, and they like
you, no worries. You’re the philanthropist, big guy, give
it to whoever you want to!”
Crazily enough, the law even does something really rational,
and says that one person, one single donor to a campaign can
file a lawsuit to make that charitable fundraiser do with
the donations what he said he’d do. That’s the law I sued
under. And that’s the law that Judge Edward Chen enforced
when he told Inman to deposit copies of the checks with the
court. So was I the $10 tail that wagged the $220,000 dog?
Yes, I was. Say “bow wow,” doggie.
On Suing Charities To Suppress Speech
How do you suppress speech with a lawsuit? Only two ways –
you deter the other party with the threat of damages or
awards of attorney’s fees, or you get an injunction that
shuts them up. In my letter to Inman, I said that his false
accusations of FunnyJunk’s copyright infringement could be
enjoined, and they could have been, if I could have shown a
risk of irreparable harm flowing from their continued
publication. But I didn’t sue Inman on behalf of FunnyJunk.
I sued him on behalf of my mother, whom he insulted with the
Bear Love campaign, and on behalf of my father, who in his
life could never have conceived of a public medium so
debased that not only would the Bear Love illustration be
created and published, but also widely lauded as a piece of
hilarious, enjoyable pop culture.
I sued the charities for two reasons: to get them into court
for failing to control the use of their names, and tacitly
collecting dirty money in the form of spite donations, which
are inherently inimical to charitable purposes, and because
the judge would have wondered where they were with respect
to the lawsuit if they weren’t joined as defendants. I
spoke to a dedicated attorney in the Attorney General’s
office, who encouraged me in the suit, and confirmed
unquestionably that I had analyzed the issue exactly as he
would have. Kamala Harris was named in the case because
California law requires that she be made a party, a fact
that was actually pointed out to me by a rather helpful
zombie whom I struck up an email conversation with during
the early days of the Rapeutation. Of course,
if the ACS and NWF were actually run by people with ethics,
they would have sued Inman himself for misusing their
trademarks. You can imagine if he had done a fund raiser
for Starbucks usingtheir logo.
There would be a SWAT team of baristas at his door.
My Client, FunnyJunk, Made Out to be A Crook
I’ve often said you shouldn’t judge a client by his lawyer.
Lawyers get used to being judged by the clients they
represent, and to some extent that’s fair. Dirtbags like to
be represented by dirtbags, which is why I’ve represented
very few, and regretted it each time I’ve done so. I always
liked FunnyJunk as a client, and that website is most
definitely not what people have said it is – a thief of
Inman’s cartoons, depriving him of “attribution.” What
nonsense. Inman’s work is so well-known on FunnyJunk
there’s no need to attribute it to anyone. The
FunnyJunkers all know who does the Oatmeal, because they’re
the ones who copy and post the cartoons. Which is of course
why FunnyJunk is not a “copyright thief,” any more than
Facebook is. Stuff gets copied, posted, and taken down on a
daily basis at all of these social media sites, because the
DMCA, for all the bitching and moaning, works pretty damn
The Bear Love Caper That I Would Have Loved to Pull (Not)
Top lie number 5 is of course the lie that I was trying to
get the Bear Love money for myself. Biggest lie of all.
The complaint asked the Judge only to divide the money
between ACS and NWF and not to let Inman touch it. And he
didn’t get to.
The Biggest Lawsuit That Never Happened: FunnyJunk v.
Lie number 6, fomented by Inman’s very deft phrasing of his
initial distress call, was believed by large numbers of
rank-and-file zombies, based on the number of times
hatemailers accused me of suing on behalf of FunnyJunk. But
I would be blamed regardless of what I did. Suing and not
suing are equally blameworthy in the DIRA playbook. Because
I did not sue Inman, my letter is derided as having been an
insincere threat all along. One does not follow from the
other. FunnyJunk obviously did not want to add to its woes
litigation that would further antagonize its user base, that
includes many Oatmeal fans.
What About the Rest of the Lies?
I will get to them in a separate post, and it’s interesting
to see that some of the more virulent lies were fairly
lightly dispersed throughout the zombie mind. Just so you
know how they sorted out, here’s the rest of the list:
Tied for 7th
Charles Carreon wanted the charity money for himself.
Inman intended to give money to only two charities all
Charles Carreon is a free speech lawyer who fell off the
Tied for 8th
Charles Carreon’s website was not really hacked.
Charles Carreon was suspended twice or more by the
Inman took photographs of the actual Bear Love donations.
Jon Corbett is an attorney.