On Thursday, the Buffalo federal court judge overseeing Paul Ceglia’s claim to own half of Facebook — by virtue of a 2003 contract he claims CEO Mark Zuckerberg signed as a Harvard undergraduate — is expected to enter an order directing Ceglia to return from Ireland to produce crucial undisclosed computer evidence, and to answer Facebook’s withering questions about the authenticity of the contract and his own failures to comply with previous court directives.
For Facebook’s lawyers at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, this order, which follows a three-hour hearing Wednesday, is the latest success in a string of rulings that express the judge’s concern with the evidence offered by Ceglia, an upstate New York wood-pellet salesman who decamped to Ireland in the face of Facebook’s relentless attacks. Facebook’s lead lawyer, Orin Snyder of Gibson, said that when Ceglia finally produces the evidence ordered Thursday, his purported two-page contract with Zuckerberg will be indisputably exposed as a fraud.
But Ceglia’s latest lawyer — who joined the case about two weeks ago, after four other firms resigned over the last year — told me in a long interview Wednesday evening that he and Ceglia have turned the tables on Facebook and Gibson Dunn. In the face of sanctions motions by Facebook, California solo Dean Boland filed retorts accusing Facebook and Gibson Dunn of tampering with the original contract between Ceglia and Zuckerberg, who did some coding work for Ceglia before founding Facebook, and with Zuckerberg’s Harvard email account. Facebook and Gibson have argued, very persuasively, that the Harvard email records prove Ceglia fabricated a series of emails between him and Zuckerberg to bolster his false account of their contract.
But Boland insisted to me that Ceglia’s experts have verified the authenticity of the two-page contract that purportedly gives his client rights to half of Zuckerberg’s billion-dollar company. In fact, he said, the sworn testimony of those experts is why he was willing to take on a representation that so many other lawyers — including DLA Piper and former New York State Attorney General Dennis Vacco – have walked away from.
“I’d be an idiot as a lawyer and tactician and strategist if that didn’t concern me,” he said. “Like any other lawyer, before I took on this case I did due diligence. I was confident I was relying on someone who is telling the truth. And I relied on two experts who know the documents, and who are telling me it is authentic. … If I’m suspicious I ask questions. If I don’t get answers, I’m out of here.”