The Kentucky state government's 'appeal against an appeal' on its so far unsuccessful and long-running attempt to seize international domain names threw up a new legal wheeze this week as the state's outsourced legal eagles tried to find a fresh justification for their seizure attempts.
The lawyers have asked the Franklin County Circuit court to add unspecified names of US citizens and companies to a lawsuit that seeks the forfeiture of 141 Internet domain names.
Kentucky’s effort to seize those Web site names, all related to Internet gambling, had been blocked by a January 2009 decision from the Kentucky Court of Appeals, in favor of the Interactive Media Entertainment & Gaming Association (iMEGA) and other groups, including the Interactive Gaming Council and Sportsbook.com, representing the domain owners (see previous InfoPowa reports).
By doing so the state hopes to strengthen its claims to have jurisdiction, which have so far not been successful.
Though the new motion was made public by Kentucky’s lawyers, none of the names of the US citizens or companies to be added to the seizure effort were revealed, despite requests by attorneys acting for iMEGA.
A decision from the Kentucky Supreme Court is pending after the state’s lawyers challenged the Appeals Court verdict. Oral arguments from lawyers representing both sides of the dispute were heard by the Court in October of this year .
“In the course of the litigation and the Commonwealth’s continuing investigation, the Commonwealth has learned the identity of certain entities and individuals involved in internet gambling operations, some of whom are U.S. citizens,” read the motion from Kentucky’s lawyers. “The Commonwealth asks for leave to amend its Complaint to add causes of action against these individuals and entities in personam.”
Joe Brennan Jr, chairman of iMEGA said: “It’s odd that Kentucky’s lawyers would try something like this at such a late date, since we’re expecting a decision on this matter from the State Supreme Court any day now. It seems like a ‘Hail Mary pass’ to me.”
“We’re unaware of any ‘investigations’ by the state attorney-general or law enforcement in Kentucky," Brennan added. "The [Kentucky] attorney-general himself asked to be dismissed from this suit last year. And there are no indictments or convictions that would enable Kentucky’s lawyers to add the names of individual US citizens to their seizure action.
“If anything, this last-minute gambit highlights our argument that Kentucky and the lower court provided no due process to the domain owners, since they seem bent on continuing down that path even now.”
The new motion called for a hearing on January 20th, 2010, in Franklin Circuit Court, before Judge Thomas Wingate - the same judge who issued the original seizure orders for the 141 domain names during a secret court hearing with Kentucky’s lawyers in September 2008, where the owners of the domain names were not informed of or given the opportunity to be represented by their own counsel.
The new motion can be read here: http://www.imega.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/motion-for-leave-to-join-additional-parties-and-to-amend-complaint.pdf
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