Here’s an episode of Yours Truly, Johnny Atsign which the Gentle Reader may find intriguing, especially if he missed it when it first ran six years ago today.
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SOUND: Skype rings once.
JOHNNY: Johnny Atsign.
NERD: (Telephone Filter) Hey, Atsign.
JOHNNY: Uh, huh..
NERD: (Telephone Filter) I think you want to stop by my place.
JOHNNY: And why’s that?
NERD: (Telephone Filter) I’ve been taking a look at those document you sent me.
JOHNNY: And …
NERD: (Telephone Filter) … and they exhibit some very interesting properties.
JOHNNY: I’ll be right over.
MUSIC: Theme up and under.
ANNOUNCER: The Lickspittle Broadcasting System presents W. J. J. Hoge in the transcribed adventures of the man with the action-packed Twitter account, America’s fabulous free-lance Internet investigator …
JOHNNY: Yours Truly, Johnny Asign!
MUSIC: Theme up to music out.
JOHNNY: The following is partial extract of the tweets sent and received during my investigation of Short-Fused Dud Matter.
NERD TWEETS: (SYNTH VOICE) Hey, @JohnnyAtsign These clues are for free. That’s free as in beer.
JOHNNY: The Grouch had filed a lawsuit in federal court accusing a group of bloggers of defaming him. He wound up withdrawing that suit, but one of the bloggers sued him for copyright infringement. After whining about how all the work and stress of a court fight would be bad for his already fragile health, The Grouch proceeded to crank out an answer and counterclaims and an extensive motion for an early discovery subpoena, and he seemed to do it essentially overnight.
That would have been quick work for a lawyer. It was amazing for a pro se litigant who claimed that he had difficulty typing. When I was provided with both digital and hardcopy versions of his filings, I passed them along to my document analysis Nerd.
SOUND: Door knocker.
NERD: (Muffled) Come on in, Atsign.
SOUND: Door opens and closes.
NERD: (Full mike) You didn’t take long getting here.
JOHNNY: Let’s just say I think this is an intriguing case.
NERD: Let’s see if I can demystify some of it for you.
NERD: I’ve got some of The Grouch’s recent court filings laid out on the table here. At the risk of sounding like Sesame Street, which one of these things is not like the other?
JOHNNY: That one.
NERD: Right, and you selected The Grouch’s Answer and Counterclaims to the copyright suit. What’s the obvious difference?
JOHNNY: It’s been done on lawyer’s pleading paper, that stuff with the numbered lines down the left margin. So what? He could have just ripped off someone else’s pleading and modified it to fit his circumstances. Lawyers do that all the time.
NERD: True enough. But the file wasn’t created on the same computer as the rest of The Grouch’s stuff.
JOHNNY: How do you know?
NERD: Metadata in the files. The word processing program that created the document was from an older version of the freeware office suite LibreOffice running on a Windows machine. The version of PDF used to create the dot pdf file is not the one used by Macs.
JOHNNY: And we know that The Grouch is a Mac user.
NERD: Assuming he hasn’t put a round from an AR15 through his computer yet. In any case, all the other files were created on a Macintosh using whatever the latest version of Mac OS X was when the file was created. That includes this.
JOHNNY: What that?
NERD: It’s his amended answer and counterclaims. It still uses the numbered pleading paper format, but it’s been ported to Microsoft Office on a Mac.
JOHNNY: Great. So what do you think this means?
NERD: Unless it turns out that The Grouch has a Windows PC loaded with the correct version of LibreOffice, it looks like someone is practicing law without a license.
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JOHNNY: There were other clues that pointed to someone writing some or all of The Grouch’s court papers for him.
NERD: If you read the different filings, you’ll see other clues—vocabulary, turns of phrase, changes in format. Part of that might be explained away by these being Frankenfilings stitched together from different stuff found online.
JOHNNY: With a brain provided by Abbie Someone?
NERD: Something like that. But when you tie it to the metadata evidence, The Grouch’s claimed disability, and the time scale … it sure looks like someone else created those filings.
JOHNNY: OK. Write up a brief report for me, and I’ll get it to the client.
JOHNNY TWEETS: (SYNTH VOICE) @Nerd I owe you that beer.
MUSIC: Theme up and under
ANNOUNCER: Now, here’s our star to tell you about next week’s intriguing episode of our story.
JOHNNY: Next week? Why settle for a copy when you can have the original? Join us, won’t you?
Yours Truly, Johnny Atsign!
MUSIC: Swell theme and under
ANNOUNCER: Yours Truly, Johnny Atsign, starring W. J. J. Hoge, is transcribed in Westminster. Be sure to join us next Monday, same time and URL, for the next exciting episode of Yours Truly, Johnny Atsign.
MUSIC: Theme up to music out.
ANNOUNCER: Johnny Atsign is a work of fiction. If anyone thinks it’s about him, he should read Proverbs 28:1.
This is LBS, the Lickspittle Broadcasting System.
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Now, who might want to practice law without a license? This is from a now-defunct website that was online at the time Johnny was working that case.