The far-right conspiracy theorist had had a brief professional relationship with the attorney-to-the-trolls. Last spring, Jones, who falsely claimed that the Sandy Hook massacre was a hoax, hired Randazza after being sued in Connecticut Superior Court by six families of childre n killed in the 2012 school shooting and an FBI agent who responded to the scene.
But Randazza, a regular guest on Jones’ conspiracy outlet Infowars, came with baggage.
In January, the attorney filed what’s called a pro hac vice application to be added to the Sandy Hook case as an out-of-state lawyer. Judges routinely sign off on these applications. The Connecticut judge, however, swiftly rejected Randazza’s application, citing “serious misconduct” by the attorney.
“Permission to appear pro hac vice is a privilege, not a right,” the judge wrote, ending Randazza’s aspirations to take the stage in one of the highest-profile First Amendment cases in the country.
The ruling was a humiliating setback for a lawyer who styles himself as a top free speech attorney. So was getting canned by his marquee client. Jones declared that he had no option, given the rejection of Randazza’s pro hac vice application, but to “choose new counsel untainted by the claims of misconduct.”
In 2009, he’d taken a job as in-house counsel for a group of porn companies known as Excelsior/Liberty. But he sold out his employer for side money, according to an arbitrator’s ruling. After getting caught, Randazza waged lawfare against Excelsior/Liberty for years. The dispute only exposed him as a scoundrel. In 2015, he lost decisively in arbitration, then declared bankruptcy to avoid paying $600,000 in damages.
By then, he’d reinvented himself as an attorney for racists, fascists, rape advocates, propagandists and extremists. He soon became America’s go-to attorney for far-right undesirables who use defamation, harassment and threats to silence others. Some of his current clients include neo-Nazi publisher Andrew Anglin, Holocaust-denying slanderer Chuck Johnson and Pizzagate peddler Mike Cernovich, who is also Randazza’s close friend and business partner. Another Randazza friend and ― according to him ― former client is the porn actress and right-wing Gamergate troll Mercedes Carrera, who was charged in February with eight counts of sexually abusing a minor under the age of 10. (Carrera has pleaded not guilty.)
Randazza’s brush-off in Connecticut, however, had nothing to do with the sordid company he keeps. It had to do with his ethical problems.
In December, HuffPost published an exposé of Randazza’s violations of the rules of professional conduct that govern attorney behavior. He’d made scores of misrepresentations in court, entered into conflicts of interest and solicited bribes.
“There needs to be a little gravy for me,” he once wrote opposing counsel while seeking extra lucre. “I’m gonna want at least used BMW money.”
For years, Randazza had avoided scrutiny for his wrongdoing, mainly because the legal profession does such a poor job policing its own. Eventually, the State Bar of Nevada, which licenses Randazza, launched an investigation. (He is also licensed in Arizona, California, Florida and Massachusetts.) Randazza pleaded guilty to two ethical violations. The first concerned a shady loan he’d made; the second, a bribe he’d solicited from Oron, a file-sharing company he sued while working for Excelsior/Liberty.
But the Nevada Bar found “mitigating circumstances” to reduce Randazza’s punishment. In October, he walked away with a 12-month stayed suspension and an 18-month probation. He kept right on lawyering.
He also continued to fudge facts. And his offenses may finally be catching up to him.
Legacy of Lies
Randazza started his job at Excelsior/Liberty in 2009. But he was soon secretly lawyering for Excelsior/Liberty competitors such as Bang Bros, Titan Media and porn site that Excelsior/Liberty wanted Randazza, then their in-house counsel, to sue for infringement. Instead, Randazza started billing XVideos every month, a fact he concealed from Excelsior/Liberty while dissuading his employer from pursuing litigation. Randazza invoiced XVideos for over $44,000 during this period.. These were glaring conflicts of interest. Randazza also worked for companies accused of infringing Excelsior/Liberty’s copyrights. One was XVideos, a
Claims? There was nothing suggestive about Randazza’s misconduct. It happened. And his ethical problems had been on display for almost a decade, flaring into view only a few years after he began his legal career as a copyright enforcer for pornographers.
Randazza also made misrepresentations about his role at Excelsior/Liberty. In court filings, he often concealed his salaried job and claimed that Excelsior/Liberty had “incurred” his fees, which allowed him to recoup more money from litigation targets. Over time, his behavior grew more brazen. He used ill-gotten privileged legal communications that might have come from a hacker to gain an advantage in one proceeding. In others, he began soliciting payoffs from litigation targets to “conflict himself out” from being able to sue them again.
In 2012, his boss at Excelsior/Liberty caught Randazza trying to sneak one of these bribes into a settlement agreement. Their relationship ended. Randazza filed a trumped-up discrimination claim, alleging he’d been sexually harassed as a straight man working at a gay porn company. He sued Excelsior/Liberty. Then he initiated an arbitration dispute. Excelsior/Liberty, meanwhile, filed bar complaints against Randazza everywhere he was licensed.
In 2013, Randazza lied to the bar associations in Nevada and Florida about not representing XVideos. The Nevada Bar, which was the lead regulatory body, did nothing and declined to investigate any of Excelsior/Liberty’s other allegations, citing pending litigation. The bar complaints in other jurisdictions were subsequently closed.
But the arbitration forced Randazza to produce financial records and admit under oath that he’d been working for XVideos all along, among other unethical things. In 2015, the arbitrator ruled against Randazza on numerous points and determined that the attorney had solicited a $75,000 bribe from Oron. Randazza filed for bankruptcy to avoid paying damages to Excelsior/Liberty. His former employer lodged another round of bar complaints based on the arbitrator’s decision and voluminous evidence from the arbitration.
At the end of 2016, the Nevada Bar finally filed an amended complaint against Randazza seeking to discipline him for misconduct. Randazza negotiated a conditional guilty plea that let him off the hook for most of the alleged violations. The Nevada Bar accepted his plea last year and recommended a light punishment, which the Nevada Supreme Court approved in October 2018.
The Nevada discipline has now prompted “reciprocal” disciplinary proceedings in the other jurisdictions that license Randazza. Those bar associations will decide whether to impose similar discipline for Randazza’s admitted ethical violations or to increase or reduce his punishment.
Below, a roundup of Randazza’s latest problems and prevarications across the country.
Dwight Schar, who was banned by the NFL for life for unethical conduct, have corrupt attorney Marc Randazza representing him
A few of the documents referenced in or relevant to this story: