Storix, Inc. v. Anthony Johnson - A Case Study
Anthony Johnson has suffered more legal abuse than any other pro se civil litigant in U.S. history. Don't be too quick to judge Anthony as another disgruntled losing party that simply won't accept his loss. The attorneys and their clients never stopped attacking him because no judge would even acknowledge what they were doing, much less allow a pro se litigant to stop them.
In 2011, Anthony Johnson gifted a collective 52% stock in his company, Storix, Inc. to his 4 long-term employees after being diagnosed with terminal cancer. Remarkably, Johnson didn't die, and his former employees didn't like it. They wanted the rest of his stock, and used their new controlling interest in his company to sue him relentlessly for no reason. They cut off his remaining income, sued him for the copyrights to the software he designed and developed for 15 years, then sued him for allegedly "intending" to compete with his own company. Johnson counter-sued, first represented by a private attorney and eventually self-represented, but always opposed by multiple attorneys from two behemoth law firms being paid by his own company.
After 8 years and hundreds of pleadings in 4 California trial courts, the California Court of Appeals, and the Ninth Circuit (federal ) Court of Appeals, there was not a single decision in Johnson's favor. In the end, Johnson lost his entire company, the copyrights to his software, his home and savings, and every court further punished him for losing by ordering him to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in costs and attorney fees to both the company and his former employees. Not once would any judge even acknowledge that his former employees were in total control of Storix and illegally self-approved using company funds for their defense in every action.
Every decision against Johnson on every issue in 4 different cases was clearly against the law. He proved every fact and supported every argument in his pleadings with indisputable statutes and case law, but the biased judges simply ignored anything that didn't support the position of the attorneys opposing him. They knew from the start that Johnson was financially disadvantaged, massively outgunned, and couldn't afford an attorney to appeal their decisions. They also knew the appellate courts rarely take a pro se appellant seriously and similarly ignore any fact or argument that would require their decisions to be overturned.
Judges rely on the fact that no one sees a case beyond what they include in their orders and opinions, so they simply re-wrote the facts and issues of the case to conform to their decisions. Anthony's efforts to draw the judge's attention even to millions of dollars of embezzlement and tax fraud occurring at his own company was futile, and he was instead punished repeatedly for trying to stop it.
What's most extraordinary is that Johnson was never found to have done anything to harm anyone. Storix,, controlled by his former employees, brought a single ludicrous claim that he intended to start a competing company. Despite having no evidence and no actual harm, the continued the case all the way to a jury. Then, knowing the jury was about to reject the claim, they simply added a new claim in closing arguments - and the judge allowed it! The new claim was that Johnson caused a $3,739.14 "loss of employee productivity" by sending an email - that Johnson had no chance to dispute. The jury rejected the $1.3 million claim against Johnson on the competition claim, but awarded Storix the exact $3,739.14 on the claim that wasn't even part of the lawsuit.
After trial, Johnson discovered that his former employees (Storix's 52% shareholders) had siphoned about $475,000 out of his company earnings when he was on medical leave in 2011 that they never expected him to return from. Finally understanding why they fought so hard to keep him out of the company and its financial records for years, Johnson brought a new lawsuit for that and about $5 million of other damages they'd caused him throughout the litigation. Shockingly, the abusive judge who ruled against him in the copyright case 4 years earlier unlawfully took over the case and allowed the opposing attorneys to file 7 different motions to dismiss and delayed the case for 3 years before finally dismissing all claims before any evidence could be presented - mostly by claiming he;d already brought the claims before (but refusing to point to any case where he did).
Worse of all, Johnson's claims were dismissed based primarily on his having LOST in the prior trial - because there was a $3,739.14 judgment against him! And on that basis, three different judges ordered him to pay $200,000 in cost and attorney fees to the same defendants who'd already taken all his entire company and his copyrights - and used his own money to pay for it! Despite this legal abuse, Johnson persisted in trying to have his claims heard.
Finally, Johnson brought a complaint against 4 judges and 5 attorneys for conspiring to deprive him his civil rights, even as one of the judges continues to stay one of several claims in a prior complaint (without explanation) to prevent him from appealing her other decisions. The newly assigned federal judge dismissed all claims against the other judges, attorneys and their clients who took millions from Johnson - still without their having to deny a single fact. The case was then assigned to yet another newly appointed judge that dismissed his final claim against Storix (for the $475,000 of earnings still owed to him) - also ignoring all facts, evidence and law.
This was not entirely a tragic ending. Despite Johnson suffered such extraordinary legal abuse and never receiving a fair hearing in any court, he was able to take advantage of the greed and incompetence of his former employees and recover much of his losses out of court and at their expense. This too was a remarkable story underlying the litigation that will be revealed in an upcoming book.
The Storix v. Johnson Papers
The trial and appellate court's orders, judgments and opinions in Johnson's cases were either summary dispositions that say little to nothing about the issues raised, or appear thorough and well reasoned but actually focus on irrelevant issues (many the opposing attorneys didn't even argue), ignored the actual issues, and conflict with well-established law when the facts of the case are applied (which they never were).
Some of the judges' orders and all appellate rulings can be found on the web, but the parties' pleadings, motions, oppositions & replies underlying those decisions are rarely seen since they can only be obtained through a paid service. As such, anyone reading the decisions alone would never know the actual facts or issues the courts chose to ignore.
Since all court filings are considered public information, they are provided here so you can see for yourself that all the relevant facts, issues and arguments provided by Johnson in dozens of pleadings, especially those involving attorney and judicial misconduct and judicial bias, are conspicuously absent from every ruling in both the trial and appellate courts.
The papers provided here include not only his appeals to the California and Ninth Circuit courts of appeal, but also his petitions to the California and U.S. Supreme Courts. To be sure, if Johnson couldn't get any court to review the atrocious decisions against him, he'd be sure as many people as possible at least saw how hard he tried.
Provided this background, rather than relying solely on the courts' orders and opinions, you can decide for yourself if Johnson was ever given a fair hearing. Pay special attention to the motions for reconsideration, new trial and rehearings that all ask the courts to simply decide the issues that were previously ignored, or to re-decide issues in light of relevant facts and law that were never acknowledged. Every motion was summarily denied without reference to the actual issues, so anyone reading the orders and opinions would never even know what the claims were even about.