People who do not have a legal reason to have content delisted are still trying to trick Google into compliance with various illegal actions. So far, we've seen bogus lawsuits filed by fake plaintiffs against fake defendants, slid by inattentive judges to secure takedown orders. We've seen people trying to limit negative search engine results by forging judge's signatures on fake orders. We've seen people assemble fake news sites to post copies of negative content solely for the purpose of targeting the original posts with fraudulent takedown orders.
Eugene Volokh has dug up another interesting libel takedown order, supposedly issued by a Michigan federal court. It awards the plaintiff, Abraham Motamedi, $5,720 in legal fees and the delisting of sex offender registry-related URLs (only one of which isn't a top-level domain). From the order [PDF]:
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED: that to prevent further or future harm to Plaintiff’s reputation in the community and protect his employment from the dangers of labeling him as a “sex offender”, Plaintiff is awarded a permanent injunction against Defendants … compelling these Defendants to immediately remove any and all sex offender postings of Plaintiff caused by these Defendants, including but not limited to the sex offender postings presently on the following websites:
The plaintiff also is granted a permanent injunction against further posts linking him to sexual offenses.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED: that to prevent further or future harm to Plaintiff’s reputation in the community and protect his employment from the dangers of labeling him as a “sex offender”, Plaintiff is awarded a permanent injunction against Defendants CHARLES RODERICK II, a/k/a Chuck Roderick, an individual, WEB EXPRESS, L.L.C., d/b/a “Online Detective”, an Arizona limited liability company; and, ONLINEDETECTIVE.COM, L.L.C., an Arizona Limited Liability Company compelling these Defendants to refrain from ever posting any similar sex offender posting concerning 5 Plaintiff or otherwise posting defamatory statements concerning Plaintiff on the internet.
Volokh says this was submitted to Google, despite the order naming only the sites listed above. The order doesn't discuss Section 230 once, even though it skips a set of intermediaries in its haste to get to the delisting. But that's really no surprise, considering no judge ever saw a complaint, much less signed their name to this judgment.
There is no Motamedi v. Oesterblad in the Eastern District of Michigan. The case number 2:13-cv-14541 (the number listed in the order) in that district corresponds to a completely different order. There is no Daniel Ro. Markus, the lawyer who, according to the order, was responsible for the case. The order submitted to Google was a forgery, like the ones discussed here (Lichterman and Aukerman), here (Arnstein), and here (Haas).
Nevertheless, Abraham Motamedi insists it's a real court order. Volokh spoke to Motamedi, who claimed the order was legit (despite the case being nonexistent). This isn't necessarily an indication Motamedi crafted the completely-fake court order. It could mean some shady reputation management company did it on his behalf. But considering Motamedi never expressed any hesitance about his assertions, it's safe to assume he's well aware this isn't legitimate.
Additional weirdness: the criminal conviction Motamedi is trying to make vanish was handed down in Idaho and he now apparently lives in Nevada. Where Michigan factors into all of this is a mystery, although I suppose completely fake court documents don't have to adhere to any sort of jurisdictional limits.
As more evidence of forged/fake court documents is uncovered, it's crucial that that intermediaries pay close attention to any supposed court order they receive. Failing to give these documents additional scrutiny will only encourage further abuse.