It’s time to return here to the hot topic and middling controversy of alleged poker cheat Mike Postle having filed his initial response to the $10M civil lawsuit. Since my previous article, Postle, who officially represents himself, has had a signed version of the filing docketed into the case by Sacramento attorney William Portanova.
The document appears to match the unsigned version published late on March 24 at RounderLife; a link to the signed version of the filing appears in a new feature at RL that was published at approximately 4 am on March 26. That latest piece, as many of you currently reading this will discover, was bylined by one Evert Caldwell, who can now presumptively be believed to be the primary owner of the RL operation.
This latest piece is the first of several features vociferously defending Postle to actually carry a byline, and that’s a good entry point to the next part of this story:
Anonymity all around
Much about these pro-Postle pieces has been shrouded in mystery. A few months ago, I was the writer who uncovered the fact that Postle was once on the staff of RounderLife when it existed in print form, shaggy tabloidish stuff that it was. These date from quite a few years back, but there was Postle on the masthead:
Whether or not Postle still served an active role with RounderLife wasn’t actually the largest point. Instead, the find showed that Postle was closely linked to the site that was publishing, anonymously, all these rabidly pro-Postle takes.
Since these pieces were being published anonymously, it did raise the chances that Postle himself authored some or all of these pieces, including another attack piece aimed at yours truly that actually had nothing to do with the RL connection. Between then and now, to the best of my knowledge, RL also chose to ignore the clamor from many within the poker world as to who was writing and publishing these anon pieces.
Multiple filing versions, expanded
Fast forward to the past 72 hours. Very early on March 25, not too many hours after RL published the unsigned Postle filing, I received a tip that a slightly different version of the filing existed. I soon obtained that filing.
As this morning’s RL slagpile declares, the version I received appears to be what was emailed or faxed from Postle (who has declared to be representing himself), to all the other counsel involved at present. That includes the attorneys representing Postle’s co-defendants, King’s Casino LLC (Stones Gambling Hall) and to the plaintiffs’ lead attorney.
Today’s RL garbage insinuates that Verstandig himself forwarded the alternate version of the filing. This is patently untrue. I have lots of sources and I know lots of poker people in and around Sacramento, having spent four weeks there in late 2018 and early 2019. I will not divulge my sources, but none of them were Verstandig. RounderLife should publish a retraction and apology about Verstandig’s supposed actions, but I’m not holding my breath and I rather doubt he is either.
The roundermagpro blunders
As noted above, there have been legitimate and ongoing questions as to whether Postle himself had authored any of the non-bylined RounderLife pieces about the scandal and case. Now, Postle’s earlier filings in the case declare that he is a pro se defendant, meaning he represents himself. When coupled with the unsigned filings — in two different versions! — and certain changes made from one to the other, it wasn’t at all clear at the time that Postle himself hadn’t made these changes, and then self-published an altered court document. This now is clearly not the case, but the original possibility was a very important detail. I’ll return to this in a bit.
The looming issue is that all attorneys in a case are regarded as officers of the court. Here, that includes both Verstandig and Postle himself, as a pro se litigant. There are general rules as to court officers’ conduct and court documents, and while blacking out personal information such as addresses and phone numbers is obviously legit, changing other information is much less so.
As a pro se litigant, Postle is responsible for supplying his accurate contact information to the court. In this process, Postle or his unofficial attorney, William Portanova, made multiple errors, and those weren’t the only ones. What now appears to be the original version of the filing listed Postle’s email address as email@example.com, while the version published later had this detail changed to a Yahoo! addy.
This was changed in the first unsigned filing as published by RounderLife on March 24. This in turn meant that Postle recognized his error beforehand and wanted to conceal the existence of his roundermagpro address.
Segue back to this morning’s garbage at RL. In writing his mansplaining spew, Caldwell offered this:
“Hintze alludes to a firstname.lastname@example.org email included in the document she published as a ‘gotcha’ moment. She apparently believes this is proof Postle is more than an associate of RounderLife and possibly ‘the author of the site’s pro-Postle content.’ Although the rounderlifemagpro email shows there was an association, which has never been denied, that email is Postle’s personal email, not one assigned to him by RounderLife. ‘News Flash’ Ms. Hintze, anyone, even you, can google gmail.com and create a roundermagpro or similar gmail account.”
Like, duh, obviously! Fab for him to point this out! But again, that’s hardly the point.
Caldwell also acknowledged that at one time, Postle also had an in-house RounderLife address. Irrelevant. The larger matter was that Postle used this roundermagpro address — perhaps his primary address, for all I know — and then was concerned enough to change it while leaving his other contact info intact, all before sending it Caldwell at RL.
And how vain would you have to be to continue using “roundermagpro” as your email tag, for over a decade, if you’re no longer connected to the operation? It doesn’t jive. Numerous photos exist showing Postle wearing RL-branded gear. There was an ongoing relationship, “office work” or otherwise. Perhaps Caldwell backs Postle in games; it’s an open question.
Of course the blunders didn’t stop there. Postle sent over the unsigned but revised filing and Caldwell published it as is, with all the personal info there. They can fight over who gets the larger credit for the self-doxxing. All told, though, the cumulative problems with the filings and the pieces possibly written by Postle himself virtually forced Caldwell to at least byline today’s piece. This was also a goal; I detest anonymous reporting of hard news stories and it needed to stop in this unrolling saga.
Other errors, and Portanova as ‘unofficial’ lawyer
Time to swing back to the William Portanova portion of this update. Portanova, you might recall, is the Sacramento criminal defense attorney who represented Postle’s interests to California media outlets when the scandal broke.
When the civil lawsuit was filed, however, Portanova claimed to plaintiffs’ attorney Verstandig that he was not representing Postle in the civil matter. As detailed in earlier court filings, Verstandig asked Portanova to assist Verstandig in serving the civil summons to Postle. Verstandig’s statement, when viewed with hindsight, could make a point that Portanova effectively delayed and demurred, thus adding to the delays in serving Postle the initial notice of the suit.
It turns out, though, that Portanova has been a part of this nearly all along. As the signed version of Postle’s filing shows, Portanova did the paperwork:
However, Portanova did such a slapdash job of creating Postle’s filing that multiple errors were included, at least one of which still exists. Early conjecture that Postle was using another lawyer possibly named Owen Hughes was raised because of this paragraph, as reported previously:
The interpretation that Hughes was serving as Postle’s counsel was made by the inaccurate phrasing several lines earlier. Look at Lines 2 and 3 of the above image, which comes from the version I received through alternate sources: “Defendant Michael Postle, by and through his undersigned counsel…”
Then, in Line 10, it’s “Mr. Hughes” respectfully asking for the case’s dismissal. This is something that a lawyer does, and it offered an explanation for why Line 10 was changed to “Mr. Postle” in the filed version, since Postle is still the official pro se litigant. The error involving Hughes is a case of garbage in, garbage out.
Instead, as already corrected, Owen Hughes turns out to be another client of Portanova’s, and Portanova just copied over a chunk of the initial response in Owens’ case to help Postle meet his filing deadline. However, Portanova’s quickie fix here created the mess. He or Postle caught the Line 10 problem. Yet the other problem in Line 3 remains still, and it’s in the signed and docketed version published today at RL:
The phrase “by and through his undersigned counsel” is inaccurate. Postle is his own counsel, and Portanova was too careless or time-pressed to fix the problem and reformat the page. Not good lawyering. Not the worst I’ve seen, but not good.
Anyhow, that addresses most of the issues that have emerged. Back soon with another update, I’m sure. There’s much more I could add to this, but honestly, I can’t wait for the next RounderLife idiocy.
(Author’s note: Any opinions included here are those of the author only and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of Kickass Poker. — hh)