A judge gave Facebook access to the personal email accounts of a man suing for half ownership of the social networking website and ordered him to explain why he can't produce documents its lawyers believe are evidence.
Proof that Paul Ceglia's case is a fraud has been sitting on a Chicago law firm's email server since 2004, Facebook attorney Orin Snyder told the federal judge on Wednesday.
An email that Ceglia sent to a former business associate at the firm includes a scanned version of the two-page contract he and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg signed, Snyder said. Unlike the one Ceglia filed, it doesn't mention Facebook, only a street-mapping database Ceglia had hired Zuckerberg to work on, he said.
"The noose is tightening around the neck of this plaintiff, and he knows it," Snyder said during a four-hour procedural hearing that had each side accusing the other of dirty tricks.
Snyder said Ceglia had artificially aged his "phony" contract with light and chemicals, backdated computer files and transferred others to portable storage devices, which he'd likely tossed into Lake Erie.
Ceglia's attorney, Jeffrey Lake, countered that Facebook had tried to "poison the jury pool" by releasing what should have been confidential documents and implied Facebook had planted damning evidence on Ceglia's computers, a statement he backed away from after the hearing.