• June 22, 2010

Earlier, Minnesota Litigator covered the fight between Michael Afremov on one side and Computer Forensic Services and Mark Lanterman, on the other in state court over the substantial expense of Lanterman’s work as a computer forensics expert (data storage costs, specifically).

The fight has another (federal??) front:  an order from U.S. District Court Mag. Judge Susan R. Nelson on a motion to quash a subpoena by Lanterman related to Afremov’s responsibility to pay Computer Forensic Services costs in connection with complying with a subpoena a criminal matter (adopted by U.S. District Court Judge John R. Tunheim in September, 2009, and taken up on appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit). 

Rather late in the day, proverbially, counsel for Afremov, Craig Singer, has taken the position that the U.S. District Court has no jurisdiction, this being a basic state law breach of contract case.  U.S. Court of Appeals Judge James Loken, at oral argument, bluntly said, “That is outrageous, if not ridiculous,” given the amount of time that has passed and the huge inefficiencies of “reinventing the wheel” in state court. (The panel: Loken, Arnold, Gruender.)

As outrageous or ridiculous as it may seem, it was far from clear how the panel will rule on this threshold jurisdictional issue.  It seems to have been recognized by counsel and the court alike that the circumstances of the case — a judgment of sorts for over $628,000 based on a motion to quash a subpoena under Rule 17 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure.  John Bonner of the Minneapolis firm, Bonner & Borhart, argued for Lanterman and CFS.

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