Jon Del Arroz’ Attorney Provided His Services Pro Bono

Following the settlement between San Francisco Science Fiction Conventions, Inc. (Worldcon 76) and Jon Del Arroz of his lawsuit against the 2018 Worldcon, Del Arroz’ attorney, Peter Sean Bradley, has announced that he provided his services pro bono.

He filled in more details in this statement to File 770:

I did not charge Mr. Del Arroz anything for my services. There was a contingency fee retainer agreement but I took the case with no expectation of being paid on this case since it was not likely that the defendant had any assets (other than its trademark.) When we ascertained that defendant had not acquired insurance with the usual coverage for defamation, those expectations were confirmed.

Bradley further explained:

The out-of-pocket costs – what are called “costs” by the courts, as opposed to attorney’s fees – include things like filing fees, deposition court reporter transcript fees, in the main. I can’t think of any other costs in this case. Those costs were borne by the client. The $4,000 settlement payment covered these costs.

Bradley also mentioned another of his recent pro bono cases:

Fortunately, as a sole practitioner with approximately 40 years of experience in business litigation and plaintiff’s civil rights litigation, I have the flexibility to take cases that interest me and/or where I think I can help people. 

For example, last year I represented an African-American woman who had been fired from her job with the County of Fresno before the Civil Service Commission on a pro bono basis where the case had indicia of racial discrimination. I was successful in getter her job back for her. My compensation was being able to help a very nice person while fighting racial discrimination during the George Floyd riots. 

It may be surprising to some people who think of lawyers in pejorative terms, but the law is a helping profession, particularly for those of us who represent individuals rather than corporations.

And Bradley included this note about his practice in response to some belittling comments about it on this blog:

This may also come as a shock to your readership but my civil rights practice, including employment discrimination and termination, involves the representation of the disabled, women, racial/ethnic minorities, people on account of sexual orientation/identity, and people who have had their constitutional or civil rights violated. I was amused while I was reading File 770 commenters’ views about my legal ability to receive the Court of Appeal Opinion affirming a $2.6 million jury verdict on behalf of a client in a disability/defamation case. (O’Brien v. CDCR.) It seems that the Court of Appeals had a different evaluation of my legal ability than your readers, and, again, I took satisfaction in helping another very nice person while enjoying the prospects of a substantial fee.

The O’Brien Appeals court decision is online here.

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25 thoughts on “Jon Del Arroz’ Attorney Provided His Services Pro Bono

  1. [Didn’t JDA have a crowdfunding campaign for his legal fees? I guess there are other costs involved in the case.] – sorry I missed the paragraph exactly on the point about other costs.

  2. That link to the O’Brien Appeals decision takes me to a page where a pop-up immediately asks me to “help us learn more about the Leagle community” before being able to read the decision.

    I decided I’m not that interested.

    Geeze, it’s getting hard to find info without giving away all your own, here in 5311! I may need to relocate to a different millennium.

  3. I remember hearing back around the time all this started that the lawyer offered his services pro bono and people joking that JDA would get what he paid for. So when people started talking about the settlement not covering the cost of this, I thought maybe it actually might have.

  4. “not likely that the defendant had any assets (other than its trademark.)”
    Surely not even that? As the Worldcon trademark belongs to the World Science Fiction Society, not to individual Worldcons? Or are there other trademarks belong to SFSFC that are relevant here?

  5. If you’re baffled by why Peter Sean Bradley would take this case, here’s his bio on a post he wrote at Sci Phi Journal:

    Peter Sean Bradley is a California trial attorney specializing in employment, civil rights and business litigation in California’s Great Central Valley, the future heartland of the Great State of East California (aka “West Oklahoma”), once the decadent coastal elites secede from the United States and complete their imminent death spiral without taking hardworking rural California with them. He is a lifelong reader of science fiction and occasionally reviews books for the Sci Phi Journal. He is currently rated at 1,094 as a review at Amazon; he was in the top 1,000 until he decided to post a less than laudatory review, but truthful, review of Timothy Snyder’s “On Tyranny,” and he has been on the receiving end of SJW tolerance and love of diversity ever since. Peter has also been reading St. Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologica question by question every week since 2000. After 17 years, his group is at question 29 of the third volume (Part II-II), i.e., not yet halfway through the five-volume tome.

    With a lawyer working the case pro bono, winning a lawsuit against a science fiction convention by exhausting the resources of the other side is hardly a great victory worthy of the chest-puffing that Bradley is engaging in here. SFSFC is run on such a tight budget that it has ended some years with as little as $500 to $750 in the bank.

    Bully for you, Pete.

  6. rcade: … chest-puffing that Bradley is engaging in here.

    I don’t see it, myself.

  7. @rcade
    He has an ego. And he’s probably one of those who thinks legislators can make water appear by fiat.

  8. Wanna bet he didn’t take the Black woman’s case pro-bono? Probably not even on contingency.

  9. The Great Central Valley is not East California. There is an Eastern California. It is east of the Sierra Nevadas. Think Bishop and the Owens Valley. The Eastern California Museum in Independence is a gem.

    However, the depiction of the Central Valley as West Oklahoma is apt. The Grapes of Wrath. The Bakersfield sound, with Buck Owens and Merle Haggard. There is some real greatness there. It doesn’t explain the Basque restaurants, which are also great, but so it goes.

    At least the lawyer is not getting rich off this mess.

  10. @lurkertype

    Wanna bet he didn’t take the Black woman’s case pro-bono?

    He says he did. Do you think he’s just lying?

  11. I don’t see it, myself.

    “As I was reading the negative insinuations about my looks on File 770, I was amused to simultaneously receive an email from Jimmy Kimmel inviting me to join the Handsome Men’s Club.”

  12. West Oklahoma indeed. If you ignore all the Hispanic people. Which Oklahoma maybe has now.

    Let me get this straight. This guy:

    got no money
    on a case he took on strictly ideological grounds
    against a charitable/non-profit organization
    which exists to spread appreciation of literary works and facilitate parties
    which he only took once he realized they didn’t have their own lawyers
    on behalf of a guy who doesn’t need ANY money
    but the client still asked other people to pay his expenses!
    got slapped down for terrible procedure, including filling out basic forms
    didn’t take his “great case” to trial
    “winning” a non-pology that made his client look even worse

    and …

    he still thinks he’s a good lawyer?

    Mr. Bradley, Mssrs. Dunning and Kruger are on line 1 for you.

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  14. Bill: In addition, people need to get over the idea that someone wouldn’t do this kind of work pro bono. The State Bar of California encourages lawyers to do 50 hours of pro bono work a year — that’s a token amount. Some do much more. Why shouldn’t we believe that Bradley is among those who do much more?

  15. If he does indeed do lots of pro bono, it’s to his credit.

    I wonder how much he charges other customers that he’s able to do so much pro bono work so easily. Of course, he lives in a lower cost of living area and maybe doesn’t spend wildly. While he has abhorrent political views, he might not be a money-grubbing jerk like so many lawyers are, which I applaud.

    He may also do some work on a contingency basis (usually 1/4 to 1/3 of the award depending on whether it goes to a jury trial or not, no cost to client if they lose), which isn’t pro bono but also isn’t full fee-charging.

    Some fen went with a contingency basis when the hotel for a Westercon gave a lot of people food poisoning, lied about it, and the kitchen was suspiciously spotless by the time the health department got there. They sued for medical costs and lost wages (no pain and suffering or mental anguish or whatever) and won handily. Doctors got paid, lawyer got paid, fen cleared a little cash, hotel stayed in business.

    It got 3 lines in Locus, LOL.

  16. SFSFC’s service marks are the ConJose and ConFrancisco names and logos, the latter of which is also the SFSFC corporate seal. As others have noted (but possibly not everyone knows), SFSFC does not own the service marks for Worldcon (including “Hugo Award”). SFSFC is/was a licensee of those marks, as is every Worldcon committee, but no Worldcon committee or parent organization owns them.

    There may be some people out there who somehow think that SFSFC “owns” Worldcon. This is unsurprising to me, given that Worldcon’s “business model” is effectively incomprehensible to most people.

  17. @Tom Becker
    The Basques came as sheepherders – that’s the explanation for the restaurants.
    (I think it’s the Eastern District of CA in the federal courts – but I’m not sure. Those districts bear little resemblance to reality.)

  18. Aaron Pound: I’m not sure if it is his phrasing or not, but working for a contingency fee and working pro bono are not the same thing.

    Quite so. After he sent me the statement quoted here I once again reviewed the transcript of last week’s video where he joined JDA to talk about the case. On the video he said he worked pro bono. Trying to nail that down was why I also asked about the fate of the settlement payment. There are only so many different ways to get at the question…

  19. Worldcon’s “business model” is effectively incomprehensible to most people.

    When my accountant was baffled why I had to buy a Worldcon membership two years in advance (since I make money with my writing, cons are a deductible business expense for me), I told her, “It’s a system that has worked really well for Worldcon for almost 80 years now, though it doesn’t mesh very well with German tax law.”

  20. May be worth while to look back on Peter Sean Bradley employment history. Its an interesting read.

  21. “It seems that the Court of Appeals had a different evaluation of my legal ability than your readers, and, again, I took satisfaction in helping another very nice person while enjoying the prospects of a substantial fee.”

    So the opposite of pro bono.

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