A seditious conspiracy trial for members of the Proud Boys is over. But a legal loose end from the case is threatening to send the Proud Boys’ lawyers back to court—this time to defend themselves in a civil spat.
After members of the Proud Boys played a lead role in the Jan. 6 Capitol attack, their defense attorneys unsuccessfully tried to move their cases out of D.C., arguing that the Proud Boys could not receive a fair trial in the left-leaning city. To aid their argument, an attorney for one of the Proud Boys commissioned a study on potential D.C. jurors’ attitudes toward the far-right group. The report cost $30,000.
But despite the document appearing in the Proud Boys’ court cases, its author says she still hasn’t been paid. She’s suing a group of attorneys for alleged copyright violations, claiming they all used her work without paying. Many of those lawyers, in turn, say they never agreed to pay for the report, and that a lone colleague is responsible for the latest legal hangover from the Jan. 6 attack.
At the center of the lawsuit (first reported by Law360) is John Daniel Hull, an attorney representing Proud Boys member Joe Biggs. Hull, a defendant in the suit, says he commissioned the report from the firm In Lux Research, and its owner Lindsay Olsen. He acknowledges that she’s owed $30,000, and that he’s paid her $1,500.
The rest of the money is a matter of ongoing dispute.
“I will commit to my portion of it, sure,” Hull told The Daily Beast.
Hull claims some of the lawyers defending Proud Boys agreed “had agreed to pay $6,000 a piece toward the price of the In Lux study.”
Some of Hull’s co-defendants, contacted by The Daily Beast, say they made no such agreement.
“Court filings from his co-defendants accuse Hull of trading insults with others on the Proud Boys defense team.”
Attorney Norman Pattis, who represented Proud Boys (as well as Infowars founder Alex Jones in an unrelated case) is a defendant in the lawsuit. He said that he did not agree to shell out for the $30,000 report.
“No,” he told The Daily Beast in an email. “Hull admits as much in his answer.”
Hull states in a court filing that he didn’t include Pattis in discussions about the money. But Hull does suggest that he tried getting a pair of court-appointed attorneys in the Proud Boys case to help secure public Criminal Justice Act (CJA) funds to pay for the report.
Emails included in court filings show those court-appointed lawyers (both of them now defendants in the copyright case) discussing the unlikelihood that the court would cough up $30,000 for the study.
“It’s insane to sign a $30,000 contract without money and then expect CJA to cover it,” one emailed another in October 2022. “And it might detract from what court-appointed lawyers receive. Hull shouldn’t have promised that.”
An email from the other court-appointed attorney shows her explaining the CJA fund application process to Hull after he had already commissioned it from In Lux Research.
Hull described bickering among the Proud Boys’ attorneys over the funds. “All life is junior high,” he told The Daily Beast.
Court filings from his co-defendants, however, accuse Hull of trading insults with others on the Proud Boys defense team while the criminal case was ongoing.
Although In Lux Research claims Hull commissioned the report on behalf of multiple Proud Boys’ attorneys, some of those lawyers argue that Hull was hardly on friendly terms with them, let alone close enough to commission a $30,000 report on their behalf.
August 1 court filings point to a text conversation between Hull and court-appointed defense attorney Nicholas Smith in October 2022, a day after In Lux gave Hull its report.
Smith, responding to an earlier conversation, wrote that “I sincerely was not trying to anger you or cut you off. We are all slammed with work. My paralegal has gone awol. I am scrambling to get things together. That’s all that’s coming through. No trying to cut you off in any way, it’s an accident.”
“Blow me,” Hull texted back.
Smith replied, “Dan, in the spirit of fairness, I’ll ask if you want to comment on your ‘parasite’ slur too. Before I file. We are trying to reach Biggs family first too.”
“File away,” Hull answered. “Sorry you’re butt hurt. You don’t get people. You never have. You’re a cunt. World class. Have at it, Nick.”
Smith and his law group point to the exchange as evidence that they were not working closely with Hull and that “it would have been strange for the Smith Defendants to have given ‘actual authority’ to Hull on October 10 to perform work on their behalf. Within 24 hours of that date, Hull (characteristically) told Smith to ‘blow him.’ He added that he regarded Smith, who is Jewish, as a ‘parasite; and ‘insect.’ That falls short of fiduciary language.”
Hull told The Daily Beast that he’d used the words “insect” and “worm” (not “parasite”) and that the insults were not antisemitic (his partner is Jewish), but related to an argument.
In that same August court filing, Smith also suggests that Hull was responsible for media leaks from inside the Proud Boys case.
“At the time of the leak, Defendants Nicholas Smith and Daniel Hull were the only Nordean defense attorneys with access to such information,” the filing reads. “When the potential breach of the protective order drew the attention of the Court, no party came forward to take responsibility, even after the government suggested sanctions might be appropriate. Smith thus offered to provide the Court with his testimony under oath that he was not responsible for any such leak and filed a sworn declaration to that effect. Later in the case, more internal FBI records designated highly sensitive were leaked to the same reporter. Again, when this drew the scrutiny of the Court, the responsible party did not confess, choosing instead to tacitly split the blame with others who didn’t agree to the decisions the leaker apparently made on his or her own.”
Reached for comment, Hull denied having leaked information from the Proud Boys case.
All of Hull’s co-defendants have filed to dismiss the case, claiming they never contracted with In Lux.
An attorney for In Lux told The Daily Beast that “the plaintiff intends to let the facts stand for themselves, remain civil, stay above the fray.”