Jay Leiderman, the First Attorney of Anonymous: A Statement from Christopher Doyon, aka Commander X

Hacktivism lost a legend when it was discovered yesterday that crusading defence attorney Jay Leiderman had died at the age of only 50. Of him it can truly be said that he lived while he was alive.

Leiderman, an ebullient Ventura-based bon vivant and raconteur of the old school, represented everyone from Barrett Brown to the Paypal 14, often pro bono. The Maserati-driving whiskey enthusiast and Deadhead made his money fighting for medical marijuana in court, although he personally preferred good cigars to weed.

“Most people coming in here are having the worst day of their life. They don’t need some stuffy asshole who is dead inside.”

Jay Leiderman in Buzzfeed
It all started with one tweet.

If he sounds like something out of a Bond movie, that’s because he almost was; in recent years he’d been in talks to be the subject of a Joe Kenda-style reality show, although the deal ultimately fell through.

I told him to take it, for the record.

In 2014 he gave us an extensive interview which foreshadowed much of what has come to pass in the years since. In it, he coined the term “The Sabu Effect” for the way in which the arrest of activists and mutual suspicion of snitching actually improved subsequent security in the community: essentially, this is the theory of the evolution of opsec.

The government thrives on that. If they can create chaos and sow the seeds of dissent and distrust in the community, they’ve prevailed to some degree.

Really, this community of all communities of activists or all communities that exist should be careful with their identities, should be careful with the secrets that they’re sharing, with people they perceive as their brothers and sisters in protest, in philosophy. They should be the MOST secure.

Some of it is a good thing in that it’s teaching the community, and this is a very smart community: the hacktivist community, the online dissent community, is filled with brutally brilliant people. As it goes forward into its next wave of activity they’re going to have learned a really good lesson from Sabu and all of this. It’s going to be beneficial. I look at is as a glass half full thing; there is a benefit to it and that’s that everyone’s gotten smarter about what they say, what they share with people, even people perceived to be their friends.

Being quiet should be the default.

Jay Leiderman in The Cryptosphere
Here’s six minutes of Jay being Jay

While the coroner says it will take weeks to release an official cause of death, his brother announced on social media that the cause was a heart attack. The funeral is this Sunday in Paramus, New Jersey.

His client Christopher Doyon, better-known as Commander X of the PLF and Anonymous, is in custody at the Santa Rita jail, awaiting trial on activism-related charges dating back to the last decade. Jay was his lawyer back then, and readily agreed to assist with the defence this time as well, working with X’s public defender Jay Rorty, who himself has a background in hacktivism law.

He’ll need it. Here’s Gizmodo’s summary of the X situation.

Leiderman’s hacking clients had a nagging habit of openly admitting to the things they were accused of doing. One spent a decade evading police in several countries, giving interviews all the while on the lam. (The client was captured in June.) Still, their causes struck a chord with the Queens-born attorney, who’d long held to a rebellious legal philosophy. After a city in California passed a law criminalizing homelessness, the same client knocked down one its websites for under an hour. Where the FBI saw a felony computer crime worth up to 15 years in prison, Leiderman saw a civil protest in the face of an unjust law; a protest, he was quick to note, that had caused no perceptible harm.


Today X’s sister Amy-Beth, who has been leading the #FreeCommanderX movement, released a recording from Doyon in the Santa Rita jail. Amid the hubbub of a jailhouse common room, Doyon chokes up as he recalls his friend and defender, and asks that we all remember that Jay was not just a crusading attorney but also a father, and to put aside our differences in mourning.

Today I learned that my long-time attorney and dear friend Jay Leiderman had passed away. Like so many people out there today, I have many unanswered questions. But the bottom line is that Jay stood up for me, working on my case till the day he died, and he was not only my lawyer, but my friend.

And in a world full of people who hate me, Anonymous, and information activists, Jay Leiderman was tireless in his defence of all of us.

His love (especially for Anonymous) never wavered.

I have been told that there are those online who are disparaging the memory of Jay Leiderman. To those individuals I would simply say, we are all human. We all stumble and fall. But Jay Leiderman tried to be a good man.

But finally, I would remind everyone that he leaves behind a child who loved him very much. So let us remember Jay with charity and with love. Our gregarious, smiling defender, the First Attorney of Anonymous.

Christopher Doyon

Anonymous is in mourning, and if any good can come of this great loss, let it be the healing of old wounds and coming together of those who have been driven apart over the years.

In that spirit, if you would like to write to Doyon or contribute to his commissary fund, here is the information:

Santa Rita Jail
Inmate’s First and Last Name and PFN#
5325 Broder Blvd.
Dublin, CA 94568
Santa Rita Jail
Christoper Doyon PFN# UMD885
5325 Broder Blvd.
Dublin, CA 94568
or the format from another mail service:
Santa Rita Jail
5325 Broder Blvd
Dublin, CA 94568
Inmate # 03476-028

X’s tribute joins those of so many others in Anonymous today. The world of hacktivism has lost a giant, even if he never learned to code.

Jay was a Deadhead who despaired of my taste in music but I like to think he would have loved this. This one’s for you, Jay. Never gonna give you up.

Categories: Anonymous, AntiSec, Barrett Brown, Crime, Hackers, Hacktivism, Jay Leiderman, LulzSec, LulzSec, News, Paypal 14

2 replies

  1. Reblogged this on raincoaster and commented:

    This was Cryptosphere-worthy. Losing a legend like Jay Leiderman is hard. Losing him when he’s not only your friend but your lead attorney is even harder.


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