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Embroiled in a legal battle over whether or not Paul Ceglia owns half of Facebook, the social network's CEO Mark Zuckerberg has released a cache of personal emails which refute those claims, many of which date back to his tender college years at Harvard. Facebook is hoping the electronic documents will be enough evidence to have the case dismissed.
Inside those emails, readers find a tense Zuckerberg, irritated by the $10,000 which Ceglia purportedly owed him for working on a project called StreetFax. During his StreetFax days, the emails paint Zuckerberg as a habitually tardy person with a sloppy attitude toward contractual obligations.
Releasing himself from a strained partnership with Ceglia, Zuckerberg dropped StreetFax in favor of his own endeavor – Facebook.
During the legal battle, Ceglia had previously released his own emails – or at least the content of them – as evidence to support his claim that Zuckerberg promised him a conditionally growing stake in the once fledgling social networking site.
The "content of them" part is important because what Ceglia actually gave the court were Word documents with the contents of those important emails pasted into them. Ceglia's lawyers claim that the original emails were deleted because his email client would only retain emails for a limited period of time. As a result, his lawyers stated, it was common practice for Ceglia to copy and paste the contents of his emails into Word documents in order to retain them for his records.
While Facebook's legal staff questioned the validity and authenticity of such Word documents, forensic investigators confirmed the documents were forged. A testimony provided by forensic experts showed that Ceglia changed the date and time on his computer in an attempt to falsify dates. Investigators also claimed that Ceglia had botched the operation, with some documents tagged with access dates before they were supposedly created.
Despite Facebook's attempt to have the case dismissed with Zuckerberg's emails and damning forensic evidence, Ceglia's legal team hasn't surrendered just yet.
"We have made a preliminary review of Facebook's Motion, which attempts to have this matter ended before Facebook has to provide any discovery and before going to a jury," Ceglia's attorneys told CBS News in a statement.
"The Federal Rules of Evidence say a jury should weigh the evidence in this case, including experts' declarations in Mr. Ceglia's favor about the authenticity of his contract with Mr. Zuckerberg. Mr. Ceglia deserves his day in court, where the jury will resolve this dispute over the ownership of Facebook."
Originally, Ceglia had asked the court for an 84 percent slice of Facebook pie, but has since dropped his request to a more equitable 50 percent.