The high-level Hollywood lawyer plans an appeal. A Los Angeles lawyer says his colleagues will have to “be more careful than in the past” about employing private investigators who use unlawful means to dig up dirt on opponents. A private investigator confirms his lawyer-clients are beginning to ask things like “I need you to keep it on the up-and-up”. Won’t that cramp their style? [L.A. Times]
“Anthony Pellicano, the so-called private eye to the stars, masterminded a ‘thriving criminal enterprise’ that used illegal wiretapping and bribery to squash the legal problems of Hollywood’s rich and famous, a prosecutor told a Los Angeles court yesterday. … Pellicano has worked for lawyers who represented Tom Cruise, Michael Jackson and Elizabeth Taylor.” (Catherine Elsworth, “Pellicano’s Hollywood criminal enterprises”, Daily Telegraph (U.K.), Mar. 7). Earlier here.
Some in the press have concluded that “prosecutors are intent on busting lawyers, not movie types”, and the entertainment magazine suggests the wiretapping scandal isn’t really such a big deal after all. Still sounds pretty interesting to us (Gabriel Snyder, “Sounds of silence”, Jul. 20).
Like libertarian blogger Amber Taylor, I’ve been enjoying the DVD of the show “Veronica Mars.” Kristen Bell plays a perky private eye who uses bugs and stolen medical records to solve cases. I just have to suspend my disbelief, and understand that Mars lives in a fictional world like that of Bruce Wayne where the laws that would have her sued into oblivion for her wiretapping and HIPAA violations don’t exist.
The Pellicano scandal (Apr. 3 and links therein) shows the real-world results. It’s natural that wiretapping victims are suing Pellicano and the law firms that hired him over his alleged wiretapping and bribery tactics.
But plaintiffs’ lawyers aren’t stopping with the egregious wrongdoers. For example, Craig Stevens pled guilty to taking bribes to run searches on Pellicano clients—a sign of Pellicano incompetence, since the data would be available from public databases on the Internet. (Want to know who’s in jail?) Stevens has resigned from the Beverly Hills Police Department, but the city (along with Los Angeles, who allegedly had their own bribed cops) is being sued for failure to stop their officer from being bribed. Los Angeles attorney Kevin McDermott predicts that the telephone company will also be sued for not doing enough to stop Pellicano wiretapping and, sure enough, Lisa Bonder Kerkorian has sued AT&T. In the Vanity Fair article, don’t miss the bit about how Daniel and Abner Nicherie allegedly used a blizzard of over a hundred lawsuits to protect a $40 million swindle. (Bryan Burrough and John Connolly, “Inside Hollywood’s Big Wiretap Scandal”, Vanity Fair, June 2006; Gabriel Snyder, “Names take aim at Pellicano article”, Variety, Apr. 28 (via Defamer); Greg Krikorian and Andrew Blankstein, “Filmmaker Says He Lied in FBI Probe”, Los Angeles Times, Apr. 18).
“While top entertainment lawyer Terry Christensen is the only attorney indicted so far in connection with [indicted private investigator Anthony] Pellicano, several others face litigation that could cripple their practices — and possibly break up their firms.
“The big problem, said Timothy Halloran, an expert in law firm liability at Murphy, Pearson, Bradley & Feeney in San Francisco, is that illegal activity such as wiretapping won’t be covered by malpractice insurance.” (Justin Scheck and Kellie Schmitt, “Will Law Firms Be Able to Weather Wiretap-Related Suits?”, The Recorder/Law.com, Mar. 28). More: Mar. 2, Feb. 18, etc.
More prominent L.A. lawyers continue to be named as “persons of interest” in the investigation of wiretapping and privacy invasion, and at least half a dozen of them have retained criminal counsel on their own behalf. (WSJ law blog, Feb. 27; Greg Krikorian and Andrew Blankstein, “Feds Working New Pellicano Indictments”, Los Angeles Times, Mar. 1). And here come the civil suits, with an emphasis naturally on targeting deep-pocketed bystanders: attorneys Brian Kabateck and Matthew Geragos are seeking class-action status on behalf of Pellicano wiretap victims in a suit against AT&T, formerly SBC (Justin Scheck and Kellie Schmitt, “Lawyers Rev Up for Hollywood Wiretapping Case”, The Recorder/Law.com, Feb. 28). ” More coverage: Feb. 18, Feb. 16, etc.
Well, this should be entertaining: “In a twist that could have many in Hollywood on edge, federal prosecutors revealed Thursday that they have taped conversations between indicted sleuth-to-the-stars Anthony Pellicano and clients who hired him to dig up dirt on rivals.” (Greg Risling, AP/Macon Telegraph, Feb. 16). More: Feb. 16, Feb. 7, etc. And the San Francisco-based Recorder has much more about this week’s indictment of a prominent Hollywood attorney in the unfolding scandal (Kellie Schmitt, “Attorney Terry Christensen Indicted in Case Involving Hollywood PI Pellicano”, Feb. 17).