In the ongoing litigation between gay lawyer Aaron Charney and his former employer, mega-firm Sullivan & Cromwell, Charney has been on the defensive lately.
S&C has been making hay over Charney’s allegedly improper disclosures of firm and client information (in both a motion to dismiss his lawsuit against the firm, and in its own civil action against Charney). S&C has also scored some points over his destruction of his computer’s hard drive.
As the old saying goes, the best defense is a good offense. Aaron Charney is retaking the initiative in the case. From the New York Law Journal:
Former Sullivan & Cromwell associate Aaron B. Charney has moved to dismiss the law firm’s suit against him for disclosing client and firm confidences, arguing that most of the alleged confidences had already been made public by the firm itself….
[I]n papers filed Thursday, Charney’s lawyer, Daniel L. Alterman of Alterman & Boop, argued that each of the client matters mentioned in Charney’s complaint were already described on the firm’s Web site, especially in partners’ biographies and archived press releases. He noted further that the Sullivan & Cromwell partnership agreement, which the firm also claimed Charney improperly disseminated with his complaint, had been previously published in an appendix to the 1998 book “A Law Unto Itself: The Untold Story of the Law Firm of Sullivan & Cromwell.”*
We like the sound of these arguments. As gossip bloggers, we’re big believers in the “it ain’t confidential if it’s already out there” rule. No violation of privacy or confidentiality occurs when you merely emphasize, draw attention to, or comment upon information that’s already publicly available.
We’ve in the process of obtaining copies of Charney’s filings. We’ll have more to say after we’ve had the chance to review them ourselves.
* Correction: A Law Unto Itself was published in 1988, not 1998.
Ex-Sullivan Associate Moves to Dismiss Firm’s Suit [New York Law Journal]