Kiwi Camara

$80,000 Per Song Could ‘Backfire,’ Says K.A.D. Camara

Kiwi Camara KAD Camara Above the Law blog.jpgAs we mentioned this morning, K.A.D. (Kiwi) Camara was on the wrong side of the news cycle yesterday.
A federal jury ruled that his client, Jammie Thomas-Rasset, violated copyrights on 24 songs she downloaded, and hit her with a whopping $1.92 million judgment — which works out to $80,000 per downloaded song.
Camara has achieved notoriety for being the youngest person to graduate from Harvard Law School, and for miscalculating how people would react to the abbreviation “nig” when used as a synonym for African-Americans.
Jammie Thomas-Rasset retained Camara’s law firm, Camara & Sibley, for her second jury trial against the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).
When we spoke to Camara last month, he explained why Thomas-Rasset made a wise choice:

“We’re generalists who handle the most complex, unique, one-off matters,” explained Camara. “If you take a complex matter to a big firm, you’ll be routed to twenty different hyperspecialists. You’ll end up settling for partial advice — ‘Do this, but we haven’t considered this aspect’ — or you’ll end up paying huge fees, because you’re getting specialized advice from twenty different people who don’t work well as a team.”
Camara & Sibley’s model is different, according to Kiwi: “The idea here is that you get generalists who learn the intricacies of your one-off, unique case. You don’t want a hyperspecialist. You just want a good lawyer.”

But the second trial went even more poorly for Thomas-Rasset than the first one.
Kiwi responds after the jump.

Camara expressed surprise about the verdict to the AP:

Her attorney, Kiwi Camara, said he was surprised by the size of the judgment. He said it suggested that jurors didn’t believe Thomas-Rasset’s denials of illegal file-sharing, and that they were angry with her.

According to Ars Technica, Camara was “angry” about the verdict:

Kiwi Camara, Thomas-Rasset’s lead attorney, spoke briefly after the trial. He told reporters that when he first heard the $80,000 per song damage award, he was “angry about it” and said he had been convinced that any liability finding would have been for the minimum amount of $750 per song.

Our commenters echoed the angry theme. One commenter went so far as to say:

Camara should be ashamed of himself. If you graduate Harvard as a teenager, you have nothing in common with normal people or jurors. The jury hated this guy. From what I read, he was arrogant, talked down to the jurors, interrupted the lawyers and witnesses, and pissed off the judge.

But when we spoke to Kiwi Camara, he said he wasn’t angry and seemed to be looking at the bright side of the situation:

“Angry” is just a misquote. I think I said shocked.
We got along very well with Judge Davis. We of course tried the case aggressively. That’s what we do.
I think the description comes from my many objections during testimony of Mr. Leak, their first witness. I objected a lot and many of my objections were sustained.
I think a verdict this high may backfire against the RIAA. It makes clear that there’s a problem with the statute. And there are many grounds for appeal in Jammie’s case.

Camara wouldn’t say whether Thomas-Rasset would be appealing this ruling, or whether she’d be retaining Camara going forward. Of course, getting future legal fees out of Thomas-Rasset might be like getting “blood from a turnip.”

As for Thomas-Rasset, she appeared shaken by the verdict but didn’t blame the jury. “They did their job,” she said, “I’m not going to hold it against them.” She added, though, that the recording industry would never collect the money. “Good luck trying to get it from me… it’s like squeezing blood from a turnip.”

We’ll see if there is an appeal.
Meanwhile, the lesson is that one should not mess with the RIAA.
Jury rules against Minn. woman in download case [AP]
Thomas verdict: willful infringement, $1.92 million penalty [Ars Technica]
Earlier: Kiwi Camara: He’s Baack

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