You learn a few things when you survive a major outbreak of alleged racism before you even graduate from law school. One thing you learn is that you don’t have to step aside quietly when million-dollar judgments go against your client.
Last month, we reported that Jammie Thomas-Rasset — who is represented by K.A.D. Camara — was hit with a $1.92 million judgment for illegally downloading 24 songs. When we spoke to Camara about the verdict, he expressed his belief that the high penalty could be problematic for the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA):
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.
The problem is that Jammie Thomas-Rasset has already been tried twice.
But that isn’t going to stop the law firm of Camara & Sibley. Threat Level reports that Camara has asked U.S. District Judge Michael Davis to set aside the $1.92 million verdict, declare the Copyright Act unconstitutional, or at least order a new jury trial to assess damages.
Put another way, we’ve gotten to the “kitchen sink” point of this litigation.
More details after the jump.
Camara is going with due process concerns on behalf of Thomas-Rasset:
Among other things, Thomas-Rasset’s lawyers claimed Monday a so-called “due process” violation in the jury’s conclusion to ding her $80,000 a copyrighted track. The Copyright Act allows for fines of as much as $150,000 a song….
Thomas’ lawyers do recognize they have bumpy legal terrain to navigate to convince U.S. District Judge Michael Davis to declare the Copyright Act unconstitutional. After Thomas-Rasset’s first trial in 2007, in which Davis declared a mistrial because of an error in a jury instruction, the judge noted that the original verdict of $222,000 for the same 24 songs was ridiculous but nevertheless suggested Congress should change the law.
But you have to love how Camara frames the verdict against his client:
On Monday, the lawyers told Davis “Mrs. Thomas contends that even if the statutory damages provision of the Copyright Act is constitutional, the jury’s application of it in this case is excessive, shocking, and monstrous.” They suggested Judge Davis reduce the fine to the minimum $750 per song if he doesn’t order a new jury to retry a new damages award.
Monstrous indeed. Many people might feel that an $80,000 per song fine is ridiculous, but is this the kind of lawyering that is going to give the judge a legal hook upon which to hang a sense of decency?
Thomas-Rasset evidently thinks so. She’s sticking with the horses that brought her to the $1.92 million party. That has got to say something positive.
Thomas Seeks New RIAA Trial; Says $1.92 Million Verdict ‘Monstrous’ [Threat Level]
Earlier: $80,000 Per Song Could ‘Backfire,’ Says K.A.D. Camara