When you’re handling a major trial with alleged damages in the millions, sometimes things can get pretty heated. Tempers can flare, ridiculous documents can be exchanged behind closed doors, and you might even threaten to enlarge someone’s [bleep]hole if you are f**ked with. As you can see, things can get out of hand pretty quickly.
And that’s what just happened in the Michael Jackson wrongful death trial. You might think that attorneys in civil suits are capable of being civil to each other, but you’d be wrong.
Katherine Jackson’s lawyer, Brian Panish, allegedly felt the need to show the opposing attorney from AEG Live who was, in fact, bad…
First, we’ll give you some background on the case at hand. Michael Jackson’s mother and the King of Pop’s three children are suing AEG Live in a multimillion dollar wrongful death case. They claim that since AEG allegedly hired and controlled Dr. Conrad Murray, who was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter, that the music and entertainment company is ultimately responsible for Jackson’s death.
Back to the drama, earlier this week, Brian Panish and Marvin Putnam of O’Melveny, AEG’s lawyer, were summoned into Judge Yvette Palazuelos’s chambers to discuss allegations that Panish made an “obscene gesture” at Putnam — and we’re not talking about an attempt to put La Toya Jackson of the Psychic Friends Network on the stand. The Los Angeles Times has the scoop from an edited transcript:
Palazuelos: “It’s been brought to my attention that there was been some gesturing between counsel, which is inappropriate. Specifically, Mr. Panish, it’s been brought to my attention that you may be gesturing something to Mr. Putnam. Is that what’s going on?”
Panish: “I don’t think I’ve even gestured anything to Mr. Putnam today.”
Putnam: “You’ve given me the finger twice.”
Panish: “What? Judge, if I want to give him the finger, I know how to give him the finger.”
Putnam: “And you did it quite well twice.”
Panish: “I was trying — I would tell you; OK? I admit what I do. If I wanted to give you the finger — are you complaining and saying I gave you the finger? …”
Panish then goes on to elaborate as to his ability show people his middle finger, noting “…I went like this when he was talking (indicating), and all three of [AEG’s attorneys] were interrupting…. I didn’t flip Mr. Putnam the finger or flip him off. If he would like me to, I know how to do it, believe me.”
And while Putnam continued to cry about civility and appropriateness, we imagine Panish was rolling his eyes and continued to indicate his frustration the best way he knew how. From the L.A. Times:
Panish: “…I have been trying my best, in light of the conduct of counsel, to be civil. I’ve never had an issue in 100 jury trials with civility until this case…. I didn’t give Mr. Putnam the finger. If he wants me to give him the finger, I’m happy to do that.”
“Your butt is mine” weren’t words to fall from Judge Palazuelos’s lips — after all, she’s got an excellent temperament. Palazuelos, who is apparently a Potter Stewart fan, instead allowed the attorney to moonwalk out of her chambers, sanction free, with some words of warning: “Well, I haven’t seen it, but if that’s going on, it’s got to stop. It really does.” Congrats to Brian Panish; he’s one smooth criminal.
Judge: Did Jackson’s attorney ‘flip off’ AEG lawyer? [L.A. Now / Los Angeles Times]