I’ve seen many strange things take place in a courtroom, but to be named and accused of conspiring to defame someone was certainly a first for me.
I was at the Stanley Mosk courthouse in downtown Los Angeles Thursday, covering the latest hearing in the LA Coliseum’s seven-year-old lawsuit against Insomniac founder Pasquale Rotella.
Rotella’s attorney Gary Kaufman was in court asking the judge to dismiss the case after the Coliseum’s attorney, Charles E. Slyngstad, made public information that had been marked “attorney’s eyes only.” Judge Dalila Lyons denied the claim, telling the lawyers that the phrase “attorney’s eyes only” was vague and ambiguous, a decision that frustrated Kaufman, who protested that Slyngstad’s disclosure tainted future jurors and implied guilt.
That then led to a strange statement from Slyngstad about a story I had written two weeks ago on the case.
“There is no reason why (Kaufman) can come in here and start complaining that we made some unauthorized disclosure,” Slyngstad said to the judge, his voice getting shaky and his face turning red. “I will also recognize, your honor, when (Kaufman) is put on the stand, I will prove that he disclosed to David Brooks, a reporter from an online organization within the electronic dance industry, the entire motion and they ran an article in which he defamed me.”
Uhhhhh………what did you just say?
Couple things to address here. First, it’s Dave, not David. Second, we are not part of the electronic dance industry. And third, Kaufman never disclosed any non-public information to me, nor did we do anything untoward.
Here are the facts — I have been covering this case off and on for a number of years. Often that involves monitoring the court docket and pulling down motions and court filings as they appear online. Earlier this month, I noticed a motion to dismiss the case was posted and available to the public.
Because of Los Angeles County’s archaic and costly legal documentation system, which charges up to $40 a document to retrieve case files, I reached out to Kaufman’s office and asked that they forward me the filing since a) they already had a copy of it and b) I don’t want to pay for it if it I can get it for free. This is completely legal — it’s a public document that anyone has the right to review.
I then asked Kaufman for a statement, which he provided to me in writing. I also reached out to Slyngstad for comment, but he did not get back to me. I have emailed him on several occasions and have not received a response.
For Slyngstad to insinuate that my on-the-record reporting of a public document is somehow akin to his decision to publish information that had been marked confidential is, of course, ridiculous and a false equivalence. I understand that Slyngstad is trying to make some broader point that he shouldn’t be penalized for publishing confidential information that ended up in LA Weekly because Kaufman spoke to Amplify to get his side of the story out — which led to us reprinting the confidential information including the existence of a $2 million settlement fund — but really, the two aren’t the same thing.
I’m not implying that Mr. Slyngstad’s disclosures were wrong. I’m just saying that unlike Mr. Slyngstad, no one from Amplify was called before a judge to defend ourselves. Don’t drag me into this legal battle in defense of your decisions to publish information marked “attorney’s eyes only.” I don’t appreciate your poorly veiled attempt to intimidate me and I will continue to cover this case in an appropriate, objective and balanced matter.