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Charles Nesson Ruled Jointly Liable To Pay RIAA

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the that-limb-looks-awfully-thin-professor dept.

The Almighty Buck 207

eldavojohn writes "The highly anticipated Joel Tenenbaum trial ended in a disaster for Tenenbaum. But worse for his highly publicized lawyer, Charles Nesson, they are both liable for payment of the court's decision to the RIAA. Nesson's pro bono agreement with Tenenbaum may turn out to be a seriously expensive experiment for the Harvard Law Professor." As the Ars story points out, though, it's "some fees incurred by the RIAA during the trial" for which he'd be liable, not the whole judgment amount.

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Good and bad. (-1, Troll)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 4 years ago | (#31364476)

I've long felt that lawyers should be subject to the same outcome as their client. Don't want to get electrocuted, don't represent a murder. Don't want to end up a million dollars in the hole? Don't represent a doctor who's clearly guilty of malpractice.

Of courses the one time that actually happens, it turns out that the lawyer is getting raped unfairly as well.

Re:Good and bad. (2, Funny)

bleedingpegasus (679562) | more than 4 years ago | (#31364520)

Should that be in the curriculum as well? Law 101 - Monday, 11.00-13.00 - Room A1 - Electrocution exercise.

Re:Good and bad. (5, Insightful)

sheetsda (230887) | more than 4 years ago | (#31364538)

Don't want to get electrocuted, don't represent a murder.

And how does the one who is falsely accused of murder secure council in your hypothetical reality?

Re:Good and bad. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31364626)

It doesn't matter, once nobody will represent them, no murderer will ever be prosecuted in the US again because it's impossible to have a fair trial.

Re:Good and bad. (1)

SpeedyDX (1014595) | more than 4 years ago | (#31364748)

You're working under the assumption that prosecutors can't (or won't) make legally compelling arguments that those trials can nevertheless be considered fair, and such suspects should be forced to stand trial anyway, with or without a lawyer.

I don't know if you've met many prosecutors, but that's a very optimistic view you have.

Re:Good and bad. (1)

nomadic (141991) | more than 4 years ago | (#31364948)

Actually if you are charged with anything that could potentially result in jail time, you get free counsel; doesn't really matter what the prosecutor says.

Re:Good and bad. (3, Insightful)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 4 years ago | (#31364972)

Maybe you should try reading the thread.

Re:Good and bad. (4, Interesting)

Galactic Dominator (944134) | more than 4 years ago | (#31365754)

There's a large, large difference between free counsel, and court appointed counsel. If you're charged with a crime you're entitled to a court appointed lawyer, and at the end of the case you get to make payments on the bill regardless the outcome or validity of the charges most of the time. If you fail to repay the debt, you get spend time in jail. Some jurisdictions credit you as little as $20 day for time served(maybe less in some areas for all I know), so that $2000 bill your court appointed attorney turned in can easily turn into quite a sit in lockup. So the lesson is don't do crime, especially if you're poor cause then they are really going to stick it you.

Re:Good and bad. (2, Informative)

KarmaMB84 (743001) | more than 4 years ago | (#31364986)

My point is that you'd have to completely overhaul the US justice system to allow attorneys to be punished for representing guilty clients. The requirement of a fair trial is a barrier to any sort of arrangement since no judge in their right mind would consider railroading a defendant without legal counsel as fair. We throw out trials because defendants WITH legal counsel didn't get a proper defense afterall. This means the requirement for a fair trial would have to be done away with completely in order to allow any such arrangement that punishes a defendant's legal counsel due to the inevitable situation of defendants without a defense.

Re:Good and bad. (1)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | more than 4 years ago | (#31365094)

My point is that you'd have to completely overhaul the US justice system to allow attorneys to be punished for representing guilty clients.

And how do you know if someone is guilty without an actual fair trial? Who also gets to be the arbiter of who is truly guilty and not? Considering how many people have been wrongly accused you propose a system that hardly would ever dispense justice.

We throw out trials because defendants WITH legal counsel didn't get a proper defense afterall.

For a lucky few, maybe, but certainly not all.

I'm thinking (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31364650)

A trial lawyer gets unfairly executed.....

I'm thinking, I'm thinking!

Re:Good and bad. (1)

sheetsda (230887) | more than 4 years ago | (#31364672)

Mea culpa: Should say "counsel".

Re:Good and bad. (1)

blind biker (1066130) | more than 4 years ago | (#31364764)

What the OP had in mind (I assume) is that lawyers often defend people whom they know to be guilty to the bone, just for the buck. That's where this joke comes comes from: "How do you tell when a lawyer is lying? His lips are moving.".

So the OP wasn't saying that lawyers shouldn't defend people accused of murder, just those that are clearly (known to the lawyer himself) guilty.

I, for one, think his idea warrants some attention, at least.

Re:Good and bad. (5, Insightful)

Zarel (900479) | more than 4 years ago | (#31364832)

His exact words were this:

I've long felt that lawyers should be subject to the same outcome as their client. Don't want to get electrocuted, don't represent a murder. Don't want to end up a million dollars in the hole? Don't represent a doctor who's clearly guilty of malpractice.

I've heard lots of ideas for improving the legal system... some of them have been really good, and some of them have been really bad. Of all those, this is the worst idea I've ever.

Even if all it does is prevent a lawyer from simply defending people who are "clearly" guilty (which it doesn't - and which in and of itself is a ridiculous idea - it is impossible by the laws of physics for there to be no doubt whatsoever that someone is guilty), it would still be an extremely bad idea.

The purpose of a lawyer varies depending on legal jurisdiction, but in general, a defense lawyer exists to ensure that someone who is accused of a crime doesn't get screwed over. A lawyer is there to help innocent people convince courts of their innocence, and to make sure a guilty person doesn't get a worse punishment than they deserve. Your proposal undermines both of these.

(This is why the US Constitution guarantees a lawyer wherever necessary, and why public defenders will be provided to people who can't afford their own lawyers.)

Consider the case of someone who is obviously innocent, but accused of a murder. Why should we force someone to risk their life to represent him?

Or even in a hypothetical dreamworld where the legal system is never wrong and no one innocent ever gets convicted: Consider someone who is obviously guilty of a lesser crime, let's say shoplifting, but has been accused of murder. Why should a lawyer have to take jailtime to help make sure that person doesn't get executed?

Re:Good and bad. (1)

aztracker1 (702135) | more than 4 years ago | (#31365622)

Just have a Cardassian [wikipedia.org] legal system, where your guilt is determined before the trial, you're obviously guilty or there wouldn't be a trial, and have the sentence ready to be carried, all before hand. Would make the whole thing much more efficient. :)

Re:Good and bad. (1)

polystar12 (1760020) | more than 4 years ago | (#31365854)

I don't think so..

Re:Good and bad. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31364894)

Lawyers should defend all people to their best ability, it's not their job to determine the clients guilt. They are lawyers, not Judge and Jury. I think you are confused as to the nature of our legal system.

Re:Good and bad. (1, Insightful)

wisnoskij (1206448) | more than 4 years ago | (#31365046)

But the lawyer himself is not infallible.
The legal system is not based on, "oh he is obviously guilty so he does not require a fair trial".
The trial itself is the indicator of guilt, not the lawyer.

One way to take that idea to it logical extension (IMHO) is just to give police the ability to execute/punish anyone they judge obviously guilty, it would save the courts a lot of money.

Re:Good and bad. (0, Troll)

Moonrazor (897598) | more than 4 years ago | (#31365438)

Ok, time for you to go back to your Judge Dredd comics and leave the sensible talking for the adults here.......

Re:Good and bad. (4, Insightful)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | more than 4 years ago | (#31365120)

So the OP wasn't saying that lawyers shouldn't defend people accused of murder, just those that are clearly (known to the lawyer himself) guilty.

You mean like a number of easily found examples where people thought someone was clearly guilty but those same defendants were later exonerated? Everyone deserves legal defense otherwise we might as well have no legal system at all and just throw anyone accused of a crime straight in jail.

Re:Good and bad. (1, Troll)

donaggie03 (769758) | more than 4 years ago | (#31365532)

Like O.J.!!

Re:Good and bad. (2, Interesting)

Jedi Alec (258881) | more than 4 years ago | (#31365170)

What the OP had in mind (I assume) is that lawyers often defend people whom they know to be guilty to the bone, just for the buck. That's where this joke comes comes from: "How do you tell when a lawyer is lying? His lips are moving.".

So the OP wasn't saying that lawyers shouldn't defend people accused of murder, just those that are clearly (known to the lawyer himself) guilty.

I, for one, think his idea warrants some attention, at least.

Under US law anyone accused of a crime is entitled to an attorney. Attorneys are bound by an ethical code that they must do everything possible within the law to represent their clients to the best of their abilities. So what is an attorney supposed to do when the judge asks how the defendant pleas? "Not guilty your honor, even though you and I both know the sooner we strap him to the electric chair, the better off we'll be."

And another interesting part of US law...people are presumed innocent until proven guilty. So a lawyer, or anyone else for that matter, "knowing his client is clearly guilty" is an impossibility in itself.

Re:Good and bad. (1)

turbidostato (878842) | more than 4 years ago | (#31365584)

"And another interesting part of US law...people are presumed innocent until proven guilty. So a lawyer, or anyone else for that matter, "knowing his client is clearly guilty" is an impossibility in itself."

It is not, as it is not the same "knowing somebody to be guilty" to "knowing somebody to be declared guilty". Presumed means exactly that: pre-assumed. It's perfectly possible to know enough about the facts and about the legal system to know somebody is guilty before the trial outcome because then you are not pre-assuming anything: you know.

Justice is blind (for a very good reason), the same is not to be applied to those around her.

Re:Good and bad. (5, Insightful)

Dhalka226 (559740) | more than 4 years ago | (#31365436)

So the OP wasn't saying that lawyers shouldn't defend people accused of murder, just those that are clearly (known to the lawyer himself) guilty.

I disagree. The people who are "known" to be guilty are most in need of a good lawyer. Not because I relish the thought of murderers getting off on technicalities, but because murderers getting off on technicalities is the only way to motivate police officers and prosecutors to do their jobs properly and respect peoples' rights.

If somebody is "known" to be guilty then the only reason they should get off is police or prosecutorial misconduct, or it obviously wasn't as known as it sounded. If they get off based on that, then they should have. Sometimes guilty men have to go free to serve the greater concept of justice. That's frankly a much more important goal than punishing an individual defender, no matter how dangerous he is.

Re:Good and bad. (1)

Dhalka226 (559740) | more than 4 years ago | (#31365516)

individual OFFENDER, that is.

Re:Good and bad. (1)

berashith (222128) | more than 4 years ago | (#31365610)

great speech ! that needed its own theme music

Re:Good and bad. (1)

Ohrion (814105) | more than 4 years ago | (#31365702)

I wish I had mod points left. This is a good point you make.

Re:Good and bad. (1)

mdwh2 (535323) | more than 4 years ago | (#31365524)

is that lawyers often defend people whom they know to be guilty to the bone

Citation? How does a lawyer know they're guilty - do they have access to evidence that the prosecution and jury do not?

Intentionally withholding evidence would be worrying. I suspect what you really mean is that lawyers defend people that they think are guilty. But so what? It means they are able to put making a rational argument above whatever their personal prejudices maybe - the latter often turn out to be wrong.

So the OP wasn't saying that lawyers shouldn't defend people accused of murder, just those that are clearly (known to the lawyer himself) guilty.

And how exactly do we judge this? After having the trial to see if someone's guilty, we now have to have a trial to see if the lawyer knew this person was guilty, even before the person's trial was over? And who represents the lawyer in this case...?

Re:Good and bad. (4, Insightful)

Ogive17 (691899) | more than 4 years ago | (#31364588)

Uh, everyone is entitled to defense. Even if the person is guilty of the crime, maybe the circumstances dictate it was an accident with no intent. Sometimes that's still a criminal offense but the punishment would be less severe.

Re:Good and bad. (1, Insightful)

GMThomas (1115405) | more than 4 years ago | (#31364590)

That would be a good idea if the legal system was infallible. How could you possible get a defense lawyer on your side if you had hard evidence lined up against you?

Re:Good and bad. (1, Insightful)

BlueBlade (123303) | more than 4 years ago | (#31364604)

I can't figure if you're a troll or not, but if you are serious, this is one of the most stupid comment I've ever read on slashdot. The consequences of such a system are immediatly obvious: nobody would ever want to risk their own lives to defend anyone accused of a serious crime, even for cases where the accused is almost certainly innocent (why risk it at all?).

Re:Good and bad. (1)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 4 years ago | (#31365166)

Maybe it should work both ways. If a prosecutor charges someone with a crime without getting a conviction (either because the jury found them not guilty or the charges were dropped), the prosecutor is subject to the jail time or fines that would result from a guilty verdict. Might stop prosecutors from trumping up charges (like calling a couple joints intent to distribute) or charging people without doing their due diligence.

Re:Good and bad. (2, Funny)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 4 years ago | (#31365292)

That would stop everyone from ever being charged for anything.

You might as well just mail every citizen a loaded gun with a postcard saying "tomorrow is a free for all!".

Re:Good and bad. (2, Funny)

berashith (222128) | more than 4 years ago | (#31365624)

that would be a hell of a prank. I would not take advantage of the free for all unless i really knew the specific date. I'd hate to find out the mail arrived early, and I wasnt allowed to go berserk until saturday .

Re:Good and bad. (0, Offtopic)

ChapterS (666029) | more than 4 years ago | (#31364606)

asdfasfdasdfasfd

Re:Good and bad. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31364608)

Then you would end up with only prosecution/plaintiff lawyers and never any defense lawyers. Not to mention that public defenders don't choose who they are defending, innocent people sometimes get convicted, and sometimes the lawyer doesn't even know if their client is guilty or not. Heck lawyers aren't really supposed to care if their client is guilty or not, because it is their professional duty to represent someone in a place with convoluted and illogical rules.

Re:Good and bad. (1)

DeadDecoy (877617) | more than 4 years ago | (#31364640)

That's stupid because it presumes that the prosecuted party is guilty and might prevent them from finding the means to defend themselves. Ya there's a lot of scum out there, but it's not impossible for the innocent to get accused as well, which is why we have trials in the first place: to determine guilt. Another way in which this is stupid is that large companies can easily leverage more capital to go after the guy with less money. So in addition to already having the odds stacked against them financially, your suggestion would prevent any defence attorney from taking on a risky case.

Re:Good and bad. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31364648)

I've long felt that you should be gang-raped by a dozen well hung niggers. They can bend you over and tie you down, then sodomize your asshole at their conveniences, taking a break every so often to drink a 40, smoke up, shoot up, etc, pop viagra. They'll also make you suck their cocks clean, I mean, who likes a shit on a penis??!?! Maybe you can lick their assholes clean, too.

Re:Good and bad. (5, Informative)

trb (8509) | more than 4 years ago | (#31364656)

Defense lawyers don't defend their clients' crimes. They defend their clients' rights.

Re:Good and bad. (4, Insightful)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 4 years ago | (#31364670)

This is a ridiculously bad idea.

First, not all lawyers know their clients are guilty. They only know what their clients tell them, which may or may not be true.

Second, according to law, everyone is entitled to legal counsel and representation in a trial. That's why we have public defenders. Are you proposing that public defenders be given the same sentences as their clients, even though public defenders don't actually have a choice in who they represent?

The whole court system in Common Law countries is based on the idea of the adversarial system. It's just like debating, where one debater (or team) may be assigned to argue for something they completely disagree with personally.

Of course, this does bring up the question of whether the adversarial system is really the best one or not. Back to my comment with debating, the practice of debating shows that a talented person skilled at debating could convince a group of people to accept something totally wrong if his opponent is not as skilled as him. For instance, in a debate about slavery, a talented debater could conceivably convince a group of laymen that slavery is actually a good idea and should be brought back, if his opponent is not very skilled. This is similar to courtroom trials: the truth of the case is secondary to the skills of the lawyers, so guilt or innocence is highly dependent on how good (and thus expensive) your lawyer is. People who can't afford lawyers and get public defenders thus are much less likely to prevail, even if they're innocent. The fact that juries are typically composed of the dumbest people from any particular population doesn't help; they're even more easily swayed by good-sounding arguments because they lack the critical thinking skills that better educated people have.

This is why I think the French/German Civil Code is a better way to design justice systems. In those, the Judges are not former lawyers, they actually go to school to become judges, and their role is not merely to oversee a debate between two lawyers, but they're inquisitors: their role is to seek the truth. Most of these countries have also eliminated juries as they're simply not useful in determining guilt.

Re:Good and bad. (4, Insightful)

nomadic (141991) | more than 4 years ago | (#31364734)

First, not all lawyers know their clients are guilty. They only know what their clients tell them, which may or may not be true.

Also a lot of lawyers legitimately believe even if their clients committed a crime, they did not commit what they're being charged with.

Justice is human... (1)

TiggertheMad (556308) | more than 4 years ago | (#31365098)

Also a lot of lawyers legitimately believe even if their clients committed a crime, they did not commit what they're being charged with.

To be fair, the act of properly charging someone with the proper crime can be very arbitrary. Prosecuters look at what they think a defendant is guilty of, based on police reports, and charges them with whatever they feel they can get a conviction with. A good defense lawyer will make sure that the accused doesn't get screwed when the police write an inaccurate report and the DA decides to make an example of someone.

Re:Good and bad. (2, Interesting)

LordLucless (582312) | more than 4 years ago | (#31365268)

Unfortunately, remove juries and you remove jury nullification. The purpose of a jury (ostensibly) is to ensure that punishments are not imposed arbitrarily by the state; they always have authority of the the peers of the one being judged.

"I consider...[trial by jury] as the only anchor ever yet imagined by man, by which a government can be held to the principles of its constitution."
        - Thomas Jefferson

Re:Good and bad. (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 4 years ago | (#31365540)

Yeah, that is a small problem, but jury nullification is extremely rare these days, and judges actually instruct juries that it's illegal.

Re:Good and bad. (1)

LordLucless (582312) | more than 4 years ago | (#31365620)

Which I believe to be a situation which needs to be reversed, rather than accepted as the status quo. I consider the increasing movement away from jury nullification to be indicative of the movement towards autocracy. If a government is truly by and for the people, it doesn't need to fear its laws being trumped by jury nullification.

Re:Good and bad. (5, Interesting)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 4 years ago | (#31365652)

And that juries are filled with 12 people too stupid to get out of jury duty. True story-

My mom has always tried to lead by example, and has always been very civic minded, so when called for jury duty she took her vacation time and went. At the end of the trial she came in white faced and said "NEVER have a jury trial! Always demand a judge!" and when I asked her what had her spooked here is what she said. It was an arson case, the fire inspector couldn't even tell if the building had been set on fire or if it was a short, the guy didn't even have enough insurance to cover his losses and had to file for bankruptcy, so there wasn't even a motive. She hung the jury 11-1 in favor of conviction. Why were they gonna give this guy 10 years? "Because he is Italian and all of those people are in the mob and do things like that. Haven't you ever seen Goddfellas?"

That's right, that man's freedom was about to be taken away, not by the evidence, but by a Joe Pesci scene in a mob movie. There wasn't any arguing the evidence, they saw Goodfellas and Italians burn buildings, the end. So I would say we have a lot bigger problems than jury nullification, like juries that make idiocracy look like a fucking documentary.

Re:Good and bad. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31364684)

that the lawyer is getting raped unfairly as well

Would it be fairer if he were representing a rapist?

Re:Good and bad. (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 4 years ago | (#31365008)

Thank you.

I now truly have heard the worst idea that will be thought of in my lifetime. Earlier than I expected, but oh well.

Re:Good and bad. (1)

H0D_G (894033) | more than 4 years ago | (#31365174)

A principle like that would lead to people who are accused of serious crimes being forced to represent themselves, which would mean that cases that would previously have been argued out by a defense lawyer being pushed through the courts. Unfair, and corrupting to the whole legal system.

Re:Good and bad. (2, Insightful)

FSWKU (551325) | more than 4 years ago | (#31365180)

I've long felt that lawyers should be subject to the same outcome as their client. Don't want to get electrocuted, don't represent a murder. Don't want to end up a million dollars in the hole? Don't represent a doctor who's clearly guilty of malpractice.

Meaning you want to essentially get rid of due process, is that correct? Stand accused of a crime, but nobody is willing to defend you because they don't want to share the same fate you get handed. That would be the wet dream of the MPAA/RIAA and any criminal/organization with an axe to grind: Commit a crime and make sure there's enough evidence to pin it on someone else. Nobody will argue against it because they don't want to share a cell with the accused.

As others have said, defense lawyers are there to protect their clients RIGHTS, not their crimes. Without them, there would be nobody to refute biased evidence or testimony, no one to object to the prosecution leading/badgering the witness, and no one to ensure their client gets a fair trial no matter what they're guilty of. That's the spirit of why we conduct legal proceedings the way we do. If you say a person is guilty of a crime, you have to PROVE they did it. Otherwise we go back to the days of those in power screwing over the little guy on their say-so alone (more than they already do). Why bother with evidence if the accusing party is seen as infallible?

It doesn't matter what you're accused of, or even if you're guilty beyond the shadow of a doubt before ever going to trial. If you wish to fight the charges, you have the RIGHT to have your side of the story heard in court. There was a great quote on NCIS the other night, where a defense attorney was asked why she keeps representing criminals. Her reply was something along the lines of, "You make your case, I make mine, and as long as either side wins, I've done my job."

Re:Good and bad. (2, Insightful)

QuoteMstr (55051) | more than 4 years ago | (#31365214)

Guilt is never absolute [infoplease.com] .

As for you, bitZtream: you come into every Slashdot discussion carrying the most ignorant, vitriolic, hateful chip on your shoulder that man has ever conceived. In every conceivable circumstance, you come down in favor of money, power, influence, and the elite instead of social justice and basic fairness. You would rather live in the world of medieval crusades than in the one of Locke and Rousseau.

You're either an excellent troll or a miserable human being. I'll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume the former.

Re:Good and bad. (-1, Troll)

obarthelemy (160321) | more than 4 years ago | (#31365296)

we should generalize:
- all voters responsible for the crimes of who they voted for (who's electing all those assholes, after all ?)
- all employees, for their employers' (you should be aware of what's going on)
- all parents, for their children's (you raised them, you mop up for them)

General happiness and world peace will ensue.

Re:Good and bad. (1, Troll)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#31365494)

Who modded this idiot up?

You should be ashamed of yourself and the parent for even having such a stupid idea.

Once again it proves (-1, Redundant)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 4 years ago | (#31364484)

Those with the funds make the rules.

Re:Once again it proves (4, Insightful)

Zordak (123132) | more than 4 years ago | (#31364954)

Those with the funds make the rules.

Yeah, unless you read what actually happened, which is that Nesson uploaded the same songs Tennenbaum was accused of uploading and then boasted about it (and linked to it) on his blog. And then when the RIAA served discovery requests asking why he did that, he just responded that it wasn't relevant to the case. Whatever his agenda was, he got no more than he deserved here. I don't care what you think of the RIAA, this was just stupid.

Re:Once again it proves (3, Insightful)

The_Wilschon (782534) | more than 4 years ago | (#31365336)

Regardless of whether or not he deserved this, it is not a correct application of US laws (to the best of my understanding; IANAL). If he has committed a particular act which caused harm, then he should be sued separately. You don't get to just randomly include extra people after the fact as defendants in a lawsuit.

Yes, what he did was really arrogant and stupid, and he probably deserves even more punishment than Joel Tenenbaum deserves (which is probably not actually very much), but this is not the right way to go about punishing him. Hence the comment that the rich make the rules, which does seem to be applicable here.

Re:Once again it proves (3, Informative)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 4 years ago | (#31365660)

If you RTFA, he's not a "defendant in a lawsuit". He made an action that prompted the other party into additional unnecessary legal action; and furthermore, judge has ruled that the action was clearly related to the case. So now he gets to reimburse the expenses for that legal action - court fees and such. But he isn't being "co-sued".

Re:Once again it proves (4, Informative)

Zordak (123132) | more than 4 years ago | (#31365742)

He wasn't made a co-defendant. He was sanctioned by the court, which is exactly how courts punish misconduct in our legal system. If you refuse to answer discovery, and the other side has to win a motion to compel to get you to respond to what you should have already responded to, then the court has the power to make you pay their fees. This discourages people from gaming the discovery system. You'll note that he isn't jointly and severally liable for all of Tennenbaum's judgment---just the part that pertains to this bone-headed maneuver.

Nesson's a Mystery to Me (4, Insightful)

MarkvW (1037596) | more than 4 years ago | (#31364528)

Nesson's conduct isn't justifiable. But that's not really my point.

I can't see how his behavior helps Mr. Tennenbaum. The lawyer is supposed to help his client, not grab attention for himself with patently improper tactics. Nesson looks like he's putting his own interests ahead of his client's interests.

Nesson hasn't demonstrated any technical legal tactics in this case. Nor has he provided any insightful new ways to approach the copyright law.

He's just dancing around on the stage like a really old Ziggy Stardust.

He'd garner more respect if he spent more time working for Mr. Tenenbaum.

Re:Nesson's a Mystery to Me (5, Insightful)

calmofthestorm (1344385) | more than 4 years ago | (#31364694)

Mr Tenenbaum got what he paid for. You take a prominent lawyer/law person as a pro bono lawyer they come with an agenda. This can be good for you if their agenda is similar, but you do need to take it into account.

I know what it is! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31364920)

...a pro bono lawyer they come with an agenda.

He's trying to HELP the RIAA; that way kids will stop downloading that BOOM BOOM music with all those FILTHY lyrics and he'll finally get SOME SLEEP!

NOW GET OFF HIS LAWN!

Re:Nesson's a Mystery to Me (4, Interesting)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 4 years ago | (#31364840)

I can't see how his behavior helps Mr. Tennenbaum.

I pondered this as well. Perhaps by hosting audio of the court case and distributing it, he was hoping the RIAA would complain and consider it copyrighted material--which they did. He then would hope the judge would rule in favor of Nesson and deny the RIAA the "motion to compel" or whatever they used to try to make him take it down--the judge did not, of course. But had the judge ruled in favor of Nesson regarding that motion, Nesson might have the judge in a very unusual position where the judge must now find Tenenbaum free of all charges on the exact same principle as the court audio that the RIAA said was copyrighted. It would be similar enough to get your foot in the door.

This tactic, as we now see, unfortunately failed. That's about as much as I could see in that move but I'm not a lawyer.

He's just dancing around on the stage like a really old Ziggy Stardust.

Well, great, now you've put this in my head: Charles Nesson [arstechnica.com] + Ziggy Stardust [wordpress.com] = Donald Pleasence in The Puma Man [photobucket.com]

Re:Nesson's a Mystery to Me (1)

interval1066 (668936) | more than 4 years ago | (#31365598)

Nessun completely bungle this trial, still, its an odd judgment.

Nesson did what? (4, Insightful)

grapeape (137008) | more than 4 years ago | (#31364532)

Wow! wonderful strategy there. According to the article Neeson not only repeated the same offense that Tenenbaum was accused of but then linked to it on his blog. Then after the RIAA files a motion to compel, Nesson doesnt even file a response? What in the heck was he trying to do here, did he just suddenly loose his sanity? I realize the guy was working pro-bono but in this case it seems worse than representing yourself.

Only one explanation I can think of (4, Interesting)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 4 years ago | (#31364610)

Nesson must have been paid handsomely by the RIAA to throw the case and set a precedent favorable to the RIAA. One thing is for sure... nobody is going to retain him as a lawyer for a case like this again, even if it is pro bono!

Re:Only one explanation I can think of (1)

Kell Bengal (711123) | more than 4 years ago | (#31364720)

That... is a very interesting point, actually. My kingdom for mod points.

Re:Only one explanation I can think of (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31365034)

This is pretty much my feeling every time I hear David Boies takes a case. Even though he "won" against Microsoft, it's been a pyrrhic victory. Al Gore and later cases have been full-on disaster.

Re:Only one explanation I can think of (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31365270)

Nesson must have been paid handsomely by the RIAA to throw the case and set a precedent favorable to the RIAA.

Persuasive precedent isn't worth much. Normally when people talk about precedent, they're talking about binding precedent, which this is not.

Re:Only one explanation I can think of (5, Insightful)

westlake (615356) | more than 4 years ago | (#31365338)

Nesson must have been paid handsomely by the RIAA to throw the case and set a precedent favorable to the RIAA.

When you are shopping for a trial attorney do you chose:

A. The State U graduate who has spent a lifetime in the trenches.

Or

B. The Harvard Prof who hasn't seen action in fifteen years and arrives with the FSF and a German Om-Pa-Pa band in tow.

Oh c'mon... (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31364572)

He isn't jointly liable for anything, he got sanctioned by the court. Maybe read the actual article before choosing how to word the headline?

Re:Oh c'mon... (1)

ArcadeNut (85398) | more than 4 years ago | (#31364616)

Maybe read the actual article before choosing how to word the headline?

You must be new here...

Charles Nesson is a fool (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31364582)

good grief, duplicating the very act that originally got his client in legal hot water is supposed to be some sort of winning legal strategy??? I don't think so!

Re:Charles Nesson is a fool (1)

Richard Steiner (1585) | more than 4 years ago | (#31364642)

I won't go that far, but I do admit that I don't really understand the approach that Nesson took regarding this case, nor do I understand some of his related actions.

It just goes to show that professors of Law aren't necessarily good at defending a client in the real world. :-(

Nothing new (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31364704)

Those who can, do.
Those who can't, teach.
Those who can't teach, teach gym.

Re:Nothing new (3, Funny)

Bronster (13157) | more than 4 years ago | (#31365024)

You again - what do you have against gym? Lazy much?

Re:Nothing new (1)

Thinboy00 (1190815) | more than 4 years ago | (#31365656)

Ok, hand over your geek card.

Re:Nothing new (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 4 years ago | (#31365678)

No, he sells the wondrous "lose 80lbs in 3 days" herbal medicine.

Re:Nothing new (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31365232)

If you can't teach gym, become a salesman.

Re:Charles Nesson is a fool (1)

nomadic (141991) | more than 4 years ago | (#31364770)

It just goes to show that professors of Law aren't necessarily good at defending a client in the real world. :-(

The majority of law professors I've met have very limited real-world trial experience.

Self inflicted wound (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31364686)

Ehhh... the diddy of a lawyer uploaded the songs personally during the trial and posted a link to his blog, THEN he dragged his heels responding to their motion to compel discovery over why the heck he was doing something so batshit crazy.

The lawyer's conduct brought this upon him and nothing else, and he's only liable for some related fees over the motion he dragged his heels on.

Fool for a client (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31364756)

And a fool of a lawyer.

This seems to be such a poorly handled case from the beginning and I find it hard to to sympathize with the RIAA or the damage amount, but this kid went from hoisting himself on his own petard to letting some Harvard prof do the same for some information wants to be free precedent. Any real advocate would start defending the kid and run from this martyr crap, because the courts will gladly give him his wish.

The lesson here is... (4, Insightful)

Infonaut (96956) | more than 4 years ago | (#31364844)

... seek out a practicing attorney, rather than a full-time law professor.

Re:The lesson here is... (3, Funny)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 4 years ago | (#31365770)

Yeah. See how Obama turned out.

What?

It doesn't matter. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31364856)

It doesn't matter what is said in court, the law is on the RIAA's side. Morally we all know the RIAA are a bunch of bottom feeders but that doesn't change the options the judge has to rule with. How about instead we make up our own proposals and decide our own "legal" rights? Build a matter of community law and when we nod at each other we know where we stand, occasionally someone will take a fall: but we know where we stand.

Lawyer liable? (0)

wisnoskij (1206448) | more than 4 years ago | (#31364914)

How can a lawyer be liable because he took on a client?
are people that are not likely to win in court just not going to be able to get lawyers anymore, or will the lawyers they get just be expected to play nice and not put up a struggle if they do not want to be fined?

I know little about lawyers or if similar things like this have happened before, but it seems to me this ruling could destroy any justice that is left in the court system.

It seems to me that Nesson posting download links is a completely separate crime that should of been handled separately.

If a lawyer representing a vehicle homicide client happens to also kill someone with his car while defending his client, this should not effect the outcome of the first trial.

Re:Lawyer liable? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31365330)

But it was the EXACT SAME TRACKS.

Clearly, if a lawyer representing a vehicle homicide case happens to also kill THE EXACT SAME PERSON... wait...

Re:Lawyer liable? (1)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 4 years ago | (#31365664)

If a lawyer representing a vehicle homicide client happens to also kill someone with his car while defending his client, this should not effect the outcome of the first trial.

Yes, but it doesn't look good. It doesn't have that gloss of "professional" and "court officer" that an attorney needs to be able to function. So, basically the attorney didn't do their job in this case and tried, without success, to divert attention from the matter at hand.

Of course, this is what the attorney said he was going to do from the beginning. There isn't any legal defense for his client and he knew it, along with everyone else on the planet. So the only hope was to distract everyone with some furious handwaving. It didn't work and pissed off the judge who saw through the tactic. That was always the risk with doing this.

Well, he gets to pay some fees.

As usual... poor summary. (4, Insightful)

Corporate Drone (316880) | more than 4 years ago | (#31364974)

He isn't liable to pay the amount of the court's decision -- just the costs of discovery for one motion to compel.

Really, given all the grandstanding, and improper behavior, if I were Tenenbaum, I'd look into appealing on the basis that Nesson did not provide a proper defense...

Re:As usual... poor summary. (4, Insightful)

Lloyd_Bryant (73136) | more than 4 years ago | (#31365298)

Really, given all the grandstanding, and improper behavior, if I were Tenenbaum, I'd look into appealing on the basis that Nesson did not provide a proper defense..

IANAL, but "inadequate representation" can only be used to appeal in *criminal* cases. In civil cases, the client can potentially sue the lawyer for malpractice, if he loses a case (and money) because his attorney turned out to be a nutjob.

Re:As usual... poor summary. (3, Interesting)

sys.stdout.write (1551563) | more than 4 years ago | (#31365328)

I'd look into appealing on the basis that Nesson did not provide a proper defense

I don't think a malpractice suit against Nesson is likely to succeed, but it would be AWESOME; thus, I fully support this suggestion!

Re:As usual... poor summary. (5, Funny)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 4 years ago | (#31365842)

It'll succeed of Nesson decides to defend himself.

Charles Nelson Reilly did what? (1, Redundant)

scalpod (666558) | more than 4 years ago | (#31365196)

How much trouble can he get in being dead n' all?

Act like an asshole toward the court, pay for it. (3, Insightful)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 4 years ago | (#31365280)

Nesson did a lot of stupid, antagonistic things that were more in line with amateur hour or self-promoting than with representing the true interests of his client:

The defense team inexplicably posted the very songs at issue in the case to the Internet, and Nesson posted a public link on his blog for anyone to download them.

This behavior prompted a discovery request from the record labels, which wanted to know more about why the defense was now doing the very thing it had been accused of doing in the lawsuit. Nesson didn't want to tell them. The labels then filed a "motion to compel" the information.The judge sums it all up:

[Nesson's] terse response to plaintiffs' motion to compel merely stated that, in his personal opinion, the plaintiffs' requests were not relevant to this litigation. As indicated in this Court's June 16, 2009, order, plaintiffs' request for information relating to the defense's unauthorized distribution of the very copyrighted works on which plaintiffs' claims were based was clearly relevant to such issues as the willfulness of the defendant's conduct and the amount of damages to be awarded by the jury.

The Court's indulgence is at an end. Too often, as described below, the important issues in this case have been overshadowed by the tactics of defense counsel: taping opposing counsel without permission (and in violation of the law), posting recordings of court communications and e-mails with potential experts (who have rejected the positions counsel asserts) on the Internet, and now allegedly replicating the acts that are the subject of this lawsuit, namely uploading the copyrighted songs that the Defendant is accused of file-sharing.

Nesson didn't oppose the motion because there were no grounds to oppose it - except maybe the Peyote defense ("Heyheyhey, I waz stoned, Judge") or maybe insanity ("Would a sane person do the things I did - in a COURTROOM?" The facts speak for themselves - I'm nuts, judge").

Re:Act like an asshole toward the court, pay for i (0, Troll)

snowgirl (978879) | more than 4 years ago | (#31365730)

I wonder if NewYorkCountryLawyer will finally stop harping on the question that no one proved distribution... at the very least, the lawyer obviously distributed the copyrighted material in violation of the law...

Re:Act like an asshole toward the court, pay for i (1)

Bazar (778572) | more than 4 years ago | (#31365778)

sounds like it'd be a good example to use the Chewbacca defence

Maybe playing a deep game? (2, Interesting)

dtjohnson (102237) | more than 4 years ago | (#31365460)

Nesson claimed that the songs he uploaded and linked to on his blog were irrelevant to the Tennenbaum case that he was the lawyer for. Is it possible that Nesson is right? Suppose that Tennenbaum had been accused of bank robbery and then suppose that Nesson goes out and robs a different bank on his own time. Is that new crime relevant to his client's case? The judge granted the RIAA Motion to Compel and now the same judge has ordered Nesson to pay the RIAA expenses but...maybe...Nesson's got a better case on appeal...and maybe the judgments and punishments will be used to support his central argument that the punishment is out of proportion to the damages for a civil case.

Re:Maybe playing a deep game? (2, Insightful)

Thinboy00 (1190815) | more than 4 years ago | (#31365686)

...or maybe he's a fucking moron and/or paid off by the RIAA.

Re:Maybe playing a deep game? (1)

snowgirl (978879) | more than 4 years ago | (#31365752)

Nesson claimed that the songs he uploaded and linked to on his blog were irrelevant to the Tennenbaum case that he was the lawyer for. Is it possible that Nesson is right? Suppose that Tennenbaum had been accused of bank robbery and then suppose that Nesson goes out and robs a different bank on his own time. Is that new crime relevant to his client's case? The judge granted the RIAA Motion to Compel and now the same judge has ordered Nesson to pay the RIAA expenses but...maybe...Nesson's got a better case on appeal...and maybe the judgments and punishments will be used to support his central argument that the punishment is out of proportion to the damages for a civil case.

I think he's just crazy... I mean, ok, in your example, no the lawyer's crime is not relevant to the defendant that he's representing... it would likely be an ethical violation which could have him disbarred though.

But really, if a lawyer is out there talking about his case in public, and pulls something THIS boneheaded... then it's totally relevant. He's communicating about the case, and thus it has relevance.

Just another way the system squashes dissent... (0)

russotto (537200) | more than 4 years ago | (#31365876)

Now, next time perhaps lawyers will think twice before defending those nasty pirates against the might of the RIAA.

This is like freezing the funds or or prosecuting mob lawyers; yeah, it's really tempting to do, but it's not so much a slippery slope as a sheer drop into injustice. It effectively makes it far more difficult for future defendants for similar actions to obtain legal counsel.

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