I don’t usually get breaking news as it happens, but Judge Magistrate Charles Eick just ruled on the Axanar defense team’s motion to have the court compel discovery (force the studios to deliver documents they were refusing to produce for the defense to look over before trial).
I was in court myself observing this morning, and I hadn’t expected the judge to rule so quickly. But Judge Eick understood that, with only 12 days left until the close of the discovery period, the clock was ticking.
His ruling JUST came out, and I don’t even have the full text yet. All I have is this summary:
On or before October 28, 2016, Plaintiffs shall…
serve supplemental responses without objection, and produce all documents responsive to, the following requests (except documents withheld under claim of attorney-client privilege): 14, 35, 36, 37 (limited to the works allegedly infringed and also limited to documents (which may be summary documents) sufficient to show revenues and profitability), 17 (limited to 2009 to the present), 18 (limited to 2009 to the present), 21, 25 and 29;
serve supplemental answers without objection to Interrogatories Nos. 8 and 9
produce for deposition a witness or witnesses prepared to testify as to Deposition Testimony Subject No. 28;
serve a privilege log identifying with particularity all documents withheld under claim of attorney- client privilege; and
to the extent not otherwise ordered herein, fulfill all discovery-related promises previously made by Plaintiffs to Defendants.
In short, Axanar got pretty much everything they wanted and the studios are going to have a VERY busy week ahead.
Now, I’m going to need a couple of days to parse this all out and translate it from legalese into lay-person’s English. So please be patient. (During that time, I’ve also Jayden’s karate class, soccer practice, a friend’s birthday, a soccer game, and a birthday party for one of Jayden’s classmates. And so this is why I don’t blog professionally.)
But short summary: big win for Axanar during the discovery phase. The actual trial is completely separate, but for right now, the defense is going to have a very happy weekend.
Yesterday, we began discussing the two documents filed by the opposing parties in the Axanar copyright infringement lawsuit last Friday. (There’s actually three documents, but more on that later.)
Both of the new documents are significantly shorter than the 60-page Joint Stipulationdocument from the previous week that argued for and against the court to compel the studios to produce a boatload of documentation related tot he case.
Did you hear the fireworks last Friday afternoon? If you were in the Central District Federal Courthouse of the 9th Circuit, you might have!
As expected, both the Axanar defense team at Winston & Strawn and the CBS/Paramount legal team at Loeb & Loeb filed their brief supplements to their recent 60-page Joint Stipulationdocument to compel discovery that was filed on September 29th. The deadline for adding anything to the original filing was the end of business last Friday, and things came right down to the wire!
Y’see, both sides wanted to get the last word in, so each waited as long as possible to file their supplemental memorandum. But in the end, Winston & Strawn waited just a teensy bit longer and managed to adjust their filing slightly to address a couple of the points that the plaintiffs included in their supplement.
I’m going to save some time and instead of summarizing Part 1, I recommend you read it, if you haven’t already. You can also link to the 60-page Joint Stipulationdocument that contains both Axanar‘s Motion to Compel the studios to deliver the remainder of the documentation they initially asked for, and also the studios’ responses to those requests.
When last we left off, we were up to the third category of documentation requested by the defense (and not fully provided by the plaintiff)…
It’s “High Noon” in the Axanar lawsuit…and we haven’t even gotten to trial yet! But that ominous background music is playing, and the two gunfighters are facing off for a showdown in the middle of a dusty street in a western town. More specifically, the CBS and Paramount lawyers at Loeb & Loeb are facing down the Axanar lawyers at Winston & Strawn (and vice-versa!), and the entire case could be won or lost right now by either side–months before trial even begins–and both teams of lawyers know it!
Last time: well, last time there was just way too much to summarize, so just click here to read it if you haven’t already.
Basically, with a trial date set for January 31, 2017 and no settlement announced yet, the case has entered the discovery phase. (So yes, “Star Trek: Discovery” now means two totally different things to CBS!)
During discovery, both the plaintiffs and the defendant must provide the other side with any piece of evidence they ask for that is relevant to the case. Witnesses are questioned (deposed), documents are collected and shared, and queries are submitted in writing requiring honest and open answers…and all this months before a jury is ever seated and the clerk says, “This courtroom will now come to order.”
It’s time for Star Trek discovery! No, not the new TV series. I’m talking about the next phase of the Axanar copyright infringement lawsuit: legal discovery.
Last week, former Axanar marketing director and tech guru, Terry McIntosh, posted on Facebook that he had just been subpoenaed by CBS and Paramountto be deposed as part of the copyright infringement lawsuit against Alec Peters and Axanar. Terry is not in any legal peril himself, as no other defendants other than Alec Peters were named in the lawsuit. Instead, the studio lawyers will probably just ask for copies of all of Terry’s correspondence (e-mails, IMs, chats) with members of the Axanar team, and the studios might set up a deposition to ask Terry some (maybe even a lot of) questions either in person or over the phone.
And this means that the (coincidentally named) DISCOVERY phase of the lawsuit is now in full swing. So what does that mean?
Wanna see and hear what the guy who types all these blogs looks and sounds like? Last week, I was contacted by a news producer for ReasonTV and asked if I’d be willing to come in for a half hour or so and discuss Star Trek fan films. Well, gee, twist my arm!
I’d never heard of ReasonTV, but it turns out it’s the latest offering from the Reason Foundation, which was founded in 1978 and publishes the monthly Reason magazine (voted one of the 50 best magazines in 2003 and 2004 by the Chicago Tribune…for whatever that’s worth).
I was told the news feature would be about 10 minutes long and focus on the CBS/Axanar lawsuit and the new fan film guidelines. Alec Peters and Richard Hatch would also appear in the piece. We’d all be interviewed separately and edited together later.
I drove to the studio (conveniently located only about ten minutes from where I live) and sat for a very pleasant interview. The reporter, Zach Weissmueller, was well prepared with some great questions. This wasn’t just a fluff piece, and my job wasn’t to talk up Axanar. In fact, I think I only even said the word “Axanar” once during the entire interview. Instead, I was asked about the history of fan films and the introduction of the new official guidelines.
Four weeks ago, I wrote a very impassioned op-ed decrying that Trekkers should be fans and not lawyers. I am now going to turn myself into a complete hypocrite and become an armchair attorney myself…partly because of the shameless reason that it seems to boost readership of one’s blog but also because I think there’s a fascinating details about the latest Axanar lawsuit news that’s not being reported at the moment.
Three days after J.J. Abrams announced that the copyright infringement lawsuit against AXANAR and Alec Peters was “going away,” the Axanar attorneys at Winston & Strawn filed a legal Response to the most recent amended complaint and ALSO filed a Counterclaim for Declaratory Relief.
Now why would they go and do a provocative thing like that just when the studios were about to start playing nice???
I decided to ask Axanar‘s lead attorney in the case, Erin R. Ranahan. It turns out there was a filing deadline on Monday that, if missed, could have severely and negatively impacted Axanar‘s ability to successfully navigate this lawsuit. Ms. Ranahan explained the situation…