Judge R. Gary Klausner has just issued his Order on Motion for Partial Summary Judgment in the AXANAR lawsuit. I’m reading it over right now, and I’ll have a more comprehensive analysis in the next few days. But on first glance, it seems to be much more of a blow to Axanar than to the studios. However, it is not a knockout blow in that the judge has not issued any rulings that end the case in favor of the plaintiffs. Unfortunately for the defendants (Axanar Productions and Alec Peters), though, the judge has essentially tossed out Axanar‘s best hope for a “win” by declaring that fair use is invalid in this particular situation. That’s a biggie, but Axanar can still argue (according to the judge) that Prelude to Axanar is NOT substantially similar to Star Trek…which might be an uphill battle.
All in all, not a good day for Team Axanar, but the game isn’t over yet (and it could have been). More to come after I have a chance to read and discuss things further…
With things heating up in the AXANAR Lawsuit and trial set to begin in just 30 more days(!), there’s a LOT to keep track of. In fact, I expect to be typing pretty feverishly over the next few weeks as summary judgments are announced and oppositions filed to motions to exclude evidence and witnesses. So secure all stations and prepare for warp speed!
And what better way to get ready than…to read a comic book??? But it’s not just any comic. My fellow blogger-in-arms, Carlos Pedraza, has proven once and for all that he has waaaaaay too much free time (and, hey I’m one to talk, right!?!?!) by producing a really well-done Illustrated Guide (in comic book form) to the major points and arguments in the Axanar lawsuit…from both the plaintiffs’ AND defendants’ sides.
Yes, you read that right. I just paid Carlos Pedraza a compliment! (And oh, look: there’s Satan skating to work!) But no, seriously, for anyone out there imagining Carlos and me as the two Lazaruses from “The Alternative Factor” locked forever at each others’ throats in a chamber trying to keep the pro-Axanar and anti-Axanar universes forever separated…well, that’s just our day job, folks.
In Part 1, I explained what a motion in limine is (so if you don’t know, go click on that link). In Part 2, I took a look at the ten in limine motions that the plaintiffs filed asking the judge in the AXANAR lawsuit to exclude specific evidence from trial and prevent certain key witnesses from testifying in front of the jury. And in Part 3, I began looking at the first four of the nine motions from the defense of what evidence and testimony they did not want the jury to see.
Here is a PDF document compiling all nine of the defense’s in limine motions:
In Part 1, I explained what a motion in limine is, so at least I don’t have to go through that again! And in Part 2, I took a look at the ten motions that the plaintiffs filed asking the judge in the AXANAR lawsuit to exclude specific evidence from trial and prevent certain key witnesses from testifying in front of the jury.
Today, it’s the defense attorneys’ turn under the FAN FILM FACTOR microscope. And if you think I’m just going to back up Team Axanar on everything and let ’em glide through this analysis unscathed, then you’re gonna be very surprised. I call ’em like I see ’em, and I freely admit that some of what the defense is asking the judge to exclude is pretty ballsy…in one case almost to the point of comedy relief (trying to exclude the words “Star Trek“–yep). On the other hand, they also make a number of very solid points and might actually have a chance of winning a few.
And in the end, that’s what challenging evidence and witness testimony is all about. Swing for the bleachers. The worst that happens (assuming you don’t piss off the judge too much) is that he says no and you just have to work a little harder during trial. But the rewards can be great if you do manage to take a key piece off the chess board.
In Part 1, I explained what a motion in limine is, so I don’t need to explain it again, right? Instead I can just jump into the ten motions the plaintiffs made in the AXANAR lawsuit to try to get certain key witnesses (including me!) and pieces of evidence excluded so that the jury will never see or hear them.
Here are all ten motions collected into one document:
To save you from having to read all 63 pages (!!!), I’ll be providing a nice ‘n tidy summary for you of each motion. In a few cases, I might comment on the strength or weakness of a particular argument. But for the most part, I’m going to stick to giving an overview of why the plaintiffs believe each item should be excluded, and also how that item could potentially hurt the plaintiffs if it gets in front of the jury. (After I finish going through all of the plaintiffs’ motions, I’ll do the same for the defense team.)
My apologies in advance for another long blog, but this time, there are TEN motions to cover! Read it in chunks if your eyes start to glaze.
Now that I’ve indulged my little emotional rant last Saturday, it’s time to sit down and take a somewhat less passionate look at the 19 motions in limine that both sides filed last week to exclude evidence and witnesses in the AXANAR lawsuit.
The plaintiffs are challenging TEN different items of evidence and potential witnesses (including yours truly!) while the defense team is challenging NINE. I’ve consolidated all those separate motions into two huge PDF documents:
In Part 1 of this blog series, I’d like to explore what a a motion in limineis and how and why it is used. In this way, I’m hoping to give you all a better idea of what is going on right now and why it’s so important (and also give myself more time to research and write up parts 2 and 3!).
Just when you thought you were out, I pull you back in! Yes, it’s AXANAR lawsuit time again…and I really didn’t expect this part to be quite so significant. Man, was I wrong!
As you may recall, the next major event in the Axanar case was supposed to be oral arguments for the motions for summary judgment in front of Judge R. Gary Klausner on Monday morning. But the judge canceled the in-person hearing and will be making his pre-trial rulings based solely on the documents filed by both parties. (This is not unusual. I’m told that Judge Klausner usually cancels oral arguments and rules based on filings.) This means that the judge’s rulings could come at any time…and this lawsuit could possibly even be over before it begins!
But if this case does go to trial on January 31, then yesterday (Friday) was an important deadline. It was the last chance each side had to challenge evidence and/or witnesses that the other side wants to use in court and present to the jury. This can potentially be pretty big. Imagine going into the big game with a few of your best players disqualified and benched. That could happen if the judge excludes one or more pieces of potentially key or damaging evidence from being used at trial!
The plaintiffs are challenging TEN different items of evidence and potential witnesses (like little ol’ me!) while the defense team is challenging NINE. I’ve consolidated all those separate motions into two huge PDF documents:
You probably don’t want to read all 140 pages (although there’s some interesting stuff in there!), so I’m gonna help ya out and do a summary…later this week. Assuming the judge doesn’t end the case before then, I’m gonna need at least a few days to parse through all this!
Except for the motion about me (starting on page 25). That one I wanna tackle right now because, dammit, it’s my frickin’ blog and I should be allowed a bit of self-indulgent righteous indignation every once in a while!
So let’s take a look at why the plaintiffs don’t want me ruining their case…
The motions for summary judgment had been filed last month by both parties in the AXANAR lawsuit, followed by opposition briefs and reply briefs from both sides. Next Monday, at 9:00 a.m. at the Ninth Circuit Federal Court Building, lawyers from both sides were scheduled to appear before Judge R. Gary Klausner to argue the merits of their motions and oppose the other side. And I was planning to be there.
Looks like I don’t have to schlep to downtown anymore. The court just sent the following message to the attorneys in the case:
SCHEDULING NOTICE TO ALL PARTIES AND ORDER by Judge R. Gary Klausner. Plaintiffs CBS Studios Inc. and Paramount Pictures Corporation’s Motion for Partial Summary Judgment [72, 85] and Defendants Axanar Productions, Inc. and Alec Peters’ Motion for Summary Judgment , calendared for hearing on December 19, 2016, have been taken under submission and off the motion calendar. No appearances by counsel are necessary. The Court will issue a ruling after full consideration of properly submitted pleadings. IT IS SO ORDERED.
In other words, Judge Klausner will decide the motions based solely on the documents that have been filed. This is not unusual for him. In fact, I am told that it’s unusual for him to NOT cancel oral arguments!
And so his decision could come at any moment–today, tomorrow, next week–and when it does, you can believe I’m gonna post it as soon as I can!!!
If it’s Tuesday, that can only mean one thing: new documents in the AXANAR lawsuit were filed at midnight last night!
But seriously, folks, these will likely be the last Axanar filings for the foreseeable future. In two weeks (December 19…a Monday, of course), attorneys for both sides will appear in court in front of Judge Klausner for oral arguments, each supporting their clients’ motion for summary judgement. After that, the next document we will see will be filed by the judge himself…and it’ll either be good news or bad news (or both!) for the two sides in this case as he makes his final rulings on these two motions.
In the meantime, here’s what came in last night: REPLIES. Three weeks ago, both sides filed motions for summary judgment (the plaintiffs filed a partial motion…more on that in another blog). These documents each asked the judge to rule on facts that were not in dispute (in other words, so obvious that any jury would reach the same conclusion, so why even waste the time to argue about it in court?). Of course, neither side agrees on what these “obvious” facts are, which kinda suggests they’re not quite undisputed. However, if the judge is convinced by the arguments of one side or the other, he could, conceivably, end this case before the trial even begins, effectively handing a victory to one side or the other.
After filing their motions, each side was allowed, two weeks later, to provide a second filing in OPPOSITION to what the other side had argued in its motion. And finally, a week after that (which was yesterday), each side could provide a brief REPLY to that opposition filing. Here are links to both of those replies from yesterday:
Both documents are 20 pages long and intelligently written. However, there’s a lot more to cover in the defense brief, so I had to split that portion into two parts in order to cover everything properly. This isn’t to say one side or the other made better arguments–only that there’s more to go over with the defense.