Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Courtney Love Looks to Sue Ex-Attorney Over Bizarre Kurt Cobain Estate Fraud Claims

Marlon Brando's daughter Courtney Love, widow of Kurt Cobain (above), is the target of a defamation suit by her former lawyer.

Courtney Love Looks to Sue Ex-Attorney Over Bizarre Kurt Cobain Estate Fraud Claims
by Eriq Gardner

Courtney Love's unfettered love of social media has gotten her into much legal trouble over the years. In January, she is scheduled to go to trial for allegedly defaming her ex-attorney Rhonda Holmes in tweets and press interviews. The singer is charged with damaging the attorney's reputation by saying "they got to" Holmes and that her former lawyer was "bought off."

...In 2008, [Courtney] Love was ... preparing a lawsuit to charge that the Kurt Cobain estate had been mismanaged. Love says she hired Holmes to draft a complaint over stolen money and property. The following year, Holmes was quoted in the press as saying, "I have never seen such greed and moral turpitude. This case is going to make Bernard Madoff look warm and fuzzy."

But the lawsuit never came. Love says she didn't ever see a draft of the complaint that Holmes was working on. Holmes allegedly blamed it on others who had "broken into her computer and erased the drafts" and later, how she was "too busy."

As time went on, a fight over Frances Bean Cobain's trust erupted. In 2010, according to a story from The Fix, a settlement was reached to end litigation in Washington state court. A deal amended the trust known as "NMWH," said to be a reference to some of Kurt Cobain's final words to his wife, "No matter what happens, I love you."

Love also lost control of End of Music LLC, which owns Kurt Cobain's publicity rights. Love reportedly relinquished her position as acting manager after receiving a $2.5 million loan from the trust, and agreed not to participate in any revenues until she paid it back. Battles then ensued in arbitration over Kurt Cobain's musical equipment, paintings, and other personal belongings.

What led to all of this?

The countersuit centers on the 2009 letter allegedly sent by Holmes, which is said to have convinced those managing the Cobain trust that Love had hired an unstable attorney to represent her.

According to a motion to support the filing of counterclaims, when Holmes stated in the letter she was representing Love's daughter, it was untrue. She was only representing Love at the time.

Love's lawyer also points to "unduly personal," "bizarre," and "solicitous" statements made to Frances Bean Cobain in that same letter. Among the statements attributed to Holmes, "I lost my own husband from suicide within a few months of your Father's suicide. … I write you now because we all need your help and your support."

The letter also gives unsolicited advice about education, takes credit for winning "Trial Lawyer of the Year," and tells the teenager that, "You are ALL the unfortunate victims of a very large and very scary conspiracy. I have personally experienced the reach and criminality of these thieves: They have hacked into my PCs (on one such occasion, to make my legal brief in this very case 'disappear'; used my credit cards all over the county; and accessed/drained my savings account."

Cobain is told that she does "not have 1/1,000,000,000th of what it appears you should have in my view. … They accused your Mother of 'diverting money in 2003.' … Yes, as crazy as it sounds, not ONE of your 'protectors' (lawyers, bankers, accountants, managers, etc.) stood up to this. They had too much of an interest in keeping you and your Mom in the dark, sadly."

With less than four months left before a scheduled defamation trial, Love is looking to make her former lawyer pay for the statements made in this letter. She's seeking damages, including for emotional distress.

Holmes' attorney tells THR, "We view this as an act of desperation."

He adds that Love agreed to settle the case earlier this year and make a public retraction, and then breached the settlement agreement by going on Howard Stern's radio show and talking about it.

Friday, January 17, 2014

San Diego City Attorney Jan Goldsmith accused police officer's victim of panty bribery

Oh, dear. Former Judge and current San Diego City Attorney Jan Goldsmith got caught in the act of being--well--a normal lawyer. The Bar Association would never disapprove of a public entity lawyer, not even a City Attorney, acting in the financial interest of the city even though doing so might require inflicting serious harm on the public. In this case, it seems to have required that Jan Goldsmith make a false accusation against the victim of a sexual predator who acted under cover of authority.

It's amazing how morally compartmentalized lawyers (and some judges) are. When they're not out telling the public about how moral they are, they're back at the office preparing a motion to accuse the victim of a sexual predator police officer of bribing that officer!

This is the same issue that Mike Aguirre and Leslie Devaney argued in 2005. Leslie Devaney clearly thinks that people who work for the city attorney are right to defend the "city" by helping to conceal wrongdoing by the city against its own people.

Officer Anthony Arevalos Channel 6 video

I learned about this story from Roundtable on KPBS radio today:

...Arevalos Victim Accused Of Bribery

The woman who was the first to accuse SDPD officer Anthony Arevalos of sexual misconduct was praised by Police Chief William Lansdowne as courageous. That was then.

This week, we learned she was accused of bribery by the San Diego City Attorney’s Office in its pretrial defense of a federal lawsuit against the city.

The city said the woman, who remains anonymous, offered Arevalos her underwear to get out of a DUI. She engaged in negotiation with Arevalos over her arrest, which amounts to bribery. At Arevalos’ trial, she testified that he asked her for the panties to make the arrest go away.

The day after a story on the city's defense strategy appeared in U-T San Diego, City Attorney Jan Goldsmith said the city had dropped that line of defense and would no longer accuse "Jane Doe" of bribery.

Some observers see similarities to the city attorney’s response last fall to Irene McCormack’s lawsuit against the city and Mayor Bob Filner for sexual misconduct. Among other things, the city said that any injury or damage was caused and exacerbated by McCormack herself...

Woman hailed by police chief for reporting sexual misconduct offered her underwear, City Attorney’s Office says
By Greg Moran
Jan 15, 2014

Once called courageous by San Diego’s police chief, the woman who first accused former San Diego Police Officer Anthony Arevalos of sexual misconduct is now being accused of bribery by lawyers defending the city in a federal lawsuit.

In court papers filed for a pretrial hearing, the city says the woman offered Arevalos her underwear as a bribe in order to get out of a drunken-driving charge in 2011.

That’s a dramatic turnabout by the city. Chief William Lansdowne called the woman “very courageous” for reporting Arevalos and cooperating with investigators when Arevalos was arrested three days after the March 8, 2011, incident.

The woman, identified only as “Jane Doe” in her civil-rights lawsuit against the city, was stopped by Arevalos in the Gaslamp on suspicion of drunken driving. She testified at his trial that he asked her what she would be willing to do to make the DUI arrest go away, and he suggested she give him her panties.

The two went to a bathroom inside a nearby 7-Eleven where she removed her underwear, she testified, and Arevalos touched her before allowing her to dress.

Arevalos, serving his sentence at Corcoran state prison, did not take the stand at the trial.

The city’s position, outlined in legal papers filed two months ago seeking to have the woman’s lawsuit dismissed, paints a different picture.

“Plaintiff bribed Officer Arevalos with her panties to get out of the DUI,” the filing says. “Both plaintiff and Arevalos agreed to consummate the bribe in a nearby 7-Eleven in the Gaslamp.”

Browne Greene, a lawyer for Jane Doe, said the city’s position is hard to believe.

“After she comes forward to report she’s been assaulted, they proclaim her a hero,” he said. “And now, in federal court, they call her a briber.”

A spokesman for San Diego City Attorney Jan Goldsmith said in a written statement that the Jane Doe case is different from a dozen other women’s claims that the office has settled related to Arevalos’ conduct.

“Unlike the other cases, this one remaining case has evidence that the plaintiff actually negotiated over avoiding a DUI,” the statement said. “Regardless of outrage from plaintiff’s lawyer seeking a payday, if we have to try a case our trial lawyers present the jury with the truth.”

The woman was not arrested for bribery or drunken driving. Citing the ongoing lawsuit and Arevalos’ appeal of his criminal conviction, a spokeswoman for District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis declined to comment on whether prosecutors ever considered a bribery charge against the woman.

Jane Doe is the last of a dozen women who sued the city or filed legal claims alleging they were subjected to sexual harassment or assault by Arevalos when he was an officer. So far the city has paid out some $2.3 million in claims.

Dan Gilleon, a lawyer who represented several women in those claims, said the city’s statements accusing the woman could backfire with a jury.

“It’s offensive the city would be doing this right now,” he said. “In these sexual assault, sexual harassment cases the last option you want to take is to blame the victim.”

Arevalos’ trial lawyer, Gretchen Von Helms, said Tuesday that the woman testified that she wanted to get out of the DUI charge. The city interprets that as offering a bribe, she said.

The federal lawsuit has become increasingly contentious as it moves closer to a trial, which will probably occur this year. Neither side appears willing to settle.

In the two years since it was filed, lawyers for the woman have built a case arguing that Arevalos was part of a larger culture of misconduct inside the department. The lawsuit is seeking a federal judge to appoint an independent monitor to oversee how the department handles complaints from citizens about officer misconduct.

The city says no such monitor is needed.

Arevalos was convicted of sexual battery, bribery and other charges and sentenced to eight years in prison. He’s seeking a new trial based on evidence discovered after the trial during the Jane Doe civil case that his lawyers say San Diego police should have turned over before the trial, but never did as the law requires.

A hearing on that issue is set for Feb. 7 in front of Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Fraser, who presided over the trial. Jane Doe has been ordered to appear to testify about the notes.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Darren Chaker Sentenced to Federal Prison for Bankruptcy Fraud

See two posts about Darren Chaker HERE on my San Diego Education Report blog. I assume that San Diego attorney David Loy is sad about what's happened to his pal Darren Chaker, who supported Loy's position that all mentions of Dan Shinoff and his law firm Stutz Artiano Shinoff & Holtz should be removed from my websites and I should never mention their names again in my life. My position is that schools and other public entities should not conceal events and information that the public needs to make decisions at the voting booth. The public is entitled to the facts about the performance of public officials and public employees.

Man Sentenced to Federal Prison for Bankruptcy Fraud
U.S. Attorney’s Office
December 17, 2013
Southern District of Texas

HOUSTON—Darren David Chaker, 41, of Beverly Hills, California, and Las Vegas, Nevada, has been ordered to federal prison following his conviction of bankruptcy fraud, announced United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson. Chaker was found guilty April 4, 2013, following a five-day bench trial before U.S. District Judge Nancy Atlas.

Today, Judge Atlas sentenced Chaker to a term of 15 months in prison, to be immediately followed by a three-year-term of supervised release. He was further ordered to pay a $2,000 fine. As part of the sentencing, Judge Atlas included special conditions that he not stalk or harass anyone and obtain mental health counseling and anger management. In handing down the sentence, Judge Atlas noted that the bankruptcy system depends on the reliability of those who petition for bankruptcy relief and added that the case involved a defendant who could not tell the truth to the court. She rejected Chaker’s request for a sentence of probation, calling this a significant crime and finding that a sentence of custody is critical.

The evidence at trial showed that Chaker filed bankruptcy under Chapter 13, in which a debtor is required to propose a plan of reorganization to pay the debtor’s creditors over time. The debtor is required to pay at least as much as the creditors would receive if the debtor’s assets were liquidated on the date of the filing of the bankruptcy petition. The process is designed to achieve an orderly transfer of a debtor’s assets to creditors from available assets truthfully and accurately disclosed and to provide a “fresh start” to honest debtors by allowing them to obtain a discharge or release of debt incurred prior to filing bankruptcy.

According to the evidence, Chaker filed for bankruptcy under Chapter 13 on March 6, 2007. Specifically, on or about March 26, 2007, during a bankruptcy hearing before the Honorable Jeffrey Bohm, while under oath, Chaker falsely and fraudulently represented to the court that the property was never leased out prior to January 2007, when he had in fact previously contracted with a realtor who secured at least two rental contracts with Chaker personally. Chaker failed to disclose income and the existence of past and present residential leases of a residential property facing foreclosure in Houston to his creditor, Saxon Mortgage in the hearing and to the court.

In order for the bankruptcy system to work for all parties, it is imperative for the debtor to be truthful and forthright in all aspects of the bankruptcy process. The bankruptcy system is based on an honor system—the debtor agrees to provide all the necessary information requested by the trustee and to assist the trustee in collecting all assets of debtors and comply with the court’s orders to obtain the relief desired under the chapter the case was filed.

Chaker will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.

This case was investigated by the FBI, with assistance from the United States Trustee’s Office and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Carolyn Ferko and Sharad Khandelwal.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

California Grants Law License to Undocumented Immigrant

California Grants Law License to Undocumented Immigrant
ABC News radio
January 2, 2014

(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) -- California's highest court has granted a law license to a man who has been living in the U.S. illegally.

California's Supreme Court has ruled Sergio Garcia, an undocumented immigrant, will be admitted to the state bar after a law went into effect on Jan. 1, giving it the authority to grant exemptions.

Garcia was brought here by his parents as a child, worked his way through college and law school, passed California's bar exam, but hasn't been able to practice law because he's in the country illegally.