Fictional Legal Case Shows Juries Work, Judges Sometimes Don't
I believe in the American judicial system, even when others are looking for a quick pay day at my expense. In 2008, I was sued in New Orleans federal court by a model named Aueisha Butler and her photographer Leslie Henderson. They claimed I ripped off a picture of Butler for one of my Freak Show DVDs. They demanded $400,000 in damages.
The photo appeared in a calendar produced by a guy who owned the rights to the images. I cut a deal with him to use Butler's photo. Then, she and the photographer filed their frivolous lawsuit.From the beginning, the case was fiction. A process server said I was given notice at the South Beach nightclub Crobar, days after the complaint was filed. Funny thing -- Crobar didn't exist.
The nightclub became Cameo long before anybody thought of suing me. And what process server is going to scour South Beach all through the night until he chances upon the club I'm in? How would he find me?
I never knew anything about the case, but the complaint moved forward. Last year, a judge awarded Butler and Henderson a default judgment. When I finally heard about the allegations, I fought to vacate the judgment and dismiss the case.
The judge refused me, ruling there was enough evidence to send the case to trial. It didn't look good for Miami's favorite uncle. So I hired Richard Brodsky, former attorney of the Securities and Exchange Commission, to defend me. At that point, I had spent a lot of money, and knew I would have to spend a lot more.
When the trial began two weeks ago, Butler was allowed to talk about her job, child, and community service. The photographer was afforded the same opportunity. But when I was on the stand, the judge instructed my lawyer to stop asking me questions about myself. She said that information was irrelevant.
I respect some judges, but not all of them. There is always a chance you'll get one who doesn't like you, your political leanings, or your core values. I would rather face a jury of my peers, who can debate the merits of the argument and come to an unbiased conclusion. In my case, the jury saw through the judge's power play.
That was on December 13. I am very happy the jury ruled in my favor.
Follow Luke on Twitter at: @unclelukereal1.
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