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Judge admonishes Jackson Estate’s “snickering” lawyers in Quincy Jones legal battle

By | Published on Thursday 13 July 2017

Michael Jackson

Look, will you all just stop snickering, huddling and laughing. No, not you. I’m not talking to you. I’m talking to the lawyers representing MJJ Productions in its legal battle with the legendary record producer Quincy Jones. You know, those guys. The ones over there who are constantly snickering, huddling and laughing. Shut up!

This isn’t me speaking by the way. No, these are the words of LA judge Michael L Stern. The exact words too. Well, not the exact words. But “snickering, huddling and laughing” were the words he used while giving MJJ’s attorneys a good telling off on day two of the Jones v MJJ/Sony trial yesterday.

As previously reported, Jones accuses Sony Music and MJJ Productions – one of Michael Jackson’s companies, now controlled by the Jackson estate – of screwing him out of $30 million in royalties, mainly in relation to projects and deals done since the late king of pop’s death in 2009 which exploited the famous Jackson recordings that Jones produced. MJJ counters that Jones is incorrectly interpreting contracts he signed with Jackson in 1978 and 1985, from which the royalty claims stem.

According to Law 360, Judge Stern sent the jury hearing the case out of the courtroom yesterday so he could tell off the defence team for “snickering, huddling and laughing” while an expert witness called by the Jones side was testifying. The expert witness was another lawyer, Scott Brisbin, who was discussing those disputed contract terms.

“I am astounded by the snickering, huddling and laughing that I hear from the defendant’s side of the table”, the judge declared. “I don’t know if the jury can hear what is being said, but I can. [And] they can see the facial expressions, eyebrow raising and other gestures by defendant’s counsel”.

Lead defence lawyer Zia Modabber countered that the chit chatting on his side was because his team hadn’t been told that Brisbin would be discussing what it turned out he was discussing – principally sync licensing, and the differences between licensing music that soundtracks a video and music that is actually performed in a video.

His side had been “sandbagged” by the plaintiffs, Modabber claimed. Though lawyers for Jones disagreed. They denied owning any sand at all, let alone bags, and argued that pre-trial paperwork made it obvious this would be a topic Brisbin would discuss.

The case continues. But, one would hope, with no more snickering, huddling and laughing. Well, maybe some huddling. I don’t really see why that’s a problem.