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RIAA Lawyers Toss “A Skunk In The Jury Box”

Posted by on June 17, 2009

riaa2The contentious lawsuit of Capitol Records v. Thomas-Rasset saw some solid courtroom drama yesterday as Judge Michael Davis threatened to toss out the morning’s entire testimony by RIAA computer science expert Doug Jacobson, “based on [the RIAA’s laywers’] behavior in this case.”

The drama unfolded just before lunch at the end of Jacobson’s morning of testimony. Most of it was pedestrian…

…that is, until the end, when Jacobson said he had found a log file on the Jammie Thomas-Rasset hard drive image he had examined. That log file indicated that an external hard drive had been connected to the machine — a minor point, but one that the recording industry seemed to believe indicated that Thomas-Rasset had loaded her new hard drive with songs from an external drive.

Defense lawyer Joe Sibley said that this log file information was news to him, and he wondered why it wasn’t in Jacobson’s original report. When had he learned about it? “A couple days ago,” said Jacobson.

It turned out that he had recently unearthed the log file information when preparing again for his testimony, had mentioned it in passing to a recording industry lawyer, and no one had notified the defense — a massive error.

Davis indicated that the RIAA’s “behavior in the case” was leading him to think about tossing all of Jacobson’s morning of testimony, a severe sanction that indicated the judge’s displeasure with what had just happened.

Sibley complained that the recording industry had “thrown a skunk in the jury box.”

Tim Reynolds, lead counsel for the recording industry, followed by apologizing “no less than four times”. In the end, the judge struck a narrow bit of Jacobson’s evidence from the record, with most of it remaining. We’ll keep you updated on the case as it develops. This is almost as good as Law and Order!

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