The verdict is in for the trial against Ed Schultz. On Monday, the jury ruled in his favor after six long, sometimes agonizing, days of testimony. This, despite opposing counsel catching him in bizarre mistruths, explanations and distortions. This, despite his boss, MSNBC President Phil Griffin, lying about why he hired Schultz in the first place.
Schultz was sued by NBC producer and sound engineer Michael Queen for breach of partnership. Queen claimed Schultz owed him for 14 months of work that he said led to his hiring at MSNBC. Schultz insisted they never had a partnernship because he never signed on any dotted line.
Schultz’s attorney, in his closing summation, announced that what Queen was claiming amounted to “indentured servitude,” and that Queen expected to be tied to Schultz’s career for the rest of the TV host’s life. Queen’s lawyer, meanwhile, scoffed that this case had amounted to repealing the 13th Amendment and reinstituting slavery. He also questioned the credibility of many of the witnesses on Schultz’s side of the case, including Schultz himself.
“Both Catfish and I are disappointed in the jury’s verdict,” Queen’s attorney Steven Teppler told The Mirror Monday night. “This is an everyday reality of the litigation world. We are considering our options.”
Hmmm….might they appeal once again?
Judge Beryl Howell, an Obama appointee and donor, clearly played favorites. She had previously heard the case and ruled in favor of Schultz. Queen appealed her judgement — and won. The D.C. Circuit Court sent the case back to Howell’s court for a jury trial. She was unable to hide her contempt about dealing with the case all over again — and it showed.
She seethed. She scolded. For an entire week, she glared and grimaced her way through the trial and behaved in a completely demeaning manner toward the plaintiff and his counsel. Anyone watching the trial could see a stark difference between how she treated the plaintiff’s Catfish Abbott, a country style lawyer, and Schultz’s John Hayes, a corporate, uptight type whose only human moment was announcing that he changes his glasses.
“If I want to see, I have to use these,” Hayes told the jury. “If I want to read, I have to use these. It’s just part of life.”
In his closing argument, Hayes had more of a staccato style of speaking as compared to Catfish’s twangy, down-to-earth manner.
“Did he get his MSNBC job because of his 30 years in the business?” Hayes asked rhetorically. “The answer is unquestionably yes. Did he have a partnership with Queen? Unequivocally no.”
He went on and on about Schultz’s prowess in getting himself connected to Barack Obama’s presidential campaign. (News flash: It’s not exactly a battle for a liberal TV host to ingratiate himself into a Democratic presidential candidate’s campaign.)
“He asked that he be giving a press credential to attend the first press conference,” he said. “He went. He happened to be seated in the front row. The good fortune was that Mr. Griffin was watching. He said, ‘What’s Ed Schultz doing in the front row?'”
Watching may be a tad strong. As we know and as Hayes conveniently left out, Griffin completely hallucinated Schultz asking Obama a question at that press conference.
The Mirror requested comment from John Hayes, Ed Schultz and Phil Griffin about the outcome of the case. No comment was forthcoming by press time — which is late — so comments that come in later will be added immediately.
Judge Howell’s bias came through loud and clear. She repeatedly sustained objections before Hayes even made them. She also suggested objections to Hayes, which is something she never offered to the plaintiff’s attorneys, whom she often treated like irritating fleas who were beneath her intelligence.
Closing arguments were intense.
“Why do we have a partnership statute?” asked Catfish Abbott. “So people can’t be hung out to dry and used and abused for 14 months. …He used the defendant and his connections up until the eleventh hour. He inked the contract [with MSNBC] and now he was no longer his friend, no longer his partner. He slammed the door.”
He asked, “Who brings the truth in this case? It’s this person sitting right here in this seat,” he said, pointing to Queen.
Catfish eventually eyed the jury and said, “They know what they did wrong. The question is, what are you going to do about it?”
Queen isn’t yet talking about the loss.
“He’s understandably disappointed but he’s pretty stoic about it,” Teppler said of his client.