Saturday, August 4, 2012

Samsung's lawyers breached the rules again, showed witnesses the courtroom prior to testimony

Samsung's lawyers just avoided being sanctioned for a controversial press statement (they merely got an earful from Judge Koh, who may look at their overall conduct again when the trial is over) but continue to annoy Judge Koh and to breach the rules of the #iCourt, as it is called on Twitter. Late on Friday, Quinn Emanuel attorney Christopher Stretch filed a declaration in response to the court's request concerning an August 2 (Thursday) visit to the Ceremonial Courtroom.

In the sworn declaration, Mr. Stretch admits to having "brought five Samsung prospective witnesses, accompanied by two interpreters, and three Samsung in-house attorneys, to see the Ceremonial Courtroom on the afternoon of August 2, 2012". Eight of these nine individuals have Korean names, and one of the attorneys has a Dutch name. Mr. Stretch explains that "none [of them] had ever seen the inside of a United States District Courthouse before". Since he "could not take them to the courthouse while trial is in session because of the parties' agreement that fact witnesses may not be present in court before they give testimony", he went there on a trial-free day. During the first four weeks of this trial, the court meets on Monday, Tuesday and Friday. If there is no verdict after a month, the trial will take place five days a week.

When Mr. Stretch and his travel group arrived, the Ceremonial Courtroom was locked. Mr. Stretch then "went around the corner and rang Judge Fogel's chambers, which are located closest to the Ceremonial Courtroom". When someone answered, he said that he "was a friend of Judge Breyer's, and that [he] hoped to show some people the Ceremonial Courtroom". On that basis, they were let in and spent about ten minutes in the courtroom. But Mr. Stretch told the person who had opened the door that he "was a member of Samsung’s trial team" (though he's not on the short list that appears on each filing). He doesn't remember whether he said this "at the outset or later during the visit". Apparently this person then informed Judge Koh of that visit to the courtroom.

Mr. Stretch says that he "was unaware of any prohibition against visiting the Ceremonial Courtroom when trial is not in session", and it makes sense that he wouldn't have done this if he had known.

In order to alleviate the court's concerns over what this travel group might have done inside the courtroom, Mr. Stretch declares that these visitors only wanted to see the courtroom, but none of them "touched any equipment or materials in the courtroom", and to the best of his knowledge, no photographs were taken.

I guess this just happened because Samsung's lawyers thought their witnesses would be less nervous during their testimony if they get to see the courtroom before, and there's no indication of harm here. In and of itself, this incident wouldn't mean much. But after the first trial week one can't help but wonder why Samsung breaks all sorts of rules that Apple manages to comply with.

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