December 4, 2014

They Toll for Thee Bernie

I feel cheated. Bernie Kerik's everything-but-the-kitchen-sink lawsuit against Joe Tacopina is now over. There I was, waiting for leaked videos of painfully inquisitive depositions, salacious testimony, and withering cross examinations. I was hoping to hear whether Tacopina really did give up his client in a series of proffer sessions he had said never happened, or if it was all just bitter smoke from a disgruntled former client who can't accept the finality of his long, long fall from grace.

Sure, we had some moments. Opposing counsel trading shots, the audio tape Bernie made of his good friend Joe (because don't we all record our friends when we talk?), Joe squirming (because he had sworn that conversation hadn't taken place), and all the former clients jumping on the bandwagon.

But then the inevitable happened. Bernie's attempt to sue Joe in 2014 for stuff that happened five, six, or seven years earlier fell apart. Then there was the slight problem of his having pleaded guilty. There were also some difficulties in the RICO claims that are not worth going into. It was obvious after the parties argued their motions that the court didn't think much of the case, so the outcome isn't surprising.

It does mean that the factual disputes remain open. Joe may have won, but not in a way that shows the allegations that mattered were false. Much like the final scene in the Sopranos, we are left with no idea what actually happened, and no means of finding out. Bernie's making noise about how maybe he's better off in front of the disciplinary committee. That's nonsense, of course, and certainly the audience wasn't ready to go home.

But Judge Koeltl was unconcerned about good theater. He did his job and took this lawsuit, crippled by untimeliness, a lack of causality, and pleading deficiencies, out to the back yard and put it down like it was Old Yeller. It was the right thing to do, but I feel cheated.

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