Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Insight into Trump Stormy Settlement Agreement

This week, porn star Stormy Daniels was on CBS's 60 minutes and since her interview, the White House reportedly isn't saying much, including declining for weeks to say whether President Trump was party to a $130,000 hush-money payment his personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, made to Daniels on the eve of the 2016 election. Cohen obtained a temporary restraining order against Daniels from a private arbitrator, a retired judge, barring her from disclosing "confidential information" related to the nondisclosure agreement. A lawsuit was filed after a multiple reports alleging that Daniels and Trump had an affair beginning in July 2006 at a celebrity golf tournament and was paid money for her to keep quiet in October 2016. While Daniels initially denied the affair, her decision to file the lawsuit confirmed her part in the affair. She and her lawyer, Michael Avenatti, even included the text of the “hush agreement” as an exhibit attached to her complaint which, interestingly, uses pseudonyms for the parties and says they wish to avoid the lime, expense, and inconvenience of potential litigation, and to resolve any and all disputes and potential legal claims between them. The case was filed in L.A. Superior Court and then removed to federal court. The first controversy likely to be taken up by the judge is whether the dispute must be handled in arbitration, where Daniels is being pursued for allegedly breaching contract by making public statements about Trump. Also at issue, is who signed the agreement on behalf of whom. Although Trump hasn't formally moved yet to compel arbitration, the mere threat has prompted Avenatti to argue depositions of Trump and Cohen each are necessary in order to collect facts that bear directly on the formation of the hush agreement. See copy of initial pleadings, including agreement as exhibit linked at bottom of story here-- and more on federal court proceedings linked to this report--

Friday, March 2, 2018

Tune in for Open Ninth This Month

Join me March 21st for my guest appearance on Open Ninth, a first of its kind podcast hosted by Ninth Judicial Circuit Chief Judge Fred Lauten. This program features candid perspectives from judges and interviews with innovators in the legal field. These 'Conversations Beyond the Courtroom' are part of a new communications plan put in place by the Florida Supreme Court that seeks to better connect the courts with citizens. Since 2001, I've mediated lawsuits in this circuit and around the state as a certified mediator. I also served as a General Magistrate in the Civil Division, presiding over circuit cases in Orange County in 2013. In this episode, I discuss my experience as a mediator and the important role of mediation as an effective tool of alternative dispute resolution in the justice system. Be sure to listen here: