Last week, John Quinn, managing partner of Quinn, Emanuel, Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP, and lead counsel for Samsung in the Apple iPhone lawsuit going on now in Silicon Valley, released a statement to the press for the express purpose of communicating information that was not allowed in court. In a declaration submitted at the request of the United States District Court, Northern District of California, San Jose Division, regarding Samsung’s disclosure of public information in response to press inquiries, Mr. Quinn said this:
“On July 31, 2012, I approved and authorized the release of a brief statement—it was not a general press release—and proposed trial demonstrative exhibits. This followed multiple requests from members of the media seeking further explanation—including requesting the demonstrative exhibits at issue—as to the basis for Samsung’s claims, made in open court and in its public trial brief, that it had the right to present evidence that the iPhone was inspired by “Sony style” and that Samsung had independently created the design for the F700 phone—that was alleged in Apple’s opening statement to be an iPhone copy—in 2006, well before the announcement of the iPhone.”
Tools of marketing such as positioning, messaging and public relations have been used by the legal profession forever, but the brazen distribution to the media of “a brief statement that is not a general press release” takes this practice to a whole new level and just may be precedent for using the press to manage lawsuits in the future. Mr. Quinn was denied the use of certain evidence in the courtroom so he took matters into his own hands and summoned the Fourth Estate to his cause. What isn’t allowed in court could certainly be allowed in “a brief statement to the press.” Afterall, the media were inquiring about evidence and probing for additional information. Why not give it to them?
The decline and fall of journalism has been evident since the Internet came on the scene and destroyed any chance of the media breaking any news or investigating any corporate or government misdeeds. Since then, journalists have been put in the demeaning position of having to give up their fundamental values and the basic tenants of their profession such as fact checking, source authentication, research and the general role of protecting truth, justice and the American way.
But with this brazen act by Mr. Quinn, the media have been served up as a tool for manipulating our legal system. Now rather than objectively reporting the news from the courtroom, they have become a vehicle for offering up evidence to juries that isn’t allowed in court. The bait was too tempting for the beleaguered press not to bite. In one fell swoop, Mr. Quinn put another nail in the coffin of the Fourth Estate and dealt a nasty blow to our legal system.
The result? Too soon to tell, but pissing off the judge is no way to start a trial. Let’s hope civil integrity prevails and the practice of producing evidence not allowed in court via the press doesn’t become part and parcel of the American Way.