Celebrity Justice - The FindLaw Celebrities and The Law Blog

October 2016 Archives

In April, Jim Marchese was arrested for domestic violence after an incident with his wife Amber on a Virgin American Airlines flight from Los Angeles to New York. Both Marcheses, famous for their roles on Real Housewives of New Jersey, vehemently denied the charges at the time, with Jim threatening a $100 million lawsuit for "this disgusting, hurtful defamatory act which cause the police to take such extreme action resulting in horrible rumors about the happily married couple that hurt them both personally and professionally."

That threat has become a reality, as the couple have sued the airline for false imprisonment, malicious prosecution, and defamation stemming from the criminal charges. So what happened that might put Virgin at fault?

If there was a game show category for 'laws that probably, most definitely, won't be enforced against Justin Timberlake,' the pop star's illegal polling place selfie would likely be a clue. On Tuesday, Timberlake broke Tennessee election law when he took a selfie in his polling place. Timberlake, who traveled from Los Angeles to Memphis, Tennessee in order to vote in person, luckily is not being investigated or charged.

While some might think that there is a double standard at play for celebrities, well, you might be right, but not enforcing polling place selfie laws is seemingly the new normal. There was one in Michigan recently struck down and it didn't involve celebrities. The law in Michigan prohibited voters from photographing their ballots and sharing their photographs on social media. The challenger cited First Amendment protections and the court agreed.

Imagine a time when a person could exist having never heard of The Beatles. In 1972, when Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS) attempted to deport John Lennon, he hired an immigration attorney that would change the world. Amazingly, his attorney had never heard of him and had no idea that he was about to transform government policy.

To fight the decision to deport Lennon, they not only sought to stop it entirely, but at the very least were trying to delay the proceedings so that Yoko Ono could continue her custody battle (which was taking place in the US), and search for her child, who was abducted by the father (not Lennon). What was achieved went well beyond that, and exposed a secret government program.

Any Star Wars fan will tell you that Jedi mind tricks are cool and all, but having some sick lightsaber skills is where it's at. Perhaps that's why so many academies have popped up across the country, promising to teach self-styled padawans in the ways of the Force and lightsaber choreography.

But George Lucas's empire is striking back. Lucasfilm has filed a federal lawsuit against the owner of Lightsaber Academy, claiming the schools infringe on the films' trademarks without authorization, and sending legal ripples throughout the galaxy.

Musical artist Ludacris has been battling over custody of his three-year-old daughter with baby mama Tamika Fuller since early 2015. The battle has been anything but cordial. This week, however, the battle went from nasty to interesting with the judge's most recent ruling in favor of Ludacris.

The judge presiding over the custody battle ruled that Ludacris, who was awarded full custody last year, has final say over what pictures of their daughter that Fuller can post on social media. Basically, if Ludacris sees a picture of their daughter on social media that was posted by Fuller, he can force her to take it down if he doesn't approve. This ruling is rather unique, especially considering it was issued in favor of a man named Ludacris!

The fight over the music catalog of iconic American singer, songwriter, pianist, and civil rights activist, Nina Simone, may soon be over as the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals gets ready to enter the fray. The legendary artist died in April 2003 at the age of 70. Her ex-husband, ex-attorney, and former studios are all claiming some rights to the music catalog.

The fight in the Federal Northern District Court of California has been ongoing since as early as 2008, and 2007 in the Federal Court in New York. The claims have been made back and forth, with each party counterclaiming against the other for various causes of action all geared at establishing ownership of the deceased artist's music. Then, in 2012, when the ex-husband, Stroud, died, things became even more complicated.

One of the 'This is Spinal Tap' co-creators, Harry Shearer, filed suit against Vivendi and Studio Canal, which acquired the film's rights from Embassy Pictures, for alleged fraud and misrepresentation. The lawsuit is based on the fact that Shearer, and everyone around the world for that matter, has seen the enormous success that the film has enjoyed for three decades now, yet Shearer and his fellow co-creators have not even received $200 from the merchandising.

Shearer claims that the deal the creators originally signed in 1982 guaranteed them 40 percent of the net earnings. Shearer is also claiming that Vivendi has used Spinal Tap over the years to offset other losses in an attempt to cover up the studio's shortcomings and cheat the Spinal Tap creators out of money.

In June of 2014, Harrison Ford, playing the role of Han Solo while filming 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens,' had his leg crushed by the hydraulic door of the Millennium Falcon on set. Last week, the UK's Health and Safety Executive's charges for workplace safety violations against Disney's production company concluded with the production company receiving a $2 million fine. The fine comes after the production company had pleaded guilty to two of the four charges brought against them for workplace safety violations.

The crushed leg only set the filming schedule back a few weeks. For Ford though, at age 71, the experience left him pretty rattled (warning: link contains some NSFW language).

Both the mother and estranged husband of Jim Carrey's late ex-girlfriend, Cathriona White, have filed wrongful death lawsuits against the actor stemming from Ms. White's death. The mother's case was filed one month after the estranged husband filed suit.

Both cases against Mr. Carrey allege that the actor provided the drugs that Ms. White used to overdose in September 2015. Additionally, the cases allege that Mr. Carrey knowingly passed STDs to Ms. White, and engaged in a campaign of intimidation and threats to silence Ms. White so as to protect his career.

Renita Hill, one of the many women who came forward to allege that world famous comedian Bill Cosby drugged and raped her, appealed the dismissal of her defamation case against Cosby. Arguments were heard in the appeals court last week. Due to the statute of limitations for the alleged crime, Ms. Hill, like many others, was unable to have criminal charges pressed against Cosby. However, when Cosby, his wife and lawyers, made public statements about Ms. Hill's allegations, Ms. Hill struck back with a defamation lawsuit.

Ms. Hill's defamation lawsuit basically alleges that Cosby and his attorney made public statements falsely claiming that Ms. Hill lied about her allegations. While the statements in issue never explicitly state that Ms. Hill lied about her allegations against Cosby, the Cosby team's statements certainly imply such.

While it seems like every week there's a celebrity championing some cause or another, it is rare that any celebrity is willing to go so far as to get arrested. However, Shailene Woodley isn't just any celebrity. She was arrested this month while protesting against the Dakota oil pipeline that is currently under construction.

Activist groups in North Dakota have been protesting to prevent the construction of the pipeline, which cuts through a portion of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe's reservation, as well as through historic and sacred sites of the tribe. Along with Shailene Woodley, journalists and high profile politicians have been arrested at the protest.

Celebrities get in trouble all the time. Famous people already have our attention, and when they do something wrong, the media spotlight is only magnified. And every now and then, a celebrity crime will reshape our culture and redefine how we view celebrities and prosecute crimes.

Here are three of the biggest celebrity crimes, and how they changed our culture:

It happens all the time, doesn't it? You move into some celebrity's old mansion, and you're still getting their old fan mail and Bugatti bills. But just because the last A-list tenants were lazy changing their address doesn't mean you can just start opening and reading their mail.

At least, that's what someone should tell Chrissy Teigen, who gleefully admitted to Ellen DeGeneres that she's been opening and reading Rihanna's mail since moving into her former house. So are federal agents about to show up and put Teigen in cuffs?