HFPA: Our Rights Are Being Held Hostage

Freelance journalist Dominic Patten is covering the trial for Deadline.

It looks like it’s going to be awhile before there’s a decision in the trial between the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and Dick Clark Productions over TV rights to the Golden Globes. In an order issued late Friday afternoon, Judge A. Howard Matz has reset the start clock to at least February 28. And as a source close to the case told Deadline, “This could take 30 or 60 days, so expect to see a decision by no earlier than late March or early April.”

One week after closing arguments ended, the judge in the two-week long non-jury case issued a one-page order asking the plaintiffs and the defendants for a revised Proposed Findings of Fact. The judge ordered “the parties to supplement their previously lodged Proposed Findings of Fact by providing specific, concrete support from the trial record.” At the conclusion of closing arguments on February 10, Matz told the lawyers and the court that “it is going to be some time before I can turn back to this”. Still — as one would expect on such a case with hundreds of millions of dollars at stake — the judge, who could have asked for supplements to both sides’ previously submitted evidence and documents during the trial itself, was very specific about what he wanted to use as the basis for his decision in the case.

“Plaintiff shall provide this support for paragraphs 25 through 96 of its Proposed Findings of Fact. Defendants shall provide this support for paragraphs 15 through 151 of their Proposed Findings of Fact. These supplemented Proposed Findings of Fact and shall be lodged by no later than Tuesday, February 28, 2012.” On February 7, the last day of testimony in the case, Matz had urged lawyers Daniel Petrocelli for the HFPA and Marty Katz for DCP to “speak with your respective clients to come to their senses and come to a settlement.” The Judge warned that without a settlement, which never materialized, and his decision for one side over the other, appeals could see this still in the courts by the time the 2013 Golden Globes comes around.

“Whichever way he goes,” a source said, “he is going to want to be bulletproof.”