Marion “Suge” Knight won’t be getting a look at the bank records of Andre Young, known as Dr. Dre–at least, not any time soon–ruled Los Angeles County Superior Court judge Brian S. Currey in Compton on Tuesday. “The court quashes the subpoena as it is a nullity and wholly useless,” Currey wrote in tentative ruling posted outside the courtroom door. Currey cited what he said should have been an obvious procedural defect in Knight’s demand for Young’s bank records: It did not specifically list the documents sought, so technically requested nothing. “This motion is much ado about nothing,”wrote Judge Currey–all of which leaves the door open for an ongoing, but perhaps much-delayed, probe into Knight’s claim that Young was conspiring to have him killed in connection with a fight over money owed for some high-profile corporate deals.
The ruling slightly cooled the fires under hot legal dispute that got hotter in mid-October. That’s when Knight, who is being sued for his role in the death of Terry Carter near the set of a promotional shoot for Universal’s Straight Outta Compton film in 2015, filed a spectacular counter-claim. It asserted that Young—a producer of the film—had been trying to have him killed in connection with Knight’s demand for hundreds of millions of dollars he was supposedly owed from Young’s film income and $3 billion sale of the Beats company to Apple. When he struck Carter with his truck in the parking lot of Tam’s Burgers No. 21, claimed Knight, he was trying to escape an ambush by armed men working with Dre.
Young’s lawyer, Howard King, strongly challenged Knight’s assertions when the counter-claim was filed. In court on Tuesday a lawyer for the Young team pointed out that he had been dismissed as a party in the original wrongful death complaint; that lawyer also said that the cross-complaint had not yet been served on Young. No lawyer for Knight appeared during the hearing on Tuesday. Judge Currey, for his part, pointed toward a list of strong suggestions he had included in his tentative ruling: He urged, among other things, that the lawyers try to resolve their discovery disputes informally, and that they determine whether Knight intended to waive his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination by proceeding with the lawsuit even as he awaits trial on a related murder case.
By focusing on procedural defects in the records request, Judge Currey avoided any indication of how seriously he takes the underlying death plot claim, which is likely to get a further airing when Knight is tried, probably early next year, on charges of murdering Carter and attempting to murder Cle “Bone” Sloan, who was also injured in the Tam’s incident. That trial was repeatedly delayed as Knight switched counsel and dealt with health problems in jail.
The civil suit against Knight, filed by Carter’s family in 2015, was eventually transferred to the Compton courthouse. That is just a few blocks from Tam’s, where Knight’s encounter with Sloan, Carter and others took place on Jan. 29, 2015, following an argument that began at the nearby base camp for a video that was used in connection with the Straight Outta Compton trailer. The film, directed by F. Gary Gray and released by Universal on Aug. 14 of that year, went on to become a hit with more than $200 million in global ticket sales.
But legal entanglements around the movie have only deepened with Knight’s pending criminal trial, the murder plot accusations in his counter-claim, and a lingering federal lawsuit against Universal and others by Gerald Heller, a now deceased music executive who said he was defamed by the movie. Heller’s lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Central District of California in Los Angeles has been stayed until Jan. 9, while his lawyer, Michael Shapiro, considers a possible substitute plaintiff for Heller, who died on Sept. 2.