Probably feeling way too much like The Godfather Part III for his own comfort, Marty Singer was originally in Janice Dickinson’s defamation lawsuit against the much accused Bill Cosby. Then he was out. Now it looks like the Hollywood legal pugilist is back in.
At a hearing yesterday in downtown L.A., a trio of California 2nd District Court of Appeal justices issued a tentative ruling rejecting Cosby’s latest attempts to halt the ex-America’s Next Top Model judge’s now nearly 2 1/2-year-old case. They also rejected a February 9, 2016 ruling by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Debre Weintraub that dropped Singer from the case.
In details familiar to dozens of other allegations against Cosby, Dickinson claims the actor raped her in 1982 in Lake Tahoe. While the statute of limitations prevent criminal charges from being pursued, Dickinson went the civil route based on Cosby’s then-longtime lawyer Singer declaring the incident never happened. He also branded Dickinson a “liar” in November 2014 to media outlets when she brought up the incident. Dickinson formally took the matter to court in May 2015, and in November of that year she filed an amended complaint that named Singer a defendant.
Joined by Justices Elizabeth Grimes and Tricia Bigelow, Justice Lawrence Rubin said during the approximately 40-minute oral argument hearing Thursday that a less definitive denial and attack on Dickinson’s credibility may have stopped any legal action from happening in the first place.
Not that the heavyweight lawyer’s lawyer thinks it will matter much if the tentative ruling is made official.
“If the case returns to the trial court, it will do so only on a procedural technicality,” Jeremy B. Rosen of Horvitz & Levy told Deadline of Singer becoming a party to the matter again. “We are extremely confident that once Mr. Singer has an opportunity to defend himself on the merits of the case, it will again be dismissed.
“Mr. Singer’s statements are absolutely protected by the First Amendment as they simply set forth his opinions regarding the allegations plaintiff made about Mr. Singer’s then client,” Rosen asserted, adding that if need be they’d take the case to the California Supreme Court.
Among the long twists and tails of this matter, which has gone up and down the judicial food chain, Weintraub curtly and seeming definitively pulled the plug on Singer’s involvement last year. “The court finds that the first amended complaint is properly stricken,” the judge said in early 2016.
At the heart of that rejection of the amended complaint was the judge’s contention that Dickinson and her attorneys already were aware of Singer’s remarks before they first filed and should have included him then if at all. Dickinson’s lawyer Lisa Bloom moved that contention to appeal in April last year and hence, after much delay, Thursday’s hearing.
By the time Singer was first dropped from the case, Cosby and the lawyer had parted professional ways in October 2015. It was the first of many lawyers Cosby has since broken ties with, with the separation coming just two months before the actor was charged with three felony charges of second-degree aggravated indecent assault by the Montgomery County District Attorney’s office in Pennsylvania over the 2004 rape of Andrea Constand.
The December 2015 came was just before the Keystone State’s statute of limitations on sex crimes was to expire. Facing up to a decade behind bars, the now 80-year-old Cosby will go to trial again in April on the charges after the first attempt resulted in a mistrial on June 17.
That trial actually saw a cameo of sorts by Singer when a recording of Cosby’s then-lawyer calling Constand’s family home in Canada in 2005 on the actor’s behalf was played in the Norristown, PA courtroom. Coming after Constand’s mother had contacted Cosby very upset after her daughter told her the actor drugged and assaulted her in his Philly-area home in 2004, the lawyer’s upbeat message referred to setting up an “educational fund for Andrea.”