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Festina Lente, Not Semper Fi*

Apr
15
2004

I’m 3,000 or so miles away right now so maybe when John Keker gets back in to town – he lives about a block and a half away – he won’t glare at me over his little half-glasses with the same enthusiasm he’d display if I were standing outside Courtroom 101 at 40 Center Street in New York City.
So, I can crack wise: Mr. Keker, you don’t know jack about the New York press. Actually, make that less than jack. I thought so last fall when I was there. I am sure of it now.


Because if you did understand the press – the New York press — you would never have started this pissing match with them by asking for an anonymous jury. The courthouse press warmed up its lawyers on Martha Stewart — they’re on stand-by now — and when it comes to access, public records and documents and information, we are and always will be as one: an immovable, implacable force, empowered by 1st Amendment. It ain’t California, baby. New York is a media town and the media don’t like to lose.
Furthermore, Mr. Keker, Judge Richard Owen doesn’t like you. He does not like your client, Frank Quattrone. But the judge dislikes even more the idea that The New York Times is gonna make fun of him or somehow show him to be off his game. And guess who’s gonna win in this three-way? That’s right. The judge. Oh, yeah, and the press. In New York, in particular, they – we – always win.
If Keker et al wanted a low-key trial that would slip below the Tyco and Stewart radar, they got precisely what they didn’t want with this last round. Judge Owen is an old man. He worries about his reputation. And well, when The New York Times calls its lawyers to, in essence, defend The New York Post and the Wall Street Journal, it’s bad. You have bitten off more than you can chew, Mr. Keker. Swallow hard.
*Bonus Points to the reader who can properly identify the reason — or maybe that’s the sources — for the Latin headline. Brooke?

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