Judge admonishes Times managing editor in Simers trial

simers-register-pic.jpgThe T.J. Simers v. Los Angeles Times age discrimination trial is in its fourth week, and in yesterday's session the Times' managing editor Marc Duvoisin was warned by the judge, in TV drama style, to just answer the questions. "Mr. Duvoisin, you have to answer your questions as you are asked," Superior Court Judge William A. MacLaughlin admonished, per the Los Angeles Daily Journal. "We will not allow witnesses to take over the proceeding." Apparently, Duvoisin had been asking questions back and trying to understand the context before answering. Lawyers hate that.

From the Daily Journal, the subscription-only legal paper in LA which looks to be the only media outlet that covered Wednesday's court session:

The judge gave the same lecture the day before to Paula Markgraf, former Los Angeles Times human resources director.

McLaughlin [sic] repeatedly granted the motions to strike that Simers' lawyer, Carney R. Shegerian at Shegerian & Associates Inc., lodged in objection to Duvoisin and Markgraf not directly answering his questions.

At one point, for example, Duvoisin gave an extended analysis of Simers' writing style, describing the plaintiff as "cunning" but asserting, "From time to time he would go too far and a column would be a little too mean-spirited."

The Daily Journal article summarizes that Duvoisin took the witness stand just before 3 p.m. and acknowledged that Simers had glowing performance reviews prior to his collapse in 2013 with complex migraine syndrome. But Duvoisin said that Times editor Davan Maharaj began to have concerns with the "questionable tone" of Simers columns starting in the spring of 2013. Duvoisin was due back today to continue testifying.

The Daily Journal also described some testy exchanges with Markgraf, the paper's former HR director. Shegerian said that Markgraf lied under oath about Simers not informing his bosses about a video project involving then-Laker Dwight Howard. Markgraf called the accusation "insulting."

As the trial has gone on, the meme I hear most often is — how could this have gone to trial? But it's billed as lasting 25 days, and the witnesses have included Tommy Lasorda and Simers. Maharaj was on the witness list. Simers is seeking $18 million in damages, saying the Times discriminated against him due to his age — he is 63 now. The Times says it never demoted or fired him and that he left on his own to join the competing Orange County Register.

stephen-glass.jpgMeanwhile, people observing the trial have said that Simers' legal team includes Stephen Glass, the former magazine writer who was caught fabricating stories for the New Republic and became the subject of the 2003 film "Shattered Glass." He graduated from Georgetown law school and has passed the California bar exam, but the State Supreme Court last year rejected Glass' bid to be admitted to the Bar as a lawyer. He is identified by Carpenter, Zuckerman & Rowley as a non-lawyer trial team coordinator for the law firm. Courtney Rowley is Simers' lead attorney.

Steve Glass is the Director of Special Projects at Carpenter, Zuckerman & Rowley, and has been with the firm since 2004. Steve obtained his undergraduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania where he graduated as a University Scholar. He graduated magna cum laude from Georgetown University’s Law Center where he was one of the John M. Olin student fellows in law and economics. Prior to joining CZ&R, Steve worked for two judges in Washington, D.C. Steve is not licensed to practice law.

According to Nick Rowley, “Steve Glass is one of the best humans in this world. He has been a key member of my trial team for over five years, and many of my successes are very much because of Steve. There is nobody more dedicated and passionate that I know. Steve is honest and trustworthy. In addition, he knows more about the law and works harder than any licensed attorney I know. Steve is one of a kind and irreplaceable.”

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