The last time we checked in on the Erica Kinsman v. Jameis Winston lawsuit things had gotten a bit heated. Words were said. Insults may or may not have been exchanged. Let’s be more to the point: Jameis Winston’s attorneys flat-out called Kinsman a liar in a no-holds-barred “preliminary statement” filed in the public records of the Court with their Answer and Counter-Claims. Since then we’ve seen even more intrigue. Let’s dive in.
The Bar Complaint:
Apparently the attorneys for Erica Kinsman have filed a bar complaint in Georgia against Jameis Winston’s attorney, David Cornwell. This is a dick move, to put it mildly, but not an uncommon move in high-stakes litigation among litigious parties.
While we can’t actually get a copy of the bar complaint that Kinsman’s attorneys filed with the Georgia Bar, we know about it due to an affidavit filed in the Kinsman v. Winston case by the attorney that Cornwell hired to represent him in the bar complaint proceeding. That’s right, attorneys hiring attorneys. Here’s a copy of the affidavit.
The reason that Cornwell’s attorney filed this affidavit is this: Cornwell is appearing pro hac vice in Florida on behalf of Jameis Winston. Pro hac vice is latin for “for this time or occasion” and is a way courts of other jurisdictions allow attorneys from different places to practice law there without applying to the state bar association and taking (and passing) the bar exam. Cornwell isn’t licensed in Florida’s Middle District, so he asked the court to let him appear pro hac vice on behalf of his client for this one case.
When a court is considering whether or not to allow an attorney from another jurisdiction to appear pro hac vice, they typically look at that attorney’s disciplinary history. When he applied, Cornwell said he didn’t have any disciplinary proceedings pending against him, which was technically true.
A bar complaint isn’t the same as a disciplinary proceeding, which can usually only be initiated by the bar itself or by the state’s highest court. Kinsman’s attorneys must have pulled Cornwell’s pro hac vice application, saw he didn’t disclose that they had filed a bar complaint, and said “gotcha!” and then went and complained to the judge.
I wouldn’t expect too much to come from this. Most judges, especially federal judges, have limited time and less patience to dedicate to attorneys bitch-slapping each other.
The Motion to Dismiss Winston’s Counter-Claims:
You may remember that Winston filed three counter-claims against Kinsman:
- Defamation per se; and
- Tortious interference with business prospects.
Kinsman has moved to dismiss those counter-claims. Here’s a copy of her Motion to Dismiss.
She is basically arguing that the counts are too old, since Florida has what’s called a “single publication” rule. This rule means that the statute of limitations begins to run from the time the statement is first made. Since Kinsman made the first made the defamatory statement (Jameis raped me) back in 2012 to the Tallahassee Police Department, the two-year statute of limitations has already run, or so the argument goes.
She is also claiming that she is immune from suit under the First Amendment’s “petition clause,” basically claiming that she can’t be sued for defamation for making a statement to a governmental authority for a redress of grievances. We’ll see how her arguments pan out. For now, at least, I’d expect some more filings with the court and more nasty and heated arguments.