The attorney whose courtroom behavior was in question during his recent copyright-infringement lawsuit trial against Led Zeppelin has been suspended from practicing law for his misconduct in another high-profile copyright case.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Francis Malofiy’s suspension of three months and a day from practicing in Pennsylvania, stemming from his actions in a 2014 infringement trial against R&B singer Usher, was upheld by an appellate panel Thursday.
A three-judge district court panel had found in 2015 that, during an infringement trial over Usher’s song “Bad Girl,” Malofiy tricked an unrepresented co-defendant, William Guice, into signing an affidavit without consulting a lawyer by hiding that their relationship was adversarial in nature.
The jury ruled in favor of Usher in that case. Following the trial, Judge Paul Diamond issued the suspension and ordered Malofiy to pay $28,000 in court costs. The attorney appealed, countering that he didn’t break the rules and, even if he did, the punishment was too harsh.
Maloify’s conduct during the Led Zeppelin trial — in which the band was accused of lifting the familiar acoustic guitar opening of its iconic “Stairway to Heaven” from “Taurus,” a 1968 instrumental by the band Spirit — was controversial. During the six-day trial, the attorney accumulated more than 100 sustained objections and multiple admonishments from Judge R. Gary Klausner, The Hollywood Reporter notes.
A jury ruled in favor of Led Zeppelin on June 23. Following the verdict, Malifoy said he lost on a technicality and hinted at an appeal.
While Malofiy’s suspension is in Pennsylvania, it could affect his work in California as well, because his admittance to the bar in that state depends on him being in good standing in another jurisdiction.
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