Russian Firm’s Lawyers Lash Out At Judge For Scolding Them In Open Court

ST PETERSBURG, RUSSIA - AUGUST 9, 2016: Concord Catering general director Yevgeny Prigozhin at a meeting of Russian and Turkish government officials and business leaders. Mikhail Metzel/TASS (Photo by Mikhail MetzelT... ST PETERSBURG, RUSSIA - AUGUST 9, 2016: Concord Catering general director Yevgeny Prigozhin at a meeting of Russian and Turkish government officials and business leaders. Mikhail Metzel/TASS (Photo by Mikhail MetzelTASS via Getty Images) MORE LESS
January 8, 2019 3:41 p.m.

The lawyers for a Russian firm accused of backing internet trolling in the 2016 election used a scheduling inquiry from a federal judge to lash out at the judge for scolding them in court earlier this week.

In a court filing from Concord Management’s lawyers Tuesday, the lawyers implied that the judge’s comments were to blame for death threats lobbed against them.

“[T]he Court did not consider the fact that while the mainstream media has largely ignored Defendant’s pending motions, when the word ‘Judge’ appears before a person’s name, this political adornment suggests to the public that there now is
some higher level of wisdom than among the mere mortal lawyers in the case, and as such, every single mainstream media organization repeated the Court’s words as gospel,” the filing said. “The direct consequence was swift and clear; that is, undersigned counsel have received overnight and continuing today a flow of hatred in the form of voicemail and electronic mail from selfproclaimed patriots containing threats, intimidation, and the desire that both undersigned counsel promptly die.”

Lawyers for Concord Management — a company run by a Kremlin ally Yevgeny Prigozhin (pictured above) — got a tongue lashing Monday from U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich for their “unprofessional” and “ineffective” court filings that used “clever quotes” from movies to bash special counsel Robert Mueller. A Concord Management court filing Friday had used an obscene quote from “Animal House” to call into question Mueller’s trustworthiness.

Concord Management is among the Russian entities and individuals indicted by Mueller’s grand jury last February, and the only defendant in the case to show up in court to fight the charges.

Freidrich, in calling Monday’s hearing, had sought to deal with a discovery dispute in the case, in addition to give the lawyers a public dressing down.

“For a reason unknown to undersigned counsel, the Court took it upon itself to defend the Special Counsel, creating at a minimum an appearance of bias or prejudice in favor of the government,” Tuesday’s filing said, while citing an opinion written by Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh when he was an appellate judge.

Per Concord’s filing Tuesday, the lawyers had told her they weren’t prepared to participate in the hearing over the dispute, which was to occur in private after the public was kicked out of the courtroom Monday, and Freidrich asked they provide their availabilities Tuesday.

While confirming they were available at the court’s convenience, the lawyers criticized the judge for calling Monday’s hearing without giving them time to prepare and for making such a fuss about the tone of their previous court filings.

The filing said that among the death threats the lawyers received was one “communication” that “specified that the cause of death for Ms. Seikaly should be by fire,” referring to lawyer Katherine Seikaly.

“Apparently some of these brave self-proclaimed patriots were whipped into their frenzy by a cable television entertainer unknown to undersigned counsel named Rachel Maddow who devoted a significant portion of her variety program to the words spoken by the Court yesterday,” the filing said. “So while counsel’s words used in advocacy can hurt, the words of a Judge can have devastating consequences.”

Read the full filing below:

The TPM Journalism Fund: A New Way To Support TPM
We're launching the TPM Journalism Fund as an additional way for readers and members to support TPM. Every dollar contributed goes toward:
  • -Hiring More Journalists
  • -Providing free memberships to those who cannot afford them
  • -Supporting independent, non-corporate journalism
Are you experiencing financial hardship?
Apply for a free community-supported membership
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Senior Editor:
Special Projects Editor:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front-End Developer:
Senior Designer: