April 20, 2024

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Charges dropped in Eagles Hotel California lyric trial

Charges dropped in Eagles Hotel California lyric trial

NEW YORK (AP) — New York prosecutors abruptly dropped their criminal case midway through the trial Wednesday against three men charged with conspiracy to possess… A cache of handwritten words to “Hotel California” and other Eagles songs.

Assistant Manhattan District Attorney Aaron Jenandez informed the judge at 10 a.m. that prosecutors would no longer pursue the case, citing newly available emails that defense lawyers said raised questions about the fairness of the trial. The trial has been ongoing since late February.

The communications group only came to light when Eagles star Don Henley decided last week to waive attorney-client privilege, after he and other prosecution witnesses had already testified. The defense said the new disclosures raised questions it was unable to ask.

In dismissing the case, Judge Curtis Farber said that “the witnesses and their attorneys” used attorney-client privilege “to obscure and conceal information they believed would be damaging.”

The case centered on nearly 100 pages of legal pad created by the classic rock giant. The 1976 album “Hotel California” is ranked as the best Third largest seller of all time in the US, thanks in large part to the strength of the smoothly troubling and rousing title track about a place where “you can check out anytime you want, but you can never leave.”

The defendants were three well-established figures in the collectibles world: rare book dealer Glenn Hurwitz, former Rock and Roll Hall of Fame trustee Craig Inciardi, and rock memorabilia salesman Edward Kosinski.

Prosecutors said the men knew the pages had a questionable chain of ownership, but promoted them anyway, planning to fabricate a provenance that would gain favor with auction houses and avoid demands to return the documents to Eagles co-founder Don Henley.

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The defendants have pleaded not guilty to the charges against them, including conspiracy to criminally possess stolen property. Through their lawyers, the men confirmed that they were the rightful owners of the pages, which had not been stolen.

“We are pleased that the District Attorney’s Office finally made the right decision to drop this case. It should never have been brought,” Horowitz’s attorney, Jonathan Bach, said outside court.

Horowitz embraced his tearful family members, but he did not comment as he left court, nor did Inciardi.

Dan Petrucelli, Henley's current attorney, said in an emailed statement that the attorney-client privilege that once protected some communications “is a fundamental guardrail in our judicial system” and should rarely be abandoned.

“As the victim in this case, Mr. Henley once again fell victim to this unfair outcome,” Petrocelli said. He will demand all his rights before the civil courts.”

The defense asserted that Henley gave the documents decades ago to a writer who worked on a biography of Eagles that was never published, and who later sold the handwritten papers to Horowitz. He in turn sold them to Inciardi and Kosinski, who began putting some of the pages up for auction in 2012.

Henley, who only realized they were missing when they were put up for sale, reported them stolen. to attest that during the trial he allowed the clerk to look over the documents for research but he “never gave them away or gave them to any person to keep or sell.”

The writer has not been accused of any crime and has not taken a position. He did not respond to messages related to the trial.

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In a letter to the court, Attorney General Jenandez said the waiver of attorney-client privilege resulted in the late production of approximately 6,000 pages of material.

“These late disclosures revealed relevant information that the defense should have had the opportunity to explore during cross-examination of the people’s witnesses,” Jenandez wrote.