Roger Ailes Beefs Up Legal Team to Fight Gretchen Carlson

The Fox News CEO's new lawyers aim to have the case first moved to New York and then to arbitration.
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Roger Ailes' legal team now includes the general counsel of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences as well as the former campaign manager for Michael Dukakis' 1988 presidential run. 

On Friday, attorneys John B. Quinn and Susan Estrich made their first move on behalf of Ailes, who is facing allegations of discriminating against former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson. They filed papers aimed at first moving the legal battle from New Jersey to New York, and then having the case proceed in arbitration.

The latest court filings don't reveal much new about the dispute that erupted when Carlson's Fox News contract was not renewed. Carlson alleges she was let go from the cable network on June 23 as retaliation for rebuffing Ailes' sexual advances, while the Fox News CEO asserts she's trying to tar his reputation and is dodging contractual obligations by having this dispute litigated in open court.

But the lawyers working on behalf of Ailes are themselves notable.

Quinn is the founding partner of Quinn Emanuel, represented Mattel in bruising litigation over the Bratz line of dolls, and since 1987 has been the top lawyer for the organization that puts on the Academy Awards. 

Estrich was the first female president of the Harvard Law Review, the first woman to head a national presidential campaign and is the author of Real Rape, which is described as focusing on the law's casual treatment of rape cases. She's also been a frequent political commentator on Fox News.

In a memorandum aimed at moving the case to New York, Ailes' attorneys talk about how the complained-about conduct happened there and that the sole cause of action arises under a New York law. The defendant also filed court papers today in New York in support of a petition to compel arbitration.

Courts are generally deferential to agreements to arbitrate — ask Tom Brady — but the wrinkle in this case is that Carlson's arbitration agreement is with Fox News, which is not a defendant. Ailes is arguing that Carlson's lawyers are slyly attempting to avoid arbitration and this type of gamesmanship shouldn't be allowed.

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