2:22pm PT by Austin Siegemund-Broka
Anthony Pellicano Back in Court, Agrees to Deposition in Michael Ovitz Case
Anthony Pellicano made a rare appearance in court via teleconference Wednesday to discuss Anita Busch's case against him and other defendants.
The former Hollywood private investigator spoke from prison with Busch's lawyer, Evan Marshall, and Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Elihu Berle about whether he would give a deposition in Busch's lawsuit. The case stems from an infamous June 2002 incident in which Busch, an entertainment journalist, found a dead fish with a rose in its mouth and a note that read "Stop" on her car windshield. It was revealed that Pellicano ordered the intimidation attempt, but who bears responsibility for Pellicano's actions is one subject of Busch's ongoing lawsuit.
Busch's lawsuit names Hollywood executive Michael Ovitz, the City of Los Angeles, and Ovitz's former law firm Gorry Meyer & Rudd among its defendants alongside Pellicano.
In 2008, in a separate criminal matter, Pellicano was sentenced to 15 years in prison on charges including illegal firearms possession and conspiracy to commit wiretapping.
Pellicano has agreed to waive any right against self-incrimination that might result from giving a deposition in Busch's lawsuit, but the parties will wait until the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals addresses Pellicano's arguments that he should be released from prison. Last year, the former private eye told the federal appeals court the government had failed to introduce sufficient evidence to support its racketeering claims. Having already served enough jail time to cover the non-racketeering offenses, he is now demanding to be let out of a Texas detention facility.
Whether Pellicano will give a deposition in the Busch case depends upon the outcome. If the appeal results in a retrial of the case, Pellicano's deposition may be delayed. Marshall said Wednesday he hopes a retrial will not hold up the deposition. "The case cannot go on forever like this," he told The Hollywood Reporter after the conference.
In the meantime, Busch's other targets attempt to beat claims against them.
In April, Ovitz failed to get the judge to hand him summary judgment on his argument that Busch had waited too long to target him. Busch filed her lawsuit in May 2004, alleging that Pellicano and "John Does" had committed infliction of emotional distress, assault, privacy invasion and other torts. In November 2006, the lawsuit was amended to substitute Ovitz's name for one of the Does. The judge ruled that amendment was timely enough.
Now, Ovitz's former law firm of Gorry Meyer & Rudd has filed a motion of summary judgment to remove itself from the case. The firm is claiming it had no involvement in Ovitz's hiring of Pellicano with regard to Busch. "To the contrary, Ovitz admits that he personally hired and paid Pellicano to investigate Busch," the firm's lawyers, Andrew Waxler and Danielle Sokol of Waxler Carner Brodosky, write in the June 20 filing.
In a declaration of support for the motion, Ovitz agrees that he never paid Pellicano through the firm to investigate the journalist.
The former Disney president is said to have issued three $25,000 checks to Pellicano through Gorry Meyer, but the summary judgment motion states the payments were for legal matters unrelated to Busch. They were not for the unlawful DMV and criminal record searches on her that Pellicano had LAPD officer Mark Arneson conduct two days later, the motion maintains.
The filing includes testimony from Ovitz in which he admits to paying Pellicano an additional $75,000 personally in 2002. Gorry Meyer holds that this payment was for "obtaining embarrassing information" about Busch.
Ovitz is still due to defend himself against Busch's claims at a trial sometime in the future.