Courtney Love's Legal Nemesis Seeks to Force Frances Bean Cobain Testimony

Frances Bean Cobain and Courtney Love - H 2012
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The lawsuit alleging that Courtney Love defamed one of her former lawyers on Twitter has taken another strange twist.

Late last month, Rhonda Holmes' law firm served a deposition subpoena on Love's daughter, Frances Bean Cobain, hoping to follow up on comments that Cobain has made in the press about her mother's behavior. The law firm also sought sealed documents in Cobain's old guardianship proceedings.

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The subpoena triggered angry letters back and forth between Cobain's legal counsel and Frederic Gordon, Holmes' law partner.

Cobain, 19, insists she knows nothing relevant to Holmes' defamation lawsuit against Love. Cobain says that in 2010, when Love tweeted about Gordon, she was in the custody of her grandmother and aunt and had no contact with her mother or any knowledge about the tweets in question. She now is seeking a protective order against the deposition and looking to sanction Gordon & Holmes.

The case has been provocative from the start.

Love is on the verge of becoming the first celebrity to stand trial in the U.S. for statements made on Twitter. This actually is the second time she's been sued over an alleged defamatory tweet. The first lawsuit, brought by a fashion designer, promised to explore the boundaries of fact versus opinion in a casual setting like Twitter and what damages would look like when millions of people are exposed to a possibly libelous comment. On the eve of trial, the case settled.

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But Love couldn't stay away from Twitter and is now facing allegations that she defamed her former attorney by tweeting, "I was f---ing devastated (sic) when Rhonda J Holmes Esq of San Diego was bought off."

The lawsuits haven't stopped Love's social media habits.

In April, in response to yet more curious tweets sent out by Love, Cobain released a statement that said in part, "Twitter should ban my mother."

Gordon & Holmes now wants Cobain to submit to a videotaped deposition to be used in the ongoing tweet-defamation case over a "variety of statements [made by Cobain] reported in the media regarding the defendant."

That has drawn a response from Cobain's attorney, Bryan Freedman, who ironically is the same lawyer who pursued Love in the first tweet-defamation case. In the motion for a protective order, Freedman writes that what Gordon & Holmes is seeking is "inadmissible and nondiscoverable character evidence regarding Love" and that Gordon admitted as much during the meet-and-confer process.

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Freedman says he was told by the other attorney, "I am somewhat surprised that you believe that the defendant's habitual defamatory remarks regarding multiple individuals would somehow not be relevant to the four corners of this litigation."

On behalf of Cobain, Freedman also is seeking to protect against the production of documents in what the plaintiffs have called "emancipation" proceedings. (Love reportedly lost control of her daughter in court in a 2009 custody battle and also lost publicity rights connected to her late husband, Kurt Cobain, to her daughter.)

A judge soon will decide whether to issue a protective order and accept the teenager's word that contact between mother and daughter had gone cold in 2010.

Recently, that same judge allowed the attorney representing Love to withdraw from the case after he reported a "complete breakdown" in client communications. Should he have tried Twitter?


Twitter: @eriqgardner