April 15, 2024

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Eagles' 'Hotel California' lyric case dropped due to new evidence

A criminal case against three collectors and auctioneers drew widespread attention over the bounty they were accused of conspiring to sell — pages of handwritten lyrics penned by the 1970s rock band The Eagles, including the lyrics to their legendary single “Hotel California” — It ended abruptly on Wednesday when New York prosecutors dropped all charges against the defendants in an unexpected collapse.

The Manhattan District Attorney's Office in 2022 charged rock auctioneer Edward Kosinski, rare book dealer Glenn Horowitz, and Former Rock & Roll Hall of Fame curator Craig Inciardi to obtain pages from Eagles manuscripts after they were stolen in the 1970s. Prosecutors accused Kosinski, Horowitz, and Inciardi of conspiring to auction off the manuscripts, valued at more than $1 million, in 2016.

But the trial was turned on its head over the weekend when lawyers for Eagles band leader Don Henley released about 6,000 pages of documents midway through the trial, which defense lawyers said was false testimony by several witnesses they had already questioned and created a hole in state prosecutors. . Prosecutors acknowledged Wednesday that the defense was not given enough time to review the extensive disclosure of new evidence and moved to dismiss the case.

The drama was not lost on New York Supreme Court Justice Curtis Farber, who praised the district attorney's office for “eating a slice of humble pie” while noting that it failed to properly investigate the case before bringing charges.

Lawyers for Kosinski, Horowitz, and Inciardi — all of whom have pleaded not guilty — praised the decision and said their clients should never have been charged.

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“We are pleased that the District Attorney’s Office finally made the right decision and dismissed this case,” Jonathan Bach, Horowitz’s attorney, said in a statement to The Washington Post. “It should never have been brought.”

The Manhattan District Attorney's Office declined to comment beyond his statements in court.

Henley's lawyer, Dan Petrucelli, said in a statement that the result was “unfair,” adding that his client “will assert all of his rights in the civil courts.”

The Eagles' lyric notes were stolen years ago. Now three men face charges.

Manhattan District Attorney's Office in 2022 The alleged one That Kosinski, Horowitz, and Inciardi purchased about 100 pages of the Eagles' manuscripts — which included handwritten notes and Henley's lyrics for songs from the band's 1976 album “Hotel California,” including the title track “Life on the Fast Lane” and “New Kid in Town” — After stealing it. Prosecutors accused the trio of working for years to prevent Henley from recovering the manuscripts and trying to auction them for profit, and accused them of conspiracy and possessing or attempting to possess stolen property.

The three men's lawyers confirmed the trio's innocence at the time. The plot followed as it went He went to trial In late February, Henley revealed details on stage about his career and the origins of the Eagles' most enduring song.

Arguments in the case centered on whether the manuscripts were stolen before Kosinski, Horowitz, and Inciardi obtained them. Defense attorneys said Henley willingly gave the pages to an author hired to write a biography of the band, who then passed the pages to Horowitz. Henley responded that they were initially given under a book contract that stipulated that the notes remained the property of the Eagles. The author has not been charged.

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Defense attorneys said Kosinski, Horowitz, and Inciardi were never told about the contract, and questioned why Henley's attorneys did not inform them of the contract and instead viewed the theft as burglary when they wrote in 2012 to the defendants to demand the return of the manuscripts. “Bach said.

The trial was turned upside down on Saturday, Bach said, when defense attorneys suddenly received thousands of pages of previously undisclosed documents, including attorney-client communications. They were released late after Henley suddenly revoked attorney-client privilege before testimony from one of his attorneys. Henley had previously used attorney-client privilege to withhold information when the defense cross-examined other attorneys, before changing course.

That led to the sudden release of a large amount of material that contradicted the testimony of the first two attorneys, said Stacy Richman, Inciardi's attorney. She said the script was like something out of a crime drama.

“Every time we turned a page, we were like, ‘What? Oh my God.’ That’s revealing,” Richman said.

Bach said in court on Monday that newly unsealed documents indicate that Henley's lawyers acknowledged that the contract was central to the case. He added that the first two lawyers testified that they did not believe the contract was important when they explained why they did not cite it while demanding the return of the manuscripts.

Bach argued that he and his colleagues were denied the opportunity to cross-examine previous witnesses about the reams of new material and asked for a mistrial. He said the situation left the lawyers of both parties stunned.

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“All of the defense attorneys at the trial pointed out that it was unprecedented in their collective experience,” Bach told The Washington Post, adding that prosecutors said the same thing.

Prosecutors initially objected to the request, but acknowledged Wednesday that defense attorneys were not given the opportunity to review late disclosures and moved to dismiss the case, according to court transcripts. Farber, the judge in the case, concluded that Henley used attorney-client privilege to evade thorough questioning and criticized the district attorney's office for failing to thoroughly investigate the case before bringing charges.

“I applaud the prosecution for refusing to allow further manipulation of itself or the courts for anyone's personal gain,” Farber said.