Friday, January 14, 2005

Gone Hollywood II

Rick Siegel (ricks at of Marathon Entertainment writes:

I started 2005 out in a rather unique way: last Wednesday I told the California State Victims Board that the California State Labor Commission has damaged me and my business with real, direct, consequential and punitive damages in excess of $20,000,000 (twenty million dollars).

Here’s the backstory...

Most of you know I have spent much of the last three years trying to get paid for the work I did as a personal manager for clients who first made millions of dollars then chose not to remit commissions.

And that the State of California has been integral in keeping me from that money; claiming that since I helped my clients’ succeed, I was not a personal manager but an unlicensed talent agent.

Currently, I have two cases in the appellate system to be heard sometime later this year. My defense will be that as they affect personal managers, the Talent Agencies Act statutes are incorrectly, unfairly and unconstitutionally incorporated.

But the first stop in the legal process was the State Labor Commission. I had the same hearing officer for three different cases, and in all three the officer refused to consider the legal and constitutional issues, saying that the Commission only enforced, not interpreted law. Further, the officer refused our request to stay the proceedings until I could be heard in a proper forum. Together, these actions robbed me of my civil rights of due process.

I’ve watched enough LAW AND ORDER episodes to know enforcement bodies like the police, or in this case the Labor Commission, have the dual responsibilities to punish wrongdoers and ensure those who have not done wrong do not get punished.

In this instance, they did just the opposite. In its determinations, the Commission relied on three different case law precedents. Had the Commission been willing to consider my assertions, they would have learned that one of those precedents is antique and inapplicable, another is a Judicial Error resulting from an attorney’s untrue assertion, and in the third case, about the Statute of Limitations, the Courts confuse which party has the right to use the time limit as a defense.

In an effort to mitigate the damage their actions had caused, I recently asked the Labor Commission to consider writing a ‘friend of the court’ letter (an amicus brief) for my appeals cases outlining that, a year later, now that they have heard and considered my issues, these precedents should not be used. Anne Stevenson, the Commission’s chief counsel, turned down that request; not because she thought my assertions were incorrect, but because by writing the letter they would be admitting to past mistakes. I wrote back that I was saddened they were more concerned with how their past actions might be interpreted then the opportunity to ensure that others will not be compromised from here forward.

My confidence in the correctness of this effort has not wavered; just the opposite, in many ways, this is a day of celebration for managers. Informing the State of its victimizing policies leaves the Labor Commission a classic Hobson’s choice: the enforcement body will risk adding to its potential liability if it does not stop using the inapplicable precedents, and without them, no ex-clients will be able to use the Commission as a way to avoid paying their managers.

If you know anyone currently being compromised by an ex-client, please put them in touch with me. It will help. If you have any way to help, especially in finding ways to publicize this situation, please let me know.

And finally, I used to think anyone who wrote they’d been given the greatest gift in the love and support of their wife was just sucking up, but that was before I was married. If not for my wife’s patience, humor and understanding, I would not have the strength for this. I wish everyone what I have, though not necessarily with my wife.