A judge Tuesday ordered the onetime attorney for a now- deceased man who allegedly defamed actor James Woods on Twitter to reveal the true name of his former client, who to this point has been referred to in court papers only by aliases.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Joseph Kalin also directed lawyer Kenneth White to identify the heirs of the defendant, the personal representative of the man’s estate and where he died. He directed that the information be given to Woods’ lawyers within 10 days.
Woods’ lawyers said after the hearing that while they are not conceding that the defendant — identified in court papers only as “Abe List” and “AL” — actually died in August as they have been told, they can research whether the estate has any assets once they obtain his name.
White told the judge the estate would not contest the suit because there are few assets left. He also said he was obligated to force Woods’ lawyers to bring a motion and let a judge decide whether his former client’s identity should be revealed. He said to do so simply upon an informal request would possibly violate the attorney-client privilege, be an invasion of Abe List’s privacy and subject the personal representative to harassment on Twitter by Woods, who White said has about 450,000 followers.
Lawyer Michael Weinsten, on behalf of Woods, said the actor has “sat silent” and will not be bothering anyone.
“My client has not sent out a tweet since the case began,” Weinsten said. “He has no intention of harassing the family.”
White refused to answer questions about Abe List’s name and the circumstances of his client’s death when the lawyer was deposed on Nov. 14, according to court papers filed by Woods’ attorneys, who argued that Abe List lost his right to privacy when and if he died.
Woods filed suit against the defendant in July 2015. The actor says the defendant’s allegations on Twitter that he uses cocaine are false and have hurt his reputation, built during a 45-year Hollywood career.
“I have not now, nor have ever been, a coke fiend or cocaine addict,” the Oscar-nominated actor says in a sworn declaration. “In fact, I have never done cocaine.”
Woods also denied a separate accusation, allegedly made a second person, that he is a sex offender.
Woods, 69, says the false statements have “jeopardized my good name and reputation on an international scale.”
The defendant’s attorneys argued in a motion to dismiss the case that Woods’ lawsuit is “a petulant abuse of the judicial system to punish and suppress speech that upsets him.” Judge Mel Red Recana denied the motion and a defense appeal of the ruling was later dropped after the defendant died.
–City News Service