Diary of a Doors Drama
W E E K F O U R
Monday, July 19, 2004 John and his wife Leslie were in court today, as was Courson granddaughter Emily. The jurors were brought in at 9:45 and Mr. Todd Gray was sworn in as the witness. Mr. Gray is the producer of the official Doors site at www.thedoors.com, as well as the band's photo archivist. He is an associate professor of digital imaging at a local university. Mr. Gray explained that as producer of the website, he hires and supervises all subcontractors. He also supplies photo services for The Doors.
Under questioning from Mr. Mandel, Mr. Gray explained a major renovation to the site that was undertaken in summer 2002, including re-design of graphics, coding architecture, and visuals. The site was rendered more user-friendly, and entails a history of the band with individual pages for all four band members; a link to buy merchandise; a discography; short video and music pieces; a message board; news updates; and a link for Bright Midnight Records. Regarding the message board, Mr. Gray said that it is run by a handful of administrators who volunteer; their guidelines include that nothing hateful, and no threats of violence, are allowed.
Mr. Gray was questioned by both Mr. Mandel and Mr. Forer about updates made to the site pursuant to the Harley Davidson show in Fontana and subsequent shows. The direct examinations were done at 11:50, and defense counsel Mr. William Briggs took over. We learned that Mr. Gray has been a huge fan since the 60s, and saw The Doors perform at the Hollywood Bowl (lucky guy!). Mr. Gray explained digital imaging to the jury, and answered questions about type fonts.
After the noon to 1:30 lunch break, a late juror return delayed resumption of cross-examination for 15 minutes. Home pages of several Doors tribute bands were shown, and comparisons were made of the similarities between them and the official site. Mr. Briggs finished at 2:00, followed by Mr. Mandel returning for a quick re-direct, a quick re-direct by Mr. Forer, and one more quick turn by Mr. Briggs. Mr. Gray was surprised when Judge Alarcon asked the jurors if they had any questions of the witness. They did not, and he was excused by 2:10.
After a lengthy sidebar, the jury began viewing portions of Ray Manzarek's videotaped deposition from April 2004, with questioning by Mr. Mandel. Ray outlined his educational background as well as the various public performances he has done, such as with Nite City and with Michael McClure. He recited the books and short stories he has authored, and enumerated the recordings done with other than The Doors, such as Golden Scarab, The Whole Thing Started ...., Carmina Burana, Love Lion with McClure, two LPs with Nite City, and his spoken word double CD, Myth & Reality.
Ray's videotaped deposition continued after the afternoon break from 2:40 to 3:10. Questions in the deposition covered topics such as the commercial opportunities that have been offered to The Doors over the years, and the formation of the band that would play at Fontana in September 2002. The videotaped deposition was stopped at 4:25 and will be continued Tuesday morning.
Some of the upcoming witnesses scheduled are Rear Admiral Morrison and attorney Reisman on Wednesday; trademark attorney Michael Grace on Thursday; graphic designer Tommy Gear on Friday (morning session only); Stewart Copeland next Monday, 7/26; Anthony DeCurtis next Tuesday, 7/27; and Bill Siddons and Rich Linnell, next Wednesday, 7/28.
Tuesday, July 20, 2004 John was in court today. The jurors were brought in at 10:10 after the attorneys argued some points regarding upcoming testimony and witnesses. The first order of business was to finish watching portions of Ray's videotaped deposition from April 2004, which included topics such as partnership agreements, commercial opportunities, and artwork & logos.
Rear Admiral Morrison and a young couple arrived about 10:30. During the quick morning break from 11 to 11:10, I learned that this was the Morrisons' granddaughter, Tristin and her husband, Dave.
The next planned videotaped deposition was supposed to be that of Mr. Steven Bassett, but due to a technical glitch, the video could not be played. Instead, at 11:40 plaintiff attorney Mr. Jeffrey Forer, who represents the Morrison family, took to the witness chair and read Mr. Bassett's testimony, as Mr. Mandel read the questions asked from the transcript.
Mr. Bassett is a producer at Bill Young Productions, a Texas company that supplies designs for admats, e-cards, radio and TV ads, and print advertising pieces to promoters. An admat is a generic ad to which promoters add details such as show times, dates, venues; on-sale info, ticket prices, etc. for specific shows.
Lunch break was noon to 1:35; Mr. Morrison, Tristin and Dave returned for the afternoon session, which continued with the Bassett deposition re-enactment. During the deposition, Mr. Bassett answered questions about the various admats prepared in the time frame since the Harley shows, and the evolution of the artwork used. More technical problems brought an early afternoon break from 2:10 to 2:35, and then it was back to the Bassett testimony until 3:25. Several minutes of audio clips were presented by the defense team, which finished by 3:30.
Attorneys held a sidebar while the next deposition had some editing done, and that began playing at 3:40. This April 2004 taped deposition was from a gentleman deemed to be the person most knowledgeable for Clear Channel Arrow FM in Texas. Mr. Skinner is Director of Rock Promotions & Marketing for Clear Channel in Houston, and is in charge of promotions and marketing for three rock stations there. Although Mr. Skinner did not attend either of the 2003 D21C shows at Houston's Verizon, he was involved in the promotions which included on-air spots, on-site broadcasting, and ticket giveaways. The gremlins were working overtime today, because more technical glitches ensued. The balance of Mr. Skinner's deposition will be played tomorrow.
In the meantime, the plaintiffs' attorneys switched to a November 2003 videotaped deposition given by Mr. Tom Vitorino. In the portions played for the jury, Mr. Vitorino answered questions about his involvement with the band members; the origin of the Harley Davidson offer to play; upcoming shows and tours that were booked or pending at that time; and his involvement with business activities. The video was stopped at 4:25, and will conclude tomorrow.
Planned for Wednesday's session are the rest of selected portions of Tom Vitorino's deposition, and testimonies from attorney Hurwitz and Rear Admiral Morrison.
Wednesday, July 21, 2004 John and his wife Leslie were in court today. Because the other hearings which are scheduled before the 9:30 trial start time ran late, the jurors were not brought in until 10:00. Jim's sister Anne and her daughter, Tristin, entered the room as the testimony was beginning. Mr. Jeff Forer, counsel for the Morrison family, conducted the direct examination of today's witness, Mr. Mark Hurwitz. Mr. Hurwitz has been an attorney since 1962, and first represented Pam in 1971 to handle matters for her after Jim's death. After Pam moved to Sausalito, CA, Mr. Hurwitz had no further business dealings with her.
Mr. Hurwitz was hired by the Courson family in 1991 to represent them locally on issues dealing with The Doors and the partnerships. Another attorney, Ms. Roberta Cairney, was already representing the Coursons on intellectual property matters. Mr. Hurwitz answered questions related to business deals such as licensing, contracts, merchandising, proposals, and commercial offers in which he represented the Courson interest.
Rear Admiral Morrison arrived during the morning break from 11:00 to 11:25, and was expected to testify later today. Just before the lunch break at noon, a tall young man took a seat in the courtroom. When court resumed at 1:40 p.m., he was with the Morrison family: Rear Admiral Morrison, Anne, and Anne's daughter, Tristin. I spoke to him later during the afternoon break (2:55 to 3:20), and learned that he is Anne's son and Tristin's brother, Sefton.
Mr. Hurwitz resumed his spot in the witness chair after lunch, and direct examination by Mr. Forer continued until 2:00. There was testimony about relationships and communications between the band members, Jim's heirs, and their representatives; trademarks; and the Coursons' knowledge of events surrounding Ray's and Robby's plans to tour as The Doors.
Mr. William Briggs began his cross-examination at 2:00, focusing on Mr. Hurwitz's personal knowledge and understanding of the partnership agreements. Mr. Briggs questioned Mr. Hurwitz extensively about trademarks, about the band's iconic logo, and about commercial opportunities that have been offered. Mr. Briggs continued questioning Mr. Hurwitz right up until 4:25, when the jurors were excused for the day.
Thursday's court session will begin at 9:30 with Mr. Briggs continuing his cross-examination of Mr. Hurwitz. When that is completed, Rear Admiral Morrison will be called as the next witness. As time allows, a representative from a local L.A. radio station may appear, or the jury will resume viewing portions of the videotaped deposition of Mr. Tom Vitorino which they began viewing yesterday afternoon.
Thursday, July 22, 2004 John was unable to attend today's court session, but his wife Leslie and their son were there. The Courson grandchildren, Emily and James, were also in the courtroom when the jurors came in at 9:45. Attorney Mark Hurwitz was back in the witness chair to continue cross-examination by defense counsel, Mr. William Briggs, with questioning that included topics of partnership and merchandising agreements.
Rear Admiral Morrison arrived at 10:00 with his son Andy, and Anne's husband, Randy. Mrs. Morrison arrived about 10:50 with Anne and Anne's daughter, Tristin. It was an amazing sensation to be sitting in the same room with Jim's mother, father, sister, brother, and niece!
During the morning break from 10:55 to 11:25, the Morrison family showed me an editorial that had been in the July 1st issue of London's The Times. The topic was a widely reported story about the state of Utah filing a $14 million lawsuit against the Boy Scouts of America. What was unique is that Jim Morrison's name was mentioned in the article. I did not write down the entire editorial, but I did copy the paragraph that included the mention of Jim. read it
Mr. Briggs finished his cross-examination of the witness at 11:35, and Mr. Jeffrey Forer returned to re-direct for a few minutes. Mr. Hurwitz represents the Courson family on estate and partnership matters; Mr. Forer asked Mr. Hurwitz to tell the jury why the Coursons were not in court. Mr. Hurwitz explained that Mr. Courson has been in intensive care for over a month, had been in a coma until two days ago, has had a tracheotomy and feeding tube and been unable to speak. Mrs. Courson is staying at his side during this critical time.
Mr. Briggs returned for a few more questions, then Mr. Hurwitz was excused at 11:40. Rear Admiral Morrison took the stand and was sworn in at 11:40. Mr. Forer led his client through questioning that established his age, his marriage to Clara (62 years!!), and how many children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren they have.
Mr. Morrison listed his education and military background: he graduated high school in 1937, and from the Naval Academy in 1941. As he named some areas of the world he served in, we learned he was at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 assigned to the U.S.S. Pruitt - a minelayer which was there for maintenance. He served in the Falkland Islands and the Aleutian Islands, and eventually returned to Florida for flight training. He was serving in Vietnam in the beginning of that conflict in the Tonkin Gulf. He finished his career in Guam as Commander of Naval Forces, and he retired after 38 years of service as a Rear Admiral. There was a lot more, I just couldn't write fast enough to catch it all.
Following notice of Pam's death, he contracted attorneys to represent him and was awarded one-half of Jim's estate, which was one-quarter of The Doors partnership including royalties, partnerships, and investments.
Following the lunch break from noon to 1:35, Rear Admiral Morrison was back on the stand. The late return of a juror delayed proceedings from starting until almost 1:45. Mr. Forer resumed questioning on matters of the partnerships, unanimity agreements, and The Doors of the 21st Century. At 1:50, Mr. Forer finished and Mr. Briggs began his cross-examination, starting by commending Mr. Morrison on his service to our country, as his own father had done. Mr. Briggs' questions touched on Jim's anti-war sentiments, and his own and the other band members' feelings for Jim. Mr. Morrison stated that although he had never attended a Doors concert, he listened to the music and was proud of his son's reputation. After a few more questions about Mr. Morrison's understanding of the partnerships and his relationship with the band members, Mr. Briggs finished at 2:00 and the Admiral was excused.
Next up was Mr. Michael Grace, who was there under subpoena. Mr. Grace gave his educational background, work history and credentials, and explained his law practice as specializing in intellectual property rights, defined as the rights to use intangible property such as trademarks and names. In his practice, Mr. Grace has represented many bands and musical groups in matters of trademark rights, protecting their names, attempting to clear and register names, licensing them and protecting them in event of infringement. Infringement was defined as when 'use is causing confusion or misleading the public.'
Mr. Mandel's questioning led Mr. Grace through detailed explanations about registering trademarks, how registration can be opposed, and protection of registered and unregistered marks. Mr. Grace began representing The Doors in 1997 when there was an issue on a potential infringement. He explained the employ of a trademark search company that uses proprietary software to search the internet, books, yellow pages, etc. for possible infringements, which would then be brought to the attention of the attorney for via weekly "watch notices" for review and action, if deemed appropriate.
Mr. & Mrs. Morrison and Andy departed at 2:30. During the afternoon break from 3:00 to 3:25, the rest of the Morrison family left for the day. The questioning continued with several examples of 'watch notices' created for registration applications. When Mr. Mandel finished at 4:00, Mr. Forer passed on questioning and Mr. Briggs began his cross-examination of Mr. Grace. Mr. Briggs questioned Mr. Grace on some legal issues regarding trademarks or marks, and showed Mr. Grace examples of websites of Doors tribute bands with their use of The Doors' stylized lettering.
Mr. Grace was leaving for vacation, so his testimony had to be wrapped up this afternoon. Mr. Briggs finished about 4:35, then Mr. Mandel returned for a re-direct until 4:50, which included a sidebar. Since the jurors are allowed to ask questions when a witness is done giving testimony, there was one question for Mr. Grace to answer ... Mr. Briggs returned ... then Mr. Mandel again ... and the jurors were excused at 4:55.
Tomorrow's testimony will be from Tommy Gear, and the court session will last only until 12:00 noon. Full court session will resume on Monday.
Friday, July 23, 2004 John's wife Leslie was in court today when the jurors were brought in at 9:40. The Courson grandchildren, Emily and James, arrived a few minutes later. Today's witness was Tommy Gear, who was there under subpoena and with no economic interest in the outcome of this trial. He had previously been deposed. Through questioning by Mr. Mandel, Mr. Gear identified himself to be a freelance designer, defined to be the same as a graphic designer.
Mr. Gear was contracted in late 2002 by Ray Manzarek to prepare a series of preliminary design ideas for a 21st Century Doors logo. Those design concepts were shown to the jury, as were design ideas for an insignia. Mr. Mandel finished his questioning of the witness at 10:25; Mr. Forer passed on questioning him, and defense attorney Mr. Lukacs conducted a very brief cross-examination.
Judge Alarcon accepted one question from a juror which Mr. Gear answered, and then he was excused at 10:30.
To fill the balance of the morning, the attorneys for the plaintiffs resumed playing portions of the videotaped deposition from Mr. Tom Vitorino, which had begun playing for the jury on Tuesday afternoon. This surrounded a late mid-morning break from 11:05 to 11:35. The testimony dealt with Mr. Vitorino's involvement with the Harley Davidson offer; the individuals involved as that opportunity developed; and conversations about John's participation.
Mr. Vitorino also gave testimony about alternative plans for the possibility that John might not play the Fontana show, the disclaimer that would explain that fact, and matters regarding the identification of the band members who would be involved. Mr. Vitorino outlined the discussions dealing with how the band should be identified for the appearances that were booked after the Harley shows in an effort to eliminate confusion about who was participating.
The videotaped deposition was stopped at noon, in order to give the jurors the half-day off as agreed upon.
Monday's scheduled witness will be Mr. Gary Stiffelman, attorney for The Doors. If the attorneys finish with the witness before the end of the day, more of Mr. Vitorino's deposition will be played for the jurors.
WEEK THREE july 12 - july 16, 2004 - Ian deposition, Robert Greene, Abe Somer, Nigel Williamson, Robby deposition, David Kirby, Jerry Swartz
WEEK TWO july 6 - july 9, 2004 - jury finalization, John testimony, Ian deposition
WEEK ONE June 29 - July 2, 2004 - jury selection
Related media stories:
July 3, 2004 -- Times UK by Nigel Williamson: "And The Brand Played On"
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