Dan Rather and his lawyers were back in a Lower Manhattan courthouse late Wednesday afternoon for yet another round in Mr. Rather’s ongoing $70 million civil lawsuit against his former employers.
Over the course of a 45-minute hearing in front of Justice Ira Gammerman, tempers occasionally flared as the lawyers for both sides argued over a number of issues, ranging from the scheduling of depositions to the transparency of the discovery process.
On the latter issue, Mr. Rather and his lawyers petitioned the justice to release a number of key documents turned up in discovery. Mr. Rather’s lead attorney, Marty Gold, suggested to Justice Gammerman that the documents, if released, would help refute CBS’s repeated, public characterization of Mr. Rather’s claims in the suit as a fantasy. He said that of the thousands of documents handed over by CBS, Mr. Rather would like to give the public access to roughly 10.
But the justice was unmoved. He reiterated that while he had no intention of imposing a gag order in the case, he considered the request to release the documents a distraction. He said he would continue to uphold CBS’s request to keep the documents from discovery out of the public eye.
"We think the cat’s already of out of the bag," said Mr. Gold.
"We can close the bag now," responded Judge Gammerman.
Judge Gammerman noted that eventually everything will come out to the public if the case goes to trial, as early as this November.
The other thorny question was about who should get deposed for this suit; in the process, it became clear who has delivered depositions already.
"Our position is that Sumner Redstone should not be deposed in this case," a lawyer for CBS told the judge in another part of the arguments yesterday afternoon.
Judge Gammerman was again unmoved, and said that he was inclined to order the deposition of Viacom CEO Sumner Redstone but would wait until the other depositions had taken place before ruling on CBS’s objection.
Throughout the course of the hearing, it became much more clear for the first time who has already been deposed in the case, and who will be deposed in the coming months. According to proceedings today, Mr. Rather has already been deposed; so, too, former F.B.I. agent and Navy aviator Erik T. Rigler. Former CBS News president Andrew Heyward, on the other hand, is tentatively scheduled to be deposed on July 29th and 30th. Ditto CBS president Leslie Moonves, who is penciled in for a deposition on Sept. 24th.
Others who will be deposed according to today’s hearing:
- Jeffrey Fager, 60 Minutes executive producer
- Gil Schwartz, CBS executive vice president, communications
- Sandy Genelius, spokesperson for CBS News
- Linda Mason, CBS News senior vice president, standards and special projects
- Patti Hassler, CBS News executive editor of 60 Minutes Global