By Ken Stone
Comedy and court watchers, mark your calendars.
Conan O’Brien and fellow writers of his late-night TV show will be in San Diego federal court May 28, 2019, for trial in his joke-theft case.
On Tuesday, Judge Janis Sammartino set out a hearings schedule in the 3-year-old civil suit brought by Robert Alexander “Alex” Kaseberg of Carmel Valley, a former Jay Leno writer who accuses the O’Brien team of copyright violations — lifting his jokes from Twitter and using them on air.Sammartino accommodated a join plaintiff-defendant request for the trial schedule, filed Nov. 29.
“Counsel for [O’Brien and other defendants] respectfully requests a trial date during the weeks of May 20 or 27, 2019, as the Conan show will be on hiatus during those weeks, resulting in greater availability of and convenience for defendants’ anticipated witnesses,” said the filing.
But Sammartino said: “The court will impose time limits, to be discussed at the final pretrial conference.” (O’Brien isn’t expected at that conference.)
The “Conan” show on TBS — changing from an hour to a half-hour in January — is taping through early May 2019, said the “joint proposed schedule.”
“Many of Defendants’ witnesses, including Mr. O’Brien, along with the show’s producers and writers, will be unavailable at that time,” the filing said.Meanwhile, Kaseberg lawyer Jayson Lorenzo of Carlsbad asked for a trial date at the earliest convenient date for the court, “preferably anytime in April 2019. However, plaintiff’s counsel is unavailable the weeks of May 6, 13 or 20, 2019, due to pre-planned family obligations.”
On Thursday, O’Brien attorney Patricia Glaser said she expected the trial to last four or five days.
In addition to the May trial, Sammartino set out pretrial deadlines for Kaseberg, production company Conaco LLC, Turner Broadcasting System, Time Warner Inc. and O’Brien writers Jeff Ross and Mike Sweeney.
- Jan. 24, 2019: Filing, service and exchange of memoranda of contentions of fact and law, exhibit lists, witness lists, and all other pretrial disclosures.
- Jan. 31: Meeting of counsel and exchange of exhibits.
- Feb. 7: Plaintiff’s exchange of proposed pretrial order.
- Feb. 14: Lodging of pretrial order, including objections to any other party’s pretrial disclosures.
- Feb. 21: Final pretrial conference at 1:30 p.m.
- And March 21: Hearing on motions and jury instructions at 1:30 p.m.
The trial starts on a Tuesday because the court itself is on hiatus Monday, May 27 — for Memorial Day.
Updated at 11:10 a.m. Dec. 6, 2018
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