A Twitter cage match!
Writing passive-aggressive, and sometimes just aggressive, emails and letters is a frequent task of attorneys – you need to get your point across without telling the other side you think they are acting like an idiot/a child/an irresponsible brute or whatever the case may be. Most of the time you don’t expect your correspondence to be made public, and you definitely do not expect it to end up on Twitter.
But times have changed.
Chris and Nancy: The True Story of the Benoit Murder-Suicide and Pro Wrestling’s Cocktail of Death, by Irvin Muchnick, a book about pro-wrestler Chris Benoit, is coming out on November 1. (Benoit killed his wife and son and then himself in June 2007.) And in the course of a little pre-release publicity, the author is releasing via his Twitter excerpts from letters and emails the WWE’s outside counsel sent to him.
The story comes courtesy of The Am Law Daily, which calls the outside counsel – K&L Gates partner Jerry McDevitt – “one of the more quotable lawyers in the Am Law 100 world.” The back story is that Muchnick questioned WWE’s actions in the weeks leading up to and then just after the murder-suicide.
McDevitt, who told Am Law Muchnick is “a quack,” took issue with Muchnick’s reporting and disputed several aspects of his record of events. Whether he expected it to be out there or not, McDevitt is standing by his statements.
Obviously the Benoit murder-suicide is a terribly sad situation, and the WWE’s policies of course deserve examination. But looking at this purely from the perspective of attack-style lawyer letter-writing, here are some highlights from the McDevitt’s correspondence, via Muchick’s Twitter:
- Typically, WWE has ignored your so-called “reporting”
- Perhaps you have confused WWE’s disregard of you as a licence to print
- “As a reporter, I would think you might find it interesting” is a McDevitt repeat-phrase.
The Benoit matter isn’t the first run-in between McDevitt, who has represented the WWE since 1987, and Muchnick. Following McDevitt getting Hulk Hogan out of testifying at a doctor’s steroids trial, Muchnick, then with the New York Post, wrote columns that led to a federal investigation of the WWE. “[A] real witch hunt,” McDevitt called it.
We don’t know who should win this battle between writer and attorney, but the mustachioed McDevitt sounds like he enjoys being on the defence. He told a Super Lawyer profiler that, he’s from “a shot and a beer town with normal people doing normal things” and decided to become an attorney after seeing a prosecutor give a young man he knew what he thought was too strong of a sentence. “I just thought I would like to represent people in trouble against the government,” McDevitt says.
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