Courtney Love Wins Her Twibel Case (And Why I Was in LA This Week)

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When the plane touched down in Toronto early this morning, I turned on my phone.  The first thing that popped up was a text from Courtney Love.

“I won!” was all it said.

Now that the trial is over, I can explain why I was in LA all week.

Back in 2010, I had a backstage interview with Courtney following a gig at the Sound Academy in Toronto.  The resulting article, “My Cupcake with Courtney Love” on the now-defunct ExploreMusic.com  became Exhibit 5 in the trial. Rhonda Holmes–the aggrieved lawyer in the case–had her lawyers bring me in to testify about what was said in that interview. (I couldn’t find it online, although it’s gotta be cached somewhere.  The only reference I could find this morning was this link, which isn’t really very helpful at all.  If anyone can locate it, let me know, okay?)

I was on the stand Tuesday afternoon–day four of the trial–in Dept 56 at the LA Courthouse.

The courtroom looked exactly like the courtrooms we saw with the OJ trial and with the Michael Jackson wrongful death suit.  First, I was questioned by the prosecution, then by the defense and then there was a redirect from the prosecution.  And then it was over.

Testimony continued through the rest of Tuesday and all day Wednesday. The prosecutions closing arguments were made on Thursday and the defense’s summation came Friday.  Then the jury retired to deliberate.

The jury buzzed that they had a verdict at 4:24pm PT yesterday, which was a surprise to just about everyone.  The court day was winding to a close–things end at 4:30–and most everyone expected deliberations to continue through at least Monday, especially after the jury notified the court earlier in the afternoon that they had a question.  (I can’t be sure, but I’ve been told that their inquiry may have involved something in my testimony.  If that’s true, then something I said was somehow crucial to the verdict.)

An hour later, the case was over.  Courtney Love had prevailed in what could be a landmark case in US law.  It was the first time anyone had a jury trial based on an allegedly defamatory tweet. Had Rhonda Holmes won, the ramifications for what can and cannot be said in a tweet could have been massive.  Meanwhile, Courtney would potentially have been on the hook for eight million of dollars in damages, which is what the prosecution asked for. For one tweet.

However, it was not to be.  From Spin.com:

While the 12-person jury agreed that Love’s public statement was false and likely injurious to Holmes, they were not convinced that Love didn’t believe it to be true. They were asked: “Did Rhonda Holmes prove by clear and convincing evidence that Courtney Love knew it was false or doubted the truth of it?” And the answer was “No.” Regarding a statement she made to reporter Alan Cross about an unnamed attorney (Holmes), the jury decided that Cross had no reason to know Holmes was indeed the subject there.

Spin.com had the best coverage (writer Pamela Chelin–a Canadian–was the only reporter in court every single day)–but there’s also coverage at The Hollywood ReporterNBCABC, the LA TimesBillboardTime and a hundred other places.

Having talked to the attorneys on both sides, the chances of an appeal are good.  But we’ll see.

Meanwhile, Courtney is understandably thrilled.  First, she gambled and won in this case.  Second, she’s free to pursue her allegations of  massive fraud involving hundreds of millions of dollars, allegations that are now public record because of testimony in this case.  I could go into detail–she outlined everything to me and it’s extremely complex–but the last time I reported on a conversation with her, I ended up in court.

This isn’t over, though.  Not by a long shot.  In fact, it might just be getting started.

PS:  Courtney told me she has three movie roles in the works, including one where she plays the president of the United States.  And don’t rule out some kind of Hole reunion, either.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.