For his 65th birthday, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar might have thought all he was going to receive was the gift of jury selection in his trial versus Upper Deck.
He got more--the case settled during lunch.
Courtrooms aren't the ideal place for a party. And the process of jury selection isn't high on anyone's birthday to-do list.
The process of jury selection is called voir dire, and involves each sides' attorneys asking the juror pool questions to help them identify the best jurors for their case, while striking those that would hurt the case.
Legal translation: "Striking" here is not hitting, although sometimes it feels like the only way you can reach some members of a jury is to slap some sense into them.
Abdul-Jabbar should be happy in that his attorney was very personable and down-to-earth, appearing to connect well with the jurors. According to my firm's invaluable law clerk, he even threw in a few jokes.
That by itself would have been a decent birthday gift.
Legal translation: It's not a sweater, but it should have given him a nice, warm feeling that things were starting off well. At a minimum, the jurors didn’t hate his attorney.
Then, lunch rolled around.
And when the parties came back, they apprised the judge that a settlement had been reached.
Happy Birthday Kareem!
We don’t know the terms of settlement, or even who technically won. We might never know. But it looks like the Abdul-Jabbar v. Upper Deck saga may be over. Six days earlier than expected.
The judge has given the parties until the 24th to finalize the agreement and dismiss the case, so there is an ever-so-slight chance we may learn how the case settled, but don't hold your breath.
This settlement came as a surprise to me. Given how a settlement conference fell apart just a few weeks ago, and how each side brought sanctions motions against each other, I thought it was too contentious to settle.
But trials nowadays are rare. More than 90% of cases settle. And if one as heated as this one can settle, then really any trial can settle.
I guess we'll need to keep our eyes on the Upper Deck v. Upper Deck case too. Although as heated as that one is, that one may be more difficult to wrap up.
As for Abdul-Jabbar, I figure he'll blow out his birthday candles soon. And hopefully his attorneys are gathered around him in their offices singing "Happy Birthday." Although, now that I think about it, I doubt they would be singing "Happy Birthday" as that would require a license since the song is copyrighted. And I’m sure burning candles in an office building probably violates fire code, so they wouldn't do that either. Man, attorneys are buzzkills.
So, here's hoping for Abdul-Jabbar's birthday that he is far away from all attorneys. And given the settlement, he likely will be.
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