Shapiro Arato Bach Obtains Mid-Trial Dismissal In Closely Watched “Hotel California” Lyrics Prosecution

On March 6, 2024, Shapiro Arato Bach obtained a rare and nearly unprecedented mid-trial voluntary dismissal of criminal charges relating to allegations that our client and two co-defendants engaged in a conspiracy to traffic in supposedly stolen handwritten draft lyrics to the Eagles’ “Hotel California” and other songs from the album of the same name.

The dismissal came a week and a half into the closely watched trial, and just 48 hours after Shapiro Arato Bach orally moved to dismiss the case on Confrontation Clause, due process, and double jeopardy grounds, arguing that new documents disclosed by complaining witness Don Henley and his attorneys revealed critical evidence that supported defense theories and contradicted earlier testimony by prosecution witnesses.  The withheld documents were only produced after Mr. Henley waived the attorney-client privilege mid-trial following defense arguments that the privilege was being invoked in violation of defendants’ confrontation rights.  In response to the motion to dismiss, New York Supreme Court Justice Curtis Farber stated that he would “simply not allow a witness’s strategic manipulation of the discovery rules to interfere with defendants’ confrontation rights.”

Justice Farber initially reserved decision to allow the defense to make a presentation highlighting the prejudice caused by the belated disclosures.  Before that presentation could be made, more previously withheld documents were disclosed, and all defendants renewed the motion to dismiss.  While the motion remained pending, the District Attorney’s Office voluntarily moved to dismiss the indictment.

In an oral decision dismissing the case, Justice Farber noted that Mr. Henley and his representatives “used the privilege to obfuscate and hide information that they believed would be damaging to their position that the lyric sheets were stolen.”  Justice Farber also observed that prosecutors at the DA’s Office appeared to have been “manipulated” and “should have recognized that they did not have a complete understanding of their case and that potential material existed upon which the defense could rely on in their defense.”

Jonathan Bach, Avery Medjuck, and Jason Driscoll represented Glenn Horowitz.  The dismissal was covered by The Washington PostRolling StoneNew York TimesLaw360 and others.