LEAD PLAINTIFF WILLIAM RICHERT,
WILLIAM RICHERT VS WRITERS GUILD OF AMERICA, et. al.
CASE NO: BC339972
and related DGA/SAG cases 310.453.8415 firstname.lastname@example.org
JULY 27, 2012 TO:
HONORABLE JOHN SHEPARD WILEY JR. DEPT 311
LA SUPERIOR COURT
600 Commonwealth Avenue
Los Angeles, California
via email and Hand Delivery
cc: "All American writers" represented in this lawsuit.
cc: Counsel Neville Johnson & Paul Kiesel for Plaintiff and Tony Segall for WGAw
RE: CLASS REPRESENTATIVE WILLIAM RICHERT RESPECTFULLY ASKS COURT TO DENY COUNSEL'S MOTION FOR ADDITIONAL FEES.
REQUESTS LAWYER'S NEWEST FUNDS BE HELD FOR CLASS TO PAY FOR NEW ACCOUNTING/REVIEW AND INDEPENDENT COUNSEL OVERSIGHT IN BREACHED SETTLEMENT.
DATE: August 9, 2012 TIME: 9:30A.M. PLACE: Dept. 311
Dear Judge Wiley,
Your honor, as you know I am the Lead Plaintiff in a class action lawsuit filed on behalf of non-union free American writers against the Writer's Guild of America, Inc., a non- profit corporation.
During the course of this 7-year litigation I have become the certified representative for both union and non-union writers in tiny towns and places all across America.
I also came to represent all 19,500 WGA members who today find themselves bound "forever" to the settlement terms because I was falsely presented to the courts as a member "Emeritus In Arrears," a category invented for me by the union, which I never was.
There is no other writer among the named plaintiffs.
I am duty bound by Congressional mandate to act as "Citizens Attorney General" for each and every one of my class.
Ethically, I must inform the court about matters that have not been presented to the Judge: willful, serious omissions that deserve the court's attention and remedies:
- 1.) ON JANUARY 10 2012 Defendant WGAw corporation and its Board of Directors misled Judge West in Dept. 311 by saying there was an acceptable audit in settlement, placed on the wga.org website. Our lawyers did not tell the Judge that the auditors themselves say the website document is NOT AN AUDIT, and cannot be used by anybody except the WGA itself, thus deceiving the court and writer class into believing the lawsuit is satisfied. Both the writer’s class counsel and defendant’s counsel put forth this audit knowing it was not an audit and could not be used as an audit.
- 2.) Significantly, and only just discovered in DGA documents, a new “second set of books” has been disclosed, pinpointing yearly audits of foreign levies for WGA, SAG and DGA along with the MPAA studios dating back to 2006. It appears that throughout all these years of courtroom litigation for an audit, the guilds and attorneys concealed he existence of an annual ongoing $70,558 PKF "Tri Guild Audit", an audit paid for by the studios which might provide startling new evidence of actual amounts involved in the lawsuits, an audit of the money belonging to the writer class that the class deserves to examine since the only audit given after all these yeas is a NOT AUDIT and can't be used as an accounting for the millions "disappeared.”
- 3.) The annual "review" on the WGAw website is also bogus and consists of only one page, and the small print states, brazenly and unbelievably, that the audit is taken from the same KMPG numbers provided entirely by the same WGA people accused of embezzlement; thus in no way can this one page document be used to verify class accounting demands under the settlement.
- 4.) In the May 16 hearing Neville Johnson revealed for the first time that the foreign levy amount collected by the WGAw actually 200 million, or almost twice the 104 million the union told the courts and Variety and the class.
- 5.) In post-settlement documents the WGA has revealed that 9,360 writers received the just acknowledged 200 million, but offers no proof at all that this happened, how the money was divided, not a single cancelled check.
- 6.) Though they were told repeatedly from the bench by Judge West to provide accounting documents and correspondence to the Lead Plaintiff for the class, Neville Johnson and Paul Kiesel and Don Jasko refused, excluding American writers from their lawsuit almost entirely.
- 7.) The court should not allow Mr. Johnson again to substitute any non-writer for the position of Lead Plaintiff for “all American writers,” as he and Tony Segall attempted to substitute into the case the daughter of non-writer Pearl Retchin, a class plaintiff who was dead for a year before the court was told.
- 8.) As Lead Plaintiff in the case I still have not been provided any accounting at all, and have not been paid the minimum $75,000 owed to me (CAFA) against an estimated $233,000 lost as a result of the embezzlements. My attorney Paul Kiesl told me that my checks from the WGA would be used as the basis for an in-depth accounting that would apply to all the class. This accounting could be compared to the DGA and SAG accountings for my films throughout all three unions. I relied on Mr. Kiesl’s expertise, as he gives lectures on class actions to LA Superior Court Judges, is a Co Chair of the California Bar and provides ample expertise on class actions procedures. Mr. Kiesl sat with me for three days, during which time he explained in front of witness how Lead Plaintiffs accountings are templates for the class. Because of his promise of a fair and understandable audit, given in front of witnesses, provided with court- sanctioned expert opinion I signed the settlement agreement for the class.
- 9.) I have been retaliated against by both the WGAw Executives and Board in false statements to their membership, and by my own lawyers, who filed vexatious tax reports that got me in trouble with the IRS. In his Oct 3 2011 hearing Judge West admonished the WGA to quit any harm to the writer's plaintiff, but my lawyers ignored him and did nothing about it and the WGA harassing behavior continues online.
AND WE ALL OUGHT TO BE AWARE THAT I’VE GOT SOME CONCERNS. AND I WANT TO HEAR FROM MR. RICHERT ON THIS ISSUE.” – Judge Carl J. West, May 21, 2008
Your honor, I declare that if the DGA's accounting is "laughable," the WGA brings down the house with its claim that its Board of Directors spent approximately 35 million in "administrative fees” etc., – not to mention attorney and whistle blower fees – an amount exceeding the entire WGAw yearly budget -- to distribute non-union and union foreign levies – not a penny of which belonged to them -- when they were unable to account for any of it until the appearance a “not audit” audit, accompanied by the equally sudden appearance of 200 million after the recent sudden appearance of 104 million -- and all of it a fraction of what actually was collected by unions divided with the studios -- is pure bunk. WGA corruption exposer Eric Hughes’ documents, and Teri Mial’s paid-off employee Whistle blower testimony, show all the accounts to be false.
Therefore, on behalf of the class I represent, I seek a decree that shifts the funds for future attorneys fees to a general fund for the class of writers I represent, so the just- discovered "Tri Guild" accountings can be examined, and new attorneys can be hired to look at the entirety of this settlement action and its aftermath in your courtroom.
Because of these post-settlement revelations, an outside accounting is in the interest of fairness to the millions owed by law to the authors and screenwriters of the 102,00
"titles" the WGA claims to have collected money for, and split with the DGA and studios.
With these revelations since Judge West retired, we discover a large number of artists in plaintiff classes, with the guilds owing money to 102,000 writers and 102,000 directors of those titles and the 500,000 or more actors in the related SAG case; they say they paid it, but as Mr. Hughes puts it, there is “not a shred of evidence.” -- But sworn evidence of plenty of shredding.
“THE COURT: THE UNDERLYING GOAL OF THIS SETTLEMENT AND THE COURT’S DETERMINATION THAT IT WAS A FAIR AND REASONBLE SETTLEMENT ON BEHALF OF THE CLASS OF PEOPLE WHO WERE CERTIFIED FOR SETTLEMENT PURPOSES AND WHO ARE BENEFITTING FROM THIS SETTLEMENT: IS THAT THERE WOULD BE A MORE TRANSPARENT AND OPEN ACCOUNTING OF COLLECTIONS AND DISTRIBUTIONS.” Judge Carl J. West, Dept 311, Jan 10, 2012
As "Citizen Attorney General" for my class of American writers, I plead that your honor will assist this plaintiff by enacting the following motions in the interests of fairness, justice and transparency:
MOTION TO DENY ATTORNEY FEES TO CLASS LAWYERS in the
August 9, 2012 hearing until the court is satisfied the writer class plaintiff has funds to hire a lawyer equal to the super-lawyers so the writer-plaintiff can adequately defend the class against further theft, "Both federal and California courts have held that, when the ethical violation in question is a conflict of interest between the attorney and the client, the appropriate fee for the attorney in question is zero." -- letter to Judge Highberger re fraud on LA Superior court.
MOTION TO COMPEL DEFENDANT DGA, ITS CFO AND PRESIDENT AND BOARD OF DIRECTORS TO PROVIDE ALL PKF STUDIO AUDITS IN ITS POSSESSION RELATING TO THE WGAW FOREIGN LEVY LAWSUIT, INCLUDING AUDIT OF WITH MAJOR STUDIOS TO VERIFY AMOUNTS. The class should not be the out and out loser in a class action if the action has merit and is sound. The class is entitled to simple transparency in all audits which relate to money which was collected illegally for thousands of unsuspecting free writers and writers not hired by studios. It is in the most urgent interest of the class to know how much of their money was given to the studios, and to each of the unions, and how much actually received from this settlement.
MOTION FOR WRIT OF MANDATE TO COMPEL WGA TO PROVIDE WRITER CLASS COPIES OF WGAW"TRI STATE" AUDITS SHOWING WHERE THE FOREIGN LEVY MONEY DISAPPEARED. The settlements do not release claims against the WGAw for splitting with studios outside the collective bargaining agreement; the settlements do not settle any future claims from non-union American actors OR union American directors. The Board of Directors are basically withholding evidence.
MOTION TO COMPEL COPIES OF DOCUMENTS, ACCOUNTINGS AND EMAILS BETWEEN CONSULTANT DONALD JASKO AND WGAW et. al. CFO DON GOR BE GIVEN TO THE WRITER CLASS. Donald Jasko asked me specifically for copies of checks I got from the WGA that did not match the DGA; I did not know it was just to keep me quiet, and he had no intention of using them.
MOTION TO COMPEL ACCOUNTING FOR LEAD PLAINTIFF WILLIAM RICHERT AS TEMPLATE FOR THE CLASS, AS PROMISED by counsel Paul Kiesl before signing the settlement, specifically the titles “Law and Disorder,” “The Happy Hooker,” “Success,” “Winter Kills,” and “The Night in the Life of Jimmy Reardon,” “The Man In The Iron Mask,” years 1974-2012.
MOTION TO COMPEL WGAw to provide copies of its settlement documents to states attorneys-general and Federal authorities as provided by law, since the affected are from all states.
MOTION TO DEMAND NEVILLE JOHNSON AND WGAW CEASE RETALIATION AGAINST NAMED PLAINTIFF, as the WGAw puts false statements about me on its website and to letters to its members, and Neville Johnson purposefully
filed misleading tax information to the IRS causing me tax burdens. No class representative should have to fear retribution or bad-mouthing from the defendant or his own lawyers.
I have been threatened to be dumped roadside, and blacklisted, and other things during this confrontational litigation with my former union, who claim I am a member when they need the association and then deny it in emails to their members when they don't.
BACKGROUND AND AUTHORITY
Neville Johnson told the LA Daily Journal that he was the mastermind of the “3 sister” foreign levy lawsuits in 2005, drawing upon his existing clients as Lead Plaintiffs.
I was such a client at the time, with my jury award the highest he ever got, almost 15 million. Mr. Johnson knew I’d publicly stated that the WGAw was corrupt from having my credit for THE AMERICAN PRESIDENT/WEST WING given to another writer without due process or transparency just the way Mr. Johnson described the way the guild concealed millions in undistributed funds for unnamed non-union writers the guild divided with the studios in a long-running kind of mutual extortion.
The real force behind Neville Johnson's lawsuits was Eric Hughes, screenwriter of "Against All Odds" and "White Knights." It was Eric Hughes, WGA presidential candidate running against corrupt credit arbitration in the WGA, who obtained insider documents from whistle blower Teri Mial, paid six-figures herself to keep quiet in this lawsuit. And it was Eric Hughes who introduced Mial to Mr. Johnson, and who showed Mr. Johnson, along with me and other prominent journalists, just what the corruption looked like on paper.
Mr. Johnson was essentially a copyist of Mr. Hughes' written allegations used by his firm Johnson & Rishwain for their original complaints of fraud and other things against all three Hollywood “labor” guilds.
We ask the court to demand that documents held by Mr. Hughes be given to the class. Mr. Hughes owes it to the writers, actors and directors to provide copies of evidence that rightfully belongs to them, and which can eliminate instantly, with publication of names and amounts, all doubt about who did what, and can provide immediate finality to this class litigation.
However, far more significant to this breached settlement, a game changer, is the discovery from new statements by the DGA that the unions and studios have actually been covertly doing audits all this time. This means that all during years of lengthy courtroom hearings for the DGA, WGA and SAG since the lawsuit was filed in 2005, the lawyers kept quiet. Now we see proof positive how all foreign levies were all audited by the studios and themselves since maybe as early as 2003 in what the CFO of the DGA
calls "Tri Guild Foreign Levy Audits."
It would be a public sham to continue hearings in court to get something already got.
It is iconic misdirection among 19+ lawyers for the unions who appeared for these guilds in court during the past 7 years and never mentioned they already had what the class was looking for: an audit; evidence of a billion-dollar secret royalty split between the unions and studios approved by nobody among the free Americans in my class, whose money it actually was/is, and who could use it today.
BIG STORY, BIG PLAYERS
This could only happen in Hollywood, where a whisper can sink a ship of a
career. Where unions have meetings with both writers and young video dancers with teamsters in tow. Intimidation is rampant, your honor should know.
Once I discovered Mr. Johnson, and next Mr. Keisl, were ready to sell out the rights of American writers for their personal and corporate profits, that they were essentially profiteering on Superior Court litigation without regard for the greater long term rights of the writers who are their clients, I became in direct conflict with my lawyers while standing in place as lead plaintiff, and I am standing still, for I have not surrendered the original goal of the case: a true accounting and payout and end to unethical behavior.
I attach a "disappeared" check signed by Patric Verrone made out to the poet Bukowski, a fellow class member.
Mr. Johnson tells each judge about how weak and unorganized our related cases for writers, directors and actors are; tells each judge he/she is our only hope, but that's because Neville Johnson is not doing his job, as it is not the Judge's job to act as advocate for the lawyer's underdog in a lawsuit.
The lawyers for both sides in this case purport to represent writers and artists, but none of them really do.
The true facts and true movers have been concealed from Dept. 311, from both you and Judge West before you, and Judge Morrow before that in Federal court.
The court transcript of January 10, before he retired, shows Judge West believed both sides when he was told an "audit" had been placed on the WGAw website. His sudden retirement meant he never saw the one page NOT AN AUDIT that Mr. Johnson and Mr. Kiesel and Mr. Segall told him gave settlement finality to the RICHERT VS. WGAw lawsuit.
At Judge West’s last hearing in Dept. 311, January 10, 2012, which I couldn’t attend because I wasn’t told about it, Judge West did say to Messrs. Johnson and Schecter: "I don't want the two of you in front of me any more. It doesn't do any good,” and “I know
enough to be dangerous.”
Judge West said if it had his name on it, "it has to be right."
Before telling Judge West the audit was on the WGAw website, Neville Johnson claimed that the settlement was in material breach; only a large payment to Donald Jasko changed that, along with fees yet to be paid to Neville Johnson. But for these payments, the settlement is still in breach.
I don't claim copyright but my name is on this lawsuit and I've known some great writers who deserve my sticking to our rights, even if I am threatened with expulsion from the writer's lawsuit in favor of lawyers. A case brought on behalf of writers should have a writer in it.
SOLIDARITY OF CORRUPTION
It is absurd to have the accused corporation offer its own accounting without strict oversight, or any oversight. Having the WGAw review its own review is like a joke; a "Not Audit" is not acceptable to settle a lawsuit except for suckers, and putting numbers from a "not audit" up on the wga.org website as an "one-time review" with an “annual review” consisting of 3 lines is offensive and insulting to my class.
I still have not gotten any form of accounting for my own foreign levies owed and interest bearing dating back to 1974. Please show us the stubbs.
Besides being useless to the class, the accounting is AICA, not GAAP; another breach.
ACCOUNTING NOT PERFORMED ACCORDING TO GENERAL ACCOUNTING PRINCIPLES AS REQUIRED IN SETTLEMENT
The startling figure 200 million entered into the record by Neville Johnson is double what was reported only months ago by the WGA to Variety. Where’d it come from? We need to know, your honor.
Now suddenly, the WGAw says it paid out 21 million dollars to its members/non members in the single year 2011. This single amount is 20% of what the union claims to have paid out over the past 20 years -- and this year the lowest in DVD sales since the past decade or so -- how does this add up?
In fact, the WGA claims it collected 85 million dollars plus 1,323,149 “interest/income” for members and free writers nationwide since 2007, more than in all the years from 1992-2007, when DVD sales were ballooning.
WGAw Board claims it distributed 21 million to members this year. In the past 20 years they charged 35+ million in “fees” to do all this “administration,” but cannot produce a single canceled check in evidence.
How can the WGAw charge its members roughly one-quarter of what it collected for "administrative" fees when it can't show it administered anything, when it has to hire an outside firm for an audit amazingly limited and confined to numbers only they offer, and nothing more?
How can the lawyers from several firms keep billing the same writers in all cases millions in fees without producing a single accounting of merit? In fact, hiding the audit that really does exist.
In the hearing before you on May 16 in Dept 311, where this case has been for years, the WGA counsel is silent when Neville Johnson suddenly pops up with an extra 100 million.
The Lead Plaintiff is obliged to protest. The court should look at the 2007 WGAw accounting, given under oath, which both duplicates and contradicts the KMPG report.
The KMPG-WGAw accounting, approved by its Board of Directors to settle a case for fraud, doesn't compute, add up, or make sense. It's a big lie.
That means the Boards of Directors and Executives at 3 major guilds handling the money of thousands of people are untrustworthy.
THE BREACHED SETTLEMENT WITHOUT COMPLIANCE GIVES WGAw/MPAA STUDIOS ECONOMIC CONTROLS OVER U.S. WRITERS NATIONWIDE UNLESS THE CLASS SAYS FOUL AND THE COURT ALLOWS THE CLASS TO SPEAK.
The WGAW has concealed facts about writers’ credits and income before.
It was the writer's guild union who blacklisted hundreds of great American screenwriters, their own colleagues, putting them out of work for years, a long list of names also due foreign levies, if living; otherwise, their heirs.
This Hollywood union/studio combo are seeking to control piracy on the internet, when they are pirates themselves with American foreign royalties and copyrights.
The guilds and studios have "organized' the collection of foreign royalties for all American artists, and they have done so in secret, illegally.
American writers and artists should know that there is a huge database with their names and financial information on it, as many as 700,000 citizens, a database they cannot access.
The WGA/MPAA should not be in possession of that database – U.S. citizens’ social security numbers and addresses and tax ID’s – which will soon number in the millions as more and more independent filmmakers sell their work abroad over the internet and other places.
Unions so ostentatiously corrupt should not have access to this information so as to seize it as a “mailing list” ripe for exploitation.
WGAw claims the 2007 strike gives the union jurisdiction over the Internet for any thing that moves, saying if it moves it must be written, and they control it.
The WGAw refers to writers who write without a union or new media contract with them as “scabs.”
“THE COURT: I GUESS I HAVE REAL CONCERNS ABOUT HOW ALL THESE NEGOTIATIONS AND MEDIATIONS WERE TAKING PLACE WITH NO LIVING CLASS REPRESENTATIVE FOR ONE OF THE SUPP. CLASSES. THAT'S A PROBLEM.
I HAVE A QUESTION REGARDING THE ABILITY OF CLASS COUNSEL TO CONTINUE TO REPRESENT THE INTERESTS OF THE CLASS AT THIS JUNCTURE GIVEN THE INFORMATION THAT HAS BEEN PLACED BEFORE THE COURT.” Judge Carl J. West, Dept 311, March 23, 2009
Paul Kiesl, who induced me with his knowledge of facts and law (in front of 2 witnesses) to sign this settlement on behalf of my class, did not attend the May 16 hearing, perhaps because he was out raising 660 million in emergency funding for the LA Superior Court system. That amount may have been lost to the LA tax base during the 2.9 billion WGA strike in 2007, which still hurts, led by the same Board who gave the KMPG accounting.
Your honor clerked with Justice Powell who vigorously promoted the idea of corporations having the same rights as individuals -- and it ought to work both ways.
If corporations have the same rights as individuals, as Chief Justice Powell believed, they have the same obligations for honesty and fair dealing, and ought not use their lopsided power, as in LA, where unions and studios possess vastly superior resources and hidden agreements dating back years. If their rights Trump ours, and they as “corporate individuals” are protected over my class and me as an non-corporate individual in your courtroom, my class action is doomed.
Individuals cannot fight major corporations alone, which is why class actions were created. Of course the court knows that, you handle class actions routinely.
I am not be able to afford a lawyer on my writer's income, esp. now that the WGAw has stopped sending me residuals and levy checks altogether as a result of this litigation.
LAWYER CLIENT CONFLICT WHEN CLIENT REPRESENTS A LARGE CLASS
Some legalists have told me to contact the Bar about Neville Johnson and Paul Kiesl, but it's quicker to just email Mr. Kiesl as he is Co-Chair of the California bar.
Eric Hughes did complain to the bar, which found the fact Mr. Kiesel didn’t associate himself into the case was problematical, as Mr. Kiesl already knows.
CALIFORNIA CODE OF JUDICAL ETHICS: (1) A judge shall not allow family, social, political or other relationships to influence the judge’s judicial conduct or judgment, nor shall a judge convey or permit others to convey the impression that any individual is in a special position to influence the judge.
Also I feel obliged to say, as the only writer court-certified to represent my class that your honor’s remarks to me on first sight when I raised my hand to speak in protest after Neville Johnson said my case was "settled" when I say no -- when you advised me this was “not a town hall” “or a therapy meeting” -- as if I were a hothead or a nutcase -- and later when you said in front of me that these lawyers sitting in front of me were such that “every law school student in the country would like to be like you” -- and especially when you told me that my lawyers were "famous," implying I was not, and maybe for some faulty reason I was not -- these statements from your authority, which are absolute, made me think I should complain to the Commission of Judges for fair dealing with all parties in a lawsuit -- as to whether you showed bias towards a Lead Plaintiff in a class action lawsuit in favor of lawyers --but as in the case of my lawyers, I may as well just state my concerns to you here directly, respectfully, and ask you as a member of the California’s Commission on Judicial Ethics Opinions to consider the pain of my humiliation in court.
You honor must be aware that you are highly regarded as a brilliant legal mind in article after article about Judges on the Internet, and so your initial opinion of me is even more damaging and I plead with the court to remember:
(8)...A JUDGE SHALL MANAGE THE COURTROOM IN A MANNER THAT PROVIDES ALL LITIGANTS THE OPPORTINITY TO HAVE THEIR MATTERS FAIRLY ADJUDICATED IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE LAW.
COMENTARY: ...A judge should encourage and seek to facilitate settlement, but parties should not feel coerced into surrendering their right to have their controversy resolved by the courts.”
This class action is not about coupons or consumers, it is about creators and copyrights and human rights, each and every artist involved is different, and that is one of their similarities as a class. No assembly line here.
As artists, they have a right to know if their work is shown abroad, indeed shown anywhere, and they have the right to be assured their accountings are transparent and honest.
I figure the combo lawyers have made millions off the defendants in these cases so far. At the hearing for attorney fees on August 9, if your honor could move a little cash --
which comes from writers anyhow -- to the other side of the table -- it would mean we could pay for a true accounting, a great leap towards justice for as 700,000 Americans.
Like Neville Johnson, I concur that history will be made in your courtroom, only not in Mr. Johnson’s way.
We shall do all in our power to make sure this settlement is not an out and out loss for the freedom of artists in America, a Hollywood snuff job for our civil rights and economic rights as free writers and artists in a free nation.
WILLIAM RICHERT VS
WRITERS GUILD OF AMERICA et al 3 ATTACHMENTS: