ANDREW J. ‘A.J.’ THOMAS, 44
Firm: Jenner & Block LLP
Law School: Harvard University
Selected Clients: NBC/Universal, Fox, Sony Pictures, Viacom, Nielsen, and many others in the entertainment industry.
Years in Practice: 18
Most Challenging Case: I worked as co-counsel for a nationwide class of music publishers in the illegal download case against Grokster and other file-sharing services. After the decision from the U.S. Supreme Court, which held sites such as Grokster liable for copyright infringement, I helped negotiate favorable class-action settlements with two defendants, and we obtained summary judgment against the third defendant for inducing copyright infringement.
Best Career Moment: In 2000, I successfully defended Fox in a lawsuit brought by O.J. Simpson who, with the aid of Alan Dershowitz, F. Lee Bailey, and other members of his criminal defense “dream team,” tried to stop the broadcast of a television docu-drama about the O.J. Simpson criminal trial. The court agreed with our arguments and denied the plaintiffs’ request for a TRO and preliminary injunction, and the program was aired as planned.
Worst: Several years ago, during the trial of an idea submission case, I was forced to watch as the other side submitted doctored videotape evidence to the jury – in response to a “read-back” request during deliberations – and was unable to object or do anything about it because the judge was out of the courtroom. Fortunately, we won the case anyway and, in a measure of poetic justice, the opposing counsel later was disbarred.
Highlight From Past Year: Over the past few years, I defended Nielsen Business Media in a copyright infringement suit concerning a biography of Marilyn Monroe. I argued the case before the Ninth Circuit. The U.S. Supreme Court left our appellate victory in place, establishing new protections for the use of publicity photos.
Longest Workday: Often I am called on by entertainment industry clients to defend them against suits attempting to block imminent launches of widely anticipated projects. The nature of these matters can lead to emergency, round-the-clock work to meet tight TRO deadlines with the court and keep our client’s project from being derailed.
If I Weren’t an Attorney: Journalism was a career that I considered for a time, before becoming an attorney. I was a reporter for and editor of the Stanford Daily in college, which was a great experience, and which I think informs my writing to this day.
My Colleagues Don’t Know: I’m a history buff and know more than anyone really needs to know about ancient military history, including Hannibal’s campaigns and battles in Italy during the Second Punic War.
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