Court Dismisses Eagles ‘Hotel California’ Manuscript Trial After Prosecution Drops Case, Citing ‘Damaging’ New Disclosures

The trial against three men accused of possessing stolen Eagles manuscripts for the lyrics to “Hotel California” and other hits came to an abrupt halt Wednesday, after the prosecution suddenly dropped its case against the defendants, citing fresh disclosures that a judge agreed would have been “damaging” to the fairness of the court proceedings.

Per a report from the Associated Press, Judge Curtis Farber said that “witnesses and their lawyers” had used attorney-client privilege “to obfuscate and hide information that they believed would be damaging,” and officially dismissed the proceedings.

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Prosecutors told the judge at the beginning of the court day Wednesday that they were dropping the case. The trial was already well underway, having begun in late February, with Eagles frontman Don Henley making headlines as he took the stand at length last week for the prosecution.

The district attorney’s office told the judge that emails had become available that indicated the fairness of their case had been compromised. According to the AP, Henley had waived attorney-client privilege last week, resulting in the release of emails that added up to what the prosecution said were about 6,000 pages of belatedly revealed material. The defense then contended that these wealth of fresh information raised serious questions that were too late to ask as part of their interrogation of witnesses.

The judge said — as reported by Rolling Stone — that “it is now clear that both witnesses and their lawyers, two of which also shielded themselves from thorough and complete cross-examination by relying on Mr. Henley’s invocation, used the privilege to obfuscate and hide information that they believed would be damaging to their position that the lyric sheets were stolen. This is a basic confrontation violation.”

Judge Farber said the prosecution was “eating a slice of humble pie” but he added that they showed “the highest level of integrity in moving to dismiss.” In his view, it was “troubling to the court that the People were manipulated into passive complicity in allowing this to develop.”

The three defendants — Glenn Horowitz, Craig Inciardi and Edward Kosinski — had pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to criminally possess stolen property and other charges. The three men are collectors or dealers who had come into possession of the manuscripts for 1970s Eagles songs and had arranged for them to be sold at auction.

“The district attorney in this case got blinded by the fame and fortune of a celebrity,” Kosinki’s attorney, Scott Edelman, said outside court after the dismissal, “and that blinded them to the information that they weren’t being given.”

Henley’s attorney, Dan Petrocelli, said in a statement emailed to the AP that his client intended to pursue action against the three men, despite the government’s case being dismissed: “As the victim in this case, Mr. Henley has once again been victimized by this unjust outcome. He will pursue all his rights in the civil courts.”

The dispute had been brewing for years, after Henley became aware that the manuscripts were being put up for auction. He had originally made them available to an author who was working on a (never published) biography of the Eagles shortly before the band’s breakup in the early ’80s. The defendants’ contention was that the author had acquired the documents outrightly, without expectation of return, and that their purchase of the lyrics from the would-be biographer was fully legal.

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