Judge dismisses suit where boss texted witness

Today’s Miami Daily Business Review reports on a civil fraud case that Circuit Judge Scott Silverman dismissed after a witness’ boss sent text messages to his employee on the witness stand during trial.

According to the article, chief executive officer Yizhak Toledano sent messages to the company’s chief financial officer, Gavin Sussman, while the judge and lawyers conferred in a sidebar conference at the bench. When questioned, Sussman and Toledano admitted texting during the sidebar. The judge ordered the messages to be read aloud and into the record. The Judge ordered a mistrial in May after learning of the text messaging, and then ordered the case dismissed with prejudice last week.

Toledano’s texting “was underhanded and calculated to undermine the integrity of this court and the legal process,” the judge wrote in his Aug. 11 dismissal order. “Regretfully, plaintiff through its unacceptable conduct has reached into the court’s quiver of sanctions, drawn the bowstring taut and aimed the arrow at the heart of its own case. This court has justifiably released the string.”

Silverman also agreed to award attorney fees and costs to the defense.

Unbelievably, this wasn’t the first time Sussman was found to have texted a witness during a proceeding.  During a deposition two months before trial, Sussman wrote to the witness, “Don’t worry about pleasing him. Just say no.”

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