One of America’s most celebrated lawyers, David Boies, was disqualified Wednesday by a federal judge from representing a woman who accused financier Jeffrey Epstein and his renowned former defense attorney, Alan Dershowitz, of having sex with her when she was an underage girl.
U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska in New York not only tossed Boies but also his entire law firm, Boies Schiller Flexner, concluding they have become witnesses in the woman’s defamation case against Dershowitz and can no longer be her advocate.
But while siding with Dershowitz in his bid to oust Boies and his New York-based firm, the judge rejected his motion to dismiss the libel lawsuit brought by one of Epstein’s victims, Virginia Giuffre.
The extraordinary turn of events in Giuffre’s civil case — based partly on evidence of a secret recording taken by Dershowitz of his legal nemesis, Boies — means she might have to hire another law firm to represent her. Boies has cut a prominent figure as a lawyer in the U.S. government’s anti-trust case against Microsoft, for Al Gore in the 2000 presidential election recount, and for movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, who was accused of sexually assaulting numerous Hollywood actresses.
In her suit, Giuffre alleges she was forced by Epstein, who committed suicide in August while in custody on sexual assault charges in New York, to have sex with Dershowitz. Dershowitz has repeatedly denied this claim, saying he never even met Giuffre, and has accused her of being a “serial perjurer,” a “serial liar,” and a “serial prostitute” in interviews with various news media.
Dershowitz, the Harvard law professor who represented Epstein in a decade-old sexual-assault criminal case, recorded a phone conversation between himself and Boies in which he claimed that Boies told his client that she was “wrong ... simply wrong” in making her allegations against Dershowitz. He further claimed that Giuffre conspired with Boies and other lawyers in his law firm to extort him and others for money.
“Dershowitz’s allegation of an extortion conspiracy is no mere throwaway line,” Preska wrote in her 40-page order. “Giuffre explicitly characterizes Dershowitz’s ‘central assertion’ as the facts that Giuffre committed perjury and that she and her attorneys ‘hatched a scheme to falsely accuse Dershowitz of sex trafficking as part of a criminal attempt to extort a settlement from another party.’
“Giuffre pleads that such statements are false and defamatory,” the judge wrote. “At trial, she will seek to prove ... that [Boies Schiller Flexner] did not participate in such a scheme ... while Dershowitz will seek to prove that that is exactly what BSF did. Either way, BSF is immersed in the facts it pled.”
Hence, the judge ruled, Boies and his law firm have become witnesses in their client’s libel case against Dershowitz.
Boies and the firm sharply disagreed, issuing a statement saying they plan to appeal the judge’s decision.
“We are pleased that the defamation case against Alan Dershowitz is going forward and that he will face the call for justice,” Fort Lauderdale firm partner Sigrid McCawley said in the statement. “We will appeal the disqualification decision, which is a result of Mr. Dershowitz’s manipulation of the system to classify us as witnesses so our client will be deprived of trusted, longtime counsel.”
Giuffre also issued a statement echoing the law firm’s position.
“I am grateful for the court’s decision to deny Alan Dershowitz’s shameful attempt to dismiss my defamation case against him,” Giuffre said. “I will no longer be silenced. I will no longer be shamed. I will see Alan Dershowitz in a court of law.
“But I am dismayed by the court’s decision in this case to deprive me of my counsel. For over five years, my lawyers at Boies Schiller Flexner have worked tirelessly to bring Jeffrey Epstein and his co-conspirators to justice.”
Dershowitz declared total victory, despite the judge’s rejection of his dismissal motion.
“I welcome the Boies disqualification,” he said late Wednesday. “He will be a major witness because he admitted in a surreptitiously recorded lawful interview that his client was ‘simply wrong’ in accusing me.
“By filing a motion to dismiss, I have preserved my argument that every American has a First Amendment right to forcefully deny a false accusation,” he said. “I look forward to proving that I never even met Giuffre and that she made up the entire story for money.”
Earlier this month, Judge Preska ordered an outside digital forensics firm to establish the authenticity of Dershowitz’s tape recording of his phone call with Boies, who did not consent to it. The recording is of poor quality — the words distant and barely audible.
In Florida, it is illegal to record over the phone without both parties’ consent. But in other states like New York, one party can record without the other party’s consent.
The move to admit the recording into evidence is the latest milepost in Dershowitz’s efforts to undercut Boies’ credibility. The Herald previously reported that Dershowitz had filed multiple bar complaints in three states against Boies. All have been dismissed.
Dershowitz was a pivotal member of the all-star legal team that helped Epstein avoid federal charges of sex trafficking in 2008, after he was accused by as many as three dozen underage girls of coercing them into sex.
Recruiters would fan out into the community and beckon teenage girls to come to Epstein’s waterfront Palm Beach estate to give the man a massage. The massages frequently turned into sex. A 53-page federal sex-trafficking indictment was drafted and then shelved, resulting in Epstein pleading guilty to lenient charges of soliciting minors for prostitution in state court.
Under the secret plea deal with the U.S. Attorney’s Offfice in Miami, Epstein had to register as a sex offender and pay civil settlements to dozens of his victims.