Settlement Reached in Litigation Between Alan Dershowitz, Paul Cassel, and Bradley Edwards

April 8, 2016

Welcome celebrated lawyer and law professor Alan Dershowitz back to the headlines — and not because of his role in The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story. We have a Friday night news dump on our hands.

The defamation case filed against Dershowitz by two other prominent members of the legal community, high-profile Florida lawyer Brad Edwards and former federal judge Paul Cassell, just settled. As you may recall, Edwards and Cassell sued Dershowitz for defamation last year in Florida state court. The two lawyers alleged that Dershowitz defamed them when he claimed that they knowingly filed a lawsuit containing falsehoods about him or at least failed to properly investigate their client’s allegations that Dershowitz had sexual relations with her when she was a minor. Settlement talks in the defamation case have been going on for months, and the two sides just reached agreement.

Shortly before 5 p.m. today, Edwards and Cassell moved to withdraw their motion for partial summary judgment. Their moving papers acknowledge a confidential settlement and mutual release between themselves and Dershowitz, then go on to state:

In the event that the noticed withdrawal is determined to be subject to Court approval, the Plaintiffs would show in support of this notice that Edwards and Cassell continue to represent [Dershowitz accuser] Virginia Giuffre in separate pending matters, and shall continue to advance her legitimate legal interests in those matters. As expressly understood by the parties upon the execution of the Confidential Settlement Agreement and Mutual Release, Ms. Giuffre reaffirms her allegations, and the withdrawal of the referenced filings is not intended to be, and should not be construed as being, an acknowledgement by Edwards and Cassell that the allegations made by Ms. Giuffre were mistaken. Edwards and Cassell do acknowledge that the public filing in the Crime Victims’ Rights Act case of their client’s allegations against Defendant Dershowitz became a major distraction from the merits of the well-founded Crime Victims’ Rights Act case by causing delay and, as a consequence, turned out to have been a tactical mistake. For that reason, Edwards and Cassell have chosen to withdraw the referenced filing as a condition of settlement.

So Virginia Giuffre, formerly known as Virginia Roberts, stands by her accusations that Alan Dershowitz had sexual relations with her when she was a minor. But her lawyers, Brad Edwards and Paul Cassell, concede that dragging the Dersh into this matter “became a major distraction from the merits of the well-founded Crime Victims’ Rights Act case” challenging the deal federal prosecutors struck with one of Dershowitz’s former clients, financier Jeffrey Epstein. (Accused of having sexual relations with multiple underage girls, Epstein ultimately pleaded guilty to just a single state charge of soliciting prostitution.)

A spokesman for Boies, Schiller & Flexner, which also represents Virginia Giuffre, issued this statement earlier today: “Virginia Giuffre was not a party to that [defamation] lawsuit and was not a party to the settlement. We continue to represent Ms. Giuffre in other litigation and Ms. Giuffre stands by her allegations.”

We’ll have more later. We suspect, however, that many of our readers will be disappointed to learn that this clash of the legal titans has been averted, preventing the allegations on all sides from being explored in greater depth in open court.

UPDATE (4/9/2016, 10:55 a.m.): Here is the statement of Alan Dershowitz about the settlement:

I am pleased that the litigation has concluded and I am gratified by the Joint Statement issued today by Jeffrey E. Streitfeld on behalf of the parties, in which “Edwards and Cassell acknowledge that it was a mistake to have filed sexual misconduct accusations against Dershowitz and the sexual misconduct accusations made in all public filings (including all exhibits) are hereby withdrawn.” Mr. Streitfeld’s announcement and the Joint Statement are copied below.

You can access mediator Jeffrey Streitfeld’s statement and the joint statement of the parties — which, to be honest, aren’t very exciting — over here.

Speaking to the Boston Globe, Dershowitz said, “It’s as if I’ve been waterboarded for 15 months. This has taken a terrible toll on my family, on my friends. . . . I never met this woman [Virginia Giuffre], I didn’t know her.”