NEWS MEDIA UPDATE · SECOND CIRCUIT · Libel · Jan. 25, 2007
Condit’s lawyer in libel lawsuit steps down
Jan. 25, 2007 · The attorney for former Rep. Gary Condit was granted court permission to withdraw as counsel in Condit’s second libel suit against author Dominick Dunne on Wednesday after the defendant’s attorney threatened to seek sanctions for filing a frivolous lawsuit.
Condit’s attorney, Mark E. Goidell, asked to resign from the case in a Jan 15. affidavit where he expressed agreement with Dunne’s attorney and said “the defamation claim in this action is not warranted by existing law, or by a non-frivolous argument for new law.”
Condit served 13 years in Congress until the disappearance of one-time intern Chandra Levy cost him his seat in 2002 after reports surfaced that he told investigators of an affair with Levy. That same year, Condit sued Dunne for libel, arguing that Dunne has made comments that implied Condit was involved in Levy’s disappearance and unsolved murder. Condit and Dunne settled that suit in 2005.
Condit sued Dunne for libel again in 2006, insisting that comments the author made on CNN’s “Larry King Live” concerning the Levy case misled the program’s audience.
“I think he [Condit] knows more about what did happen than he has ever said,” Dunne said on the show on Nov. 16, 2005, according to media reports.
Paul V. LiCalsi, attorney for Dunne, told Goidell he was prepared to seek courtroom sanctions, which would lead to fines against Goidell if his lawsuit was determined to be unfounded, according to an affidavit LiCalsi filed with the court.
In response, Goidell agreed that Condit’s second case should have never been brought to court and asked to withdraw.
Condit has until Feb. 28 to find new counsel, according to the order of U.S. District Judge Peter K. Leisure in New York. Leisure’s order also states the court will retain jurisdiction over Goidell, who could still be subject to sanctions if Condit’s lawsuit is not withdrawn.
LiCalsi declined to comment on Goidell’s withdrawal.
Condit has been involved in multiple other libel suits, two of which are still pending, and informed Goidell that he will continue the lawsuit despite the attorney’s withdrawal, according to media reports.
(Condit v. Dunne, Media Counsel: Paul V. LiCalsi, Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal LLP, New York) — MA