Trials & Litigation

Lawyer Jose Baez sues ex-client Rose McGowan over her claims of plea pressure, Weinstein ‘shadiness’

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Actress Rose McGowan in 2018. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

Updated: Lawyer Jose Baez has filed a defamation suit against a former client—actress and Harvey Weinstein accuser Rose McGowan—over her claims that Baez pressured her into a plea deal in a cocaine case and was involved in Weinstein “shadiness.”

Baez filed the suit on Tuesday in Cook County, Illinois, court against McGowan and a suburban Chicago law firm accused of aiding her defamation, Salvatore Prescott & Porter, report Courthouse News Service, NBC and the Chicago Sun-Times.

McGowan has accused Weinstein of sexually assaulting her in 1997, although that claim is not part of the ongoing criminal rape and sexual assault trial against the movie producer. Weinstein hired Baez a year ago for his defense team, shortly after McGowan pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor drug charge in Virginia.

McGowan was charged after a wallet left on a plane contained McGowan’s ID and two small plastic bags of cocaine. Baez says he was retained to represent McGowan if the cocaine case went to trial, and a different lawyer negotiated the plea deal.

According to the lawsuit’s allegations, McGowan knew the plea would hurt her reputation and her ability to sell her new book, Brave. As a result, the suit says, McGowan and the Salvatore Prescott law firm “concocted a malicious scheme to salvage McGowan’s reputation at the expense of the reputation of Baez and the Baez law firm.”

Baez claims the defendants published false claims against him by posting a federal lawsuit on LinkedIn that alleged a conspiracy to silence and discredit McGowan. The suit named Weinstein and several of his lawyers as defendants.

Baez was not a named defendant, but the suit cited McGowan’s belief that Weinstein sought to hire Baez to exert influence in her drug possession case.

Baez also alleges that McGowan made defamatory statements that included:

• “I knew there was shadiness going on behind the scenes … This is why my case didn’t go to trial—my instinct was my lawyers had been bought off. … I thought Harvey would get to them behind the scenes and I wouldn’t have fair representation.” (From an interview with the Daily Beast)

• “Baez did nothing for my case and now I know why. A truly terrible human and a disgrace of a lawyer.” (From an interview with the New York Times)

Baez is no longer a member of Weinstein’s defense team.

Julie Porter, a founding partner of Salvatore Prescott & Porter, issued this statement: “The lawsuit we filed on Ms. McGowan’s behalf in federal court in California details the significant harm she has suffered. We will continue to pursue justice for her. Efforts to use the legal system to bully her or our firm with a retaliatory and frivolous complaint will fail.”

Updated at 3:10 p.m. to include comment from Porter.

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