'Sense of entitlement' led BigLaw partner to 'brazenly' appear at deposition and act 'obnoxious,' sanctions bid says

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AP Alex Spiro 1

Attorney Alex Spiro emerges from a courtroom at the Palm Beach County Courthouse in April 2019 in West Palm Beach, Florida. (Photo by Patrick Dove/ via the Associated Press)

Alex Spiro, a partner with Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, wrongly appeared at a Texas deposition without pro hac vice permission and then proceeded to act in a “ridiculously unprofessional” manner, according to a sanctions motion by a Los Angeles man suing Tesla CEO Elon Musk for alleged defamation.

Spiro, who is representing Musk, acted in a way that was “astonishingly unprofessional, as he continually interrupted the deposition with commentary, gave numerous improper instructions not to answer, berated opposing counsel, insulted plaintiff’s claims, mocked counsel’s questions, and generally acted in the most obnoxious manner one could contemplate without crossing into parody,” according to allegations in the April 8 sanctions motion.

The motion claims that Spiro’s “sense of entitlement” led to his surprise appearance at the March 27 deposition and to his “outrageous conduct” at the proceeding. Spiro, who “brazenly engaged in unauthorized practice of law,” according to the sanctions motion, tried to seal the transcript—without success.

Spiro’s name appeared 170 times in the transcript of the 110-page deposition. He continuously interrupted with “snide and ridiculous commentary” while coaching the witness, the motion alleged.

Reuters, Above the Law, Bloomberg Law and Law360 have stories.

Spiro had filed a motion for pro hac vice permission to participate in the case, even though he is not licensed in Texas, but it had not been granted at the time of the deposition, according to Reuters.

“This is amateur hour,” Spiro said in a statement published by the publications. “I understand this lawyer wants his 15 minutes of fame, but these shakedown tactics won’t work.”

The plaintiff, Benjamin Brody, is represented by Mark Bankston, one of the lawyers who successfully sued Infowars host Alex Jones for his false claims that the December 2012 mass shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, was a “giant hoax.” Bankston obtained a verdict of nearly $50 million in the case.

Brody alleges that posts on X, formerly known as Twitter, wrongly claimed that he was an undercover agent posing as a member of a neo-Nazi group in a brawl. Brody claims that Musk amplified the false claim in a post.

“Looks like one is a college student (who wants to join the govt)” and who was engaged in “a probable false flag situation,” Musk wrote.

Above the Law published portions of the deposition transcript, including this one:

“Mr. Spiro: This isn’t like a real case. This is just some stupid—

Mr. Bankston: Mr. Spiro.

Mr. Spiro: Yeah, so—

Mr. Bankston: Lawyers do not—It is not in accordance with the lawyer’s creed to just start making random statements about the alleged frivolity of a case to a lawyer in a deposition. You know that’s not proper. You know that.

Mr. Spiro: Do you give these lectures in all of your depositions?”

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