FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- A Florida law firm is asking a bankruptcy judge not to hold it or their former client in contempt for allegedly retaining copies of another firm’s confidential documents.
On April 11, Fowler White Burnett PA filed a response to motions requesting an order showing cause why the firm and its former client, a convicted billionaire sex offender, shouldn’t be held in contempt. The motions to show cause were submitted by Farmer, Jaffe, Weissing, Edwards, Fistos & Lehrman PL and Bradley Edwards, and were based on an agreed order canceling a hearing. The 2010 order stems from allegations that thousands of emails protected by attorney-client privilege came from Fowler White Burnett.
Farmer Jaffe and Bradley Edwards are seeking sanctions for civil contempt in the form of compensatory damages. They also seek a finding of criminal contempt “as may be appropriate” and monetary sanctions of $25,000 for each of the interveners.
Fowler White is fighting the sanctions, arguing the cited court order didn’t say what to do with a disc that is at issue. The firm noted that the sole basis for the petition to the court is that it was in possession of a disc, the court “specifically ordered’ it “not to retain.”
“However, the agreed order canceling hearing does not order Fowler White to take any specified action as to the disc,” Fowler White said in its response.
The firm further noted that the order didn’t state that the disk be destroyed, turned over or given to anyone else.
Fowler White stated it isn’t “currently in possession of the disc” reportedly in its files because it provided all hard files to Epstein’s current attorney, Scott Link, in March.
“There is nothing left for which to coerce compliance even if the order had instructed Fowler White to destroy the disk,” the firm said.
Fowler White also argued that the bankruptcy court doesn’t have the authority to “make a finding of criminal contempt.”
“Bankruptcy courts do not have inherent power to impose criminal contempt sanctions,” the firm said in its response.