Introduction to the Litigation between Kelley Lynch and Leonard Cohen
Why I Am Publishing This SiteI started this website for three reasons. I am a Leonard Cohen fan, I have long archived articles and reviews about Leonard, and I have a legal background which made me curious about the extensive legal proceedings between Cohen and his former manager Lynch. But what began as a personal interest in my favorite singer-songwriter's legal plight turned into an illustration of what we sometimes see in our American judicial system, a kind of never-ending horror story. This website offers a record of the legal nightmare Leonard Cohen, and his lawyers, have quietly endured since 2005, almost twelve years as of this writing.
Prior to his recent death, Leonard asked that my website be made open to the public. He did so for two reasons. First, he wanted the truth about his battles with Lynch to be easily available to scholars. Second, he wanted to direct anyone interested in the Lynch saga to his primary litigation lawyer, Michelle Rice, so that any reporting about Lynch would be accurate. Michelle drafted almost all the court documents filed on Leonard's behalf in multiple courts around the country and developed all the legal strategies for Leonard since 2005. She recovered Leonard's property (i.e. notebooks, letters, etc.) from Lynch in 2005, obtained a $7.3 million judgment for Leonard in 2006, won legal mal-practice arbitration in 2006, recovered additional funds from Leonard's investment advisers in Colorado in 2008, and renewed the Leonard Cohen's judgment against Lynch in 2016 for $14 million.
During this period, Rice also protected Leonard against Lynch's menacing and disturbing harassment. Michelle obtained restraining orders in California in 2005 and Colorado in 2008. Lynch avoided prosecution until 2012 by moving around the country and harassing Leonard from long distance. Finally, in late 2011, Michelle found Lynch in northern California and ultimately had Lynch arrested and prosecuted in 2012 for harassment of Leonard in California based on enforcement of the Colorado restraining order. This strategy was nothing short of brilliant given California and Colorado law, and Lynch received a 5-year sentence and served 9 months in jail. Unfortunately, the saga continues. Lynch has vowed to continue her fight against Leonard's estate and continues to harass Leonard's lawyers.
A Thank You from LeonardPrior to his death, Leonard was concerned that Rice was not properly thanked and appreciated for her work on his behalf. You will see in his Witness Statement, made in connection with Lynch's first criminal conviction in 2012, that Leonard told the Court:
Shortly before his death, as it became clear that Leonard Cohen's former manager Lynch would try to evade the restraining order once again, and Michelle Rice initiated another prosecution against Lynch in order to protect Leonard and his family, Leonard provided the following addition for posting on this site:
A Note about Our Legal SystemThe U.S. legal system goes to great lengths to accommodate those who seek redress for wrongs committed against them. The wrongdoer cannot escape his actions by failing to respond to plaintiff's complaint. At the same time, the courts strive to make certain all proceedings are fair. If a litigant cannot afford the court costs, fees are waived. If a party is unrepresented, the courts take special care to make certain their rights are protected, and in criminal cases, to provide lawyers. Litigants can appeal a judgment through the court system and/or seek redress in another court more suited to hear their claim. Further, even though a judgment is final, the losing party can attack that judgment under certain court rules, and can file numerous motions long after a judgement has been obtained. All this means that the certainty of that final judgment may take a long time to achieve. Leonard Cohen's ex-manager Lynch has availed herself of all of these strengths of the American legal system.
The American judicial system generally works because certain assumptions are made about the parties that seek redress. The courts assume that the parties' claims have some legitimacy which can be proven with evidence and are not frivolous accusations put forth simply to exact revenge. The courts assume that the parties will respect the court system in which they are seeking redress. When judges issue orders, the courts assume those orders will not be ignored or disregarded simply because a party finds them unfavorable. Finally, the legal system assumes that the parties are rational and will act rationally, and that in the case of a bad action by a party in a civil case, a financial sanction will cause the offending party to follow a court order or rule.
Unfortunately, when a party defies the assumptions made by the judicial system, the legal process turns into a version of Groundhog Day, but without the humor. The American judicial system is made up of dispassionate rules and procedures. It is not equipped to fully deal with vengeful litigants who manipulate those rules and procedures and feel that because financial sanctions have no meaning, they can continue to fight based on their belief that they have nothing to lose.
Leonard has always said that Kelley Lynch is an extraordinarily capable person. She has some legal training of her own, having worked for Marty Machat, Leonard's lawyer and manager from 1972 to 1988. Lynch is devious, very clever, and acknowledges again and again that she has capable lawyers assisting. She refuses to accept the repeated rulings of numerous courts which have all indicated over and over that she is wrong. Both civil and criminal judges have commented that she will always come back with another argument, even if she is destined to lose. Rice has prevailed against Lynch at every turn, but Leonard has said that Lynch is energized by her losses in some demonic way. Lynch has vowed to continue her fight, even against Leonard's estate.
For Further Information on the Court Proceedings between Cohen and LynchIn appreciation for all Leonard has given to me, I plan to keep this site updated. I would prefer that Kelley simply accept her fate, but that seems very unlikely.
For specific information about Lynch's legal arguments or the history of this story, I would ask that you contact Michelle Rice, Esq. at Kory & Rice, LLP in Los Angeles.