Shock and Awe


Shock and Awe

In what seems to be another barrage of a coordinated attack on Ernesto Bertarelli’s vision for the America’s Cup, one of the true icons of the modern cup filed a brief today with the NY courts in support of BMW/Oracle.  ’93 Cup winner Bill Koch’s document joins the filings from SDYC and NYYC last week, and together, they represent the voices of nearly the entire history of the America’s Cup.  Koch’s no sycophant either – he’s earned the respect of the entire AC world with his victory as well as his unwillingness to back down to anyone.  Koch also has to be admired for  his funding of the all-chicks Mighty Mary team, his patronage of the epic historical books written by Bob Fisher, and his general preservation of all-things America’s Cup.

While these briefs will obviously carry more weight than the European versions that support Alinghi, will these new  Amici briefs persuade the Court of Appeals to overturn the prior decision?  No one knows the answer to that, but it does help to understand just what these briefs hope to accomplish.

Many litigators consider Amici to be worth about the same as toilet paper – though certainly this isn’t the opinion of the lawyers charging $750/hour to write them.  Remember that the case has already been briefed, and there are thousands of pages of record and research that judges, and more importantly, clerks, already have to wade through.  A supporting brief from a non-party accordingly is not given much weight.  However, a well-researched Amicus offers something special to the clerks that do the vast majority of the work in putting together the building blocks of a decision – it can give them ‘sound bites’ of law that help to elucidate the issues.  Good Amici briefs can often be cited verbatim in an appellate decision, and that’s what the fomer trustees are hoping for with the latest salvo.  It’s not the end, either – rumors persist that yet another brief is on the way on Monday, and the final round in the PR battle should get underway immediately.

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