January 11, 2011
References to pork, Jesus lead to retrial
References to the trial of Jesus and a pork comment made by a defense lawyer for Cisco Systems during a federal trial have led a judge to grant a new trial.
Jurors in Marshall, Texas, last May awarded Commil USA more than $3.7 million in patent infringement damages, though the company asked for $57 million.
Commil charged in a motion for a new trial that the remarks and illusions to the trial of Jesus Christ prejudiced the jury in the case, The American Lawyer reported.
Judge Charles Everingham IV, who presided over the original trial, on Dec. 29 granted the motion for a new trial.
During the questioning of Commil’s owner Jonathan David, who is Jewish and lives in Israel, Cisco counsel Otis Carroll remarked “I bet not pork” after David said that he had dinner with patent inventors at a barbecue restaurant.
The judge rebuked Carroll in front of the jury and Carroll apologized to David, the jury and Commil’s lawyers for the remark.
During his closing remarks, Carroll invoked the trial of Jesus Christ, asking jurors to “remember the most important trial in history, which we all read about as kids, in the Bible.”
Commil’s request for a new trial cited the Jesus reference in the closing argument and the pork comment.
The judge also cited both in granting the new trial.
“This argument, when read in context with Cisco’s counsel’s comment regarding Mr. David and [patent co-inventor] Mr. Arazi’s religious heritage, impliedly aligns Cisco’s counsel’s religious preference with that of the jurors and employs an ‘us v. them’ mentality—i.e., ‘we are Christian and they are Jewish,’ ” Everingham said in his ruling.
Cisco’s motion opposing a new trial said that Carroll’s remarks were “off the cuff” and that Commil was using them to create “the illusion of some kind of anti-Jewish conspiracy by Cisco.”