It was an animated Barry Cappello who on Wednesday morning tried to persuade Santa Barbara Superior Court Judge James Brown to change his mind about upholding an arbitrator's award which will give former News-Press editor Jerry Roberts over $900,000 in attorney's fees and costs from his former employer.
But alas, Cappello, the lawyer for Wendy McCaw's News-Press, must have known it was a futile effort. After all, when the judge indicated in his tentative ruling that Roberts' attorney, Andrine Smith, should appear by telephone rather than travel from San Francisco for the hearing, that should have been the tip off. Judges rarely encourage counsel to stay away from court and then rule against their clients in absentia. There was no way His Honor was going to change his mind.
It was perhaps ironic then that Cappello found himself pointing out to Brown that he never had a chance to argue the arbitrator's "tentative" ruling. That ruling, in which the arbitrator first indicated she was going to rule in favor of McCaw and the News-Press but later reversed her field and ruled for Roberts, is perhaps what lulled Cappello into failing to object to a perceived loss of jurisdiction by the arbitrator when she serially extended deadlines by which to decide the matter.
When it was her turn to address the court, Smith argued there was no lapse of jurisdiction and even if there was, it was waived by Cappello's side.
Following the hearing, and outside the courtroom, Cappello vowed to appeal the judge's decision.
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