Pellicano Case: Moment of Truth for Bert Fields

October 18, 2006, 5:05 PM UTC
Fortune

Speaking of investigations into investigations, the NYT has an interesting piece today suggesting that prosecutors are coming to the put-up-or-shut-up point as to whether they will charge legendary entertainment lawyer Bert Fields in connection with their probe of alleged illegal wiretapping by private detective Anthony Pellicano. (Click here for that article.)

Fields frequently hired Pellicano as an investigator, but has maintained that he never knew that Pellicano was doing anything illegal (assuming, for the sake of argument, that Pellicano was). Reporter David M. Halbfinger reports that “at least 10 members” of Fields law firm, Greenberg, Glusker, Fields, Claman & Machtinger, have been called before the grand jury in recent weeks.

The definitive article about Fields and his connection to the Pellicano matter was Ken Auletta’s fascinating profile in The New Yorker. (You can read it here.) Personally, Auletta’s story left me feeling that Fields was probably guilty, though most of the evidence pointing me in that direction was totally inadmissible–including daring tactical gambits he’d employed in unrelated cases and the behavior of a fictional, non-squeaky-clean lawyer-protagonist in novels written by Fields.

A detail I’ve always found intriguing about the case is that in 1995 an attorney from Fields’s firm registered, on Pellicano’s behalf, the trademark for a device called Telesleuth, which is described in the Pellicano indictment as “a computer software program to be used for the purpose of intercepting telephonic communication.” The indictment also alleges that Pellicano did, in fact, use Telesleuth illegally for that purpose.