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back to article Don't let no-hire pact suit witnesses call Steve Jobs a bullyboy, plead Apple and Google

The tech firms at the heart of the "no-hire pact" class action suit has asked the court to exclude certain evidence by witnesses as to whether or not they thought Steve Jobs was "a bully". Google, Apple, Intel and Adobe are still fighting the suit filed by tech workers, which alleges that Silicon Valley firms agreed not to poach …

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Anonymous Coward

So, a case of....

"Nice patent portfolio. It would be a shame if something happened to it."

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"Mr Jobs’s character has no bearing on whether any Defendant entered into an illegal conspiracy to suppress wages or whether class members suffered damages," they said,..."

Ummm, it does actually. Trying to obtain an illegal agreement via extortion is certainly an offense. The character of the people involved will play a role, especially if it is shwon to be one in a chain of similar events.

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Holmes

Not When the conspiracy Has Expensive Lawyers?

Jobs was hardly known as Mr Nice Guy was he? This is a bit like refusing evidence of prior art when dealing with patents. The Mafia did not apply protection rackets to mobile phone stuff, so could there be an issue if, magic IF, someone else thought about doing so?

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Anonymous Coward

It is irrelevant since most court cases do not reveal the past history of a defendant.

A burglar may be a career criminal, but the court does not reveal to the jury this fact. It would create bias and make "beyond reasonable doubt" much harder.

Each case is decided on the facts of that case alone, not previous history.

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Ah, but you can use evidence to show he was a bully, you just can't say he was a bully.

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It's probably not relevant but just might be - the 'threat' may look obvious but is still subject to interpretation; if threats and bullying were established to be staples of his m.o. then that might help seal the status of that part of the email.

Put it this way, if the expensive defence lawyers could somehow spin it that it couldn't be a threat because Jobs just wasn't that sort of person they'd certainly give that a go.

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Anonymous Coward

You can in the UK in civil cases (which this is).

In cross-examination, you can question the character of the person, if the defence have previously introduced character.

So:

Defence paints picture of a nice guy, in an attempt to make it look like the alleged act would have been out of character. Prosecution can then paint a picture of a nasty guy to show that it was likely he was the sort of person to do that sort of thing.

Without defence relying on character submissions, prosecution can not introduce them.

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...and this is wrong. Rejecting prior evidence is illogical, leads to non-optimal decision (see Bayesian inference)

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But the point here is if a concerned neighbour comes upto you and says - "that wiring looks a little a little worn it could cause a fire, you should get it looked at" you might reasonably make a different conclusion than if a Mafia boss comes into your restaurant with three goons and says "that wiring ....be a shame if the place burned down - you should sell to me now".

Steve Jobs wasn't calling the boss of Palm with friendly business advice - it was a threat, anybody who had dealt with Jobs knew it was a threat, the jury should know it was a threat.

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Anonymous Coward

"A burglar may be a career criminal, but the court does not reveal to the jury this fact. It would create bias and make "beyond reasonable doubt" much harder. Each case is decided on the facts of that case alone, not previous history"

Here in the UK at least, the changes to the law represented in the Criminal Justice Act 2003 regarding bad character mean that evidence of prior criminal conduct is admissible under a surprisingly wide range of circumstances.

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Re: Ummm, it does actually.

Particularly in the US, where part of the jury function is determining the character of the witnesses and weighting their testimony accordingly.

I also found the bit about the DoJ investigation muddled. To admit evidence of the DoJ investigation for any purpose would be unduly prejudicial ...

No it isn't. So long as the evidence was collected according to established processes the evidence is valid and the defense has the chance to rebut it. Furthermore, whenever a defendant pleads the 5th the jury are explicitly instructed "this does not imply guilt for the crime in question and shall not be treated as such" or something to the same effect. If the agreement were introduced as a fact in court, surely the same disclaimer can be applied.

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I thought this was a US case

Hence the relevance of the DoJ investigation. Not sure how exactly that would translate to a UK case. In theory I'd think it ought to be transferable, but given the nature of international relations even amongst friendly countries in practice I didn't think it worked so well.

If it is a UK case, I withdraw my earlier remark about the jury determining the character of the witness. Not familiar enough with the particulars of your system to comment on that part.

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>"A burglar may be a career criminal, but the court does not reveal to the jury this fact

But it might take it into account when issuing a shotgun license to someone with 20 convictions for armed robbery vs a gamekeeper on a scottish grouse moor.

The question here is, was there a link between the "don't you try and hire any of our people" and "nice product you've got there - shame if it violates any our patents" emails from Jobs.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I thought this was a US case

Most of the US legal system is based upon English Common Law.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_national_legal_systems

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Character Witness.

But surely in a couple of recent UK cases the defendants spent a lot of time outlining their past lives to paint a picture of their characters and then called on others to give character descriptions.

I'm thinking of R Brooks and M Clifford

( All usual legal niceties respected..for ongoing cases)

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Re: " R Brooks and M Clifford"

Fairly sure they have it coming though. (whatever "have it coming" can be subjectively perceived as).

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racket

I guess the correct description would be racketeering.

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Let's see...

So the court should disallow all the other evidence in previous cases of mr. Jobs strongarming world+dog to suit his needs?

That's quite a list there..

Face it.. Steve Jobs was a first-class asshat, who did not hesitate to throw his weight around in some very, very questionable ways in his life. Get over it. This is not the Saint you are looking for, Fanbois.

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Re: Face it.. Steve Jobs was a first-class asshat

Well, I didn't know him personally and never actually spoke with him, but I note that he did look a lot like Arnold Rimmer in glasses, which no-one could take as a good sign.

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Re: Let's see...

Didn't he make Woz sob years later when Woz found out the Steve screwed him out of some money 30 years early? (by lying about how much they were going to get paid)

It seems to me that whatever opinion of Steve Jobs the public might have had, that the reality was probably 4 times worse (I mean, he screwed over the guy that was solely responsible for him becoming rich). Should the jury being made aware of the "lack" of character Jobs had when deciding whether or not he was threatening the Palm CEO, yes, I believe they should.

Sounds like he was a world-class douche when he was alive.

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It's pretty outrageous to try and get the DoJ investigation evidence held back. Whatever you might think of the evidence, it is still evidence of some description. Just because you entered into a dodgy deal with the DoJ not to take you to court, does not stop that being evidence and to prevent it in a civil case would be wrong.

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@ bigtimehustler

See my earlier post about my real feelings. But here's the catch:

Here in the US, when you talk to the typical person, the only thing that screams 'Guilty!' louder than taking the 5th in court is entering into exactly the sort of deal they cut with the DoJ.

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WTF?

Creepy

If you're wondering do I mean Eric or Steve for legal reasons I'll let you decide.

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Sad

The problem here isn't a 'no poaching' understanding, I don't know anywhere that doesn't go on once you start talking about key personnel and senior management. The problem is the fact these clowns didn't know enough basic etiquette to know you don't need an agreement not to do that. Just like you know you can't have sex with other people's spouses, or kill them, if everybody doesn't agree to honor social etiquette (you can I suppose, but that's another issue).

I think about 95% of the problems in tech are related to the fact that classless misanthropes were kept in their basements and not allowed to reach positions of wealth and power and now that's no longer the case. Bunch of clowns weren't being 'bullied' throughout history, they were pushed out because they've got no sense of propriety, manners or honor.

A raging asshole with a sense of proper behavior is always preferable to a jackass who thinks social and professional etiquette aren't important.

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Re: Sad

"...they've got no sense of propriety, manners or honor."

You just described about half the IT people I've ever worked with.

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Re: Sad

Someone I know who used to work for a large tech firm on the West Coast of the USA has frequently referred to the odd situation created by suddenly-rich men well down the autism scale being targeted by the sort of women that prey on rich men. There is a reinforcement loop of selfishness that is horrifying to witness, apparently.

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"Irrelevant character evidence should be excluded"

Agreed. It was irrelevant what sort of person Hitler was.

He was just in charge of a project that suffered poor requirements analysis, scoping, and misdirected resources towards the end.

A couple project managers weren't well performing either.

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People forget that determining what is and isn't admissible in a case is the biggest part of a judges job (in the US anyway). Even really simple things can be excluded, or included, at the judges sold discretion. What's usually seen as 'process' in court, say all the evidence presented against someone in a straightforward DUI case is actually nothing more than a streamlined way of saying if prosecutors provide A, B & C then judge can just skip over details if the defendant doesn't want to give them and pass out (ha!) their judgement.

But the judge can ignore, or weight, those streamlined pieces of evidence if they feel it's the appropriate thing to do. They're rarely going to do that for something like a DUI, that's so obviously illegal.

But for 'moral' judgements and such they can and most certainly do get into the details and that's generally why not simple court cases typically take epically long periods of time to resolve. What is supposed to be about a defendant becomes about two legal teams battling each other and presenting evidence as to why their evidence should be included or the evidence of the opposing lawyers excluded.

Moral issues are also the judges discretion and all US law, like law in all EU countries, recognizes 'moral imperative' which is a good thing. It's what allows a woman held prisoner in a basement to kill her captor if the situation presents itself and not be charged with taking a life by lying in wait (premeditated murder/manslaughter by ambush) which is worse than just regular premeditated killing. That's an extreme example, but 'digital law' (yes or no) isn't practiced in any civilized country. There's a grey area that's a really big part of the Human condition and any system which claims to carry the banner of justice is incapable of doing so if that grey area isn't recognized.

Unfortunately, like so much of our legal system, good ideas have been gamed by bad people and it has made a mess of everything. There should have been a 'don't be a dick' amendment to the Constitution.

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Re: There should have been a

Problem is, the dicks would have ignored it just like the bits they've been ignoring without it.

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He was/is a piece of s***!

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Moral Monster is not ...

... a line on which you can "creep up".

It's interesting, many of the defendants at the Nuremberg Trials were convicted and hung for crimes committed before the outbreak of World War II (September 1939). This "curiosity" was no doubt due to the documents available about the crimes, which did not enjoy the protective cover of wartime security. This is relevant here because the Silicon Valley culture is pathologic. Back a few years when "everyone in the Industry was doing it" everyone clearly was NOT doing "it".

Steve Jobs was one of a kind, no doubt, but now, then and in the future, the circumspection of exactly what kind matters.

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Anonymous Coward

seems quite relevant to me

Jobs behaved like a bully for many years. The fact that he tried to bully another firm's exec to go along with his illegal scheme seems quite relevant to the case. The fact that he did it in a way that was quite typical for him (i.e. patent suit threats) also seems relevant but you'd have to find direct witnesses, not hearsay evidence.

Personally, I hope that all the affected tech employees that are part of a class action suit put a BIG dent in Apples cash stash. Given the number of tech companies besides those directly involved whose salaries are based on "industry benchmarks" partly driven from Silicon Valley workers, that could be a very large class indeed.

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