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Prosecuting lawyer in Led Zeppelin plagiarism case suspended from practicing law

Francis Malofiy has been slapped with repeated disciplinary measures, and now he's out of the job for three months

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Francis Malofiy won’t be climbing the stairway to the courthouse any time soon. The attorney, who recently lost the plagiarism case surrounding Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven”, has been issued a three month and one day suspension from practicing law.

Malofiy has a history of incontinent conduct in the courtroom, with The Hollywood Reporter stating he tallied over 100 suspended objections and “multiple admonishments” during the Zeppelin case. But that’s not even why he was suspended. The punishment actually stems from a 2014 lawsuit in which one Dan Marino (not whom you’re thinking of) sued Usher over copyright related to the R&B star’s “Bad Girl”. In addition to acting “in a flagrantly unprofessional and offensive manner,” Malofiy duped a co-defendant in the case, William Guice, into signing an affidavit essentially admitting Marino deserved credit. He also recorded a conversation without Guice’s permission and tricked him into thinking he wasn’t even being sued.

The judge in that case, Judge Paul Diamond, issued numerous sanctions against Malofiy and levied $28,000 in court costs against him. Last year, a district court panel of judges handed down the initial suspension, which an appellate panel upheld on Thursday. For his part, Malofiy said he broke no rules and, even if the court disagreed, he didn’t deserve such harsh punishment. Apparently, the district court didn’t look to favorably on his lack of responsibility or reports of his behavior, slapping him with the suspension.

Though the suspension is centered in Pennsylvania, it means Malofiy likely won’t be able to participate in any appeal to the Zeppelin case in Los Angeles. Practicing pro hac vice in California requires an attorney being “in good standing in another jurisdiction,” which Malofiy is now officially not. Of course, that doesn’t mean there won’t be appeals at all; Glen Kulik was co-counsel on the initial case, and he could well take the plagiarism suit into the appeals stage.

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