Hotel California trial over stolen Eagles lyrics abruptly dropped by prosecutors

Hotel California Lyrics Trial (Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)
Hotel California Lyrics Trial (Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

The unusual criminal case over stolen handwritten lyrics for the Eagles’ classic rock album Hotel California has been aruptly dropped mid-trial.

Three men had been accused of conspiring to possess a cache of lyrics to the American band’s hit song “Hotel California”, among others.

Assistant Manhattan district attorney Aaron Ginandes informed the judge at 10am on Wednesday 6 March that prosecutors would no longer proceed with the case, citing newly available emails that defense lawyers said raised questions about the trial's fairness.

The trial had been underway since late February.

“The people concede that dismissal is appropriate in this case,” Ginandes said.

The raft of communications emerged only when Eagles star Don Henley apparently decided last week to waive attorney-client privilege, after he and other prosecution witnesses had already testified. The defense argued that the new disclosures raised questions that it hadn't been able to ask.

“Witnesses and their lawyers” used attorney-client privilege “to obfuscate and hide information that they believed would be damaging,” Judge Curtis Farber said in dismissing the case.

All three men pleaded not guilty – their lawyers said they did not commit any crime with the papers, which they acquired through a writer, Ed Sanders, who was working on an unpublished biography authorised by The Eagles.

Sanders, who was given the documents as research for his book in the late Seventies and Eighties, was not charged in the case.

More to follow...