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LAWSUITS/LEGAL UPDATES: Lou Pearlman Held in Contempt in Aaron Carter Lawsuit & (Click on More to view all articles)

On March 13, Tampa, FL Judge William Leven found Lou Pearlman and Transcontinental Records in contempt of court for ignoring the judge's previous court order to produce documents relating to royalty payments. Judge Leven further fined them $2,500 in the Hillsborough County Case "Aaron Carter by his parents and guardians-in-fact Robert Carter and Jane E. Carter versus TransContinental Records Inc. and Louis J. Pearlman."

Bill Yanger, attorney for the parents said, "Lou Pearlman may think he can ignore Aaron Carter; he may think he can ignore me, but Pearlman learned today that he'd better not ignore a Circuit Court Judge in Hillsborough County. I think the ruling today made it very clear that Pearlman has two strikes against him in this litigation and there better not be a third."

The Carters have repeatedly tried, but to no avail, to obtain a full accounting on behalf on their 15-year-old son Aaron Carter for the records Pearlman's label has sold and continues to sell for the teen pop star.

"Unfortunately, TransContinental has failed to provide any royalty payments or accounting, ever to Aaron," says Jane Carter. "TransContinental's only response is to continue to stonewall in this matter; an all too familiar pattern for Louis Pearlman and his label."

In June, 2002, the Carters filed their original lawsuit on behalf of their son, through their Tampa based attorney Bill Yanger, in Hillsborough Country. They have made demands for accounting statements and royalties due their son.

In 1997, Pearlman signed then 10-year-old Aaron Carter, younger brother to Backstreet Boy Nick Carter, to a recording agreement with his TransContinental Records label. Through TransContinental Records, Carter recorded and released albums, including compilations, sold both in the U.S. and abroad. According to the suit, despite having reached platinum sales status and selling more than one million copies of his recordings to date, Carter has not received any royalties from the sale of his TransContinental albums.

Jury Says Jackson Owes $5.3 Million

SANTA MARIA, Calif. (AP) — A jury decided Thursday that Michael Jackson owes a concert promoter $5.3 million for backing out of two concerts planned to celebrate the millennium on New Year's Eve 1999.

The verdict came in a $21 million breach-of-contract lawsuit filed against the singer by German concert organizer Marcel Avram. Jackson's attorneys said it was Avram who canceled the shows over concerns they would not be profitable.

The jury deliberated for nearly two weeks.

Avram's attorney, Louis "Skip" Miller, said he was pleased that the jury found Jackson was at fault. "The jury believed Avram, they did not believe Michael Jackson. That's what the whole thing comes down to," he said.

Jackson attorney Steve Cochran did not immediately return a call.

Avram said Jackson had agreed to perform two concerts on Dec. 31, 1999. He would have performed in Sydney, Australia, and then flown across the international dateline to Honolulu for another concert, technically within the same calendar day.

While much of the testimony drew little media attention, appearances from Jackson became worldwide news, mostly because of his ghostly appearance and witness-stand antics.

At one point, the 44-year-old Jackson hobbled into court on crutches with his left foot wrapped in bandages because of swelling from what he described as a spider bite. He also giggled during questioning and made comical faces at people in the courtroom.

Miller said he plans to appeal $6 million in damages that Judge Zel Canter barred the jury from considering. That amount represent the loss of TV revenues the concerts would have created and alleged debts Avram says he paid for the singer.

Man Faces Murder Charge in Rocker's Death

MIAMI (AP) — A Florida man charged in the 1993 strangling of a rising grunge-rock star will not fight extradition to Washington state, his attorney said Monday.

Jesus Mezquia, 48, who is being held without bail in Miami on first-degree murder charges, will not contest the transfer, said Elliot Snyder, his lawyer.

Mia Zapata, the 27-year-old lead singer of The Gits, was found beaten, raped and strangled on a Seattle street July 7, 1993.

She was little-known nationally but popular locally at the height of Seattle's grunge-rock scene in the early '90s. Big-name bands like Pearl Jam, Nirvana and Soundgarden raised $70,000 to hire a private investigator, but the funds eventually dried up.

Initially, no match was found for DNA taken from the scene of her death. In December, a DNA profile from Mezquia, a convicted felon from Marathon, was entered into the National DNA Index System and matched the sample, authorities said.

If convicted, he faces 20 years to life in prison.

Haggard Retrieves Audiotape of Music

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Country singer Merle Haggard has retrieved an audiotape of some of his unreleased music from a woman he sued for allegedly stealing the cassette from his tour bus in 2001.

Kathy Schroeder denied stealing the tape, which she tried to auction on eBay for $325,000. Haggard dropped his lawsuit after getting the tape back. Other terms of the settlement were not made public.

Schroeder, a concert promoter, said a singer left the tape at her house and she tried to sell it to recover an estimated $80,000 she lost when Haggard canceled an October 2001 appearance. She has sued the singer over the cancellation.

Singer D'Angelo Settles With Woman Who Says He Spit On Her

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) – Grammy-winning R&B singer D'Angelo has reached a civil settlement with a woman who said he spit on her.

D'Angelo, who was charged under the name Michael Eugene Archer, was to have been tried Wednesday on misdemeanor assault and obstruction of justice charges. He reached a settlement Tuesday with a woman who said he cursed at her and spit on her during a Nov. 18 traffic confrontation. Settlement terms were not disclosed.

When a policeman tried to serve warrants at D'Angelo's home, he tried to shut the door on the officer, who then forced his way in and subdued the singer with pepper spray.

D'Angelo was fined $500 on the obstruction of justice charge after pleading no contest.

Prosecutors and D'Angelo's attorney, Ned M. Mikula, agreed that the singer didn't have to be in court Tuesday when the criminal charge was handled.

D'Angelo, 29, won Grammys in 2000 for best R&B album for Voodoo and for best male R&B vocal performance for Untitled (How Does It Feel). He grew up in the Richmond area, the son of a minister.

Master P Stalker Sentenced

LOS ANGELES, California (AP) — A Chicago man pleaded guilty to stalking rapper Master P and was sentenced to one year in jail.

In a court appearance Friday, Antwan Kevin Baker, 32, was also ordered to stay at least 100 yards from the rap star for the next decade and placed on three years probation.

Baker did not explain why he stalked the rap singer.

A telephone message left after business hours for Master P's lawyer, Donald K. Wilson Jr., was not immediately returned.

Prosecutors said Baker followed Master P for two years and was arrested in April 2002 after allegedly making threatening telephone calls to the rapper's security guards.

Ex-'American Idol' Singer to Stand Trial

HERMITAGE, Pa. (AP) — An Ohio man booted off the TV show "American Idol" after he allegedly took part in a fatal bar fight was ordered Friday to stand trial in the altercation.

Jaered N. Andrews, 24, is charged with simple assault for allegedly punching a man in the face Nov. 16 at the Blue Ribbon Grille in Farrell, about 60 miles northwest of Pittsburgh.

Thomas Blakeley, 39, died after hitting his head on the sidewalk outside the bar, authorities said.

Officials at Fox-TV, which produces "American Idol," have repeatedly refused to say why Andrews was removed in January. Andrews, who appeared on four episodes, maintains he was kicked off because of the fight.

Andrews didn't immediately return a call from The Associated Press seeking comment.

Britney Spears, Footwear Co. File Suits

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Lawyers for Britney Spears and the footwear company Skechers are dismissing each other's lawsuits as "ludicrous" and "bogus."

Spears filed a $1.5 million breach of agreement lawsuit against Skechers in December, claiming the company failed to adequately pay her for marketing a line of roller skates and accessories.

Skechers responded Wednesday with a $10 million lawsuit, accusing the pop diva of fraud and breach of contract. According to Skechers, Spears refused to cooperate with designers and marketers in bringing out the products.

"(Spears) has not allowed Skechers to use her name and she still wants the money. You can't have it both ways," said Skechers lawyer Daniel Petrocelli, who called the singer's lawsuit "bogus."

In a statement, Spears' lawyer Michael Friedman said Skechers' suit is a "ludicrous attempt to distract the court and the general public from the real issue."

"Skechers failed to meet their contractual financial obligations to Ms. Spears," Friedman said.

Spears signed a three-year worldwide licensing agreement with Skechers in January 2002.

According to Spears' lawsuit, the company failed to find outside businesses to manufacture accessories for her line while using the singer's presence in advertisements to increase sales of its own similar skate products.

Paul Reubens Appeals Judge's Refusal to Drop Misdemeanor Child Pornography Possession Charge

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Pee-wee Herman actor Paul Reubens is appealing a judge's refusal to throw out a misdemeanor child pornography possession charge.

Reubens' attorneys argued Monday that Superior Court Judge Carol H. Rehm's February ruling was flawed because a 1989 statute does not apply to material produced before the law was enacted.

Lawyers Blair Berk and Benjamin L. Coleman said Reubens' collection of vintage erotica predates 1989.

Berk and Coleman also argued that the statute of limitations for a misdemeanor crime expired before the city filed the charge last November.

Eric Moses, an aide to City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo, said he was confident the appellate justices would uphold Rehm's ruling.

"We believe the trial court ruling was well reasoned and consistent with law, and the defendant's petition makes the same exact argument that failed to persuade the trial court judge," Moses said.

It was not immediately known when the appeals court would rule.

Reubens, 50, has pleaded innocent to one misdemeanor count of possessing material depicting children under 18 engaging in sexual conduct. He is free on $20,000 bail.

The charge, which carries a maximum penalty of a year in jail and a $2,500 fine, resulted from a search of Reubens' home in November 2001. Police seized his art collection and personal computers.