Danny Masterson delay attempt: Shawn Holley busy with Dodgers pitcher Trevor Bauer case
As we pointed out recently, Danny Masterson has broken his streak of appealing failed motions in his criminal rape case, and his October 11 trial in Los Angeles looms.
However, he’s still looking for ways to delay the proceeding. On August 17, at the next scheduled pretrial conference, Judge Charlaine Olmedo will hear Masterson’s latest reason for wanting the trial set back, and this time it’s for a surprising reason: His attorney Shawn Holley is too busy with another celebrity accused of abusing women.
Namely, Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Trevor Bauer.
In a letter addressed to the judge that was in the court file, Holley says that she is lead attorney in the “MLB v MLBPA/Bauer” arbitration, and that with a new witness to question, she anticipates that the proceeding, happening in Washington DC, will be extended into November.
“Given this substantial time commitment, it will be impossible for me to prepare for the Masterson trial until Bauer is complete. For these reasons, it would be my request that the Masterson trial be continued to late January 2023,” Holley writes in the letter.
Based on her track record, we suspect that Judge Olmedo will resist this attempt to move back a criminal rape trial in Los Angeles that could send Danny Masterson to prison for life so a baseball player can first get his arbitration in DC heard in regards to a two-year suspension.
Bauer’s 324-game suspension, announced in April, is the longest since Major League Baseball adopted its new domestic violence policy in 2015. The LA District Attorney’s Office declined to press criminal charges against Baeur last year based on the allegations of a San Diego woman who claimed that the pitcher had sexually assaulted her. But the MLB can suspend a player even if that player isn’t charged criminally, and the league talked to at least two additional women, both in Ohio, who also made allegations against Baeur.
“The Dodgers signed Bauer to a three-year, $102 million contract in February 2021 on the heels of him winning the National League Cy Young Award as a member of the Cincinnati Reds during the COVID-19-shortened 2020 season. But he was placed on administrative leave midway through the first year of his contract and remained there — while receiving his full salary — until the league decided on its suspension three weeks into the 2022 season,” ESPN reported in May.
The arbitration has gone on for months, with Bauer trying to get back to playing before the 19th game of the 2024 season, when he’s scheduled to return after his suspension. Because the proceeding is confidential, there has been little detail about it. But Holley spells out a few particulars in a declaration that she submitted to the court on July 28, two days after her letter to Judge Olmedo.
"New evidence was produced on July 7, 2022 which has necessitated the recalling of a key witness in the case. As a result, the estimated date for completion of the arbitration has been extended, though new dates have not yet been agreed upon by the arbitrator or the parties," she writes. "The evidence in the arbitration matter is voluminous. There are 22 witnesses on the witness list (only 4 of whom have completed their testimony) and substantial documentary evidence. As a result, the time commitment required for preparation and travel is significant."'
There are millions of dollars at stake – ESPN says the Dodgers stand to save $60 million over the suspension that they would have had to pay Bauer – and a 31-year-old Cy Young Award winner’s career in the balance.
But will that really be enough to put on hold, once again, the day in court that Danny Masterson’s accusers have been awaiting for so many years?
We first broke the news that Masterson was under investigation by the LAPD in March 2017. It took three more years before the DA’s office charged him in 2020, and he’s thrown a myriad of motions and appeals and petitions at the case to try to dismiss it or to delay it. The Scientology celebrity and That ’70s Show actor is facing charges that he forcibly raped three women between 2001 and 2003 who were Scientologists themselves at the time, and who have testified that they didn’t come forward sooner because they feared retaliation by the church. If he’s convicted of all three counts, he’s facing 45 years to life in prison. (And in a separate case, the accusers are suing Masterson and Scientology for what they say has been a campaign of harassment since they came forward. That case is currently being petitioned to the US Supreme Court by Scientology, which wants to keep it behind closed doors in its own brand of “religious arbitration.”)
Masterson was initially represented in the rape case by famous criminal defense attorney Tom Mesereau, and by Sharon Appelbaum, who handled his preliminary hearing last year. But then, after that four-day hearing resulted in him being bound over for trial, Masterson hired two additional lawyers, Philip Cohen and Shawn Holley, a member of the original OJ Simpson “Dream Team.”
We first noted Holley’s presence on Masterson’s legal team on November 11, 2021, and then confirmed it with the court on December 15. By February we had evidence that new subpoenas were being issued in the case under Holley’s name. And also by that month, a transcript showed, Holley and Cohen, the two new attorneys, were doing all the talking for Masterson in court and Mesereau and Appelbaum had taken a back seat.
Then, according to Holley’s letter to the court, the Trevor Bauer arbitration began in Washington DC on May 23.
Eight days later, on May 31, Danny Masterson surprised us by showing up to a hearing that he wasn’t expected to attend, so he could inform Judge Olmedo that he was firing Mesereau and Appelbaum.
Why, if the two attorneys had taken a back seat to Holley and Cohen months earlier, had Masterson waited so long to let them go? Our experts had predicted that Masterson would make such a move in order to delay the case. But Judge Olmedo only moved the trial date back six weeks, from August 29 to October 11.
Also at that May 31 hearing, Judge Olmedo got assurances from Holley and Cohen that they were prepared to represent Masterson through trial, and she told them to get their calendars cleared.
By then, however, Holley knew that the Bauer arbitration had started and was likely to last months. And now, in her declaration filed last week, Holley is telling Judge Olmedo that she only became “trial counsel” on May 31.
"Mr. Cohen and I substituted in as trial counsel on this matter on May 31, less than two months ago. We have not yet received all the discovery in the case," she writes.
That’s technically true, but as we pointed out, she and Cohen have been on the case since at least last Fall, and had taken over for the lame duck duo, Mesereau and Appelbaum, by February, months before the Bauer arbitration began in DC.
At the last hearing in the case, on June 30, Judge Olmedo denied Masterson’s most recent motion to dismiss one of the three counts in the case. This time, unlike every other step in the matter in the past, he has not filed an appeal or petition after that defeat. But also during that hearing Holley asked to speak with Judge Olmedo in her chambers, presumably about the Bauer arbitration and her scheduling issues. Holley has told Judge Olmedo, for example, that the Bauer case will make it impossible for her to attend the August 17 pretrial conference in person.
So now, a showdown of sorts is scheduled for August 17, and Holley will find out if her work for Bauer will give Masterson another delay. In her letter, Holley claimed that Deputy District Attorney Reinhold Mueller “had no objection to the matter being continued, particularly in light of the fact that he anticipates providing the defense with additional discovery in the coming days.”
Knowing how much the accusers have already complained about how badly the LAPD handled the investigation at times, and the years of harassment they say they’ve been subjected to, we’re surprised to hear Holley claim that DDA Mueller is amenable to yet another delay. We’ll find out on August 17 if that’s actually true.
Also, one other very interesting detail that Holley revealed in her declaration: The original estimate that the Masterson trial will last only four weeks? That might no longer be the case:
"Mr. Mueller further advised me that there is additional discovery he intends to provide to the defense in the coming days which may necessitate a longer trial time estimate than previously established," she writes.
We can hardly wait to hear what the new discovery material is.
Here’s the declaration and letter from Shawn Holley in the court file.
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