Deen attorneys want Atlanta lawyer disqualified from case

by: Rachel Stockman Updated:


ATLANTA - The attorneys representing Paula Deen want the Atlanta-based attorney who filed a lawsuit against her disqualified from the case, citing unethical conduct.

Deen is facing mounting criticism after admitting to using a racial slur during a deposition in the case.

Since then, the Food Network announced they will not be renewing Deen's endorsement and Smithfield Foods has dropped her as a spokesperson.

Lisa T. Jackson is suing Paula Deen and her brother, for alleged repeated harassment at one of the Dean family restaurants in Savannah. Jackson is represented by Atlanta-based attorney Matthew Billips and Savannah-based attorney Wesley Woolf.

Deen's attorneys wants Billips disqualified from the case, saying he violated the Georgia Rules of Professional Conduct and federal court rules during the course of the litigation. Those allegations surround what Billips tweeted several month ago.

Billips deleted his Twitter account, but what Billips tweeted was captured in a freeze frame by Deen's defense attorneys.

Responding to a follower who asked how he was doing, Billips tweeted: "I've been doing Paula Deen in a strongly metaphorical sense."

In another response to a tweet, Billips said: "I plan on undressing her. Metaphorically."

In another tweet, Billips wrote, "Now, talk about fun, suing Paula Deen is a hoot."

In a response motion, Billips said the tweets were taken out of context, and did not imply anything sexual.

Billips added: "... the followers of my Twitter account do not, to the best of my knowledge, reside in the area from which a potential jury would be drawn in this case. There was, therefore, no risk that I would 'tweet' something to a potential juror or that any potential juror would see my Tweets, unless (like defense counsel) they went on an active search."

Deen's attorneys also take issue with the demand letter, which was sent by Jackson's attorney, Wesley Woolf, before Billips was retained and prior to filing lawsuit.

The demand letter reads in part: "If we are unable to settle, the Complaint will not be quietly filed. I am making arrangements for a press conference on the day of the filing, … I hope that upon full and deliberate consideration of this offer, they will come to understand that the price they quietly pay and that my client quietly accepts will allow Paula Deen a chance to salvage a brand that can continue to have value in the future."

The federal judge in the Southern District of Georgia, denied the motion to disqualify Matthew Billips, saying the tweets would not taint a juror. Deen's attorneys have appealed that decision.