“I don’t like to lose,” famed criminal defense attorney José Baez allegedly told his client, actress and #MeToo activist Rose McGowan, as she sought reassurance two years ago that he’d never work with disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, the man she had accused of raping her.
However, Baez—who got accused child-killer Casey Anthony acquitted and homicidal New England Patriots star Aaron Hernandez cleared of two murders days before his apparent suicide—just did lose, and rather definitively.
A Cook County, Illinois, circuit court judge just dismissed his defamation lawsuit against McGowan and her new Chicago-based attorney, Julie Porter, over several sharp comments McGowan made—including to The Daily Beast—after learning that Baez had indeed signed on to Weinstein’s defense team not long after representing her, briefly, in a misdemeanor drug-possession case.
“This is a major conflict of interest but I knew there was shadiness going on behind the scenes,” McGowan told The Daily Beast in January 2019—one of the statements that Baez claimed had defamed him. “This is why my case didn’t go to trial—my instinct was my lawyers had been bought off,” McGowan’s quote continued. “I thought Harvey would get to them behind the scenes and I wouldn’t have fair representation. I asked Jose Baez directly if he would ever work with Harvey and I told him it was my fear that he would be bought off while representing me…. He responded by saying, ‘I don’t like to lose.’ This does not happen overnight they have been planning it for sometime [sic].”
In his 14-page order throwing out Baez’s claim that McGowan had defamed him in multiple media interviews—and that Porter also did so by publishing McGowan’s lawsuit alleging the violation of federal corruption statutes by Weinstein and his lawyers Lisa Bloom and David Boies, among others—Judge James E. Snyder wrote: “It is not defamation per se to state that someone is a terrible human being or is a disgrace of [a] lawyer”—a reference to McGowan’s comments to The New York Times. “And even if it were, McGowan’s statements are made as her opinion.”
Citing another of McGowan’s statements to The Daily Beast, Snyder added: “The Court finds as a matter of law that the statement, ‘I’m not even surprised by the level of fuckery going on here’…is not defamation per se. The Court offers no definition of the term ‘fuckery’, but it is clearly a matter of opinion.”
McGowan, who was defended in the lawsuit by Chicago attorneys Natalie A. Harris and Brendan J. Healey, emailed The Daily Beast: “This is a bravura opinion. I howled, I fist-pumped. I got yet another Pig’s foot off my neck…Reading the Judge’s opinion is making me feel reflective. And quite victorious.”
Julie Porter, McGowan’s attorney who was a defendant in the lawsuit, declined to comment on the favorable outcome, and Baez didn’t respond to a message sent by The Daily Beast to his Miami law firm.