Death Row Records CEO Marion “Suge” Knight missed another court-ordered hearing yesterday (April 1) to determine the legal ownership of the pioneering rap label.
The label has been at the center of a legal battle between Knight, incarcerated drug boss Michael “Harry-O” Harris and his estranged wife, Lydia Harris.
Harry-O, who is serving a 28-year sentence for drug dealing and attempted murder, alleges that he and his wife helped launch what became Death Row Records in 1991 from prison, with a $1.5 million investment.
Since 1997, Harris has claimed he helped create Death Row along with Suge Knight and his lawyer David Kenner.
Harris said he struck the deal with Knight from his prison cell, but eventually was excluded from profits the label earned on classic albums by Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Tha Dogg Pound and others.
Harry O’s wife Lydia Harris filed a lawsuit against Knight and in March of 2005, Knight was ordered to pay Mrs. Harris $107 million dollars.
Mrs. Harris was awarded the judgment because Knight failed to respond to legal inquires about the case, missed various court dates and failed to show his assets.
Mrs. Harris was awarded a settlement that included $60 million in punitive damages, $45 million in economic damages and $2 million in non-economic damages.
Harry-O has since filed for divorce from his wife and maintains that he is entitled to half of the $107 million that was awarded his wife in March.
In February 2006, Knight and Death Row Record filed a $106 million dollar lawsuit against Michael “Harry-O” Harris and others in Los Angeles Federal Court.
Knight’s lawsuit alleges Harris is blackmailing the label, by threatening to allege that proceeds from his drug enterprise were invested in legitimate businesses, such as Death Row Records.
Harris was known for investing in legitimate business ventures.
He served as producer of Denzel Washington’s 1987 Broadway debut, Checkmates.
Harris was convicted of running an international drug operation with connections to a Columbian cocaine cartel and the attempted murder of an associate.
Knight faces jail time for contempt of court until he attends a hearing to disclose all that he owns.
Attorneys will ask the court to put Death Row Records into receivership and will attempt to auction off the pioneering label’s music valuable music catalog.
Knight’s assets have been frozen since August 2005.