A judge has denied Nicki Minaj’s bid to sanction Jennifer Hough’s lawyer over wild accusations presented to the judge overseeing the case.
Hough was suing Nicki and her husband, Kenneth Petty, for harassment, alleging they pressured her into recanting her 1994 rape allegations against Petty.
Hough claims she was offered $500,000 to drop the case and that Nicki and Kenneth hired private detectives to track her down, harass her daughter, and force her to move between states out of fear for her life.
Nicki’s legal team sought sanctions against Hough and her attorney Tyrone Blackburn after Hough suddenly dropped the rap star from the lawsuit after they initially pursued a default judgment.
The rap star claimed she was subjected to bad publicity, and wasted over $300,000 to defend herself, even though she was ultimately dropped from the lawsuit due to a lack of court jurisdiction since she lives in Los Angeles while the complaint was filed in New York.
Nicki also claimed Blackburn made defamatory statements, including claims that she and Kenneth were members of a merciless New York gang, the Makk Baller Brims.
Another accusation by Blackburn claimed Burstein allegedly engaged in cyberstalking behavior towards Hough’s former lawyer Steven Gordon and scrutinized the comments section of YouTube posts in search of comments posted by his wife.
Blackburn claimed Nicki’s team had unauthorized communications with Gordon, who allegedly had a drug problem, in hopes of convincing Blackburn to drop the lawsuit.
Nicki Minaj’s lawyer, Judd Burstein, argued that these accusations were “inexcusable and wholly unsupported.”
However, today (March 30th), the court found that Blackburn’s initial pursuit of a motion for default judgment against Nicki was not sanctionable.
“The court does not find [Hough’s] decision to pursue a motion for default judgment against [Nicki] sanctionable, notwithstanding [Nicki’s] claim that the motion lacked merit. Here, [Hough] did not have an obligation to withdraw her motion for default judgment against Nicki simply because counsel for [Nicki] considered the motion ‘frivolous,'” Judge James R. Cho ruled.
Judge Cho also determined that Blackburn’s letters containing inflammatory comments about Nicki and Burstein did not warrant sanctions, even if they were offensive.
While Nicki’s legal team claimed that this conduct was “creepy,” “weird,” and “beneath the dignity of this profession,” the judge did not find it to be grounds for sanctioning. Though antagonistic, the legal spat did not interfere with the court’s power to manage its calendar and the courtroom.
However, the court reminded Blackburn that, as an attorney, he is held to a higher standard of conduct during these proceedings.
“Blackburn should not take the denial of the motion for sanctions as in any way endorsing his behavior,” Judge Cho said.
Nicki Minaj’s husband, Kenneth Petty, and Jennifer Hough are working with a court-appointed mediator to settle the lawsuit.