NY AG Seeks Supplemental Deposition From Willes Lee

By tradition, Willes Lee should have been the next President of the NRA. Instead, Charles Cotton was given a third term and Willes was replaced as 1st Vice President by Bob Barr. As one might imagine, this did not sit well with Willes. He had been a loyal supporter of the existing regime within the NRA for four years as 1st and 2nd Vice President, had served as the attack dog for the powers that be, had supported the abortive bankruptcy filing as a member of the Special Litigation Committee, and the list goes on. Not only had he been blindsided by the move to keep Cotton as President for a third term but he only found out he was being ousted as an officer when the Nominating Committee report was slipped under his door.

Since his ouster, Willes has take to social media to give his side of the story as well as make teasing remarks about what really was going on. His posts have appeared on Facebook, X as Twitter is now called, and Instagram. I, like others such as NRA In Danger, have been following his posts on an almost daily basis. It was like watching a train wreck and you can’t look away.

You know who else was following his posts on Facebook? The New York Attorney General’s Office and now they want to know more. Yesterday, they filed a motion to compel the “post-note of issue supplemental deposition” of him. The motion makes note of his Facebook postings and how they seem to be at odds with his prior testimony before the US Bankruptcy Court and in his deposition in the New York case. Alexander Mendelson, Assistant Attorney General (of New York), argues that “unusual and unanticipated circumstances” allow a supplemental deposition even though the time for deposition of witnesses has nominally closed. The circumstances that Mendelson refers to are Willes’ Facebook posts and his ouster as an officer. It is argued that this supplemental deposition can be done before the beginning of the trial and this would be better than wasting time on an exhaustive cross-examination during the trial itself.


Mendelson supports this motion with 20 exhibits including past testimony and the deposition by Willes, a compilation of his Facebook posts, an affidavit by the Attorney General’s IT professional who downloaded the posts, and a series of emails between the attorneys. It appears that from reading these emails that the only objections come from the attorneys for John Frazer and Woody Phillips. Interestingly, the NRA’s lawyers from Brewer, Attorneys and Counselors, have not objected. Moreover, given Willes is still a board member they will accept the subpoena on his behalf as well as represent him.

If Judge Cohen approves this motion and I have no reason to believe he won’t, it is going to get interesting. For example, you have Willes complaining about being left off of committees while at the same testifying in his deposition that it was OK for Tim Knight, Esther Schneider, and Sean Maloney to be excluded. Moreover, given the numerous posts complaining about Charles Cotton and David Coy and their roles as heads of the Audit and Finance Committees, you can be sure that his questioners are going to be digging deeper. I just wonder how much that the NRA’s attorneys will be able to prevent from being on the record.

There is a great lesson here for all of us. Don’t put stuff out on social media and expect it to stay private. What you say there lives forever and it will come back to bite you at the worst possible time. As for Willes who normally has multiple daily posts on Facebook, Instagram, and X, he has gone silent since yesterday. Frankly, I’m glad he hasn’t been silent in the past as his comments will force the truth to come to light.

NRA Still Wants A Jury Trial In Manhattan

Judge Joel Cohen ordered all the defendants and the New York AG’s Office to give a response on the matter of how the trial should be held. That is, should it be a jury trial or not? The responses from both sides were received this past Friday (July 28th).

Surprisingly, the NRA is sticking to their demands for a jury trial. I am in agreement with NRA In Danger that this is insane. A jury trial for the NRA in Manhattan is the equivalent of a jury trial for Donald Trump in DC meaning a totally unbiased jury pool is virtually impossible to find.

According to the response embedded below, the NRA is asking that a jury trial be held to determine the facts on all the causes of action against the NRA. These would include improper administration of assets, waste, and fiduciary failures. They are claiming they are entitled to this by right. Then, after the jury has determined the facts, the NRA says they would be amenable to having Judge Cohen determine equitable relief. In other words, they want a bifurcated trial with the jury portion coming first.


This is also the position of the attorneys for Wayne LaPierre, Woody Phillips, and John Frazer.

The Attorney General’s Office agrees in part and disagrees in part with the call for a jury trial. Whereas the defendants are saying all the facts should be determined by a jury trial, the Attorney General agrees that should be only for causes of action 2 to 5 and 10 to 14. They contend on the first cause of action as well as causes of action 6 through 9 that they are not triable by a jury under New York law. They present a chart breaking this down found here in the appendix starting on page 9. So in one sense, all involved agree that a bifurcated trial – part by judge and part by jury – is called for. The difference is that the defendants want a jury trial to determine the facts in all the causes of action.

You will notice that the discussion above omits Josh Powell. That is because the attorneys for Powell filed a motion on July 13th to withdraw as counsel. Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP has represented Powell since the beginning of the proceedings. Powell in a separate filing gave his consent to this. A few days later Akin Gump filed motions to keep parts of the reasons for withdrawal under seal or non-public. Judge Cohen has temporarily put these under seal until a hearing can be held on August 7th.

On July 25th, the AG’s office filed a response to Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP’s withdrawal as counsel for Josh Powell. They took no position on Akin Gump’s withdrawal, insisted that Powell get a new attorney sooner than later, and that Judge Cohen should deny the motion to keep keep the reasons for withdrawal under seal. They assert that Akin Gump has not met it burden for sealing their submissions.

Reading closely, the reason Akin Gump and Powell are going separate ways is financial. The AG’s response said, “Powell’s Defense Counsel moved to be relieved, citing Powell’s inability to pay its legal fees.” Now that is interesting.

They also say that Powell should have only 14 days to retain a new attorney given how close the case is to going to trial. If he cannot, they say Powell should act as his own attorney or pro se in legal terms.

So to conclude, the NRA et all insist on a jury trial on all facts, the AG says only on some parts, and Josh Powell seems to have run out of money to pay his legal bills.

NRA Special Meeting…Canceled

Stephen Gutowski of the Washington Free Beacon is reporting on Twitter that the NRA Special Board Meeting scheduled for Sunday has been canceled.

While airlines and hotels have been pretty fair about cancellations due to COVID, there are undoubtedly some board members who had already left for Texas and those expenses will need to be reimbursed.

It would be cynical to think the meeting cancellation had anything to do with the attempt by the NY Attorney General’s Office to depose Judge Phillip Journey. A hearing on that is set for Monday in US Bankruptcy Court. However, it will be by WebEx.