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Lawyer Who Pursued ‘Stairway to Heaven’ Case Against Led Zeppelin Suspended From Practicing Law

Hulton Archive, Getty Images
Hulton Archive, Getty Images

This hasn’t been a very good month for attorney Francis Malofiy.

Shortly after losing a widely reported plagiarism lawsuit alleging Led Zeppelin pilfered a key “Stairway to Heaven” chord progression from Spirit, Malofiy has been slapped with a three-month suspension for disregarding “various rules of conduct” in the courtroom.

The Hollywood Reporter shares word of Malofiy’s suspension, which stems from his behavior during another copyright infringement lawsuit. As previously reported, Malofiy clashed with the judge in his case against R&B star Usher, who stood accused of stealing his song “Bad Girl.”

Accusing Malofiy of deliberately misleading a witness and acting overall “disgracefully,” Judge Paul Diamond criticized his “sexist,” “abusive” and “flagrantly unprofessional” behavior and warned, “Whether Malofiy should be removed from practice is a question properly answered in another forum.”

According to THR‘s report, Diamond ultimately levied sanctions that included $28,000 in fines, but Malofiy appealed, arguing he hadn’t done anything wrong — and that even if he had, the punishment didn’t fit the infraction. A district court disagreed, and his suspension has now been upheld by an appellate panel.

Malofiy’s suspension could leave him on the outside looking in if Michael Skidmore, the man who filed the “Stairway to Heaven” lawsuit on behalf of deceased Spirit founder Randy California, decides to appeal the verdict in his trial. Not that Skidmore would necessarily mind going ahead without his attorney’s involvement: THR notes that “During the six-day ‘Stairway’ trial, Malofiy racked up more than a hundred sustained objections and multiple admonishments from Judge R. Gary Klausner.”

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