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Judge Postpones Cardi B Trial and Orders the Rapper to Find Another Lawyer

Cardi B. appears at a product launch on Dec. 4, 2021 in Miami Beach, Fla.

Cardi B. appears at a product launch on Dec. 4, 2021 in Miami Beach, Fla.

A judge has postponed trial in a lawsuit against rapper Cardi B over the cover art for her first album, citing her lawyer’s health problems.

In an order Friday afternoon, U.S. District Judge Cormac J. Carney in Santa Ana, California, ordered Cardi, legal name Belcalis Almanza, and her defendant businesses to obtain new counsel by Aug. 12. He rescheduled the Aug. 3 trial to Oct. 18 “due to the unavailability of defense counsel because of serious illness.”

Cardi has been represented by Alan G. Dowling, who has a solo practice in El Segundo, California, since shortly after she was sued in October 2017 by musician and surfer Kevin Michael Brophy. Brophy claims the cover to her first album Gangsta Bitch Music, Vol. 1, which depicts a man performing oral sex on the star, misappropriates his likeness because it features his distinctive back tattoo.

After several postponements, jury selection was set to begin Aug. 3, with lawyers convening in Carney’s courtroom Thursday for conference. But the hearing was unexplainably closed to the public, and it lasted an unusually long 2.5 hours. Still, after the judge left the bench, his clerk allowed a reporter in, and the attorneys were discussing COVID-related trial logistics, down to where people would sit and how many people would be on each side. Dowling said Cardi would be with him as well as a representative of the defendant entities KSR Group, LLC, and Washpoppin, Inc., and possibly someone associated with them.

Carney granted a routine evidence stipulation Friday morning, and nothing else was filed that would indicate something amiss before he entered the brief postponement order.

Dowling has been a licensed attorney in California since 1976. His LinkedIn profile has a long list of famous clients, including Motown Records, Fleetwood Mac, Tom Petty and David Hasselhoff. It also lists “opponents against whom Mr. Dowling has successfully litigated” to include U2, Usher, Elton John, Dr. Dre, Guns ‘n Roses, Michael Jackson, Neil Young and George Harrison.

Brophy is represented by A. Barry Cappello and Larry Conlan of Cappello & Noël in Santa Barbara.

Conlan told Law&Crime in an email, “We’ve been ready to try this case for two years now. Of course we’re not happy about another delay, but it will be brief, and then our client can finally get this invasion of his privacy stopped and justice served.”

[Image via Arturo Holmes/Getty Images for Whipshots]

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A graduate of the University of Oregon, Meghann worked at The Spokesman-Review in Spokane, Washington, and the Idaho Statesman in Boise, Idaho, before moving to California in 2013 to work at the Orange County Register. She spent four years as a litigation reporter for the Los Angeles Daily Journal and one year as a California-based editor and reporter for and associated publications such as The National Law Journal and New York Law Journal before joining Law & Crime News. Meghann has written for The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, Los Angeles Magazine, Bloomberg Law, ABA Journal, The Forward, Los Angeles Business Journal and the Laguna Beach Independent. Her Twitter coverage of federal court hearings in a lawsuit over homelessness in Los Angeles placed 1st in the Los Angeles Press Club's Southern California Journalism Awards for Best Use of Social Media by an Independent Journalist in 2021. An article she freelanced for Los Angeles Times Community News about a debate among federal judges regarding the safety of jury trials during COVID also placed 1st in the Orange County Press Club Awards for Best Pandemic News Story in 2021.