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February 20, 2013

Judge denies bid for new Armenian genocide museum trial

An endless #legal battle over an #Armenian Genocide Museum and Memorial in Washington, D.C. will not be re-tried, according to the federal judge who has slogged through this case.

In a set of decisions Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly rejected the bid for a new trial made by the Armenian Assembly of America. In doing so, the judge also made clear, once more, her weariness with the whole mess, stating:

"In the mid to late 1990s, several individuals set about to construct a museum in Washington, D.C., dedicated to the Armenian Genocide. Over a decade later, no such museum exists. The parties, through the three consolidated actions pending before the Court, have spent as much if not more time litigating who is to blame for the museum’s failure as they spent attempting to make the museum a reality."

The request for a new trial arose from a nasty falling-out between Gerard Cafesjian, who made his bundle with West Publishing, and his former lieutenant John Waters, Jr. The two men worked closely together on the stalled plans for the Armenian museum. Then, Waters sued for $5 million he says he was owed, and Cafesjian counter-sued claiming Waters had embezzled money.

The competing lawsuits, Armenian Assembly of America officials argued, revealed problems with Waters' testimony during the original museum trial.

Kollar-Kotelly concluded that the recent allegations were "insufficient to show Waters committed perjury" during the trial. Moreover, the judge added, "even discounting all of Waters’ testimony, the Court would still reach the same legal conclusions."

Of course, the litigation end is by no means at hand, as the original trial decision has been appealed.





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"Suits & Sentences" is a legal affairs blog written by Michael Doyle, a reporter for McClatchy's Washington Bureau. He was a Knight Journalism Fellow at Yale Law School, where he earned a Master of Studies in Law; he also earned a Masters in Government from The Johns Hopkins University with a thesis on the Freedom of Information Act. He teaches journalism as an adjunct instructor at The George Washington University's School of Media and Public Affairs.

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