It appears the only person able to represent Andrea Tantaros in the courtroom is Andrea Tantaros.
The former co-host of “Outnumbered” and “The Five” has decided, after severing ties with three different lawyers, to represent herself in a lawsuit against her former employer, Fox News.
Tantaros is suing Fox, social media executive Peter Snyder and Roger Ailes’ estate over allegations of sexual harassment, online “sock puppet” harassment and unauthorized surveillance, according to Law & Crime.
The term “sockpuppets” refers to bogus online identities created by companies or people to boost any sort of cause or message, while simultaneously appearing to be an authentic account. Tantaros is claiming Fox News implemented sockpuppet accounts to post and retweet slanderous information about her, making it appear as if the internet activity surrounding her was organic, according to Bloomberg.
Fox News’ legal counsel has branded the former co-host’s claims as a “hoax” and a publicity stunt meant to boost her profile.
When Tantaros filed her sexual-harassment lawsuit against the major television network in 2017, she claimed the network operated like a “sex-fueled, Playboy Mansion-like cult.” Judd Burstein, who runs a boutique firm in Manhattan and considered one of the top attorneys in the country, was the first lawyer to take on her case.
However, Tantaros has since had a difficult time keeping legal counsel.
Burstein walked away from the case last year, referring to “an irretrievable breakdown in the attorney-client relationship.” Nevertheless, he continued to publicly support his ex-client’s case, writing, “I continue to strongly believe in the merits of Ms. Tantaros’ claims.”
Next came Christopher Parlo, who works for global law firm Morgan, Lewis & Bockius. Parlo barely lasted over two months with Tantaros before leaving.
In a letter to U.S. District Judge George Daniels, Tantaros touched on why Parlo and his firm decided to drop her as a client, writing that “even the finest lawyers in America cannot contextualize exactly what this company has done to so many people, and exactly what has transpired behind the curtain at Fox News.”
Before Parlo’s exit, attorney Tor Ekeland was also hired on. He lasted around two weeks until he filed a notice of withdrawal.
The entrance and departure of three high-profile attorneys has prompted Tantaros to represent herself “pro se,” a Latin phrase commonly used in the legal field that describes a party that wishes to represent themselves in a legal proceeding.
Many legal experts are certain this is a grave mistake for Tarantos.
“Typically when a party to a lawsuit goes through multiple attorneys on a case, regardless of whether its the lawyer withdrawing from the client’s case or the client terminating the lawyer, it usually indicates some sort of underlying problem with either the client’s expectations or demands regarding their case or an incongruent view of overall strategy between the attorney and client,” said Curt Runger in an email statement to The Western Journal.
“The fact that Ms. Tantaros has burned through three sets of attorneys on her case in less than 2 years suggests to me that this is likely the case with her. It is incredibly risky and ill-advised for Ms. Tantaros to attempt to represent herself pro se on this matter for multiple reasons,” he explained.
Runger — who also teaches solo lawyers how to start, grow and scale their solo law practices — would not recommend anyone represent themselves “pro se,” but it’s especially critical for someone like Tarantos, who has no legal background.
He ticked through the reasons why this is a poor legal move on her part.
“The first reason is obviously because she is a non-lawyer who is going up against Fox New’s formidable defense team. The Court will not cut Ms. Tantaros any slack for being pro-se and she will be expected to follow all of the civil procedure rules and evidentiary rules that apply in court cases, which puts her at an extreme disadvantage as a non-lawyer,” he continued with The Journal.
“Secondly, the allegations contained in Ms. Tantaros’s amended Complaint regarding sexual harassment are incredibly personal to her and will undoubtedly make her overly emotional in her representation of herself which could negatively impact her ability to effectively represent herself.”
Given the intricate accusations she has leveled against the company — and the fact she is going up against the formidable legal team at Fox News — Tantaros will need to essentially teach herself how to practice law in order to stand a chance.
“Finally, Ms. Tantaro’s case is a complex one which will require her put on many witnesses to prove her case. So she basically has to figure out how to practice law, coordinate her entire case in chief and focus on her own testimony as a witness.”
Runger says her entire case is being jeopardized by her decision to proceed without professional legal counsel.
“Its a recipe for disaster and she really needs to take a step back, analyze what went wrong with the first three sets of lawyers she engaged, hire a new legal team and commit to allowing the new team to see the case through trial. There’s a reason why Abraham Lincoln said ‘he who represents himself has a fool for a client’ and Ms. Tantaros’ entire claim against her former employer Fox will be jeopardized if she elects to continue to represent herself pro-se.”
Jason Hopkins is The Western Journal’s Washington, D.C., correspondent.
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