178 - Nicole Young vs Dr. Dre
In this show, Leh and Todd
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Leh Meriwether: Welcome, everyone. I'm Leh Meriwether, and with me is Todd Orston. We are your co-hosts for Divorce Team Radio, a show sponsored by the divorce and family law firm of Meriwether & Tharp. Here we learn about divorce, family law, and from time to time, even tips on how to save your marriage if it's in the middle of a crisis. If you want to read more about us, you can always check us out online at atlantadivorceteam.com.
Leh Meriwether: Todd, for some reason, I have the lyrics of some N.W.A. songs running in the back of my head.
Todd Orston: All right, I'm not going to call you out, but between the two of us, I would have those lyrics in my head. I don't think you're thinking about lyrics of N.W.A. songs. I'm just going to throw that out there.
Leh Meriwether: Oh, but we can't say them on the air. Those are-
Todd Orston: No. No, definitely. Definitely not. Inappropriate, to say the least. Enjoyable, but inappropriate. But why, Leh, do you bring up N.W.A.?
Leh Meriwether: Well, we are going to talk today about the divorce that's been filed by Nicole Young against her husband, Dr. Dre.
Todd Orston: No, I was about to say, and I'm glad you call him doctor because, I mean, he didn't spend many years in rap medical school to just be called Dre. So, sorry. Dre, I have nothing but love for you. I am huge fan. That's also a big assumption he's ever going to hear this, but whatever.
Leh Meriwether: That was just [inaudible 00:01:39]. All right, so she has recently filed for divorce after 24 years of marriage, and they have a prenup for which she is now challenging. So today we're going to give you the background of the couple, their divorce case, and then we're going to address each one of her claims and how viable it would be here in Georgia. Now, I believe that the lawsuit's been filed in California, and California has its own set of laws. Every state has its own set of laws about prenuptials. I would say, in general, they're very similar across the states. However, each state often has like one case that may be dramatically different than another state on one particular fact or situation. So you may have this big generalization that all the prenups are very similar, but one state could have this case that said, "In this particular scenario, the outcome would be X, whereas in Georgia, the outcome would be Y."
Leh Meriwether: So while we're talking today in general, we're focused on Georgia law. So if you're listening and you're in another state, you definitely need to talk to a local attorney about how a prenup would impact you in that state.
Todd Orston: I agree.
Leh Meriwether: Good. I'll add here, here's another caveat before we get started. So we pulled the facts about the case. I didn't actually go to the... I didn't read the pleadings themselves. Probably as this case goes on, I'll go try to pull the pleadings themselves, but we pulled them from a variety of sources like Vanity Fair, People magazine, TMZ. So we're not saying any of these facts are absolutely true. We're just sharing with you the information that we have at hand to do an analysis, and the point being we're using the example, this time an extreme example with some celebrities, to educate you about prenup law.
Leh Meriwether: As a funny side note, when I was doing some research, you can't believe... I wouldn't say you can't believe anything you read in these magazines, but you have to take their information sort of with a grain of salt. For instance, I saw one article that said, "Young reveals that prenup was torn out by Dr. Dre." Well, she didn't reveal per se anything. She has made what's called an allegation. She is asserted in her pleadings that he tore it up and threw it out. Now, Dr. Dre may come back and say, "I did no such thing. She's making that up." So until Dr. Dre admits it, it's not a revelation. That's an allegation.
Leh Meriwether: The other thing I read in one article, by the way, Todd, was that if she had signed this before she had, or after she graduated from law school, then that could impact this case, and I couldn't find any evidence that she'd ever was a lawyer or went to law school. So I'm not sure where that rumor came from, but just-
Todd Orston: Even if it was true, I don't even understand how that's relevant, even a valid point or-
Leh Meriwether: Yeah.
Todd Orston: I mean, I don't care if she is a law student or a full fledged barred attorney, that's really not going to have any bearing on the enforceability of a prenup.
Leh Meriwether: Right. All right, let's get to it. So let's start with giving some pre-marriage information, and then talk about some of her allegations.
Leh Meriwether: All right, so she got married in... or they got married, I should say, in 1996, and just prior to the marriage, Dr. Dre insisted that Nicole sign a prenup or the wedding was off. Now, this is according to Nicole in her filing. So she filed an action to have the prenup thrown out. And so these are some quotes from her pleading, and pleading is what you file with the court, "Before our wedding date, Andre demanded that I sign a premarital agreement that 16 of his lawyers had drafted. He told me I must sign a premarital agreement or he would not marry me. I was extremely reluctant and resistant and afraid to sign the agreement, and I felt backed into a corner." I'm adding a little bit here. And then-
Todd Orston: It's very dramatic. I mean, I'm at the edge of my seat.
Leh Meriwether: Adding there, "Left with no option, but to unwillingly sign the prenuptial agreement shortly before their wedding because of the extraordinary pressure and intimidation by Andre. Andre at the time was a well-known producer and rapper in the music industry, but had not reached anywhere near the pinnacle of his music, entertainment and business career that he achieved during our marriage." Those are her allegations.
Todd Orston: I think you should just work by reading pleadings. I mean, that is... I have goosebumps.
Leh Meriwether: Yeah. I was practicing before we came on.
Todd Orston: Well, Leh, a takeaway, and I know you're going to read some more, a takeaway there is you have to look at what she's saying and basically it's something that we're going to talk more about, is that pressure she's referring to, the pressure she felt by Dr. Dre to sign this prenup or else they aren't going to get married. So that's one of her big issues here. You already talked about the tearing up of the prenups, so that's something we're going to talk about. The second, and I think it goes to the heart of that second argument she's making of the pressure that she felt, or basically him taking the position, "Or else we're not going to get married," and therefore, she felt pressured that she was under some level of duress to sign this agreement in order to get married to Dr. Dre.
Leh Meriwether: Yeah. At the time, so Dr. Dre or Andre, he really had already amassed a pretty good fortune as the founding member of the rap group N.W.A., and he did it before releasing a solo debut album, The Chronic, in 1992 under Death Row Records, which he actually co-owned before he founded his own label, Aftermath Entertainment, and sign Eminem and 50 Cent. In 2000s, Dr. Dre focused on producing for other artists, including Tupac, Snoop Dogg, The Game and Kendrick Lamar. In 2008, launched his first product under Beats by Dr. Dre, which by the way, Apple later purchased that brand for $3 billion in May of 2014. So that's what's been reported anyways. According to Forbes magazine, in 2019 Dr. Dre was estimated to be worth about $800 million, and Nicole was claiming that today he's worth about a billion dollars.
Leh Meriwether: So just knowing the success of Tupac, Snoop Dogg and the others, obviously and the sale of the Beats or Beats to Apple, he definitely did amass most of his fortunate, it appears, during the course of the marriage. So that allegation is actually true.
Todd Orston: Yeah, before we go any further, I also want to say, the one thing that we don't have is the terms of the prenup. So we're talking about how I believe, and I think it's a fair belief, that he amassed a large portion of his fortune during the marriage. So we are making that assumption based on this collateral, this additional information that we have and our just general knowledge about his career, but what we don't have is what the terms, the actual terms of the prenup in question are but we can make an assumption, right? The assumption is she doesn't like those terms. Whatever those terms are, it will dramatically limit the claims that she can make against all of those monies that he earned during the marriage. So that's the foundation that we're sort of starting with and building off of in this conversation.
Leh Meriwether: Interestingly enough, when she filed her initial divorce, she didn't even mention the prenup. In his response, he asserted the prenup that should block her claim for receiving a portion of the marital estate. When we come back, we're going to address each aspect of her claim.
Leh Meriwether: I just want to let you know that if you ever want to listen to the show live, you can listen at 1:00 AM on Monday mornings, WSB. So you can always check us out there as well.
Todd Orston: Better than counting sheep, I guess, right? You can turn on the show and we'll help you fall asleep.
Leh Meriwether: There you go.
Todd Orston: I'll talk very soft.
Leh Meriwether: Welcome back, everyone. This is Leh and Todd. We are your co-hosts for Divorce Team Radio, a show sponsored by the divorce and family law firm of Meriwether & Tharp. If you want to read more about us, you can always check us out online at atlantadivorceteam.com, and you can get transcripts of this show if you want to go back and listen to previous episodes at divorceteamradio.com. You can also subscribe to any place where you get your podcasts. We should be available everywhere. Well, almost everywhere. I just heard that Amazon Music and a couple other places are now starting to support podcasts, so I'm going to make sure we're in there too.
Leh Meriwether: All right. Well, today we're talking about the divorce of Nicole Young and Dr. Dre. In particular, we're focused on the issue of a prenup that Dr. Dre raised in his response to her divorce filing, and she has subsequently filed an objection, or she has subsequent filed a motion to have the prenup thrown out and actually asked for a trial on that particular issue, which is something that... So that's in California we're talking about. We're applying what's going on to Georgia law, in particular. Now, while many prenup laws are very similar across the states, there can be nuances that can dramatically change the outcome of a case like this. So if you are not listening in Georgia, then you need to talk to a local lawyer, or even if you are in Georgia, you should talk to a local lawyer about the particular facts of your case.
Leh Meriwether: Okay, so let me finish up real quick the allegation. So in challenging the validity of that prenup, and we listed some of her issues before, she also is claiming that he actually tore up the prenup a few years into their marriage and claimed that by him ripping it up, it is null and void. So she claims that Andre acknowledged to her that he felt ashamed and had pressured her into signing a premarital agreement and "tore up multiple copies of the agreement in front of me. Since the day he tore up the agreements, we both understood that there was no premarital agreement, and that it was null and void." Oh, and the other things she claimed was she never received a copy of the prenup agreement when she first signed it, and she still hasn't after multiple requests for a copy. I've boiled down her claims in a nutshell.
Todd Orston: All right. Before we jump into addressing each of them individually, let me comment on something you mentioned before, where she asked for a separate trial. I just want to make sure that people understand what that really means. What she's basically saying is she needs... Well, what I would call it is she needs a hearing on the issue of the enforceability of the prenup, because that issue is going to be dispositive, meaning whatever the court does there will materially affect the rest of the divorce case. If it's enforced, she has certain rights and she will be entitled to basically maybe less of the estate than she would otherwise. If it's not enforced, if the court throws it out, then of course, basically she's going to be entitled to perhaps more, maybe even a lot more of the estate.
Todd Orston: So in essence, I just wanted to make sure that we're clear. What it means is that it's a bifurcation, what we refer to as a bifurcation of those issues where she is saying, "We need to deal with this because that's going to very much affect the rest of our case."
Leh Meriwether: She called it a trial there. In Georgia, it would be a hearing.
Todd Orston: Right.
Leh Meriwether: Because of the importance, it would be a hearing with a presentation of evidence. It would be a bench hearing. I don't think you can request a jury trial for this specific issue.
Todd Orston: That's going to be a state specific issue. I mean, I don't know what she would be entitled to in California.
Leh Meriwether: Yeah. I'm pretty sure they don't have... I thought that Texas and Georgia were the only States that allowed jury trials for divorces, but maybe something has changed. I should mention, this is a good point to mention that we are recording this on August 14th of 2020, and so the law could change with a case, so that's called case law change, or the law can change when the legislature gets back and rewrites the prenup law in any state. So what we were saying today could be different if you're listening to it a year from now. So the thought process and the analysis is still going to be very similar, but you always need to double check the current status of the law. All right. That was the one more caveat I wanted to make sure we hit.
Todd Orston: All right. So you want to jump into the specific aspects of her claim?
Leh Meriwether: Absolutely. Let's go.
Todd Orston: All right. So let's start with this first one, where she said, "Before our wedding date, Andre demanded that..." Should I be using your voice?
Leh Meriwether: Yeah, let's do it.
Todd Orston: "Before our wedding date, Andre demanded that I sign a pre..." I know that sounds very evil. Anyway, "... demanded that I sign a prenuptial agreement that 16 of his lawyers had drafted," Nicole said in her declaration. So basically, breaking that down, it was before the wedding date. So that opens up the question of how soon before the wedding date? "And then Andre demanded," using that word demanded, "that I sign a prenuptial agreement and that 16 lawyers prepared." Let's break that down.
Leh Meriwether: Yeah. So does it matter how many lawyers drafted his prenup?
Todd Orston: Other than how expensive that prenup must have been, then the answer is absolutely no. I don't care if it's 16, 116, 1,016, it has absolutely no bearing and I think she's only using that as a means of trying to create this power imbalance. She's basically trying to make the argument, in my mind that, "He had 16 lawyers. He was Dr. Dre and he had the army of litigation attorneys and family lawyers drafting this document, and poor old me, I was forced into doing this." I think it's just part of that power imbalance, the picture she's trying to paint out.
Leh Meriwether: Right. It just doesn't make any difference. In Georgia, the question would be, did they follow the formalities of entering into an agreement? Number one. Number two, did he fully disclose his entire assets, income and liability at the time of the prenup? So those are the two big categories there.
Todd Orston: Right.
Leh Meriwether: It almost sounds like she's trying to make an... Well, it was just unconscionably unfair that he had so many lawyers drafting it, but this set of facts is not a defense. Now let's go to what she said next.
Todd Orston: Well, before you move on, so that unconscionability, this goes back to the heart of what you had said about how laws can change. Because unconscionability, what that really means is what she's saying is, "When I married him, he was worth X. When we are getting divorced, or now that we are getting divorced, he is worth much, much, much, much more." So Georgia-
Leh Meriwether: X to the 10th power.
Todd Orston: Correct. So Georgia, at one point, there was a term called unconscionability, and what that means basically is it's just not fair. It's when you look at the fact that at the beginning, he was worth nothing... Or not nothing, a lot, but let's just say the person is worth nothing, and then all of a sudden we are getting divorced and they're worth millions, millions and millions. Had I known that that was going to happen, I wouldn't have entered into this. It's just clearly not fair. It's unconscionable.
Todd Orston: Well, that law changed. So in other words, in terms of the differences between the laws of different States, that's where it becomes really important. That's something where like overnight, the way that we as practitioners looked at the enforceability and preparation and all of that, of prenuptial agreements, it changed. It got turned upside down because that whole argument of unconscionability got thrown out the window, and the court here took a position of, if you're a sound of mine, just an intelligent, normal, healthy person, you enter into a contract, why is it our job, meaning the court's job, to determine whether or not it's fair. It's your agreement. It's your contract. So absent some other legal reason, we're going to enforce that contract.
Leh Meriwether: So the next thing she said is, "He told me that I must sign a premarital agreement or he would not marry me. I was extremely reluctant, resistant and afraid to sign the agreement and felt backed into a corner." She was left with no option and unwillingly signed the prenuptial agreement shortly before their wedding because of the extra ordinary pressure and intimidation by Andre. So Todd, is pressure or intimidation a valid defense to a prenup?
Todd Orston: No. No. The duress, the definition, and again, state by state it might be a little different, but usually duress is looked at like if Dr. Dre pulled a gun on her and said, "Sign it or else," or-
Leh Meriwether: Or I'll shoot you.
Todd Orston: Or I'm going to beat you, I'm going to harm you in some way, that is legal duress. The fact that she felt pressure that in order to be able to marry him, she would need to sign the prenup, I'm actually surprised they put that in there.
Leh Meriwether: Hey, Todd, I'm feeling pressured [inaudible 00:21:27]. When we come back, we're going to continue to break down what it means to have a true defense to a prenup.
Todd Orston: Hey, everyone, you're listening to our podcast, but you have alternatives. You have choices. You can listen to us live also at 1:00 AM on Monday morning on WSB.
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Leh Meriwether: Welcome back, everyone. I'm Leh Meriwether, and with me is Todd Orson. We're your co-hosts for Divorce Team Radio, a show sponsored by the divorce and family law firm of Meriwether & Tharp. If you want to read more about us, you can always check us out online at atlantadivorceteam.com, and you can get transcripts of this show and others at divorceteamradio.com.
Leh Meriwether: Today we're talking about Nicole Young and her divorce she filed against her husband, Dr. Dre. She is challenging a prenup that was signed before the marriage, and we're breaking down all of her defenses that she has raised in her motion. Where we left off was I interrupted Todd as he was describing what true duress is and when the only time that duress is a true defense to a prenup.
Todd Orston: Yeah. I'm not going to lie, I felt pressured to stop talking at the end of that segment. I felt like if I didn't stop talking, you were going to cut me off and go to break.
Todd Orston: Duress is, finishing my thought, it's simply duress has to be real duress, usually accompanied with some kind of a physical threat. This is an argument that has been made many, many times and has failed many times, "I felt like I had no choice in order to get married. I needed to sign the agreement put in front of me." Well, you still have a choice. That's what duress is. Duress, the argument is choice was taken away from you. You did not have a choice; physical violence, gun to your head, "I know that if I don't do it, I'm going to be hurt, killed, whatever." All right, here, the alternative is you're not going to get married. And so a court doesn't look at that as duress because it's like, well, I understand that may not be ideal for you. You're going to survive. You may not be happy, but you'll get over it, and this court's not going to basically look at that as some kind of a level of pressure that is undue and unreasonable, and therefore is going to question the enforceability.
Leh Meriwether: Right, because she can walk away from him, not get married and get married to someone else.
Todd Orston: Correct.
Leh Meriwether: That's why it's not a defense. She could walk away. This extraordinary pressure was something that she created, for the most part, because she wanted to be married to him, and that's how the court looks at it. All right, let's go. What's next?
Todd Orston: Yeah. Well, actually, before we go into the next one, I have one question about the 16 attorneys. I don't see anywhere, and you made a good point in the break, I don't see anywhere where she says whether or not she had an attorney. I will say while it's not a requirement, at least in Georgia, that you have an attorney, I oftentimes will tell someone... Let's say someone calls me and says, "Hey, I would like this prepared. We're about to get married. Does my soon-to-be spouse need an attorney?" I'll usually say, look, they don't need one, but it's a good idea because it just eliminates any argument that, "I didn't know what I was doing, I didn't understand, whatever, there was this imbalance of power." But the interesting thing is, that you brought up, I don't see where she mentions how many attorneys she did or did not have.
Leh Meriwether: Yeah, it wasn't mentioned in any of the articles I read, so I'm assuming it wasn't in the pleadings. I wish I had gotten a chance to get the pleadings, but she didn't raise it. So I'm assuming that she had an attorney review it. Your advice is spot on. If I have the client that is the wealthy client that's got considerable income and assets, I tell them to go ahead and pay for their soon-to-be wife to have her own attorney review it because it eliminates that factual argument that, "I didn't know what I was doing." Even though it's not a valid argument, it just looks better.
Todd Orston: Correct.
Leh Meriwether: The court looks at it, "Hey, you know what? You knew what you were getting into when you signed this agreement." My gosh, if you've read any magazines out there, you know that most of these people that when they sign these agreements, they become more wealthy. Odds are, they become more wealthy during the course of the marriage. So to say you had no idea that this was going to happen just is not true. There's way too much information out there about it.
Todd Orston: I question if she makes any kind of a claim or says... I don't think she believed that at some point Dr. Dre was going to be selling cars or... I mean, he was sort of engaged in this meteoric rise in popularity and fame. If anything, he'd become more and more popular since his N.W.A. days. So it's not like she can make the argument that, "I didn't know where we would be, but golly, he kept making money."
Leh Meriwether: Clearly, it wasn't just his talent as a rapper too. He sounds like he's a smart businessman. He built labels-
Todd Orston: Absolutely.
Leh Meriwether: He built a brand, Beats, that Apple paid $3 billion for. So, very, very smart guy. He didn't just leverage his talent, he leveraged his skills and did a fantastic-
Todd Orston: He actually sings about that in some of his songs.
Leh Meriwether: Oh, does he?
Todd Orston: Well, I mean, just basically that the criticism that he stepped away from music. I mean, it's not that he stepped away from music, he turned his attention to basically promoting and producing other people, and then Beats and all these other things, and still managed to make incredible albums.
Leh Meriwether: Yeah.
Todd Orston: So, anyway.
Leh Meriwether: All right. So let's talk about her next claim. "Andre at the time was a well-known producer and rapper in the music industry, but he had not reached anywhere near the pinnacle of his music, entertainment and business career that he achieved during our marriage." So Todd, does it matter that most of his net worth, if that's true, was built during the marriage?
Todd Orston: No. Again, that goes to what we were talking about before, that term unconscionability, that it is just so beyond the pale, that is so clearly unreasonable that you would enforce this agreement, when the person I married went from this... the estate went from this value-
Leh Meriwether: Went from $100 million to $1 billion.
Todd Orston: Yeah, all right, but it doesn't matter, at least under Georgia law. It does not matter. What it really boils down to is it's a contract between two consenting adults, okay?
Leh Meriwether: Right.
Todd Orston: I know consenting, that is another part of the allegation. So I'll leave that one alone, but it's a contract. The fact is that at some point in time, you were given an opportunity to either agree or not agree, to either sign or walk away from this prenuptial agreement and to not marry Dr. Dre. To sit here and say that his value and the value of the estate rose dramatically, unfortunately, that doesn't change the nature of this contract, because that's what we're talking about, it's a contract.
Leh Meriwether: Yup. All right, next allegation. Nicole said that she never received a copy of the prenuptial agreement when she first signed it and still hasn't after multiple requests for a copy. Does this make a difference?
Todd Orston: I believe that's going to be, and I'll let you jump in, that's going to be a state specific formality. You had mentioned certain formalities needing to be met, disclosure of financial assets and things of that nature. I can speak for Georgia, okay? First of all, I questioned if she had an attorney, whether or not she did or did not get a copy. The fact that she does not have, I don't believe that that would affect the enforceability of the agreement, but again, that's where state by state, there may be rules relating to what needs to be done in terms of the sharing of those original copies or the original copy.
Todd Orston: Normally, the way that we do it, I actually will prepare one for each party an original. I'm talking when we're signing like a will where you'll do multiple copies, I'll have an original copy for each party, and oftentimes, we'll do at least one, sometimes two that the respective attorneys can hold on to. That way there is no question as to... Because it happens, right? Somebody loses a copy, it's like, "Oh, my gosh, where is my prenup." In that situation, it doesn't matter. We executed in multiple copies, and therefore, don't worry about it, the other party has it. If they don't want to give it to you, go to the attorney and they'll have it.
Leh Meriwether: All right. So let's talk about the one that if you didn't understand prenuptial law, prenuptial agreements and the nuptial agreements, this one might sound compelling to you. So Nicole claims that he tore it up. He tore up the prenup and said, "Hey, we're not following this anymore." And so she operated as if there was no longer a prenup. So that can be a compelling argument if you don't know anything about this area of the law, because it sounds, well, should be fair. Okay, he threw it out, but that's not the law. So first question would be, and we only have 50 seconds left, but definitely when we come back, we're going to finish this analysis, but what difference would it make if Dr. Dre denied this allegation and produced a signed copy?
Todd Orston: So if there's a signed copy, I think it flies in the face of her argument. If a copy, if a valid untorn copy of this agreement, we're not talking about some kind of a... Even though if it is just a photocopy, but if we're talking an original copy is presented, I think unfortunately her argument fails. It falls on its face immediately because she's saying it was torn up, and unless does rap and magic, then you know him coming up with a valid signed copy is I think proof positive that he didn't do something to destroy the agreement.
Leh Meriwether: Right. When we come back, we're going to continue to analyze this claim.
Leh Meriwether: I just wanted to let you know that if you ever wanted to listen to the show live, you can listen at 1:00 AM on Monday mornings, WSB. So you can always check us out there as well.
Todd Orston: Better than like counting sheep, I guess, right? You can turn on the show and we'll help you fall asleep.
Leh Meriwether: There you go.
Todd Orston: I'll talk very softly.
Leh Meriwether: Welcome back, everyone. This is Leh and Todd. We are your co-hosts for Divorce Team Radio, a show sponsored by the divorce and family law firm of Meriwether & Tharp. You can read more about us online at atlantadivorceteam.com, and you can get more information about this show at divorceteamradio.com. By the way, if you're enjoying the show and you don't want to miss, if you're not catching it live on air but you're listening to it in the podcast and you want to make sure you never miss an upcoming episode, because we are that exciting, hit that subscribe button and you'll be notified every time we launch a new show.
Leh Meriwether: Okay, where we left off, we were breaking down the claims of Nicole Young who filed for divorce against Dr. Dre. He has asserted that there is a valid prenup and he wants it enforced. She is asserting that, and we were in this last element, that he tore it up two or three years into their marriage and said he felt bad for making her sign it. And so we're breaking down whether this action of tearing up the agreement really makes any difference when it comes to its enforceability. Okay, Todd, so I think the last one we said, what difference would it make if Dr. Dre denied this allegation and produced a signed copy? I think you finished answering that question. So the next one is-
Todd Orston: Yeah, it's there's an agreement. Right.
Leh Meriwether: Yeah. Well, it's a factual dispute as to whether it happened, but that goes to our second analysis that flies in the face of her argument. But even if, let's assume that her allegation is true that he did actually tear it up and throw it out, okay, does that make a difference? Is it no longer enforceable because he actually did tear up several copies of the prenup?
Todd Orston: So I would still say no, but there's a caveat there. I mean, if we're talking about a situation where an original signed copy of the agreement cannot be produced, then it's almost like the counter argument of, "I don't even have to prove that he tore it up. He can't prove that it exists." How do you prove? What? is he going to pull witnesses in to testify? No, no, we did an agreement. Okay. Well, where is it? If there's a signed agreement, that's great that you're telling me that you drafted it and 15 of your young attorneys or other attorneys helped draft it. Where is it?
Leh Meriwether: Yeah.
Todd Orston: If you can't produce anything that shows that that agreement was reached and executed by the parties, I don't think it's going to be enforceable, but-
Leh Meriwether: Well, not only that, but it's been a long time. So let's ssay he tore it up 22 years ago. I mean, he probably doesn't remember the terms. So if you can't show to the court what the terms are, even if you bring in... Because I believe in California, I know it's true in Georgia, you have to have two witnesses to it. So if those two witnesses come forward and testify, "I saw both of them sign it," okay, what were the contents of it? "Well, I don't know. I just saw them sign it," and Dr. Dre can't say what the contents were, then it's not going to be enforced. He can't prove what the agreement was.
Todd Orston: Well, and even if he pulls an unsigned copy, the counter argument becomes, "Yeah, but that's not the copy we signed. We made changes. There were additions, changes, revisions that we made. So the copy that his attorney from 24 years ago just provided, yeah, that doesn't reflect the actual agreement that we reached." So if they can't provide some kind of a signed copy, I think it's going to be very hard for Andre to basically say that there is a valid argument. But let's say it was done in multiple... like that there were multiple copies executed at the same time. And so even if he ripped up one during some conversations, some expression of love, "I don't want to be bound by this," and now he is basically providing a signed copy, all right, a second copy, then the question is back at you, Leh, all right? Is that other copy, that second copy enforceable, or is it made unenforceable because a version or another copy of that agreement was ripped up?
Leh Meriwether: So this goes back to most of these prenups that you read, there is a provision in the agreement referencing amendments to it. They specifically state in the agreements that the only way this agreement can be amended, which would include canceling it, is by executing it in the same formality as it was originally signed. In other words, like in California, which again, it's my understanding, it could be wrong, but you have to have two witnesses witness the execution. So if they didn't have two witnesses, they would need to sign another document that says, "Parties hereby consider the prenuptial agreement signed in 1996 is hereby canceled and null and void, no longer enforceable." They both sign off on it, they have both witnesses sign off on it, then that action is enforceable. Bearing it being in writing and being witnessed by two more witnesses under that scenario, it's going to be enforced. I mean, well, that would be my opinion right now.
Leh Meriwether: I'd be curious to see how the court ultimately rules on this. As we know, a lot of times you never get in front of the judge. Sometimes people file actions like this because they know it's going to drive up the cost and the expense of a case, and then the parties wind up settling before they get in front of a judge. Going back to its enforceability, here in Georgia, again, I know the agreements that I've drafted in the past, and I'm sure your say too, the only way to change this is by executing it in the same formality as it was originally signed.
Todd Orston: Right, which taking us back to the question, then really ripping up a copy of the agreement, especially if there are other copies in existence, then that wouldn't be how you basically destroy that agreement. You've destroyed a document, but the agreement, the underlying contract isn't destroyed. You would destroy it, meaning you would void it by formally having the parties with witnesses or a notary or whatever is required pursuant to the law in your jurisdiction. You would sign a second document basically rescinding that agreement. That, clearly, was not done here.
Leh Meriwether: Yeah. I'll add this in there too. So let's say that all the hard copies, the paper copies were shredded, if there is a digital copy that includes their signatures and the witnesses' signatures, that would be equally enforceable, unless California has a law I'm not aware of. But here in Georgia, there's actually a statute that says digital signatures are just as enforceable as original signatures. So if someone had scanned in a copy, that copy, while it may not be the original document, is still enough on an evidence standard to allow you to enforce the agreement, the prenup.
Leh Meriwether: So that claim, while it does sound bad, like if you heard it for the first, "Oh, he tore it up. That means it's not enforceable," no, that's not the case. It's still going to be enforceable if he can produce a signed copy, that was, by the way, also executed with the proper formalities, because here in Georgia, there are formalities that you must follow in order for the prenup to be valid. If you don't follow those formalities, then it's not valid. You'll be thrown out.
Todd Orston: Yeah. I think you hit the nail on the head. Going to the cost of this kind of a case, especially if you have 16 attorneys, they're going to be throwing a lot of money at this. But when you have potentially hundreds of millions of dollars hanging in the balance, then, I'm not saying it's right, but I understand why she's fighting this fight because she knows if she doesn't fight it now, then she potentially is out hundreds of millions of dollars.
Todd Orston: So I think what this also could be, if there's no evidence that it was ripped up, if there is a valid agreement available for enforcement, then this also could very well be just a shot across the bow, and basically, it's her saying to him, "Look, I'm going to fight you, and if I win, it's a win for me because then I'm entitled to whatever portion, but a much larger portion of the estate. And if you want to take the chance and litigate this, so be it. I've got my attorneys and we'll see what happens." So it might be just an effort not to undo it, but to just open the door to negotiation.
Leh Meriwether: Yeah, because this case could get really expensive. Unfortunately, we have to wrap up the show, but what can happen is let's say they go to court, and let's say it doesn't matter, let's say they can't settle, there's maybe animosities really stirred up between the parties for whatever reason, they go to court, one party loses, they appeal it and then it goes up on appeal. I don't know how the California system works, but there's different levels. Depending on the state too, you may start at the appellee court of appeals and then go to the Supreme Court of that state. So there may be two appeals built into there. And then once you get that ruling, it drops back down to the lower court to go forward based on how the original one went.
Leh Meriwether: Sometimes there's so much anger there for the party that lost that they fight that much harder in the trial, you go to a final trial and then that's appealed. So these cases can suddenly get very expensive for everyone. Unfortunately, we've run out of time. I hope you enjoyed this show and thanks so much for listening.