Post Malone Is Headed To Trial. But Will It Be In Front Of Jury?

Post Malone is definitely heading to trial over accusations that he failed to credit one of the co-writers of “Circles.” What’s less certain is whether that trial will feature a jury.

With the case now hurtling toward a trial date next month, the two sides are still battling over whether it should be decided by a judge or jury. Malone says there’s “no basis” to put the case before 12 of his peers, but attorneys for accuser Tyler Armes say the star is trying “deprive plaintiff of his Constitutional right to a jury trial.”

“It is no surprise that defendants have failed to cite a single case in in support,” lawyers for Armes wrote Monday. “This is clearly because such cases are typically tried before a jury.”

Armes, a Canadian producer and songwriter best-known for his work in the band Down with Webster, claims he played a key role during an August 2018 studio session with Malone and producer Frank Dukes and deserves co-credit for an early song that later became “Circles.” He sued in April 2020, claiming he co-wrote chords and a bass line that played a key role in the song, which spent three weeks atop the Hot 100 in 2019.

Malone says Armes was merely a guest in the studio with no real power over the songwriting process, and that he contributed only small, unoriginal portions of the song. But in a ruling on Monday, U.S. District Judge Otis D. Wright ruled that producer might be able to prove he deserves credit.

“Armes’s evidence, if credited, supports the finding that the three musicians shared equal control in the session, making nonhierarchical contributions to a unitary whole,” the judge wrote. A trial date is currently set for May 17.

But will that trial take place in front of a jury? The U.S. Constitution guarantees the right to a jury trial in many civil lawsuits, and Armes has demanded that his case be heard by a jury. But in a filing earlier this month, Malone argued that such a case – Armes is merely seeking a declaration of co-ownership and not asking for damages – is actually supposed to be decided by a judge.

“It is now apparent that there is no basis for a jury trial in this action,” the Malone’s attorneys wrote on April 8. “Courts routinely strike jury demands which seek judicial declarations regarding ownership of intellectual property rights.”

That filing sparked Monday’s response from Armes. His lawyers said a battle over co-authorship requires a decision on the “subjective intent” and the “credibility” of the musicians involved – a decision that must be made by jurors.

“Fortunately, the law is clear in the Ninth Circuit that the question of joint authorship to a copyrighted work is an issue to be decided by a jury,” his lawyers wrote.

Read the full arguments below:


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