In 2016 we suffered another great loss to the music world. The legendary poet and singer Leonard Cohen, with his shaky, monotone crooning, may have not been for everyone, but his lyrics went straight to that sad, lonely place within all of us. Even when asked to testify in court during a 2012 suit he filed against his former lover and manager for harassment, Cohen never missed a beat.
Written in the standard dignified prose Cohen was best known for, but may as well have been written by Arthur Rimbaud, himself, Cohen’s court testimony shows that even in formal speaking Cohen’s poetry could not help but pour through when faced with the difficult task of sending a long-time family friend to jail. We hear from not only a man slighted from funds that were rightfully his – giving Cohen reason to fire his former manager, Kelley Lynch – but the anguish and fear Lynch evoked within him after he made the decision to part ways.
Cohen begins by thanking the courts and others who played a key role in the prosecution of his former manager, before he goes on to thank the Defendant, herself.
“I want to thank the Defendant Ms. Kelley Lynch for insisting on a Jury Trial, thus exposing to the light of day her massive depletion of my retirement savings and yearly earnings, and allowing the Court to observe her profoundly unwholesome, obscene and relentless strategies to escape the consequences of her wrongdoing.”
He then asks the court to see to it that Lynch will be prevented from contacting him or anyone affiliated with him after her release.
“… It gives me no pleasure to see my one-time friend shackled to a chair in a court of law, her considerable gifts bent to the service of darkness, deceit and revenge. I fear that her obsessive commitment to these activities will resume as soon as Ms. Lynch is released, therefore I will be grateful for whatever respite the court will allow my children, my grandchildren, my friends and associates, and myself …”
He ends his testimony with the hope that Lynch can let go of the resentment she has held towards Cohen, asking her to take refuge in religion.
“… It is my prayer that Ms. Lynch will take refuge in the wisdom of her religion, that a spirit of understanding will convert her heart from hatred to remorse, from anger to kindness, from the deadly intoxication of revenge to the lowly practices of self-reform. Many thanks, Your Honor, for this hospitality, and for this opportunity to address the court.”
Cohen finally took Lynch to court after he and his attorney claimed that Lynch had sent them both thousands of threatening phone calls and emails, dating back to 2004 when Cohen had fired her. Her choice to reach out to Cohen, his attorney, and other people who were close to Cohen in such a brash manner were in direct violation of a protection order Cohen had filed against Lynch.
Lynch pleaded not guilt to the charges and the case went to trial. The jury was allowed to hear many of the messages Lynch had sent to Cohen, including one where she stated that the singer-songwriter “needed to be taken down and shot.”
According to an article written by the Los Angeles Times, the messages forced Cohen to live in a state of fear. “Every time I see a car slow down, I get worried.” Cohen told Hailey Branson-Potts, an LA Times reporter.
Lynch was sentenced to 18-months in jail for the harassment.