Petition of Certiorari Filed With U.S. Supreme Court
High School Friends Reunite in Petition to U.S. Supreme Court
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 9, 2006
CONTACT: John Sneed
PHONE: (601) 360-9354
Jackson, Mississippi – In the ongoing legal battle between authors Lewis Perdue and Dan Brown, author of The DaVinci Code, Perdue has turned to an old friend for help. Perdue has enlisted the services of Luther Munford, partner at Phelps Dunbar LLP in Jackson, MS to take his case to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Perdue and Munford grew up in Jackson, Mississippi, attending both junior and senior high school together in the public school system. Their lives, however, proceeded to take very different paths.
After attending community college, Perdue went on to receive his B.S. at Cornell University and shortly afterwards worked for Mississippi Gov. Bill Waller as his director of travel and tourism and later as Thad Cochran's news secretary when he was in Congress. He has since has authored 20 fiction and non-fiction works and has written articles for national publications such as the Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post and the Boston Globe. Perdue now lives and works in California.
Munford went on to receive his A.B. from Princeton University, B.A. from Oxford University, and J.D. from the University of Virginia. He clerked for Supreme Court Justice Harry A. Blackmun and has focused his career in media law and regularly handles cases in the appellate courts.
Years later, the paths of these two old friends have crossed again. After Perdue publicly stated that Brown had stolen the plot of his book, Daughter of God and used it in The DaVinci Code, Brown and his publisher sued Perdue in New York seeking a declaration that The DaVinci Code did not infringe Perdue’s copyright in his earlier work. Following the rule of the New York federal courts, judges refused to consider expert evidence Perdue offered to establish the uniqueness of his plot and the detail in which Brown copied the story. Because federal courts elsewhere would have looked at the expert evidence, Perdue with the help of Munford, Phelps partner Michael B. Wallace in Jackson and the Cozen O'Connor firm in New York, has now filed a petition to the U.S. Supreme Court asking it to determine the correct rule.
The petition points out, among other things, that a fiction expert said he only knew of two books which claimed that evidence of the divine feminine still existed which was a threat to the Catholic Church: Daughter of God and the The DaVinci Code. In the The DaVinci Code the heroine Sophie is a "daughter of God" because the book and movie claim she descended from Jesus.
In both books, the hero is a professor of religion or religious symbology and the heroine is a younger woman skilled in law enforcement or forgery detection. In an early chapter, an art expert is murdered. He leaves clues for the heroine which lead to a painting named for the Madonna. In the painting is a gold key. The key leads to a lock box in a Swiss bank. The lock box holds yet another container which must be decoded. Because the hero is suspected of murder, the hero and heroine have to break out of the bank. They are befriended by a character who is secretly working, or pretending to work, for a conservative Catholic organization. The head of that organization wants to find the evidence of the divine feminine to force the Vatican authorities to do him a favor. In the end, the evidence, a shroud or a tomb, is destroyed or not found, but the hero is cleared and avoids prosecution.
Dan Brown has been involved in similar litigation in England brought by the authors of another book, Holy Blood, Holy Grail. The English trial judge found that the The DaVinci Code copied its Mary Magdalene story from that book, but nevertheless held for Brown because the story was based on historical facts available to anyone. That decision is now on appeal in the English courts.
Perdue's most recent work "Perfect Killer" is the story of a fictional Army laboratory in the Mississippi Delta which experimented with brain surgery that would make soldiers more effective killers. Perdue was born in Greenwood and grew up in Itta Bena and Jackson.
Munford is a partner with Phelps Dunbar LLP, a regional law firm of more than 250 attorneys, with offices in New Orleans and Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Jackson, Tupelo, and Gulfport, Mississippi; Houston, Texas; Tampa, Florida; and London, England.