Though Cellino & Barnes's ebullient smiles still haunt New Yorkers citywide, it appears there is much darkness behind the subway glass. Last we heard, the embattled attorneys were working through a year's worth of "internal dissention," and now Stephen Barnes has reportedly gotten a judge to sign a restraining order against his estranged law partner. **Cue sad jingle**
According to court papers filed on Monday, Ross Cellino has been trying to recruit Cellino & Barnes's staff to a new firm amid the old one's dissolution. The papers claim he's been attempting to sway workers at Cellino & Barnes offices in Buffalo, Rochester, Manhattan and Long Island by claiming the "Cellino" name is more recognizable than Barnes's (though really, both are mere syllables without their accompanying phone number). "Another statement that Ross made to the attorneys and employees during his pitch was that the 'Cellino' name was 'better' than the 'Barnes's name—analogizing our firm to Harley-Davidson and telling people 'no one ever calls their motorcycle a Davidson,'" according to court documents.
Apparently, Cellino's father, Ross Cellino, Sr., founded the firm that eventually became Cellino & Barnes in 1958, and over the years the name changed a number of times, though 'Cellino' always came first. Still, it wasn't until after the elder Cellino left the firm in the mid-'90s that Cellino & Barnes began their aggressive radio and TV advertising campaign, which propelled them toward the Infomercial Hall of Fame in which they reside today.
Anyway, Barnes is mad, and in court papers he excoriated Cellino's "reprehensible conduct." He claimed Cellino is "engaging in a pattern of conduct, which has caused and continues to cause catastrophic damage to C&B, its reputation and its brand." And thanks to the filing, State Supreme Court Judge Deborah A. Chimes issued a restraining order against Cellino that prohibits him from messing with the firm's "status quo," so we'll see how that goes.