October 24, 2012 --
October 26, 2012
Hawker Beechcraft Attorney Fees Excessive
10-26-12 -- The Justice
Department's watchdog agency objected Thursday to more than
$12 million in interim fees racked up during the first three
months of Hawker Beechcraft's bankruptcy proceedings,
criticizing what it called excessive and unreasonable fees
lawyers billed for the company's failed bid for millions in
executive bonuses. . . .
U.S. Trustee Tracy Hope Davis asked the bankruptcy
court to reject any fees sought in connection with the bonus
plan for eight senior executives, and hold back an
unspecified portion of payments on compensation for other
professional services. .
. . The government said Hawker Beechcraft's lawyers
spent more time working on the executive bonus plan than on
other projects. The company's attorney and its financial
advisor together are seeking more than $402,000 for services
connected to the bonuses.
Scalia’s Advice to Law
Students: Take Bread-and-Butter Classes, Not ‘Law and Women’
10-26-12 -- Law
students have just one chance to learn the basics, so they
should avoid “frill courses,” Justice Antonin Scalia said on
Thursday. . . . Scalia spoke at the University of Wyoming after a hunting
trip in which he did not bag any antelope, the
Associated Press reports.
Previous coverage said Scalia planned to go
hunting in the state with Justice Elena Kagan.
. . . Scalia’s speech focused on his originalist
views of the Constitution, but he did answer a few
questions, including one from Caitlin Wallace, the Wyoming
law student and Federalist Society member
who wrote the letter inviting Scalia to appear.
She asked for the single best piece of advice Scalia would
give law students. AP and the
Casper Star-Tribune reported on his answer.
Am Law Firms Commit Time,
Space to Effort Aimed at Ensuring Orderly Voting
10-25-12 -- For
thousands of lawyers across the United States, Election Day
isn't just about casting ballots for their preferred
candidates. It's also about making sure that the system
under which Americans vote works as it's supposed to.
. . . Take Century City, California–based
Reed Smith litigation partner Miles
Cooley, who is coordinating his firm's efforts in
Election Protection—a nonpartisan initiative
backed by a coalition of legal and civil rights groups that
has enlisted thousands of volunteers to field voters'
questions about election laws and to help sort out legal
challenges that may arise at the polls through the group's
toll-free hotline, 1-866-OUR-VOTE. Election Protection will
also have lawyers on the ground at a number of polling sites
come Election Day. . . .
Cooley says voters can call the hotline "to report
voting problems, to find out where their polling stations
are, to otherwise ask election-related questions the day
before and the day of Election Day."
Out of the Boxing Ring,
Into the Courtroom
10-24-12 -- Boxing is a
contact sport, just like litigation. That's why the boxing
ring has a lot to teach trial counsel and in-house
litigation managers about the courtroom.
. . . I've duked
it out in a lot of courtrooms, but I only recently took up
boxing, and it has changed my take on litigation. Here are a
few things I've learned.
. . . • Respect the opponent. The quickest path to defeat in the
boxing ring is to underestimate an opponent. That leads to
slouching in training and bad-mouthing the other fighter.
Next thing the contender knows, he's on the mat wondering
what hit him. . . .
Humility wins bouts and trials. I always consider
myself the underdog to avoid complacency.
. . . Besides
carrying a big stick, it's important to speak softly. In
most cases, I offer to have lunch with opposing counsel up
front. That can save lots of time on petty
Ex-Rite Aid GC Loses Yet
10-24-12 -- Franklin
Brown, the ex-convict and ex-general counsel of Rite Aid
Corp., is 0 for 3 against his former boss and fellow ex-con
Martin Grass. But Brown keeps trying.
. . . Brown’s
latest effort ended last week when the U.S. Court of Appeals
for the Fourth Circuit ruled against him.
The court opinion [PDF] is interesting for
suggesting, if nothing else, how $30 million worth of
securities could be misappropriated from a company and its
shareholders, with apparently no one held accountable.
. . . The secret is to hide it long enough until the
statute of limitations expires.
. . . But back to Brown, the three-time loser.
. . . First, Grass testified against the former GC in his 2003
trial over an $18 million accounting scandal at
Pennsylvania-based Rite Aid. Brown’s defense attorney blamed
Grass and others for the scandal, but Brown was convicted
and served 71 months of a 7½-year prison sentence. . . .
Brown, who was disbarred,
got out of prison in August of 2011.
Poll Finds Large Firm
Leaders Overwhelmingly Predicting Obama Win
10-23-12 -- While the
relentless stream of polls taking the pulse of voters both
nationally and in key battleground states shows a tight race
between President Barack Obama and Republican presidential
nominee Mitt Romney, those who guide the nation's largest
law firms don't see it that way.
. . . Asked as
part of The American Lawyer's annual Law Firm Leader survey
who will win this year's presidential contest, 83 of 106 Am
Law 200 managing partners, chairs, and other firm leaders,
or 78.3 percent of those polled, said they expect the
president to win reelection to a second four-year term when
ballots are counted November 6. The remaining 23, or 21.7
percent, predicted a Romney victory.
Park Service Searches for
Missing Hiker, a Polsinelli Lawyer
10-26-12 -- Updated:
Authorities are searching for a lawyer with Polsinelli
Shughart in Los Angeles who didn’t return as expected on
Monday from a hike in California's Kings Canyon National
Park and the adjacent Inyo National Forest.
. . . The missing hiker is 53-year-old Lawrence
“Larry” Conn, who is
of counsel at Polsinelli and a member of the
firm’s health care practice group. Conn was a lateral hire
who joined the firm this year, according to a Polsinelli
press release. He previously worked at Foley &
Lardner for 24 years, according to a
New charge filed against
lawyer in ticket-fixing case
Dana Littlefield, North County Times
10-26-12 -- The state
Attorney General’s Office has filed an additional
misdemeanor charge against a deputy district attorney
accused in a ticket-fixing case.
. . . Allison Worden, whose name also appears on the
amended complaint as Allison Debow, now faces one count of
attempting to dissuade a witness on June 2, 2011. She had
already been charged with conspiracy to obstruct justice and
two counts of alteration or destruction of a traffic
citation, all misdemeanors.
. . . Worden, 37, was expected to be arraigned in San
Diego Superior Court Friday, but a judge granted a defense
request to postpone the matter until next week.
Ex-staffer says she was
ordered to pad law school's job numbers
10-23-12 -- A former
assistant career services dean at the Thomas Jefferson Law
School has filed a declaration in a class action against the
institution in which she acknowledges padding graduate
employment statistics in 2006.
Karen Grant said in a sworn statement in August that she
counted recent graduates as employed if they had worked in
any capacity since graduation. She blamed pressure by her
supervisor to improve the school's jobs statistics.
. . . Law schools
are only supposed to report graduates as employed if they
have a job nine months following graduation, according to
American Bar Association rules.
. . . "I was to
ask first if they were currently employed," she said. "If
the graduate indicated he or she was not currently employed,
I would then inquire whether he or she was employed at any
time after graduation. If the graduate indicated he or she
was employed at any time after graduation (even though
currently unemployed), I was instructed to record the
graduate as 'employed' " for the record.
Consumer financial agency
draws ire by ruling debt-collecting lawyers now under its
10-23-12 -- Big banks,
little banks, credit card companies, student lenders – it
seems like just about every player in the financial services
industry has complained about the power of the Consumer
Financial Protection Bureau. Now it's the lawyers' turn.
. . . On October 24, the CFPB released its final rule
for overseeing debt collectors, and included attorneys among
those who will be subject to direct federal supervision for
the first time. . . .
Under the rule, which goes into effect on January 2,
the CFPB will have the power to send field examiners out to
the law offices of attorneys who engage in debt collection
to review their procedures, evaluate the quality of their
compliance and identify risks to consumers.
Confused outcome for
conservative who accused Iowa Law of discrimination
10-25-12 -- The
question of whether the University of Iowa College of Law
discriminated against a job candidate because of her
conservative views remains unanswered after the trial ended
in confusion. . . .
A Davenport, Iowa, jury on October 24 found that
former Iowa dean Carolyn Jones did not violate plaintiff
Teresa Wagner's First Amendment rights when it failed to
hire her for a full time faculty position in 2007.
. . . However, the panel failed to reach a verdict on the second
count, which alleges that the school's hiring process was
not impartial and denied Wagner due process and equal
protection of the law. U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas Shields
declared a mistrial on that count.
Detective: Murder Suspect
Said She Gave Lawyer Boyfriend the Nose Job He Wanted
10-26-12 -- A woman
accused of killing her lawyer boyfriend told authorities she
shot the man multiple times during a heated argument at his
Kentucky condominium, according to testimony by a Kentucky
police detective at a preliminary hearing on Thursday.
. . . Judge Karen Thomas revoked bond for the
suspect, Shayna Hubers, after testimony by Highland Heights
Detective Bill Birkenhauer,
NKY.com reports. Hubers is accused of killing
29-year-old lawyer Ryan Poston, who had a solo practice in
Cincinnati, on Oct. 12.
Aaron Broussard no longer
an attorney; Tom Wilkinson's law license suspended
10-26-12 -- Former
Jefferson Parish President Aaron Broussard is no longer an
attorney, as the Louisiana Supreme Court on Friday announced
it was accepting Broussard's resignation of his law license.
The court also said it was suspending former Parish Attorney
Tom Wilkinson's license on an interim basis.
. . . Both
Broussard and Wilkinson
pleaded guilty earlier this year to corruption
charges as a result of a broad federal probe of Broussard's
administration. After his plea deal, Broussard said he would
surrender his law license. Wilkinson's suspension, however,
leaves the door open for him to petition for reinstatement
in the future.
Judge shutters phony law
firm run by attorney-poser
10-23-12 -- A Baltimore
man found to have represented more than 50 bankruptcy
clients through a fake law firm has been blocked from
conducting business and ordered to pay $261,000.
. . . U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge David Rice on
October 19 ordered Michael Mancini, proprietor of the
fictitious Scalia & Seidel, to close shop and pay fines and
damages for practicing without a law license.
. . . Between February and July, Mancini, whose
education ended with a high school diploma, filed bankruptcy
court petitions, schedules and financial statements for at
least 54 clients, often using the fictitious name "A.
Michael Scalia," and charging a flat rate of $400, according
to the decision. Mancini, who changed his name from Michael
Antonio Lonardo earlier this year, used the Scalia name to
run an office in Baltimore decorated with law books to give
the impression of a legitimate practice, according to
testimony from the U.S. Trustees Office.
candidate Fox returns $32,000 GOP donation
10-26-12 -- Attorney
general candidate Tim Fox on Thursday returned a $32,000
donation to his campaign from the Montana Republican Party
as his Democratic opponent filed a lawsuit over the
contribution. . . .
The donation came after a federal judge ruled
Montana’s campaign contribution limits unconstitutional on
Oct. 3. Six days later, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of
Appeals reinstated the limits.
. . . Fox on Thursday morning returned the party
donation and $12,000 from individual donors that exceeded
the reinstated limits because he’d had enough of the
“political pingpong the courts are playing with this issue,”
spokesman Tyler Matthews said in a written statement.
Volunteer Work at New
Jersey AG’s Office Leads to Paying Jobs for Dozens of Law
10-26-12 -- Volunteer
work led to paying jobs at the New Jersey Attorney General’s
office for the luckiest volunteers in a program created at
the height of the recession.
. . . Since the Volunteer Associates in Public
Service program began in 2009, the office accepted about
half of the around 350 applicants, the
New Jersey Law Journal reports. So far, 41 of the
volunteers have landed full-time positions that became
available because of attrition.
Bayonne resident jumped
onto tracks to save woman who had fallen at Journal Square
10-23-12 -- As the PATH
train approached the Journal Square station during last
Thursday's evening rush hour, a 72-year-old woman stumbled
and fell onto the tracks.
. . . Heading to law school in Newark, Bayonne
resident and Hudson County employee James Baber spotted the
woman from the overhead walkway above the platform.
. . . In what he
describes as a "moment of pure adrenaline and instinct,"
Baber, 24, jumped onto Track 3 and helped pull the woman off
the tracks before the train pulled into the station.
A Lawyer Accused Of A
Barroom Brawl Reveals What's Really Wrong With The Justice
10-26-12 -- An
intellectual property lawyer who took the stand last month
in his own criminal case and won is accusing the justice
system of doing everything it can to find people guilty.
. . . Bryan Brooks
was charged with first-degree assault after a 2011
barroom brawl in New York City, which left
another man with cuts to his face requiring stitches and
staples, according to Above the Law.
. . .In an
insightful interview with Above the Law's David Lat,
Brooks revealed all that's wrong with the American criminal
Law firm Dinsmore & Shohl
hit with $12.6M judgement
10-26-12 -- George
Vincent, managing partner of Dinsmore & Shohl, Cincinnati’s
largest law firm, has had better weeks.
. . . He said so Friday, two days after the firm got
hit with a $12.6 million damage award. It was the first
judgment against the firm ... ever, he said.
. . . On Wednesday an eight-person Hamilton County
Common Pleas Court jury unanimously found the firm and
liable on fraud and negligent misrepresentation claims
and awarded damages to a Florida company, TurboCombustor
Attorneys for homeless
shelter seek $1.9 million from Boise for fees, costs
10-25-12 -- The
city of Boise could see its tab for losing a
lawsuit over housing for the homeless climb from $1 million
to nearly $3 million once attorneys' fees and costs are
added. . . . A
federal jury ordered the city to pay $1 million to
Community House in September, after finding that
the city discriminated against homeless women and children
and retaliated against the organization when board members
complained. Now the attorneys that represented Community
House in the lawsuit are asking that their client be
compensated for fees and costs -- which they say total
nearly $1.9 million. . .
. Under federal law, the winner of a lawsuit can
generally seek to recover attorney's fees and costs from the
losing side. The fees and costs have to be approved by a
judge and they can be appealed, just like the verdict
itself. But they can substantially raise the financial
stakes for the losing party.
Men Who Hired Fake Lawyer
to File Phony Tax Returns Get 1-Year Sentence
10-26-12 -- Two Texas
men who hired a phony lawyer to allegedly help them file
fraudulent tax returns were sentenced to prison Thursday.
. . . Richard Tilford and Bartlett Smith each were
sentenced to serve a year for for tax evasion, the Dallas
Crime Blog reports. According to the article,
Tilford, a self-employed insurance agent, hired Phillip
Monroe Ballard to file late tax returns claiming that
Tilford earned no income in the “constitutional sense.” . . . Prosecutors say that Smith, a drywall construction
operator, hired Ballard to set up a fake church and
corporation for him so he could avoid paying taxes for six
Texas AG Continues Spat
over International Election Monitors with ‘Bring It’ Tweet
10-26-12 -- Texas
Attorney General Greg Abbott has a message for international
poll watchers protesting his threat to prosecute them:
“Bring it.” . . . Abbott delivered the challenge in
a tweet to the Organization for Security and
Co-Operation in Europe, the
Associated Press reports. The OSCE sends
observers to poll locations throughout the United States,
but Abbott has bristled at the group’s plans to visit Texas.
. . . OSCE took offense after Abbott warned the group
in a letter that Texas law bars campaign workers and
loiterers from maintaining a presence within 100 feet of a
polling location entrance. Violations, he said, could result
in criminal prosecution.
A Death Row Struggle
Between Advocates and Lawyers
10-26-12 -- Preston
Hughes III, a death row inmate, is 46 but seems much older,
with white hair, thick glasses and a quiet, slow voice that
rises only when the subject of his lawyer comes up.
. . . Hughes, convicted in 1989 of fatally stabbing
two youths, has tried multiple times to fire his
court-appointed lawyer, Patrick McCann. He said that McCann,
who has been his lawyer for 14 years, has not raised his
claims of innocence and is “helping the state cover this
up.” . . . McCann
says he cannot comment on why he will not pursue these
claims, which were not introduced in Hughes’ original trial.
But Texas and federal law set a high burden of proof for new
claims of “actual innocence” so late in the judicial
process, a bar that McCann said is “almost impossible” to
meet. . . .
Hughes, who says he did not commit the murders, is scheduled
to be executed Nov. 15. He says all of his attorneys have
failed him. “They just want to do things on their own,” he
said recently from death row in Livingston.
Bail reduced for Seattle
attorney charged with rape
10-23-12 -- A judge
this morning reduced the bail for a Seattle attorney charged
with rape from $3 million to $1 million. Also, prosecutors
have added an additional charge against the attorney,
Danford Grant, who is accused of raping massage therapists
and a cashier of a massage clinic.
. . . Grant had sought to have his bail reduced
to $250,000. Grant, 47, is now charged with seven felony
counts. . . .
Seattle attorney Richard Hansen, who is representing Grant,
said he’s hopeful that Grant will be released from jail by
next week now that his bail has been reduced. Grant has been
held in lieu of $3 million bail since Sept. 26.
. . . In court filings, Grant wrote: ”I very
much need to be out of jail to defend against these charges
and to help my attorneys work on the case. It is awkward and
difficult to meet them in jail, and nearly impossible for me
to review the police reports and other discovery …”
VICTIMS-OF-LAW ON THE WEB
SHOP OUR ADVERTISERS
October 20, 2012 --
October 23, 2012
Halloween — lawyer style
10-23-12 -- It’s that
time of year again, when our thoughts turn to ghosts,
goblins and things that go bump in the night.
. . . Halloween is right around the corner, and with
it come the creatures of the night that haunt our collective
unconsciousness: vampires, werewolves, witches, zombies and
the like. . . .
But Halloween also figures prominently on the mind of the
scariest creature of them all—the lawyer.
. . . If you think I’m about to regale you with a
tale of ghosts inhabiting haunted courthouses, well that’s
for another time. Instead, allow me to first send shivers
up your spine with stories about something that first year
law students find more terrifying than bloodsucking fiends
or reanimated corpses—lawbooks. . . . Courtesy of Texas Tech University law professor Victoria
Sutton, law students and lawyers alike can now learn all
about the spookier side of the law in Halloween Law: A
Spirited Look at the Law School Curriculum. Using
Halloween as the unifying theme, Sutton examines the scarier
side of first year law school subjects like torts, property
and criminal law.
Finicky In-House Counsel
Refuse to Pay Law Firms for ‘Legal Miscellany’
10-22-12 -- Legal
consultant Rob Mattern remembers when law firms used to
charge up to 25 cents for each photocopy. Other so-called
“soft costs”—word processing and faxes—were also billed to
clients. . . . "I
remember having conversations with executive directors who
said the soft costs were one of the larger individual areas
of revenue for their firms,” Mattern told the
Wall Street Journal (sub. req.).
. . . That was before the economy declined and
cost-cutting in-house counsel began scrutinizing bills more
closely. Now charges for meals, photocopies, legal research
and first-class travel are drawing protests. “Clients are
increasingly raising objections to big bills for legal
miscellany,” the story says.
Women Are Now 70 Percent
of Staff Lawyers, But Stuck at 15 Percent for Equity
10-22-12 -- You know
that old adage—"What gets measured gets fixed"? Well, the
National Association of Women Lawyers has been carefully
tracking women's progress in the nation's 200 largest firms
for seven years, and things aren't getting fixed.
. . . Arguably, the pieces are more broken than ever.
NAWL's 2012 report just rolled off the presses,
and it's hard to put a positive spin on the results. Here's
a quick summary of some of the findings:
. . . That cursed 15 percent figure again. Women make
up barely 15 percent of equity partners, and just 26 percent
of nonequity partners.
Divorce Lawyer's Favorite
10-21-12 -- People talk
a lot about dirty tricks in divorce. You can find articles
and resources about the usual dirty tricks all over the
place. Most of them will also get you in a lot of legal
trouble if your hijinks are discovered. . . . Not so with my favorite dirty trick.
. . . I don't usually get to give people mischievous
advice. I value my law license, after all. Plus the time
that people spend on revenge is a waste of valuable
emotional resources. And I really don't endorse that.
. . . But there are some things you can do which are
above-board and which may actually facilitate settlement.
This topic came up as a close friend asked me for advice
about her upcoming divorce court hearing. My friend happens
to be a woman with a son, so I'm going to use those pronouns
here, but it works just the same for men and daughters.
Class Claims Lawyer Took
'Secret' $6M Deal
10-23-12 -- A
California law firm accepted a $6 million "secret
settlement" of a labor class action against a bank, agreed
to dismiss the claims without telling 600 clients, then
tried to convert the whole settlement into legal fees, a
class action claims in state court.
. . . Lead plaintiff Kendra Cutting sued Mark
Yablonovich; an attorney in his law office, Michael Coats,
and The Law Offices of Mark Yablonovich, in Alameda County
Court. . . .
Yablonovich's office is in Los Angeles, according to the
California Bar Association web page. Cutting claims the
defendants "wrongfully collected and continue to unlawfully
retain substantial sums belonging to plaintiff and the other
members of the proposed class."
. . . Cutting and other sold mortgages for Wells
Fargo and alleged that the bank improperly classified them
as exempt from overtime wages.
In the Supreme Court, a
Fight Over Sanctions for Government Misconduct
10-22-12 -- The Justice
Department doesn't want the U.S. Supreme Court to hear a
dispute over alleged prosecutorial misconduct, urging the
court to keep in place a ruling that voided an award of more
than $600,000 in attorney fees to a Miami doctor who was
acquitted in a drug case.
. . . Responding to the Justice Department today, Dr.
Ali Shaygan's lawyers continued their effort to convince the
high court to review the decision of the U.S. Court of
Appeals for the 11th Circuit to dismiss the legal fee award. . . . At issue is this: Under what scenario is a criminal
defendant allowed to recoup legal fees under the Hyde
Amendment? Federal law says a defendant can try to obtain
fees if the legal position of the United States was
vexatious, frivolous or in bad faith. But those terms are
Conservative lawyer says
she was 'devastated' when passed over for job at Iowa law
10-22-12 -- A
conservative lawyer testified Monday that she was shocked
when she was passed over for a teaching job at the
University of Iowa law school in favor of a less-qualified
candidate who ended up resigning after performing poorly.
. . . Teresa Wagner took the witness stand as her
lawyers finished presenting her case, laid out during a
weeklong trial in federal court in Davenport, that the
liberal-leaning law school faculty blocked her appointment
because of her conservative views and prior work for groups
that oppose abortion rights.
. . . The case is being closely watched in higher
education and legal circles because of longstanding
allegations of political bias at left-leaning law schools.
Some experts say that, if successful, it could lead to more
lawsuits. Closing arguments are scheduled for Monday
afternoon before a jury of eight women and four men starts
consider whether Wagner was discriminated against and, if
so, how much she should be awarded.
Volunteer lawyers project
to assist veterans applying for benefits
10-22-12 -- Local
veterans can get free help with Veterans Affairs disability
benefit applications and appeals, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday,
Oct. 27, at the Portland Public Library, 5 Monument Square,
through a free clinic sponsored by the Maine Volunteer
Lawyers Project. Several volunteer attorneys and law
students will provide free legal assistance to veterans.
. . . To make an appointment, call Rob Liscord,
AmeriCorps VISTA member, at 400-3232, although no
appointment is necessary. . . . “With an increasing number of veterans returning home and
having difficulty accessing the benefits they’ve earned,
there is a great need for this clinic” said Juliet
Holmes-Smith, director of the Volunteer Lawyers Project. “We
hope this clinic will be the first of many in Maine.”
Leopold lawyer tab now at
County executive promised,
with caveats, to repay costs if found guilty
10-22-12 -- Taxpayers
have now been billed more than $42,000 in legal fees in the
gender discrimination lawsuit against Anne Arundel County
Executive John R. Leopold, who has promised to repay the sum
under certain conditions.
. . . The latest invoice doubles the previous tab
charged to taxpayers by Thatcher Law Firm, the private
attorneys hired by the county to defend Leopold after a
Lawyer Who Skipped Trial,
Traveled to Paris Wedding Is Convicted of Contempt
10-22-12 -- A lawyer
who clashed with a Minnesota judge says an appeal is likely
after she was convicted of misdemeanor contempt for skipping
a trial last year to attend her brother’s wedding in Paris.
. . . After the verdict on Thursday, lawyer M. Tayari
Garrett declared that “an injustice has been done,” the
Minneapolis Star Tribune reports. She was
sentenced to a year of probation and fined $1,000.
. . . The story says Garrett intentionally skipped
her client’s mortgage fraud trial to attend the wedding.
Previous coverage said Garrett had claimed she
was hospitalized on the trial start date and left for France
two days later.
Lawyer Starts Program to Target Distracted Driving
10-22-12 -- Douglas
Horn, a Missouri plaintiffs lawyer, thinks that texting
while driving has become more dangerous than drinking and
driving. Laws that prohibit phone use while driving don’t go
far enough, he recently told Kansas City’s
WDAF TV, and he’s launched his own driver safety
program. . . .
Drive By Example, it focuses on education
programs, legislation and bringing awareness to the problem.
Long Island lawyer loses
bid to overturn misconduct charges
10-23-12 -- New York's
highest court on Tuesday affirmed nine out of 10
professional misconduct charges against a Long Island
matrimonial lawyer whose brother stole more than $4 million
from his firm's escrow accounts.
. . . Peter Galasso was a founding partner of Galasso
Langione Catterson & Lofrumento in Garden City, where his
brother, Anthony, was employed as a bookkeeper. Between 2004
and 2007, Anthony Galasso diverted more than $4 million
being held for clients of the firm and took elaborate steps
to cover his tracks, according to court papers.
. . . The Grievance Committee for the 9th Judicial
District brought 10 charges of professional misconduct
against Peter Galasso, saying he had failed to safeguard his
clients' money. The Appellate Division, Second Department,
sustained all 10 charges and suspended him from practicing
law for two years. Galasso appealed.
Tax Lawyer Raises Profile
of Revolutionary War General
10-23-12 -- For the
past 16 years on the Fourth of July, New York tax lawyer
James Kaplan has been leading a 2 a.m. walking tour of Lower
Manhattan that emphasizes the achievements of a little known
Revolutionary War general, Horatio Gates.
. . . During his walking tours, Kaplan would note
Gates’ unmarked grave, according to a 2009 article he wrote
Last Exit magazine. The situation changed on
Sunday, when about 150 people gathered to celebrate the
installation of a marker honoring Gates at a Wall Street
district cemetery where he is buried, the New York Times
City Room blog reports. “This is a great day in
my point of view in the history of the city of New York,”
Firms Grow Bolder About
Suing Clients for Unpaid Legal Fees
Suing clients for unpaid legal fees could become routine as
firms are growing more assertive about collecting overdue
bills. . . .
"There was a time when a lot of firms would feel it was
unseemly to bring an action against a client" regardless of
the amount owed, said Martin Wasser, a partner at 75-lawyer
Phillips Nizer. "I think that's changed."
. . . "Firms are more aggressive in following up with bills than
they've ever been," said Wasser, whose firm is among the
many that have filed suit to collect fees from former
clients this year.
With Help from ‘Old Sage’
Environmental Lawyer, Inmate Wins Review of Conviction
10-23-12 -- At the age
of 70, Syracuse, N.Y., lawyer Sidney Manes took on a new
cause. . . . Manes
had developed an expertise in environmental law after giving
up criminal defense in the 1950s, the
Syracuse Post-Standard reports. But when he
received a letter from inmate Hector Rivas in 1996, Manes
started working to dig up exculpatory information.
. . . “Manes, then 70, was a rich lawyer with his own
little island in the Thousand Islands,” the story says.
“He’d paid no attention to the murder trial in 1993 when
Rivas was convicted of strangling his former girlfriend,
pediatric nurse Valerie Hill.”
Dish Network Executive
Apologizes for Emotional Outburst Aimed at Gibson Dunn
10-22-12 -- A
long-running legal battle between
Dish Network ended Monday, but not before a Dish
executive publicly apologized for accosting the elderly
Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher litigator Orin Snyder
last week on her way out of the courtroom where the elderly
man had just finished watching his son work.
. . . "I'm a woman of integrity," Dish Network vice
president of programming Carolyn Crawford said to New York
state Supreme Court justice Richard Lowe III after the jury
that had been hearing the three-week-long trial filed out of
the courtroom. "My emotions got the best of me." . . . While Crawford did not say specifically what she was
several other media outlets have reported that on
October 16, after conferring with Lowe and lawyers for both
parties in the case, she stormed out of court, stopping
briefly to slap Snyder's father on the back while saying,
"Proud of your son?"
DA: Pa. attorney pilfered
$200K from clients
10-23-12 -- A former
public defender in eastern Pennsylvania is accused of
stealing more than $200,000 from clients of his private
practice and using newly pilfered cash to repay earlier
victims. . . .
Authorities in Northampton County say Anthony Martino stole
money from the escrow accounts of two clients and failed to
repay a personal loan, using the stolen funds to repay money
he allegedly took from an estate he'd administered.
State Bar Says Dallas
Attorney Tom Corea Can No Longer Be Dallas Attorney
10-23-12 -- After his
father died in a nursing home operated by Healthsouth Corp.,
Howard Wright sued the company for medical malpractice and
in January 2011 agreed to a $225,000 settlement. A good
chunk of that, 36 percent, went to his lawyer, Tom Corea,
and another $20,000 went to pay off a pair of liens, but
that still left Wright with $124,000.
. . . Wright, like
a few of Corea's clients, never saw a dime. When
Wright demanded his money, Corea balked, claiming that the
agreement had been for a 40 percent cut. Then, Corea claimed
he had to renegotiate the agreement to pay off the Medicare
lien, which went on for several months until Wright
discovered that the settlement money was nowhere to be
Hurst attorney says fire
bombs were thrown through her office windows
10-22-12 -- Federal
agents are investigating whether a Hurst attorney was the
intended target of an arsonist who threw incendiary devices
into the building where she has an office.
. . . Attorney Ginger Weatherspoon said Monday that
she believes she was the intended target behind the weekend
fire and that investigators have already begun questioning
people connected with cases that she is working.
. . . "It will shake you up, but I do a lot of family
law, and family law is crazy," Weatherspoon said. "I told my
staff it's like being in the Pelican Brief. It's like being
in a John Grisham novel."
. . . Weatherspoon said the homemade devices had been
thrown through side-by-side windows of the multioffice
building at 1240 Southridge Court, two landing in her office
but not igniting because they had lost their wicks.
October 17, 2012 --
October 19, 2012
The Hot Seat
Stories on lawyers and
judges in trouble, expanded roundup of ALM coverage.
Bribery. Money laundering. Investment scams. Lawyers
don't just represent folks accused of such crimes. They
often are the accused. Here we've collected stories of
lawyers accused of defrauding clients; judges charged with
abusing their power; and individuals who've just plain gone
off the rails with behavior so bizarre we can only wonder:
"What were they thinking?" While some have been cleared of
the charges, others have been reprimanded, sanctioned, or
sent to jail. Their tales are funny, sad, weird -- and not
to be missed.
With Eyes on Jobs, NYU
Law Launches New 3L Programs
10-18-12 -- Responding
to criticism that law schools aren't doing enough to prepare
graduates for employment, New York University School of Law
has decided to bolster its third-year offerings with
enhanced opportunities to study abroad, practice
area-specific tracks and a new government law clinic.
. . . Dean Richard Revesz, who announced the plans to students
yesterday, said in an interview that the changes would make
students "better lawyers and better able to succeed as
lawyers." . . .
NYU Law yesterday announced enhanced programs for its
third-year students. On the panel, from left, are Melody
Barnes, NYU vice provost for global student leadership
initiatives; Evan Chesler, presiding partner, Cravath,
Swaine & Moore; Dean Rickey Revesz; Vice Dean Kevin Davis;
and Sally Katzen, a visiting professor and senior adviser at
the Podesta Group. NYLJ/Rick Kopstein. . . . Students expressed mixed feelings, reacting with enthusiasm
but wondering whether the offers could directly impact their
Courts Not Exempted From
Senator's List Of Wasteful Spending
10-17-12 -- Several
court and legal related programs were criticized this week
in one Republican senator's annual "Wastebook," which
chronicles the top 100 projects that voters might consider a
waste of tax dollars. The priciest of those: $322 million
for a new federal courthouse in Los Angeles, a project that
has been stalled for more than a decade.
. . . Senator Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) also singled out a
$500,000 science grant that went for online lawyer training,
the Department of Justice's use of old x-ray technology for
prisoner health care, and $500,000 for a security system at
an Alabama courthouse that had to be partially shut down
over privacy concerns. .
. . Congress is looking to cut spending and reel in
the national debt, so inclusion on the list could mean more
than just the embarrassment of being labeled the equivalent
of "A Bridge to Nowhere," the phrase now synonymous with
wasteful government spending.
Coburn published the report on his website.
Jefferson County's top
lawyer, who makes $375,000, could leave in dispute over pay
By Barnett Wright, Birmingham News
10-18-12 -- Jefferson
County faces the departure of its top in-house lawyer in a
dispute over pay, al.com/The Birmingham News has learned.
. . . County Attorney Jeff Sewell has requested that
the County Commission honor a resolution passed by the
previous commission that gives merit raises to the county's
in-house legal staff. . .
. It is unclear when Sewell might leave, but boxes in
his office were packed this week and his desk cleaned.
However, talks to resolve the pay dispute were expected to
continue through next week.
. . . The decision on the pay raise -- about $30,000
annually for Sewell -- will be made by Commission President
David Carrington, who is the appointing authority for the
county attorney's office.
After Appeals Court Nixes
Reversed Conviction of Anna Nicole Smith’s Boyfriend-Lawyer,
10-19-12 -- Confusion
reigned following news that a California appellate court has
determined that a trial judge erroneously reversed the
conviction of Anna Nicole Smith's onetime boyfriend and
lawyer, in a relatively minor criminal conspiracy case
concerning prescription drugs supplied to the now-deceased
celebrity and former Playboy bunny.
. . . Lawyers said they aren't certain exactly what
the Thursday appellate ruling means to defendant attorney
Howard K. Stern, reports the
Associated Press. It appears that he can't be
retried, because doing so would violate double jeopardy
rules. However, the trial judge may be able to reinstate the
conviction on remand.
Judges Testify to Culture
of Discord in DA's Discipline Trial
10-16-12 -- During day
two of the State Bar misconduct proceedings against district
attorney Jon Alexander, prosecutors called two Del Norte
County Superior Court judges who testified to a culture of
hostility in the small, tightly-knit legal community in
which Alexander allegedly gave and received improper loans.
. . . Judge William Follett, currently the only
permanently assigned judge sitting in the county of 28,000
residents, and retired Judge Robert Weir both testified that
while they weren't sure a loan made by Alexander to a deputy
probation officer and a loan made to Alexander by a local
defense attorney constituted illegal conduct, they felt the
activity could give the appearance of impropriety. But both
noted it was the state bar's interest in and investigation
of the allegations that gave them a certain weight. The
improper financial dealings are among
seven counts of misconduct charged by the State
Bar in connection with Alexander's tumultuous legal career.
Crunch time coming up for
GOP's DOMA fight
10-19-12 -- House
Republicans have paid Washington law firm Bancroft nearly
$1.5 million in the past two years to have former solicitor
general Paul Clement defend the Defense of Marriage Act in
federal courts. So far, they have lost all six decisions in
district or circuit cases.
. . . House Democrats say the Republicans must now
decide whether to keep paying Bancroft, after another
high-profile loss Thursday in the U.S. Court of Appeals for
the Second Circuit in New York. The U.S. Supreme Court is
also considering whether to take up DOMA this term.
. . . The contract with Bancroft was capped at $1.5
million. House Democrats released statistics this week
showing that the legal bills – including $750,000 this year
– have reached just $50,000 short of that amount as of
D.C. Attorney General
Criticizes Judge's 'Vituperative Rhetoric'
10-15-12 -- The
strained relationship between the District of Columbia's
Office of the Attorney General and U.S. District Chief Judge
Royce Lamberth took another hit late last week when the city
motion (PDF) characterizing Lamberth's language
in a recent opinion as "vituperative rhetoric."
. . . Calling
Lamberth's language "unjustified, defamatory, and
injudicious," lawyers for the city on Friday asked Lamberth
to strike the "inappropriate language" and reconsider
sanctions ordered against the city for discovery violations.
The motion was signed by Attorney General Irvin Nathan,
Deputy Attorney General Ellen Efros and Grace Graham, chief
of the equity section. .
. . The motion was in response to an
opinion Lamberth published on October 4 slamming city
lawyers for violating a discovery order. He
criticized the city's "dilatory, wasteful action" and
accused them of asking the court "to enter an Orwellian
world where all arguments are devoid of context, and all
Court orders magically mean whatever the District wishes
them to mean."
Disbarred Lawyer Takes
Plea in Attorney ID-Theft Case, Gets a Year in Prison
Followed By Probation
10-17-12 -- A
now-disbarred Georgia lawyer accused of impersonating
another attorney and practicing in that lawyer's name after
his own license to practice was suspended took a plea
Wednesday. . . .
Elliott J. Vogt, 34, who was also accused of forging legal
papers while ineptly representing dozens of clients, pleaded
guilty to theft by conversion, forgery and identity-fraud
charges in Muscogee County Superior Court, reports the
Columbus Ledger Enquirer.
See the Viral Bar Mitzvah
Video in Which a Future Chicago Attorney Dances to Madonna’s
10-18-12 -- Nobody knew
Shaun D. Sperling was a lawyer when his
20-year-old bar mitzvah video went almost instantly viral on
YouTube, with help from
. . . Family and friends cheer and whistle as the
then-13-year-old doffs his suit jacket, revealing a white
shirt with an image of Madonna's face on the back, and lets
his tie fly as he confidently struts his stuff to Madonna's
"Vogue" at the suburban Chicago event. The nearly 6-minute
YouTube video quickly accumulated over a million
hits after it was posted a little over two months ago and
made the 33-year-old attorney something of a household name.
. . . The Aronberg Goldgehn Davis & Garmisa
commercial litigation associate has since appeared on Today
has a clip), Jimmy Kimmel Live! and, on Oct. 29, is
scheduled to be a guest on Ellen. As the show was taped
earlier this month, Sperling actually met Madonna, who
agreed at the last minute to be a guest.
Lawyer Blasted by Ky.
Judge Who Called Case ‘Ridiculous,’ Client a ‘Carcass’ Now
Seeks His Removal
10-16-12 -- A lawyer
who was blasted by a senior Kentucky judge during a
videotaped hearing that has generated much comment from
observers has now filed a removal motion seeking a new
jurist to oversee his client's motion for a new trial in a
capital murder case. . .
. “It is my opinion that throughout the proceeding,
Judge [Martin] McDonald expressed his personal disgust and
disdain for me and made clear he harbors a bias towards me
and my client,” said attorney David Barron in a motion and
affidavit he filed Monday. The filing asks state Supreme
Court Chief Justice John D. Minton Jr. to take McDonald off
the Jefferson Circuit Court case, the
Courier-Journal reports. Barron is seeking a new
trial for death-row inmate Roger Dale Epperson, contending
that his trial counsel was ineffective.
Top La. Court Nixes
Lawyer’s Argument That Judicial Bribery Scheme Doesn’t Call
10-19-12 -- A suspended
Louisiana trial lawyer has been permanently disbarred for
his role in a Mississippi judicial bribery scheme.
. . . Rejecting arguments by Paul S. Minor that
attorney discipline should not take place until his criminal
appeals are final and that disbarment is too harsh a
punishment, given the mitigating circumstances, the
Louisiana Supreme Court in a Tuesday ruling noted that the
U.S. Supreme Court has denied his certiorari petition and
said disbarment is merited.
Retaliation Claim Allowed
in ‘Macho Culture’ Suit by Fired Dechert Associate
10-19-12 -- A former
who maintains he was fired partly because of the
firm’s macho culture will be allowed to proceed with a
retaliation claim. . . .
Ariel Ayanna claims the firm retaliated against him,
for taking leave to care for his children and mentally ill
wife, in violation of the Family and Medical Leave Act. In
an Oct. 17
ruling (PDF), U.S. District Judge Nathaniel
Gorton of Boston allowed Ayanna’s retaliation claim but
dismissed his sex discrimination claim under state law, the
National law Journal reports.
St. Louis Attorney
Indicted On Federal Mail Fraud Charges
10-18-12 -- A local
attorney was charged in federal court here Thursday with
mail fraud for allegedly keeping insurance money that was
owed to his clients. . .
. According to the three-count indictment, Stephen B.
Evans, 45, of St. Louis, illegally collected between $70,000
and $120,000 from 2007 to 2012 that had been awarded by
insurance companies to his clients on lawsuits, instead of
just taking the contingent fee he was owed.
N.J. Court Weighs
Requiring Pro Bono for Bar Applicants
10-19-12 -- Following
New York's lead, the New Jersey Supreme Court is about to
give serious thought to mandating that bar applicants put in
a quantum of pro bono work as a precondition for admission.
. . . A New York court rule amendment adopted in
September requires prospective lawyers to show they have
done at least 50 hours of law-related volunteer work before
admission to the state bar.
. . . Chief Justice Stuart Rabner and the Supreme
Court have requested an evaluation of the New York rule and
of whether New Jersey should emulate it. Judge Glenn Grant,
acting administrative director of the courts, is leading a
working group. . . .
In his Oct. 16 letter to group members, Grant said
New York's new mandate "furthers a number of commendable
aims" and "is aimed at expanding access to citizens who
otherwise would not have representation."
. . . "We know that in New Jersey, as in states
around the nation, the number of people who come to court
with no attorney remains high," Grant wrote.
Former Holland & Knight
Partner Owes Firm $351,000
10-19-12 -- A former
Holland & Knight partner who has waged a
years-long court battle against the firm over what he says
was his unfair dismissal from the partnership in 2002
received a further setback this week: A bill for $351,163
that a court ruled he now owes his one-time professional
home. . . . John
Weir, who had joined Holland & Knight in 1997 through its
merger with Haight Gardner Poor & Havens and at one point
led the firm's New York labor and employment practice, first
sued the firm in New York federal court in 2005 claiming he
was let him go because of his age—at the time, 55—and
because the firm didn't want to pay retirement benefits he
says he was owed. In court filings, Holland & Knight argued
that Weir's termination stemmed from differences of opinion
related to the direction of the firm's labor and employment
Sentenced for Stealing Client Funds
10-18-12 -- A former
Crowell & Moring associate who pleaded guilty to
embezzling $10.7 million in client funds choked back tears
yesterday and said he was "consumed with remorse" during his
sentencing. Douglas Arntsen, 34, said he was "so sorry" for
his actions, apologizing to his family, former clients and
ex-employer before Acting Supreme Court Justice Jill
Konviser in Manhattan gave him a four-to-12-year prison
sentence. . . .
Arntsen pleaded guilty earlier this month to three counts of
first-degree grand larceny and one count of first-degree
scheme to defraud. Prosecutors had pressed for a
five-to-15-year sentence. At his plea, Arntsen agreed to a
restitution order for the stolen $10.7 million
(NYLJ, Oct. 3).
PI Lawyer’s Face Is
Blazoned Around Big Apple in NYC Marathon Ad Campaign
10-18-12 -- It all
began with a photo taken by Eric Turkewitz's eight-year-old
son not quite two years ago.
. . . The attorney, smiling broadly, holds up the
medal he just received for completing the New York City
Marathon in November 2010. Turkewitz included the photo in
post about the race in his New York Personal
Injury Law Blog. . . . Turkewitz initially thought it was a joke when someone who
ran across the post emailed him in August seeking permission
to use the "inspirational" photo in an ad campaign for this
year's race. However, instead of following his first
instinct and deleting the email as spam, Turkewitz replied.
Soon he had negotiated a contract that paid a fee to his
son, as the photographer, the lawyer explains in a
slaying of young attorney
He tried to end
'tumultuous' relationship, loved ones say
10-16-12 -- Three days
after Ryan Poston was found fatally shot inside his Meadow
Lane home, more questions than answers surround the death of
the promising young attorney.
. . . Poston, 29, was found shot to death on the
floor of his dining room around 9 p.m. Friday, according to
a police report of the incident. His girlfriend, 21-year-old
Shayna Hubers, called 911 at 8:54 p.m. to say she had shot
him and he had stopped breathing, according to the report.
No motive is yet known, and police and prosecutors refuse to
discuss the case, citing the ongoing investigation. . . . Poston was “shot more than once in different areas of the
body,” according to Deputy Coroner Al Garnick, who responded
to the scene of the crime and conducted the preliminary
autopsy Saturday morning. Police have identified a handgun
as the weapon involved.
State Bar Seeks
Disciplinary Action Against Anderson
10-19-12 -- On the
one-year anniversary of Michael Morton’s release from
prison, the State Bar of Texas filed a disciplinary case
against the prosecutor who secured his wrongful murder
conviction. The lawyer oversight agency alleges that former
Williamson County District Attorney Ken Anderson — now a
state district judge — deliberately withheld evidence and
made false statements to the court during Morton’s 1987
trial. . . .
Anderson, who was appointed to the bench by Gov. Rick Perry
in 2002 and who the State Bar named “Prosecutor of the Year”
in 1995, is facing civil and criminal legal action and could
be disbarred if he is found to have violated professional
rules of conduct in securing the wrongful conviction. Morton
was sentenced to life and spent nearly 25 years in prison
for the August 1986 murder of his wife Christine Morton.
Hartford Settles Lawyer’s
Suit Involving Treasury Deputy
Hartford Financial Services Group Inc. (HIG)
settled a lawsuit by a Texas attorney who accused the
insurer of causing him to be prosecuted on bribery charges
that were later dropped after a mistrial, a lawyer for the
man said. . . .
The lawyer’s negligence allegations against Hartford
included claims that the company’s former general counsel,
Neal S. Wolin, now U.S. deputy treasury secretary, took part
in a cover-up linked to alleged extortion by two employees,
attorneys for the lawyer told jurors in opening statements
last week. . . .
“We settled today, and I can’t discuss the terms,” John
Flood, who represents Texas lawyer Todd Hoeffner, said
yesterday in a phone interview when the trial in state court
in Houston was halted before Hoeffner was to take the stand.