You didn’t think we’d just get one day out of the Gregory Berry story, did you?

Since we posted about Berry, the former Kasowitz Benson associate who is suing the firm for $77 million, Above the Law readers have been sharing their opinions about working with him.

Some of our readers went to Penn Law School with Berry. Others worked with him when he was busy “conquering” Silicon Valley. They remember an interesting guy.

Let’s take a look at their opinions….

First we have one D.C. area lawyer who really dug into Berry’s complaint against Kasowitz. He pulled out some interesting tidbits:

First and foremost, is the “second email” that he wrote to Conroy, and which was apparently used as the basis for his firing. He describes it as “entirely proper and expected under the circumstances” (P. 57). Part of that email reads, “[t]he thing I am concerned about is that you need someone to ‘own’ the doc review. I am more than happy to help, it’s a necessary evil, but I need to temper the expectation that it can consume my time, preventing me from doing my real work. Maybe we can find a first year that would benefit more from this opportunity?” (P. 47).

It’s really amazing that Berry would put such things in his own complaint. Telling a partner that you can’t be bothered with doc review is what you say while you are quitting (at least in my experience). It’s not what a person who still wants a job says.

In any event:

Random gold:

“During this time, incidentally, representatives of KBTF advised Mr. Berry and the other first-year associates to pay off their school loans aggressively rather than saving money, which advice Mr. Berry followed.” (P. 33). So he’s blaming the firm for his inability to manage his own finances? This seem to be a recurring theme, as he noted that, “[u]nder duress and in a dire position economically, Mr. Berry signed and returned the Separation Agreement.” In the causes of action section, he hammered this theme again, in a claim for “Declaratory Judgment That the Separation Agreement Is Void for Economic Duress and Undue Influence.” (12th Cause of Action). “Mr. Berry relied on this advice and paid down his school loans as fast as possible, keeping nothing in savings.” (P. 226). Undue influence? Does he not believe in free will? He was a first year at a NYC firm; if was in a dire economic situation because he mishandled his $160k salary, that’s on him. I don’t see him garnering much sympathy for that line. Particularly after he conquered Silicon Valley, “his career culminat[ing] when he founded and was the creative force behind an internet company whose impact on online entertainment services can still be felt today.” (P. 17). So he apparently has a history of pissing away his money? Or did his company not actually make any money?

It seems that Berry is no better at managing his money than I am.

There are many hilarious logic bombs waiting for you in the Berry complaint.

And that’s just what Berry wants us to know. In our first post, we had some insight from a Penn Law friends who remembered Berry fondly. Today, we have the opinions of some other Penn Law students who shared a classroom with Berry. Here was what one tipster thought about Berry:

I was also in his 1L section and had a number of classes with him later in law school as well. I just wanted to add two things to the story, the first another take on Mr. Berry and the second a few old emails.

To start I think the tipster quoted paints an overly positive picture of Greg’s reputation at Penn Law. At least among people in his section and those that had more then a passing familiarity with him he was not well liked. He was generally thought of as a gunner in the worst way: spamming class list-serves with nonsense, constantly raising his hand to tell irrelevant stories or talk about off the wall theories etc. This story made the rounds pretty quickly among Penn types this morning and the general consensus seemed to be that it was incredibly amusing but not at all surprising.

The lack of surprise was largely based on the fact that he’s done this kind of thing before. Greg has shown himself a few times to be a walking example of the idea that a little bit of legal knowledge can be a terrible thing.

The two traffic ticket emails allegedly sent by Berry are reprinted at the bottom of this post. There’s nothing outrageously offensive about them — at least until you remember that they were sent by a 1L to his whole 80 person plus section for no apparent reason.

You Penn guys really have long memories and copious email records. But apparently Berry’s Silicon Valley colleagues have even longer memories. Here’s a former colleague’s opinion of Berry:

I worked with him along time ago and in another life, and didn’t realized he jumped to law. He was… difficult. He was smart and could write functional code, but it was nothing stand-out. He was very inflexible and seemed to lack much in the way of perspective. Loved to argue about stupid shit. In any case, not a good fit with the dot.com 1.0 work-style, and I imagine roughly as popular in Biglaw. This latest career move does not surprise me in the least.

He appeared in the venerable FuckedCompany.com gossip/black humor site for the dot.com crash, his email style preserved here:

http://fuckedcompanyarchives.com/2001/09/07/myfamily-com-paranoid/

Hello Penn Law admissions committee. Here let me help you with that egg on your face. Don’t take it too hard, it happens.

Does anybody else have some Greg Berry stories they’d like to share? Whatever you think about this guy, he sure sounds memorable. Let us know at tips@abovethelaw.com (subject line: “Gregory Berry”).

Meanwhile, we all wait with bated breath for the Kasowitz response.


GREGORY BERRY — EMAILS SENT TO HIS CLASSMATES AT PENN LAW

From: Gregory Berry
Subject: The People of the State of California v. Gregory Berry

As some of you know, I got a traffic ticket in Los Angeles in February of last year. I plead not guilty, was found guilty, and appealed. The trial judge tried for several months to keep the record from accurately reflecting what happened at trial, but finally we settled the statement on appeal, and I filed my Opening Brief last November. The hearing was in January, and I just got the decision a couple weeks ago. It’s pretty cool that they wrote a five-page opinion; unfortunately it’s an embarrassingly bad decision. I have now petitioned the court for rehearing to fix the misstatements of fact, law, and issues on appeal in their decision, and applied to them for certification of transfer to the Court of Appeals. (In order to get the higher court to hear your case, the case has to be “transfered” to it. First you have to ask the current court to transfer it. If they say no, then the next step is to petition the Court of Appeals yourself–they can transfer the case on their own motion.)

If you’re interested, I am attaching all the documents I mentioned. First is my Opening Brief which, obviously, is my original argument why the conviction should be overturned. There are two basic issues. First is the most fun for me, but the least important: the way the turn-signal law is written could allow the officer to create a situation where you are guilty of not signaling _after_ you lawfully made the turn–I argue they need to interpret the statutes to avoid this situation. The second issue regards my due process rights, as a defendant in a bench trial for an infraction, when the state has decided I am not entitled to a public defender. That issue is far more important, and potentially far-reaching if I were to win.

The second document is a PDF of the court’s opinion.

The third is the petition for rehearing. It is fun because it’s a long litany of all the mistakes they made in their opinion. What’s interesting here is that I cannot argue they got the _decision_ wrong. I have to argue they got the _facts_ wrong, and consequently they were not able to reach a decision on the case.

And the final document is the application for transfer. If you are really interested in reading some of these documents, you should start here–this one is very short, and sets down the issues on appeal most succinctly.

If anyone is interested, I would really love to hear your opinions on the appeal!

I am sure anyone reading this email claiming the decision was terrible would have to be skeptical. Let me just show you one very quick example, which you can read more about in the petition for rehearing.

In my brief, I compared the Arizona statute on turn signals to the California statute (I was using a 9th Circuit case as persuasive authority, but that case was actually about the Arizona statute). The court finds that that case was irrelevant because the Arizona statute did not mirror the California statute. So, judge for yourself. Here is the Arizona statute:

“. . . A person shall not so turn any vehicle without giving an appropriate signal in the manner provided by this article in the event any other traffic may be affected by the movement.”

And here is the California statute:

“. . . [A] person shall turn a vehicle . . . only after the giving of an appropriate signal in the manner provided in this chapter in the event any other vehicle may be affected by the movement.”

Uh, wow. In addition, they said I “relied” on that case, which is not true–I mentioned it in passing in a footnote. Anyway, I would love for you to read it and tell me what you think.

Greg

PS. One more thing is kind of interesting. You can see the history of the case on line, all the documents filed, the orders of the court, and so on. Go to http://www.lasuperiorcourt.org/Appellate and type in BR045565 in the Case Number field. You can see my petition for rehearing was filed yesterday. From here, in the next several days they should deny both my petition and application (I would be really surprised if they granted either one). Then I have one very slim chance of convincing the Court of Appeals they should listen to this case. Then that’s it. So keep your fingers crossed!


From: Gregory Berry
Subject: update on Greg’s silly project

Here’s an update on my silly project if you’re interested. I filed the petition for rehearing, which the appellate division court summarily denied, and a request for them to transfer the case to the Court of Appeal, which they also denied. The next step was to request the appellate division to “publish” their opinion. I don’t remember if we’ve talked about this in class, but in CA you can only cite to “published” opinions. When you’re researching a case, you might find the greatest opinion ever, if they didn’t “publish” it you’re not allowed to mention it. There are several criteria for which a court should certify their opinion for publication. One of them is if their opinion creates new law or a conflict of law.

So I petitioned the appellate division court to certify their opinion for publication on the grounds that they created conflicts of law with their bizarre readings of the traffic rules and the motion for judgment of acquittal rules (I didn’t say bizarre to them :) ).

The great thing about requesting the court to publish their opinion is that they are not allowed simply to say “no” and kick me out the door. They must, by law, explain why they don’t want the opinion certified, and send their reasons to the Supreme Court! (Of CA.) On Thursday they denied my request to publish, so I can’t wait to see what they tell the Supreme Court about it.

Anyway, as I said in my last email, the final straw-grasp is to petition the Court of Appeal to transfer the case on its own motion. I am an eternal optimist, I think the CA Court of Appeal might have actual judges that are interested in the law.

They received my petition today, and now I have a Court of Appeal case number, and I’m on their website, with the Office of the Attorney General listed as the primary opposing party! If you’d like to check it out, go here: http://appellatecases.courtinfo.ca.gov/search.cfm?dist=2 and type in B206599 for the Court of Appeal case number (that’s a zero, not a capital oh). If you click on the links at the top you can see all sorts of cool information, like the “Parties and Attorneys” and the “Scheduled Actions.”

The next Scheduled Action is “Jurisdictional Order Due.” Unfortunately I don’t know what that means. :)

This is the final step. If they don’t agree to transfer the case to themselves, that will be the end of it. And it’s apparently something they do only very very rarely.

By the way, I know a few of you think this is too much trouble to go to for this “little” ($151 fine! That’s only 18 hours of work at CA minimum wage–sound small?) traffic ticket. Interestingly, in a indirect way that is precisely what I am arguing about. In their decision the appellate division claimed that I was “free to retain private counsel.” The CA Supreme Court, however, has already held that the limited nature of the fine makes retaining private counsel infeasible and unwarranted. If it is not reasonable to retain private counsel, how can I guarantee my rights are being protected at trial? I am arguing that the judge, in these “little” cases, has an affirmative duty to follow the rules of evidence in presenting the prosecution’s case. If the judge doesn’t do it, there is literally NO protection for a defendant in a traffic hearing. That cannot be right.

Greg

Earlier: Lawsuit of the Day: Ex-Kasowitz Associate With ‘Superior Legal Mind’ Sues the Firm for $77 Million


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