What’s more thoroughly trashed: Aaron Charney’s Biglaw career, or his computer hard drive? You be the judge.
Patricia Hurtado and Lindsay Fortado, of Bloomberg News, have filed an excellent report about yesterday’s court proceedings in the litigation between Aaron Charney and his erstwhile employer, Sullivan & Cromwell. Here’s an excerpt:
A former Sullivan & Cromwell lawyer who destroyed his home computer’s hard drive after being sued by the law firm must be questioned under oath about how and when he did it, a New York judge said.
The judge, Bernard Fried, ruled today after being told Aaron Charney, the lawyer, had computer professionals wipe the computer’s memory clean, took it home, smashed it with a hammer and threw it away. Charney’s attorney Michael Kennedy described the destruction of the computer’s hard drive to the judge.
Thanks to our time in the discovery salt mines, we know that computer forensic experts can pull off all sorts of miracles when it comes to data recovery. But in our non-expert opinion, it sounds like the Charney hard drive is history.
In this case, it’s not a matter of recovering a purportedly “deleted” file that still resides somewhere within the computer’s memory. Thanks to the hammer smashing and trashing, what’s needed here is a physical miracle, of the water-into-wine variety.
Another juicy tidbit from the Bloomberg News report: Charney was told by S&C, during settlement discussions, that they would “crush him like a bug” — delicious!!!
But bug-crushing is a tad cliched. Couldn’t the S&C lawyers have been more creative? Maybe they could have told Charney, “We will shred you into little bits, like a redlined draft merger agreement that has been superseded by a later version.”
More from Hurtado and Fortado — hey, we like the ring of that — after the jump. Update (12:05 PM): Please note that we’ve appended a few additions and corrections to this post since it was originally published.
Move over, Bryant Park. The real fashion show was going on here: New York Supreme Court, 60 Centre Street.
Last week, of course, was New York Fashion Week. Our little sister, Fashionista, covered the events extensively.
Meanwhile, downtown from the tents in Bryant Park, we too had fashion on the brain. But instead of watching runway models strut their stuff, we assessed the sartorial choices of lawyers — namely, counsel at last week’s hearing in the litigation between gay lawyer Aaron Charney and his former employer, Sullivan & Cromwell.
You’re dying to know:
– Who was the best-dressed attorney in Courtroom 540 — and who was the worst?
– Who sported the nicest footwear?
– Who had the most problematic hair?
The answers to these questions, and more, after the jump.
This is the third post in our post-hearing coverage of Sullivan & Cromwell v. Charney. Our prior posts are available here and here.
In this post, we collect our favorite quotations from our morning at 60 Centre Street, New York Supreme Court. Here they are: Before the hearing:
“Uh-oh, it’s the big guy!”
– Daniel Alterman of Alterman & Boop (Charney’s counsel), greeting Charles Stillman, counsel to Sullivan & Cromwell (and an eminence grise of the New York bar)
“You — you — you f***ed up!”
– Dan Alterman, greeting your undersigned blogger
Presumably he didn’t like this post very much. But he said the remark in good-natured fashion.
A few seconds later, after he had walked past us, he turned around and said (jokingly and within the earshot of about half a dozen people, so we feel okay in reporting it):
“And that was on background. Deep background!”
He also defended his fashion choices, pointing out the monogramming on his sleeve:
“My tie is clean. My wife dressed me this morning. My initials are on my shirt!”
Quotes from during and after the hearing, after the jump.
We got enough material from this morning’s hearing in Sullivan & Cromwell v. Charney to fill several posts. Eventually we’ll do something for more organized (and fashion-focused).
For now, in no particular order, here are some highlights. We will update this list until we feel this post is “complete” (and then we’ll open a new thread).
We’re publishing this post now, and updating it constantly, to get you info as quickly as possible. Refresh your browser for the latest.
1. In addition to Zachary Fasman of Paul Hastings, Sullivan & Cromwell is now represented by Charles Stillman — a veteran litigator described by the New York Times as “known for representing clients with intricate legal difficulties.” S&C would seem to fit the bill.
Stillman took the lead in speaking for S&C at this morning’s hearing. Zach Fasman spoke only a handful of times. S&C litigation head David Braff, although seated at counsel table, was completely silent (and sans feather boa).
2. Plaintiff Aaron Charney was nowhere to be found at today’s hearing. Darn! We wanted to see him in the flesh. But his absence is understandable — some awkward moments would have arisen had he been around to be questioned (or, if not questioned, at least stared at during the many moments of factual ambiguity).
3. One of the juiciest details, as nicely summarized by Lavi Soloway:
Last Wednesday January 31 there was a secret settlement meeting at which Charney was offered an undisclosed sum in return for which he promised, among other things, to destroy the hard drive on his personal, home computer. The destruction of that hard drive moved to the center of the debate. Aaron Charney has been ordered to submit an affidavit to the court regarding the hard drive and the status of documents that were allegedly in his possession.
But no settlement was reached (as one could tell from the fact that a hearing took place today). And now Charney — who, at the time of the secret settlement meeting, was still pro se — is represented, once again, by counsel.
3. On the issue of the hard drive, Daniel Alterman, on behalf of Charney, represented to the court that the hard drive of his client’s personal computer had been “destroyed.” Charney has been ordered to provide greater information to the court about this (as noted above).
4. It seems, reading between the lines, that Justice Charles Ramos — who had the case initially — did grant a TRO to S&C last week. But he didn’t give them everything they wanted, “scratching out” various aspects of their request.
As far as we could tell, the upshot of the TRO was for Charney to not divulge any secrets or client confidences of S&C. This explains his sudden shyness towards press inquiries. Justice Ramos punted a bunch of other issues raised in the TRO, such as custody of documents, to Justice Fried.
5. Justice Bernard Fried is taking over both the S&C case against Charney and Charney’s original anti-discrimination action against S&C. Both actions will be handled by Justice Fried going forward.
6. Briefing schedule on the OSC: (a) Charney’s opposition to S&C’s Order to Show Cause (i.e., the preliminary injunction motion) is due on March 1 (and Charney will cross-move for some relief of his own on that date); (b) S&C’s response to the cross-motion is due two weeks later, on March 15; (c) Charney’s reply on the cross-motion is due one week later, on March 22; and (d) the next hearing on the Order to Show Cause will be held on March 27, at 11 AM, before Justice Fried.
7. Schedule for the pleadings: S&C’s Answer to Charney’s original Complaint — or, more likely, its motion to dismiss under CPLR 3211 — is due next week (apparently Tuesday, but there was some dispute over this).
8. Other procedural rulings: (a) discovery cutoff is February 5, 2008; (b) Note of Issue (placing the case on the trial calendar) set for February 12, 2008.
9. Rulings about S&C original documents: (a) various original S&C documents that Charney submitted to the Court, which S&C wants back, will be returned to S&C; (b) S&C will copy them and provide copies to the Court; and (c) next week — on Valentine’s Day, as noted by the Court — Charney must submit an affidavit or affirmation concerning S&C documents.
10. Rulings about the hard drive on Aaron Charney’s personal computer: (a) by the end of the day today, Charney must submit an affidavit or affirmation to the Court describing what happened to the “destroyed” hard drive; (b) if the hard drive has been merely erased, rather than physically destroyed, it must be produced to Judge Fried tomorrow; (c) if it still exists, a forensic computer expert will examine it, as requested by S&C.
11. Finally, Justice Fried entered a general preservation order, requiring all parties to preserve all documents relevant to these two cases (including attorney-client privileged documents).
Okay, that’s it for this post. Further commentary will appear in a new thread.
P.S. Comment wherever you like — this thread, the earlier thread, future threads. Commenting here at ATL has always been anarchic (which is why we love it so).
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Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past six years. You can reach them by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Deal flow has clearly picked recently up for most US associates, counsels and partners in Hong Kong/China and Singapore. We are on the phone with a lot of these folks on a daily basis, many of whom we have known for years. Further, the head of our Asia team, Evan Jowers, and Kinney’s founder and president, Robert Kinney, frequently meet in person with leading US partners in Asia to assess their needs and keep on top of the inside scoop at as many firms as possible. The need for legal recruiting help in Asia from experienced recruiters appears to be live and well. In March, Evan and Robert were in Beijing at such meetings, in April, Evan was in Hong Kong, and for half of June Evan will be in Shanghai and Hong Kong. Thus its pretty easy for us to tell when there has been an across-the-market pick up in capital markets and corporate work.
On an average day in Asia when Evan and Robert visit firms, they typically have 5 to 9 meetings a day, mostly with US partners in the market. The reason they have these meetings is not simply because Kinney makes a lot of US attorney placements in Asia and that a particular firm may have openings; instead these are just visits with friends. After years of working together as business partners, the folks at Kinney are actually these peoples’ friends. The firms Kinney work closely with in Asia (which is just about every law firm – call us if you want to know the one firm in the world we will never place anyone with again, ever, and why) look forward to the visits, or at least act like they do. After seven years in the market, many of the client partners are former associate candidates. Also, these US partners see Kinney as a very good source of market information as well, because they know how deep their contacts are in the market and how frequently they are speaking to counterparts at peer firms.
In a land that is right here and in a time that is right now, a technology has arisen so powerful that it can replace basic human document review. Is it time to bow down before our new robot overlords?
First, here’s a little story about me: my life in the legal world began as a paralegal. My first case was a GIANT patent infringement case that was already six years old and had involved as many as five companies, multiple US courts, the ITC and an international standards committee. I knew nothing about any of this.
On my first day, my supervisor (a paralegal with at least eight other cases driving her crazy) sat me down in front of a Concordance database with a 100,000+ patents and patent file histories. “Code these,” she said. I learned that “coding”, for the purposes of this exercise, meant manually typing the inventor’s name, the title of the patent, the assignee, the file date, and other objective data for each document. I worked on that project – and only that project – for at least the first six months of my job. After a week or so, time began to blur.
What I know, in retrospect and with absolutely certainty, is that as time began to blur, so did my judgment. So did my attention to detail. If you could tell me that I did not make at least one mistake a day – one inconsistent spelling, one reversed day and month, one incorrectly spaced title – I frankly would need to see your evidence. I would not believe it. The human mind is trainable but it is not a machine.
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