Legal Ethics

Judging from our traffic stats and the many emails we’ve received about it, the story of the document controversy involving Greenberg Traurig and its former client, TD Bank, has captured the interest of our Floridian readers. So we’ll do one more story about it for now (and then we may keep our powder dry until after the contempt hearing later this month before Judge Marcia Cooke, when there will be bigger news to report).

In our first story, we discussed the allegations made against Greenberg Traurig and one of its former shareholders, Donna Evans. In our second story, we raised some points in defense of ex-partner Evans and her former firm. We believe in providing both sides of a story here at ATL.

Now we’ll share with you a final rebuttal by critics of GT and Evans….

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Last week we covered a controversy down in south Florida involving Greenberg Traurig. The firm was replaced as counsel in a particular case by its client, TD Bank, after a partner at the firm denied the existence of a document that, it turned out, actually does exist. The partner who allegedly made the statement is no longer with the firm, and next month, Judge Marcia Cooke (S.D. Fla.) will hold a hearing to determine whether the bank should be held in contempt of court as a result of this apparent screw-up.

This does not sound good, to be sure. But subsequent developments, as well as a closer examination of the situation, suggest that GT’s culpability may be overstated….

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Federal judges don’t take kindly to misstatements by counsel appearing before them. And when the judge is unhappy, the client is unhappy. And when the client is unhappy, outside counsel gets cashiered. It’s not a pretty process.

Let’s travel down to south Florida, where an allegedly incorrect statement by a partner at Greenberg Traurig has incurred the wrath of a federal judge — apparently resulting in the client replacing the firm, and the firm parting ways with the partner.

It’s a cautionary tale for litigators….

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Tim Pori

Time conflicts are an unavoidable part of litigation. Scheduling and re-rescheduling trials and court hearings — it’s simply part of the litigation process. It’s a pain, but most of the time, an attorney shouldn’t get too much flak for a legitimate scheduling conflict.

But this week, one Bay Area criminal defense lawyer has gotten caught between a rock and two murder trials. A local judge was unhappy when he missed a hearing for one murder case because he was in court for another murder case of in another county. Now he’s facing contempt charges and jail time.

This is just another reason why we really should be investing more in teleportation technology….

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Judge Jessica Recksiedler

* Judge Jessica Recksiedler has disqualified herself from overseeing George Zimmerman’s murder trial. Stepping up to fill in as ringmaster for this media circus is Judge Kenneth R. Lester Jr. [Washington Post]

* Oh joy, new fee hikes associated with law school! Administrations of the LSAT are going down, down, down, so of course the price to take the test no one wants to take anymore is going up, up, up. [National Law Journal]

* Trying to win at all costs has its consequences. Just ask the New Orleans prosecutors who are now facing bar complaints for allegedly railroading defendants into harsh convictions. [Slate Magazine]

* Hopefully this lawsuit’s descriptions of the rotten chicken that was allegedly served to customers are enough to make you never eat at Kentucky Fried Salmonella again. [Huffington Post]

* “Housekeeping, you want me jerk you off?” Ex-MLB player and housekeeper aficionado Lenny Dykstra was sentenced to 270 days in jail after a conviction for lewd conduct and assault. [Bloomberg]

* Instead of gold, everything Charlie Sheen touches turns into a lawsuit. The producer for his FX comeback series, “Anger Management,” has been sued by another show producer for $50M. [New York Daily News]

* G’day, mates! This just in: if you’re on a business trip down under, you’re entitled to workers’ compensation for any sexual injuries that may occur “during the course of employment.” [Daily Telegraph]

My work life revolves around email. Because of the size of our company, and the geographical locations of my clients, I spend a majority of my day on email. Like many of you, I have a disclaimer below my signature stating that the correspondence is attorney-client privileged, and so on. But is it really? Many times, the answer is no. I know enough to use the disclaimer in an abundance of caution, but my clients often have no idea whether what they send across email is indeed privileged.

Like Susan Moon, I am often referred to as “council.” That’s fine, it doesn’t really bother me, and is rather innocuous. Sometimes however, a client will take it upon themselves to write in bold, ATTORNEY-CLIENT PRIVILEGED, within the subject line. And that does bother me. Folks with just enough legal knowledge to be dangerous, are often just that — dangerous. Now, the email may indeed be seeking my advice, or concern a legal matter within that client’s region, but the client should not assume that to be the case. The misunderstanding of the privilege could lead to problems in the future, say, in a discovery period….

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Over the last couple of months, we have written a few stories about Magistrate Judge Andrew Peck. Judge Peck generated headlines as the first federal judge to approve a litigation protocol for e-discovery that included predictive coding technology.

For a while, the story was pretty happy-clappy. It was a start of a new era. E-discovery — through predictive coding that had now arrived — would be cheaper, more efficient, and faster. Yay!

But, alas, all is not well in this legal technology paradise. One of the parties in Da Silva Moore v. Publicis Group, the case that started this whole saga, has requested that Judge Peck recuse himself.

They say his enthusiasm for predictive coding crosses the line into partiality…

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* Since you’re so funny, crack some jokes about this one, Obama. Senate Republicans will be filing an amicus brief in support of a challenge to the constitutionality of the President’s recess appointments. [New York Times]

* Thanks to this Third Circuit ruling, you can rest easy knowing that you can rely on the First Amendment to protect your homemade sex tapes from all of those strict porn record-keeping and labeling requirements… for now. [Reuters]

* Due to Kelley Drye’s EEOC settlement, the New York State Bar Association is asking firms to end mandatory retirement policies. Because old folks need to make bank till they croak. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

* The ABA’s Commission on Ethics 20/20 has decided to ditch its proposal to allow limited nonlawyer ownership of law firms. Cue tears and temper tantrums from the likes of Jacoby & Meyers. [Am Law Daily]

* “If I believe that Chris Armstrong is a radical homosexual activist, I have a constitutional right to express that opinion.” Yeah, yeah, yeah. Tell that to the judge who dismissed your suit, Shirvell. [Detroit Free Press]

* Presenting “her royal hotness”: apparently Pippa Middleton has been seen cavorting around France with gun-toting lawyer Romain Rabillard, of Shearman & Sterling. [Daily Mail]

Judge Bruce Markell

Were there ever a time to use “fail,” as the contemporary vernacular permits, it is now, and in reference to this deplorable display of legal representation: it was an epic fail.

– Judge Bruce Markell, in a recent opinion in a Las Vegas Chapter 13 bankruptcy proceeding, which concluded that the debtors’ attorneys, Barry Levinson and Jeremy Mondejar, should be sanctioned for their ineffective representation.

(What did these Cooley Law graduates allegedly do to irk Judge Markell in this way? Take a look, after the jump.)

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Following the federal government’s raid in January 2012 on Megaupload, the company that owned and operated the notorious file-sharing site megaupload.com, the criminal case has already started making its way through the court system. The government froze the company’s assets, and the CEO is under house arrest, but Megaupload still managed to hire some high-powered, Biglaw representation. Good for them, right?

Well, maybe not. The government has objected to Quinn Emanuel entering the case to represent Megaupload. The government cites conflicts of interest.

What are the alleged conflicts? And what does Quinn have to say about the situation?

The firm just filed a saucy brief responding to the objection. Let’s just say that Quinn isn’t taking it lying down…

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