People pay attention to a judge’s reversal rate — how often that jurist gets reversed by a higher court. And a high reversal rate is usually regarded as “not a good thing.”
But we kinda admire judges who aren’t overly concerned with their reversal rate. We respect judges who are willing to go out on a limb, who aren’t afraid to take the law in new and interesting directions — no matter what the folks upstairs might think. Such judges play a key role in the evolution and clarification of the law.*
Some of you might criticize such an envelope-pushing approach to judging as improper, even “lawless.” But here at ATL, we call it entertaining!
Meet Judge Melinda Harmon (S.D. Tex.). She’s the trial judge responsible for the jury instructions in the Arthur Andersen prosecution, which the Supreme Court didn’t like so much. And now she’s handed down another interesting ruling:
In a decision that she conceded flies in the face of previous rulings by other courts, a federal judge in Houston has ordered the law firm of William S. Lerach, a leading class-action lawyer, to pay the legal fees and costs of a company he sued.
The company, Alliance Capital, a money management firm, was sued by Mr. Lerach’s firm as part of a large Enron class-action case. The lawsuit argued that Alliance should be held responsible for the Enron fraud because an Alliance official was also a director of Enron.
The federal rules permit awards of fees and costs. But these are usually paid by the parties, NOT by their law firms.
More about this groundbreaking ruling, after the jump.