Most of us know it’s not about what you know, it’s who you know. Incidentally, sometimes it’s also about who your enemies are.
When a big man takes a fall, sometimes folks come out of the woodwork to quicken his race to bottom — especially if they are accidentally invited.
Example A: convicted felon and disbarred attorney Steven Lippman. The former Scott Rothstein partner asked for support letters from friends and colleagues during sentencing, but one lawyer deigned to provide an ice-cold glass of brutal honesty instead. And judging from the sentence Lippman received this afternoon, he’ll have plenty of time for self-reflection.
Keep your friends close, and the people who write your letters of recommendation even closer….
As we mentioned yesterday in Morning Docket, Judge Marcia Gail Cooke (S.D. Fla.) recently issued an omnibus order on multiple motions for sanctions in the high-profile case of Coquina Investments v. TD Bank. The plaintiff, Coquina Investments, moved for sanctions related to various alleged discovery violations.
At a contempt hearing held back in May, Judge Cooke heard testimony from employees of TD Bank and current and former lawyers from Greenberg Traurig, which previously represented the bank. She took the matter under advisement — but not before saying things like, “It is hard for me to describe in words the difficulty throughout this trial related to documents and discovery.”
* Chief Justice John Roberts might “enjoy that he’s being criticized,” but that’s probably because he’ll get the chance to show his true conservative colors this fall when issues like affirmative action and same-sex marriage are before SCOTUS. [Reuters]
* Dewey know why this failed firm thinks a bankruptcy judge is going to allow it to hand out $700K in “morale” bonuses? You better believe that Judge Martin Glenn is going to tell D&L where it can (indicate). [Bankruptcy Beat / Wall Street Journal]
* It seems like attorneys at Freshfields may actually need to get some sleep, because it was the sole Magic Circle firm to report a decline in in revenue and profitability in its latest financial disclosure statements. [Financial Times (reg. req.)]
* Judge Kenneth Lester Jr. didn’t do George Zimmerman any favors when he set his bond at $1M. Watch how quickly the defense fund Zimmerman concealed from the court disappears as he struggles to post bail. [CNN]
* Whatever it takes (to count you as employed): 76% of law schools report that they’ve now changed their curriculum to include more practical skills courses in light of the dismal job market. [National Law Journal]
* Texas Christian University is expanding its graduate programs, but a law school isn’t necessarily in the works, because TCU is only interested in “programs that promote employability.” Well, sh*t, y’all. [TCU 360]
Whenever there’s a big story, GT is there. In the past month, it has appeared in these pages as the possible savior of Dewey, the actual savior of Dewey’s Poland operations, and the victim of some alleged rudeness by a divorce lawyer in Texas.
And, of course, Greenberg Traurig has found itself at the center of the TD Bank controversy. Late last week, Judge Marcia Cooke held a contempt hearing, to decide whether Greenberg should be sanctioned due to a discovery debacle.
The hearing spanned two days and featured some high-powered witnesses. What happened?
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….
Bad boys, bad boys, whatcha gonna do? Left to right: John Michael Farren, Scott Rothstein, Michael Margulies.
For some reason, today brings lots of news about lawyers and the criminal justice system. And we’re not talking about lawyers representing clients, but lawyers who are the clients: John Michael Farren, the former White House lawyer accused of attempting to murder his wife; Scott Rothstein, the Florida attorney who ran a massive Ponzi scheme; and Michael Margulies, the former Lindquist & Vennum partner who misappropriated millions in client money. We’ve decided to hit this rogues’ gallery in a single, omnibus post.
Let’s start with John Michael Farren, the former Bush Administration lawyer and Xerox general counsel charged with attempted murder and first-degree strangulation of his wife, Skadden counsel Mary Margaret Fadden. As reported by the ABA Journal, John Farren has posted $750,000 bail and been released to the “Institute of Living” — which sounds like a fancy spa where you eat seaweed and do yoga, but is actually a mental hospital in Hartford.
The news coverage also reveals that the wealthy couple’s divorce has been finalized. How were their millions distributed?
In the new movie Up in the Air — which is worth seeing, if you haven’t already — Ryan Bingham, played by George Clooney, is on a quest to rack up 10 million frequent flyer miles. That’s a heck of a lot of miles. In the Walter Kirn novel the film was based on, it was a more realistic one million miles (but, as film critic Kenneth Turan notes, “that’s product placement and inflation for you”).
To some people, however, 10 million miles — or points, the credit-card version of miles, also redeemable for free air travel and other goodies — is chump change. From the Miami Herald:
[Ponzi schemer Scott] Rothstein (inset left) racked up 20,920,701 rewards points on his Amex card — and the feds want to grab them all to help pay back his victims. Generally, American Express doles out one point for every dollar charged on the card, which can be used to buy merchandise, airline tickets, hotel rooms, restaurant meals and gift cards.
So, what did Scott Rothstein do to accrue all those points?
As we’ve noted in Morning Docket for the past twodays, lawyer Scott Rothstein is in all kinds of trouble in Florida. From what we understand, it’s Marc Dreier redux, the sunshine state version.
We’re still trying to wrap our heads around the story, but as the Bard would say, the sh** hath hitteth the fan this week.
The WSJ Law Blog is similarly perplexed by the scandal (See What’s Going on at Rothstein Rosenfeldt? Part I and Part II).
Scott Rothstein, a founding partner of Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler, has been out of the country for the last few days, making this all even more confusing. He just flew back into Miami an hour ago and police have surrounded his firm. We give you context after the jump.
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