Ponzi Scheme

The best law school professors have practical experience that allows them to draw from personal memory to bring a lesson to life for students. One professor who often lectures students on their ethical obligations can now draw from her own experience to tell students about what happens when lawyers lie to federal judges to help clients perpetrate a fraud.

The irony is scrumptious.

You’d think that getting busted for lying to a judge and benchslapped silly would doom a law professor, but that’s premature. She’ll probably lose her job for failing as a professor first….

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Counselor, you’re out of order.

Lawyer jokes notwithstanding, most lawyers are ethical, honorable, and competent. That’s why we tend to focus on attorney misbehavior in these pages; it’s more newsworthy. If a lawyer complies with the law or serves a client well, that’s not exactly “news”; it’s what lawyers are supposed to do, and what most lawyers do most of the time.

Alas, sometimes lawyers fall short of our profession’s high standards. Today we look at allegations of a high-ranking government lawyer abusing the perks of his office, a tax lawyer engaging in tax fraud, and a real estate lawyer who has people real mad — after taking $4 million from them.

Which of these attorneys deserves to be our Lawyer of the Day? We’ll describe their alleged misdeeds, outline the reasons for and against Lawyer of the Day honors, then let you vote for the winner….

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* Sri Srinivasan was sworn in as a member of the D.C. Circuit by Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, who called him “fair, faultless and fabulous.” The man must have great shoes. [Washington Post]

* Things aren’t going very well for Steven Donziger in the Chevron / Ecuador case now, but then again, they never are. The Second Circuit denied his bid to oust the judge on the case. [Bloomberg]

* Dewey know how much this failed firm’s ex-landlord wants from 450 of its former partners? Somewhere in the ballpark of $1.6 million to $45.45 million, so it could be painful. [Am Law Daily]

* Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton has already named a new chairman. Congrats to J. Henry Walker IV, a man whose name alone makes it sound like he should probably leading something. [Daily Report]

* Time is running out for prosecutors to bring charges against those connected to Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme, but it looks like his niece, a Fordham Law grad, is in their sights. [DealBook / New York Times]

* The series finale of Breaking Bad airs on Sunday, and you must be very sad, so here are five compliance lessons to take away from the show. First and foremost, don’t ever hire a Pinkman. [Corporate Counsel]

* E.A. Sports and the Collegiate Licensing Company settled the suit filed against them by college athletes, leaving the NCAA to whine, moan, and “take this all the way to the Supreme Court.” [Birmingham News]

* George Zimmerman’s wife says her husband “went on a victory tour” without her, and has no idea where he is. Clue: maybe he was advising Cybill Shepherd for her role on Law & Order next week. [Miami Herald]

Yesterday, Judge Laura Taylor Swain issued a curious evidentiary decision. In the fraud trial of several aides to Bernie Madoff, the judge ruled that prosecutors will have to Photoshop out a decoration from pictures of Madoff’s office. Lawyers for Daniel Bonventre argued that photos of the decoration, a four-foot statue of a screw, would be unduly prejudicial.

A Ponzi scheme operator flaunting a statue of a giant screw sounds a lot more probative than prejudicial, actually.

In any event, the art is not coming into evidence and is coming out of any pictures of the office. There may not have been a good reason to introduce the piece into evidence, but introducing Photoshop to the legal process creates a whole new wrinkle in the fabric of the “reality” put in front of juries….

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Anthony Weiner, surprisingly not nude.

* Bernard Knight Jr., general counsel of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, will be taking his intellectual property talents to McDermott Will & Emery as a new — and rather cute — partner. Congratulations! [Corporate Counsel]

* The Securities and Exchange Commission has charged a Texas man in a Monopoly money Bitcoin-related Ponzi scheme. Unfortunately for him, the associated jail time for the crime isn’t virtual. [Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)]

* When applying to law school, it’s wise to have a unique personal statement topic. But considering the application cycle, you could probably get away with writing “LOL” and still get into the school of your choice. [Law Admissions Lowdown / U.S. News]

* Russia has granted NSA leaker Edward Snowden a pass to leave the Moscow airport’s transit zone. Be prepared to welcome borscht into your life, and be sure to always say spasibo. [Associated Press]

* Sorry folks, but Carlos Danger, more popularly known as Anthony Weiner, won’t be pulling out of the New York City mayoral race. I, for one, would love to see his AMAs on Reddit. [New York Times]

* It looks like Aaron Hernandez shot himself in the foot when lawyering up for a civil suit where he’s accused of shooting someone in the eye. His attorney specializes in banking litigation. [USA Today]

Bernie Madoff

The SEC needs more resources to protect investors. It’s grossly undercapitalized and it doesn’t have money to hire the right people. Basically it’s a training ground, by the time people are qualified they leave and work for private firms.

They didn’t catch me because the whistleblower, Harry Markopolos, was leading them down the wrong alley. He was an idiot.

– Infamous Ponzi schemer Bernie Madoff, offering his thoughts on why the Securities and Exchange Commission is unable to effectively police financial markets, during a two-hour long interview with the WSJ’s MarketWatch.

Peter Madoff (via Getty Images)

You can call notorious Ponzi schemer Bernard Madoff many things, but thankfully you can’t call him a lawyer. Although he has gotten to know the law quite well over the years, thanks to his journey through the legal system, Bernie Madoff has no formal legal training law degree.

[UPDATE (6:40 p.m.): As noted in the comments, Madoff briefly attended Brooklyn Law School.]

But Bernie Madoff’s brother, Peter Madoff, is an attorney. Peter graduated from Fordham Law School in 1970 and is a member in good standing of the New York bar, next scheduled to register in October 2014.

Query why Peter Madoff hasn’t been disbarred. In June 2012, he pleaded guilty to numerous federal charges related to his service as “chief compliance officer” of Madoff Securities. In December 2012, he received a sentence of ten years in prison.

Now that Peter Madoff’s in the Big House — FCI Estill, according to the handy BOP Inmate Locator — let’s have a look at the big house he leaves behind. The federal government is trying to sell it for a sizable sum, almost $4.5 million….

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* She loves me, she loves me not: media darling Sonia Sotomayor used to be in favor of the use of cameras during Supreme Court arguments, but she’s done a complete about-face on the issue, just like Justice Elena Kagan before her. [National Law Journal]

* Everyone and their mother knows what Antonin Scalia thinks of the State of the Union address, but let’s find out what my colleague Elie Mystal thinks about the good justice’s antics — namely, Scalia’s non-attendance for the past sixteen years. [HuffPost Live]

* American Airlines and US Airways will be merging to create the largest (and most awful) airline in the country. Perhaps the DOJ’s antitrust division can save us from this parade of horribles. [DealBook / New York Times]

* It looks like Team Togut is going to have a crappy Valentine’s Day. They thought that their partner problems were all wrapped up, but according to these filings, it seems that they’ve only just begun. [Am Law Daily]

* If Irving Picard, the trustee in charge of the Bernie Madoff bankruptcy case, is able to get his way, money will soon be raining upon the victims of the massive Ponzi scheme at warp speed. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]

* This probably isn’t just a “distraction” or “silly sideshow” anymore, because Apple now says it will be fighting Greenlight’s attempt to block the tech company from restricting its issuance of preferred stock. [Bloomberg]

* Instragram has asked a federal court to toss a lawsuit over changes to the photo-sharing app’s terms of service because it contests that users still own the rights to all of their fugly Walden-filtered pictures. [Reuters]

* Remember Kenneth Kratz, the former Wisconsin prosecutor who referred to himself as “the prize”? He’s settled his sexting suit with Stephanie Van Groll, also known as the “hot nymph.” [Twin Cities Pioneer Press]

* Go to grad school at Lehigh for free: check. Sue for $1.3M over your C+: check. Get chastised by a judge over your ridiculous lawsuit: check. Whatever, we still beat Duke, and that’s really all that matters. [Morning Call]

‘Jail? No thank you.’

* Congratulations to Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft! The firm saw its first revenue increase in three years, with profits per partner jumping up 11.6 percent, yet they didn’t top Cravath’s bonuses. Rude. [Am Law Daily]

* Thanks to the firm’s association with Ponzi schemer Nevin Shapiro, Shook Hardy & Bacon was accused of aiding and abetting in securities law violations and is facing a multimillion-dollar suit. [Miami Herald]

* Lawyer glut? What lawyer glut? Let’s open some new law schools, yayyyy!!! Despite the fact that applications are at their lowest in a decade, new schools are still throwing their doors open wide. [Wall Street Journal]

* With the dean of Seattle University School of Law stepping down, Annette Clark, she of the most epic St. Louis University Law resignation letter, may get a second bite at the proverbial deanship apple. [National Law Journal]

* “Flattery doesn’t get you anywhere in this court.” Wooing the judge won’t work, so Lindsay Lohan’s new lawyer has a tough row to hoe — he had to pick up Shawn Holley’s pieces AND deal with his client. [Fox News]

* Ed Koch, former mayor of New York City and judge of “The People’s Court,” RIP. [New York Times]

* Seven out of nine sitting Supreme Court justices were silent when it came to the passing of Robert Bork. Justice Antonin Scalia, of course, issued a public statement, as did liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (surprise!). [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]

* No one ever really doubted that it would take an army of Biglaw lawyers from the likes of Sullivan & Cromwell, Shearman & Sterling, and Wachtel Lipton to handle a monumental deal like the proposed $8.2 billion NYSE/ICE merger. [Am Law Daily]

* Can you coach with Nick Saban and be a Miller Canfield partner at the same time? No. But you can sue (and win!) when the firm allegedly forces you out due to its “culture of fear and intimidation.” [Detroit Free Press]

* Justice Rolando Acosta, who wrote the opinion upholding the dismissal of the class action case against NYLS, rates well among his peers as a nominee for the New York Court of Appeals. [New York Law Journal]

* Peter Madoff was sentenced to ten years in prison for his role in Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme, but the judge will probably let him go to his granddaughter’s bat mitzvah before shipping him to the pokey. [Bloomberg]

* Merry Christmas, now go f**k yourself. A federal judge has given a woman in Louisiana free rein to display holiday lights on her roof in the form of an extended middle finger. God bless America. [CBS 3 Springfield]

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