Trials

Last week, more than a dozen high-profile mass torts attorneys lost a San Francisco jury trial against a small technology company. The jury decided the attorneys had illegally breached a document review contract during the high-profile Chinese drywall class-action litigation.

On September 19, the 14 defendants in Cataphora Inc. v Parker were ordered to pay $317,113 to the technology company in lost profits, plus attorneys’ fees.

“These guys are the worst of hypocrites that you can possibly find,” said Roger Chadderdon, technology counsel at Cataphora. “They claim to be trying to help the little guy, but what they’re doing is trying to put more money in their own pockets. Everybody knows that, but this is a case that illustrates it beyond what I have ever seen.”

Clearly, tempers are still running hot. We’ve got more from both sides of the dispute, and a quick refresher on Chinese drywall, after the jump….

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Judge Peggy Ableman

Ed. note: Due to the Labor Day holiday, we’ll be on a reduced publication schedule today. We’ll be back to normal tomorrow. A restful and happy Labor Day to all!

* More about the Delaware benchslap that we covered last week (including the news that Judge Peggy Ableman’s pajama party did not go forward as proposed). [Delaware News-Journal]

* The federal government is suing 17 banks for almost $200 billion, blaming the banks for mortgage-backed securities that went bad. [Bloomberg]

* An interesting dissection of the legal fees that Dewey & LeBoeuf is running up as counsel on the Los Angeles Dodgers bankruptcy. [New York Times]

Roger Clemens

* Roger Clemens will face a second trial next year. Lester Munson, the esteemed legal analyst, explains why. [ESPN]

* “From One Bankrupt Firm to Another: Brobeck Asks Heller For $471,000.” [Am Law Daily]

* AT&T faces a tricky balancing act in dealing with the Justice Department’s challenge of the T-Mobile deal. [New York Times]

* If you’re confused about the current role of lawyer-turned-entrepreneur Michael Arrington over at AOL, in the wake of AOL’s acquiring his TechCrunch site, you’re not alone. [Digits / Wall Street Journal]

Many litigators have a bias against settlement. It’s understandable. There’s no glamor in settling cases. No one is ever going to make a TV show called “The Settler,” about a young but scrappy underdog lawyer who fiercely negotiates tough-but-fair settlement agreements and always remembers to allow a 21-day waiting period if the plaintiff is 40 or over. (On second thought … better call my agent.)

Forget TV and movies. No lawyer has ever come home with the exciting news about settling a lawsuit (at least, no defense lawyer). “Honey, I settled the Devens case!” “That’s great, dear. Now go mow the lawn.”

In the midnineties, I was a junior associate working on a contentious sexual-harassment case. While we were able to win partial summary judgment, the main claims headed to trial in federal court. During the negotiations before the trial, the partner from my firm had a conversation with the plaintiff’s lawyer, who was that sort of rough-around-the-edges attorney who prided himself on spending a lot of time in the courthouse.

Looking to put my boss in place, the guy took a shot at our firm’s litigation style. Here’s what he said …

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We have the makings of a trend: inappropriate contacts between participants in jury trials. These contacts can be problematic because a jury trial constitutes a delicate ecosystem, in which contacts and communications between actors are regulated strictly to ensure the fairness of the proceedings.

We recently mentioned a case where a juror got sentenced to community service after trying to friend the defendant on Facebook. Well, at least he didn’t try to “poke” her (although perhaps a desire to poke her is what prompted the problematic friend request).

Now we bring you news of, er, more intimate contact between a witness and a lawyer — which culminated in a mistrial….

UPDATE (11:00 AM): Photo of massage therapist Liudmyla Ksenych, a petite and pretty brunette, added after the jump.

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I am not proud to admit this, but it is possible that my three-year-old niece knows more about branding than I do. I learned this the other day when I was reading my niece one of her favorite books, Fancy Nancy.

For those of you who not know Nancy, she is a little girl who loves to dress fancy, act fancy and talk fancy. For example, this little girl does not say that her favorite color is purple. She prefers fuchsia, a word that is “fancy” for purple. Similarly, Nancy does not want a new hairdo. No, Nancy uses the fancy word “coiffure” instead. For some reason, my niece loves Nancy, but I think she is a showoff. When asked why she loves the know-it-all Nancy, my niece explained that she made things sound better.

Maybe my niece had a point. If you want your small firm to sound better, then use fancy words. As Nancy would explain, do not call yourself a “trial lawyer.” Everyone knows that “litigator” is fancy for trial lawyer. Or is it?

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As many of you already know, if you don’t want to use email, you can send tips to Above the Law by text message. The number to use is 646-820-TIPS (or 646-820-8477).

That number, which is hooked up to our Google Voice account, also accepts voice mails. We strongly prefer text-based tips, via email or text message, over voicemail tips (which require us to listen and transcribe). But you can leave us voicemails if you like.

In the wake of the Casey Anthony verdict, one reader left us a, um, very interesting voice-mail. Check it out — it’s under 10 seconds….

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The verdict in the Casey Anthony case reflected the lack of forensic evidence and heavy reliance on circumstantial inferences. There was no evidence of a cause of death, the time of death, or the circumstances surrounding the actual death of this young girl. There was sufficient circumstantial evidence from which the jury could have inferred homicide. But a reasonable jury could also have rejected that conclusion, as this jury apparently did.

Alan Dershowitz, in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece about the Casey Anthony verdict. (For thoughts along similar lines in defense of fair Casey, see Elie’s recent post.)

First, I just want you all to know that I hate you guys for making me follow this story. Seriously, I even wrote wrote a song about it.

Anyway, Casey Anthony has been sentenced for lying to the cops. She’s getting four years. BUT, she’s getting credit for her time already served. That means she could be out by late July or August.

I’ll now pause for you to express your collective outrage….

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Got this email in the ol’ inbox this morning — a missive from Jose Baez, the successful defense lawyer of Casey Anthony, who was just acquitted of charges that she killed her daughter (murder and manslaughter).

Thought I’d forward it on to you good folks. Read it if you want. Don’t cost nothing.

From: JoseBaez@——.com
To: JuggaloLaw@gmail.com
Subject: Hey A-hole!
Date: Wed, 06 Jul 2011 05:29:00 -0600

Dear Juggs,

I’m sorry that it’s taken me this long to respond to the thoughtful criticisms levied against me in your post written almost a month ago, when you named me Above the Law’s Lawyer of the Day and suggested I was in over my head on the Casey Anthony case.

In the whirlwind that is my life, I occasionally misplace things, and your post was just one of those things. It’s probably better this way, as I’ve had the opportunity to collect my thoughts and give you the reasoned response your thoughtfulness begs for. Almost a month on, I think it’s fair to say….

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Television news sources are reporting that Casey Anthony has been found not guilty of first degree murder, aggravated child abuse, or aggravated manslaughter of a child.

Casey Anthony was found guilty of four counts of providing false information to law enforcement officers.

HLN, the news channel that has been covering this trial since it started, all day, every day, is having a freakin’ field day. Mothers all over the country are ripping their hair out of their heads. Nancy Grace didn’t just have a cow — she gave birth to an entire herd.

Is Jose Baez, Casey Anthony’s lawyer, the Latino Johnnie Cochran? Either way, he’s looking forward to many, many incoming client calls.

As I noted in today’s Morning Docket, Casey would’ve gotten some first degree murder for breakfast from me. Instead, all she got was a few slaps on the wrist.

Will we ever find out what really happened to Caylee Anthony? Sadly, I don’t think the answer to that question is yes.

We will continue to provide relevant updates to this post throughout the day as they arise. Refresh this post for the latest.

UPDATE (2:55 PM): Do you think Casey Anthony was guilty? Take our poll, and see how your fellow ATL readers voted, after the jump….

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