- Are you a member of Tyson chicken or H&R Block Express IRA class action settlements?
- Jim Copland on Harry Reid and the trial bar. [NRO]
- Jim Copland on the Ground Zero settlement, which may pay lawyers $200 million—but the judge plans fee scrutiny. [NY Post; NY Daily News]
- Kevin LaCroix interviews the Circle of Greed authors. [D&O Diary]
- Judgeships: Rhode Island lead paint trial lawyer in despite mediocre rating, but Sri Srinivasan out because of his clients—not Al Qaeda, but, heaven forfend, eeeevil corporations like Hertz.
- There’s no evidence that workers on automotive brakes (which sometimes contain asbestos) get mesothelioma at a greater rate than the rest of the population, but auto companies still get sued over it. Ford fought one in Madison County, rather than settle, and won. [Madison County Record]
- Overview of defensive medicine at work. [AP]
- Pantsless Rielle Hunter on John Edwards: “He’s very honest and truthful.” [GQ]
- Adventures of a 28-year-old California foreclosure attorney [McSweeneys]
- National Enquirer ruled eligible for Pulitzer Prize consideration for John Edwards coverage [ABC, Guardian]
- Las Vegas attorney agrees to plead to unspecified charges in tort-mill scheme initially described by prosecutors as massive [ABA Journal, earlier here and here]
- Expect demands for greater regulation of general aviation after Austin attack [Skating on Stilts]
- Dear firm colleagues: does Morocco has an extradition treaty with the U.S.? Need to know quickly [Lowering the Bar] Related on Scott Rothstein: do not purchase investment advice from persons with gold toilets;
- Is a Texas prosecutor seeking to criminalize workplace accidents? [Bennett, Defending People]
- Cold comfort dept.: lawprof tired of people carrying on about being dragged through litigation, it’s not as if they’re being held liable [Howard Wasserman, Prawfsblawg]
- Iceland’s free-press project “is largely symbolic – which is not to say unimportant” [N.Y. Times quoting David Ardia, earlier]
- Woman who escaped first WTC bombing broke her ankle ten days later. Should New York’s Port Authority pay her $500,000? [Hochfelder]
- Former New York congressman and Pace Law School dean Richard Ottinger and wife rebuffed in what court deems SLAPP suit against commenter who criticized them on online forum; commenter says legal fees have cost him two years’ income [White Plains Journal-News, Westchester County; earlier] Amici in Massachusetts case endorse anti-SLAPP protection for staff of media and advocacy organizations [Citizen Media Law] “Canadian Court Rejects Defamation Liability for Hyperlinks” [same]
- “Chuck Yeager Tries Again to Stretch Right of Publicity” [OnPoint News, earlier]
- And naturally the advocates are demanding more regulation rather than less: “[Restaurant] Calorie Postings Don’t Change Habits, Study Finds” [NYT] More: Ryan Sager, Jacob Sullum.
- Famed L.A. lawyers Thomas Girardi and Walter Lack might get off with wrist-slaps over Nicaraguan banana suit scandal [The Recorder, Cal Civil Justice, earlier]
- Ralph Lauren lawyers: don’t you dare reproduce our skinny-model photo in the course of criticizing our use of skinny models [BoingBoing; and welcome Ron Coleman, Popehat readers; more at Citizen Media Law and an update at BoingBoing] Copyright expert/author Bill Patry is guestblogging at Volokh Conspiracy [intro, first post, earlier]
- Profile of John Edwards aide who played key role in Rielle Hunter affair [Ben Smith, Politico]
- Blind lawyer’s “call girl bilked my credit card” claim includes ADA claim against credit card company (but judge rejects it) [ABA Journal, Above the Law]
Elizabeth Edwards as Mrs. Stephen Haines, on Rielle Hunter as Crystal Allen: “I don’t know any people like this, I don’t have any friends like this person.” But she does [Paul Horwitz, Prawfsblawg (“It does, after all, take two to tango — or, more precisely, two plus Fred Baron“); more from Mickey Kaus and again]
What with all the money in Edwards’ own name from his legal career, not to mention the late Texas trial lawyer Fred Baron’s generosity in solving the housing needs of Edwards’ girlfriend, it wouldn’t seem necessary to use campaign or charitable funds for her benefit, too, but a U.S. attorney is said to be pursuing allegations along those lines. Hunter was paid $100,000 to do documentary filmmaking about the Edwards campaign, which gave the couple many opportunities to be close to each other. [New York Daily News, CBS News, Raleigh News & Observer] More: Althouse, Kaus.
- Eeeeeeuw: House of Meats employees show reporter “they have all ten of their fingers” after customer reports human digit in her dish of oxtails [BayNews 9 Tampa]
- Press keeps digging into Joe Biden ties to asbestos bar [American Lawyer, more links in PoL roundup]
- Black eye for big law site FindLaw with reports that it’s been selling law firms links in editorial material, a practice sure to raise Google wrath [Oilman, Kevin O’Keefe/Real Lawyers Have Blogs, ABA Journal, Search Engine Land, National Post] More: WSJ on FindLaw’s denial; O’Keefe.
- Overlawyered favorite Fred Baron, of Rielle Hunter generosity, much in evidence at Democratic convention [Dallas Morning News, ABC News] Texas trial lawyer Steve Susman is only individual lawyer listed as convention sponsor [AmLaw Daily, scroll]
- As if legislative expansion of the Americans with Disabilities Act weren’t worry enough, 1,000 pages of new DoJ regulations will add billions in costs, as by requiring that 50 percent of miniature golf holes be wheelchair-accessible [Las Vegas Review-Journal via ABA Journal]
- “Bond reduced for two fen-phen attorneys” in Kentucky [Lexington Herald-Leader, more]
- Cozen O’Connor and insurers dealt big setback as Second Circuit’s Judge Jacobs rules they can’t sue Saudi government over 9/11 [Philadelphia Inquirer, more; related on FOIA, Legal Intelligencer; earlier here and here]
- Jury awards $500,000 in malpractice suit against D.C.-based plaintiffs’ firm Cohen Milstein Hausfeld & Toll [Legal Times]
- Australia: “A serial protester who injured a policewoman during the G20 riots wants her conviction overturned so she can still practise as a lawyer.” [Melbourne Herald Sun, Julia Dehm]
Aficionados of the John Edwards-Rielle Hunter scandal may have noticed a new attorney’s name cropping up in news reports: Lee Rohn of the U.S. Virgin Islands. From the New York Daily News:
One day before Edwards went public with the affair, Hunter and 6-month-old daughter Frances were flown to the Virgin Islands on a chartered jet, the Enquirer reported.
The $50,000 trip was paid for by friends of Edwards. The newspaper also said she stayed at the oceanfront home of another Edwards’ pal, lawyer Lee Rohn.
(Larry McShane, “John Edwards promised Rielle Hunter they’d be together – report”, Aug. 20)(via ABA Journal)(Update: Rohn vehemently denies the Enquirer story as false, saying she neither hosted Hunter nor is close to Edwards; see below). Readers may be wondering: is Rohn yet another attorney whose doings are going to make irresistible copy for a site like this, much as with Edwards chum/Democratic moneyman/perennial Overlawyered mentionee Fred Baron? To which the answer would appear to be, “you bet”:
St. Croix attorney Lee Rohn has stirred up a chorus of criticism and complaints about her professional practices both inside and outside the courtroom.
Her most vocal critics have been opposing parties or counsel in lawsuits she has filed. They have alleged a wide spectrum of professional conduct violations.
Among Rohn’s frequent targets is Innovative Communication Corp., which runs the Virgin Islands’ local telephone provider and the islands’ newspaper, and whose lawyers say they’ve lost count of how many times she’s sued them. The company’s chairman, Jeffrey Prosser, has called in vain for Rohn’s disbarment, complaining of “intolerable” and “abusive” instances of “ethical misconduct” as well as “vitriolic” public attacks: “In some cases with us, she coerced her clients to sign documents that were knowingly false [and] ignored judge’s orders on limits of discovery inquiry during depositions,” he wrote.
In 2002, Rohn publicly blasted one of the islands’ two federal district judges, Thomas Moore, accusing him of inappropriate behavior, and Moore recused himself from some of her cases citing the antipathy. Subsequently, after she moved to demand Moore’s recusal from yet another of her cases, he refused, stating in his written ruling, “I believe attorney Rohn’s personal attack on one of the two sitting judges in this jurisdiction was nothing more than a calculated litigation tactic that would be labeled ‘judge shopping’ in most places.” Moore, who has sanctioned Rohn for insulting and profane language toward witnesses and court personnel, wrote in another case, in which the Caribbean Geoffrey Fieger “sought to compel testimony from all the federal judges in the territory”:
“Nothing Lee Rohn does surprises me anymore, although subpoenaing all the federal judges in the jurisdiction is a high point of ingenuity and creativity in attempting to manipulate the system,” Moore wrote.
“I do not believe, however, that an attorney should be allowed to use her calculated personal attack on a sitting judge as a technique to prevent that judge from presiding over any of her cases, especially in a small district with only two judges.”
A few weeks ago, it may be recalled, we looked at the question of lawyers’ public denunciations of judges and whether they do or should result in recusal by those judges. (Jason Robbins and Lee Williams, “From judges to opponents, Rohn has no shortage of harsh critics”, Virgin Islands Daily News, Mar. 29, 2004 — the newspaper, it bears repeating, and its parent company have been frequent targets of Rohn’s litigation, as in this libel case arising from her airport pot bust). Death by a Thousand Paper Cuts has more, including a picture of the Rohn villa.
The National Enquirer, which keeps breaking new developments in the story, is now reporting that “a team of six more lawyers have been involved in the coverup”. They can’t all be as interesting as Baron and Rohn, can they?
Update Fri. 8:20 p.m.: the Daily News reports Rohn categorically denies the story’s truth:
The Enquirer quoted Virgin Island pol Anne Golden as saying Hunter stayed for 10 days in an oceanfront home owned by prominent St. Croix lawyer Lee Rohn.
Rohn hotly denied that to the Daily News and vowed to sue.
“It is absolutely false,” she told The News. “The Enquirer knows the story is not true as they sat on a hill above my house for a week with telephoto lenses and video cameras and had no sighting of her. The guest cottage she was supposedly staying in is under construction and has no floor.”
Rohn said that while she donated money to Edwards, she is not friends with him. Records show she gave $2,300 to Edwards a year ago and another $2,300 to Barack Obama early this year.
(Helen Kennedy, “John’s island girl Rielle fled to St. Croix on eve of cheating flap”, Aug. 21). And — hat tip to commenter Ken Floyd — the opinions of heated Rohn critic Jeffrey Prosser, the newspaper/telephone magnate, should be evaluated in the perspective of his own controversial and colorful business record, which recently culminated in high-profile bankruptcy proceedings involving his Innovative Communication empire. Some sources on that here, here, here, and here. For more background on the recusal disputes involving Rohn and Judge Thomas K. Moore, see this Moore opinion (U.S. v. Roebuck, PDF) and this Third Circuit opinion (Selkridge v. Mutual of Omaha, 360 F. 3d 155). DBKP wishes it had been a fly on the wall during an AAJ award ceremony honoring Rohn. And see commenter #7 below who seems to have been doing considerable digging.
Thursday’s New York Times investigates Fred Baron’s role (Serge F. Kovaleski and Mike McIntyre, “Lawyers’ Ties Hint at Extent of Hiding Edwards’s Affair”, Aug. 14; AP/L.A. Times; commentary at Deceiver, Jeralyn Merritt/TalkLeft, Greg Pollowitz/NRO Media Blog, DBKP; earlier). And more from DBKP here and here. P.S. And I didn’t realize until reading USA Today’s profile that scandal figure Andrew Young has served not only as a loyal Edwards foot soldier, but also as a lobbyist for the North Carolina trial lawyers’ association.
(Bumping Aug. 14 6:43 pm post to keep at the top of the page.)
In a post I made yesterday, I noted a transaction between Andrew Young and Timothy Toben that I suggested may raise the possibility of a sweetheart deal on the purchase and sale of a 5000-square-foot Raleigh home. I have since done some additional research that rules out that possibility–it turns out that Young purchased a plot of land in a different county, which explains what had otherwise appeared to be a discrepancy–but raises other interesting issues about Young’s cash flow shortly after the National Enquirer allegations first appeared. I have updated the post, and regret the error in the premise.
Update: See important update below. The Toben-Young transaction appears to be for a different parcel of land than the $1.2 million house–but the new documents reveal something else that’s interesting. More details below.
Andrew Young, who publicly claims to be the father of Rielle Hunter’s baby (though he hasn’t been heard from since John Edwards’s confession of an affair), was moved to Santa Barbara by the generosity of John Edwards’s campaign chairman, trial lawyer Fred Baron. He was paid $3,500/month to work for the Edwards campaign. Yet the Raleigh News & Observer reports that Andrew Young and his wife sold their Raleigh house to Carolyn Grissom for a jaw-dropping $1.2 million on February 14, 2007, and moved into the Chapel Hill Governors Club country-club gated community, where they rented a few doors down from Hunter. (Rentals there are available for as low as $1700/month, and home prices range from $289,000 to $2.3 million, so nothing necessarily unusual about that.)
(Update: New documents I’ve found show that the Toben-Young transaction appears to be for a different parcel of land than the $1.2 million house. More details below. This paragraph, based on the mistaken reading of the transaction that it was for the Raleigh home, is incorrect. I regret the error, but the correction reveals something else interesting about the Toben transaction; see the discussion below.) What’s more unusual is that North Carolina real-estate records on the web show that Andrew and Cheri Young purchased the 5000-square-foot house for $300,000 on September 28, 2005. (Update: this is incorrect. The house was purchased in 2001.) (The home was built in 1989, so they weren’t buying a vacant lot and building.) So either Andrew Young is a secret real-estate genius on a level not seen since Hillary Clinton’s commodities trading, and was able to flip a house for a 300% and $900,000 return in under eighteen months, or something else is going on.
It’s interesting to note that the Youngs purchased the place from North Carolina real-estate developer Timothy Toben–a long-time North Carolina Democratic fundraiser who donated $6,500 to the Edwards campaign in 2007 (which, if the FEC reports are accurate, exceeds the federal campaign limits substantially). If Toben gave Young an unusually good deal, the 2005 timing suggests that Young got the deal for some reason other than Rielle Hunter, but, if so, what?
Meanwhile, if one looks up the home on Zillow.com, one sees that Zillow is skeptical of the $1.2 million purchase price, and values the house for substantially less (though well over $300,000), because of “anomalies” in the deal, though it does not specify what those anomalies are. (I found no indication that Carolyn Grissom is anything other than an innocent homebuyer; she’s not listed in the FEC database.)
This could all be coincidence in hindsight, and there could be a perfectly innocent explanation for all of this. It could be that the $300,000 figure is wrong, though then that raises the question of how Young was able to afford a 5000-square-foot house on a $42,000/year salary. But reporters with more resources than I might want to look into whether an Edwards staffer was getting a sweetheart deal from an Edwards contributor, why, and whether campaign finance laws were violated.
And welcome Michelle Malkin readers; apologies that so many of you clicked through that you briefly crashed the site. For Overlawyered’s coverage of the Rielle Hunter scandal, see the tag, and don’t miss our years-long coverage of John Edwards and his trial-lawyer record.