Monday, March 10, 2014

Risk News Review (Disqualification Scuffle + ABA on NSA)

"Superior Court reverses Phila. judge’s denial of labor leader’s request disqualifying firm in defamation case" --
  • "A state appellate court panel has found that a Philadelphia judge improperly denied a request by a prominent labor leader seeking to disqualify a city law firm from representing journalists in a lawsuit brought by the plaintiff over claims that he was defamed in news coverage while he was running for elected office."
  • "Dougherty argued that Pepper Hamilton had a conflict of interest because the firm previously represented Dougherty in similar legal matters. Specifically, the firm’s attorneys acted as Dougherty’s legal counsel in a federal investigation involving the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Philadelphia, the appellate opinion states."
  • "Dougherty argued that the firm was privy to confidential communications, advised Dougherty concerning a grand jury subpoena, and was present during a search of his home. He maintained that a conflict of interest exists because the firm intends to pursue numerous discovery requests, including files from the federal investigation, while simultaneously representing the defendants in the defamation case."
  • "In its decision, the Superior Court panel determined that the subject matter of Pepper Hamilton’s prior representation of Dougherty is 'substantially related' to the defamation case, and that a lawyer or lawyers with the firm had previously acquired confidential information from Dougherty, thus creating a conflict."

"Bar Association protests NSA spying" --
  • "The American Bar Association (ABA) last week sent a letter to leaders at the National Security Agency (NSA) expressing concern about reports that the agency’s Australian counterpart had spied on a U.S. law firm working for Indonesia. The agency allegedly offered to share details with the NSA, including 'information covered by attorney-client privilege.'"
  • "The attorney-client privilege is a bedrock legal principle of our free society and is important in both the civil and criminal contexts,” the group’s president, James Silkenat, wrote in the letter. 'The ABA has consistently fought to preserve the attorney-client privilege and opposes government policies, practices and procedures that erode the privilege... The interception and sharing of attorney-client privileged communications by government agencies — or any third party — raises concerns, including chilling the full and frank discussion between lawyer and client that is essential for effective legal representation.'"

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