Thursday, October 9, 2014

Rulings on Recent Conflicts Allegations of Note

Disqualification stories in the news. First: "Judge in Russia hacking case boots law firm," which updates a story we covered earlier:
  • "U.S. District Judge Richard Jones said he understands this type of ruling is rare, but he said Fox has a conflict of interest because the firm also represented Zpizza, one of the alleged victims in the hacking scam that Roman Seleznev is charged with orchestrating. Jones said his decision was influenced by a letter he received from the president of Zpizza. In the letter, Sid Fanarof told the judge that he gave a Fox lawyer confidential information that could benefit Seleznev and said he believed the firm has a conflict."
  • "Ray said Fox first became involved in the case because one of its lawyers, Ely Goldin, knows Seleznev's father, Valery Seleznev, who is a member of the Russian Parliament. Ray said the firm got involved in July when Seleznev was arrested in the Maldives and taken to Guam and then to Seattle. His lawyers have called his arrest an 'illegal rendition.'"
  • "'We were not aware of Z's involvement in the case at the time,' Ray said. Zpizza was not listed in the indictment, he said. It only became an issue when one of the prosecutors learned that a Fox lawyer represented Zpizza on another matter and let the law firm know that Zpizza was an alleged victim, could be a witness and if Seleznev is convicted, could be a subject of restitution, Ray said."
  • "'When we learned that, we put a Chinese Wall around the case' and screened off the lawyer involved, Ray said. But Jones did not believe that was enough protection. In his ruling from the bench, he said he had to balance judicial integrity with the interest of justice. 'The court understands this is rare and only used in severe circumstances, but the court finds that severe circumstances are present,' he said. 'The court concludes that Fox should not be allowed to represent the defendant.'"
And: "Pa. ethics panel clears Street on son's legal work" --
  • "In a split decision, the Pennsylvania Ethics Commission has cleared former Philadelphia Mayor John Street of conflict of interest charges related to legal work awarded to his son's law firm."
  • "The Wolf Block law firm billed the Philadelphia Housing Authority for hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of work done by the former mayor's son, Sharif Street. When the PHA board hired Wolf Block, John Street was its chairman, and he participated in several votes to authorize legal work for the authority."
  • "The state ethics code prohibits public officials from using their authority to benefit a family member. Ethics commission executive director Robert Caruso said Street's votes presented a problem."
  • "The commission's investigative staff saw Street's votes for the legal work as violating the conflict of interest provision of the state ethics law, but a majority of the commission disagreed, because Street's action wasn't specifically targeted to benefit only Wolf Block... A majority of the commission members said while they don't condone Street's conduct, they don't find a violation of law."

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