Monday, May 8, 2017

Public Conflicts about Conflicts Allegations

A few conflicts stories making news. First, continuing the battle of words: "'Straight Outta Compton' Lawsuit: Greenberg Traurig Rips Disqualification Bid" --
  • "Greenberg Traurig, the law firm representing co-defendant NBCUniversal in the defamation lawsuit targeting the N.W.A biopic Straight Outta Compton, is facing a disqualification motion over a supposed conversation that happened 25 years old concerning Ice Cube's "No Vaseline." On Monday, the firm had its own outside counsel file a blistering response that ran the gamut from confidentiality to ethics."
  • "The typical conflict analysis would typically turn on whether there is a "substantial relationship" between prior and current representation."Putting aside that Mr. Katz denies advising Mr. Heller on that subject [of 'No Vaseline'], such a conversation could not possibly be substantially related to Plaintiff's claims regarding Straight Outta Compton, a movie that did not even exist at the time of those alleged communications," states Greenberg Traurig's response"
  • "Greenberg Traurig has several other arguments why the disqualification bid is meritless. The firm seizes on word that others — including Terry Heller, Jerry's nephew and the executor of the estate — were present at the supposed meeting. 'As a matter of black letter law, the presence of third parties destroys the privilege and thereby the confidentiality of any attorney client communication, unless such third parties were necessary participants," argues Greenberg Traurig's lawyers at Jenner & Block. "In addition, there is nothing confidential about the lyrics of 'No Vaseline,' which continued the very public airing of long-running grudges involving the group N.W.A. [sic]. Indeed, in the years since the alleged meeting with Katz occurred, Heller himself publicly disclosed the details of his relationship with N.W.A. in memoirs, screenplays and other public activities.'"
Read Greenberg's full response here.

Next: "One potato, two potato; hot potato brings DQ in Mississippi federal case" --
  • "Even though a Mississippi lawyer’s conflict of interest lasted only one day, that was enough for a U.S. magistrate judge to disqualify him from representing a client adverse to Allstate Insurance Co. on a coverage claim, in a ruling issued last week."
  • "Sending a termination letter to the insurer the day after accepting the new client’s case didn’t help the lawyer.  The judge found that the lawyer’s duty of loyalty required him to turn down the case, in light of the fact that he had pending cases in which he was directly representing Allstate."
  • "In the Mississippi case, the court said that the lawyer’s conduct was understandable:  he hadn’t received any new work from Allstate in over a year; his firm was wrapping up its work on the “handful” of cases it still had, the majority of which were near the end of their life-spans; and the firm planned to end its relationship with the insurer based on the fact that it was not getting new work. Nonetheless, said the judge, the lawyer and his firm had an attorney-client relationship with Allstate when the lawyer signed a contract to represent the claimant against the insurer, and he couldn’t abandon his existing client by dropping it like a hot potato."
Finally: "FBI To Quiz Holland & Knight Duo In Energy Tax Credit Case" --
  • "The FBI may question and audiotape a Holland & Knight LLP partner and lobbyist on a potential conflict of interest in the pair's defense of a businessman charged with wire fraud and tax evasion concerning renewable energy tax credits, a Pennsylvania federal judge said Thursday."
  • "David Dunham is seeking to have his indictment for wire fraud, tax evasion and obstruction of justice tossed on the grounds that federal prosecutors knew or should have known his original defense attorney, Holland & Knight partner John Brownlee, had a serious conflict of interest given Dunham had taken advice from Brownlee's colleague Michael McAdams, a Holland & Knight senior policy adviser, on some matters at issue in the case."
  • "The businessman has said in court papers that the government gained a significant tactical advantage after a conflicted Brownlee urged Dunham into proffer sessions with prosecutors with an eye toward a guilty plea."
  • "A spokeswoman for Holland & Knight did not respond Thursday to a call seeking comment."

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