Good morning. An 8th Circuit judge is calling out one stock that is causing major problems for judges as they attempt to avoid conflicts of interest. Plus, Google is questioning David Boies’ hourly rate in a privacy lawsuit and new data shows the once-white hot M&A space is cooling off for law firm dealmakers. Why does summer always feel like it is half over after the Fourth of July?
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Growing scrutiny of how stock ownership impacts judges’ conflicts of interest pushed one prominent judge to call out the stock he says poses a conflicts “nightmare” for too many judges: Berkshire Hathaway.
8th Circuit Judge Ralph Erickson sent a letter to the heads of two key judiciary rules committees, saying many judges invested in Berkshire do not know until too late when a company appearing before them is owned by the Warren Buffett-led conglomerate, reports Nate Raymond.
The letter comes as the federal judiciary is under increased pressure to address issues with conflicts in the wake of a Wall Street Journal report that revealed more than 130 judges had failed to recuse themselves from cases involving companies in which they or their family members owned stock.
Erickson's letter also follows President Joe Biden’s signature on the Courthouse Ethics and Transparency Act, which would require federal judges to more promptly and publicly disclose their stock trades.
Read more about why Berkshire Hathaway is a particular problem, according to Erickson.
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Google’s lawyers at Quinn Emanuel are raising questions about the scope of a legal fee request — including the $1,950 hourly rate of Boies Schiller founder David Boies — from plaintiffs lawyers representing consumers in a privacy lawsuit against the tech giant. A California judge said Google should be forced to pay some fees as a sanction for misconduct, but it’s an unresolved question of exactly how much. (Reuters)
Fulton Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney in Georgia, overseeing the special grand jury probing Donald Trump's alleged attempts to overturn his 2020 election defeat, signed off on subpoenas to Trump's former personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, in addition to other legal team members Jenna Ellis, John Eastman, Cleta Mitchell and Doug Deason. (Reuters)
- Willkie added two former SEC enforcement leaders Kristina Littman and Adam Aderton as Washington, D.C.-based litigation partners focused on securities matters. Littman earlier served as chief of the SEC’s crypto assets and cyber unit, and Aderton was co-chief of the agency’s asset management unit. (Reuters)
That’s the amount that global mergers and acquisition activity dropped during the first half of the year, compared to the same period last year, according to new data from Refinitiv. M&A activity slowed amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February and fears of an economic recession. Sullivan & Cromwell advised on 88 announced deals so far, worth more than $355.9 billion, the most by total dollar value of any firm. Goodwin Procter advised on 553 announced deals in the first half of the year, the most of any law firm. Read more about where other firms ranked.
There’s deep, unspoken irony in a decision last week awarding $75,000 in fees to Entwistle & Cappucci, which represented an objector to a $1.2 billion securities class action settlement between Valeant Pharmaceuticals and its shareholders. Entwistle’s fees, which will come entirely from the $157 million previously awarded to class counsel from Robbins Geller, followed the firm’s decision to drop an appeal of one piece of the settlement. Entwistle and Robbins Geller said the fees were not contingent on the dismissal of the appeal. Guess who (unsuccessfully) claimed otherwise? The famed objector firm Bandas. Alison Frankel has the story.
"Where, as here, an agency speaks in absolute terms that there is no evidence, it acts arbitrarily and capriciously when there is in fact pertinent record evidence and the agency ignores or overlooks it."
—U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta in Washington, D.C., who said the FDA had ignored data about how premium cigars are used by consumers when it decided to regulate them the same way it regulates cigarettes. Mehta sided with cigar industry groups, which brought on Michael Edney of Steptoe & Johnson to help challenge the regulations. The judge asked the groups and the FDA to submit briefs on whether he should vacate the FDA’s decision or just remand the matter back to the agency. Read more about Mehta’s ruling.
A Kentucky judge will consider extending a block on the state from enforcing an outright ban on abortion enacted in 2019 that was triggered after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the constitutional right to it nationwide. Jefferson County Circuit Judge Mitch Perry issued a temporary restraining order preventing the state from enforcing its ban. Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, a Republican, said last week that the judge had no basis under Kentucky's constitution to allow clinics to resume performing abortions.
Former Goldman Sachs partner Tim Leissner is scheduled to be sentenced in federal court in Brooklyn, where he has pleaded guilty to corruption charges for his role in helping loot billions of dollars from Malaysia's 1MDB development fund. Leissner in February was a star witness at the fraud trial of fellow Goldman banker Roger Ng. Federal prosecutors said $4.5 billion of the $6.5 billion Goldman raised for 1MDB was diverted to government officials, bankers and their associates through bribes and kickbacks. Ng, who denied the charges, was convicted in April.
The New York court system for the first time will attempt to conduct jury selection virtually. Chief Administrative Judge Lawrence Marks last month announced that as a part of a pilot program a small group of Manhattan residents would be randomly selected to appear remotely for jury orientation and selection via Microsoft Teams in a civil case. Summonses for the pilot program were mailed to the potential jurors in early June. The court said it would provide “necessary equipment” for prospective jurors who do not have an internet connection or internet-capable device.
Court calendars are subject to last-minute docket changes.
Litigation in Florida and Mississippi failed to stop abortion bans from taking effect. Florida state officials appealed an order from Circuit Court Judge John Cooper that blocked enforcement of a 15-week ban that took effect on Friday, triggering an automatic freeze of his injunction. Meanwhile, Judge Debbra Halford in Jackson, Mississippi, denied a request by the state's only abortion clinic to prevent officials from carrying out a near-total ban on abortion that is set to take effect on Thursday. (Reuters)
Lawyers for Ben & Jerry's at Cohen & Gresser asked a Manhattan federal judge to block the sale of its Israeli business to a local licensee, saying it was inconsistent with its values to sell its ice cream in the occupied West Bank. The complaint said the sale announced last month threatened to undermine the integrity of the brand that is Ben & Jerry's, whose lawyers also include a team from Ahmad, Zavitsanos & Mensing. (Reuters)
A D.C. Circuit panel delivered a win for large exchange groups such as Nasdaq, striking down an SEC order that would have allowed some financial firms that are not stock exchanges to have a say in how essential stock market data is priced and disseminated. Gibson Dunn’s Thomas Hungar argued for Nasdaq, against Tracey Hardin of the SEC. (Reuters)
Brown Rudnick represents a former managing director at Archegos Capital Management who is suing the private investment firm and its indicted founder Bill Hwang. Plaintiff Brendan Sullivan claimed in his complaint in Manhattan federal court that he was defrauded out of as much as $50 million after Archegos required him and colleagues to put at least 25% of their bonuses in its deferred compensation plan. Hwang has pleaded not guilty to charges over the collapse of his investment firm. (Reuters)
- The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp does not need to know the actual amount of a bank's proposed payment to a departing executive before determining whether it is an improper "golden parachute," a D.C. Circuit panel ruled. The judge said the FDIC can typically decide if a payment is unlawful regardless of its amount, and a federal judge was wrong to rein in the agency's power to review severance payments. (Reuters)
- Weil Gotshal brought on Regina Readling as a New York-based executive compensation and benefits partner. She comes to the firm from Sullivan & Cromwell. (Weil)
- King & Spalding added real estate partner Danna Horton in the firm’s Chicago office. Horton arrives at the firm from Katten Muchin. (King & Spalding)
- Hogan Lovells brought on Jessica Millett as a New York-based tax partner in its corporate and finance practice group. Millett joins the firm from Duval & Stachenfeld, where she led the tax team. (Hogan Lovells)
- Cozen O’Connor hired Sam Denisco as a government relations principal based in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. He earlier served as the chief lobbyist for the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry. (Cozen O’Connor)
Connecticut in May joined four other states — California, Virginia, Colorado and Utah — when it enacted an array of privacy regulations under its new Personal Data Privacy and Online Monitoring Act. Jeff Mann and Gilana Keller of Stroock & Stroock & Lavan look at the requirements of the new data privacy law as it compares and contrasts with laws in other states. Read more about compliance focus points.
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