Alison Frankel

Apple, Justice and the First Amendment

March 4, 2016

Apple and the dozens of Apple supporters who filed amicus briefs Thursday in federal court in Riverside, California, have left little doubt that ultimately, the Supreme Court will be called upon to decide whether the government may rely on the 1789 All Writs Act to compel Apple to help investigators access data from the phone of San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook.

From Russia with fraud: BakerHostetler fights former client to stay in money-laundering case

March 2, 2016

(Reuters) – It is no exaggeration to call the theft of $230 million from the Russian Treasury in 2007 a life and death matter. The money was stolen in a complex tax fraud that began with the alleged misappropriation of the corporate identities of three companies in the Russian portfolio of Hermitage Capital, a U.S. hedge fund. A Hermitage lawyer in Moscow who helped expose the fraud, Sergei Magnitsky, was arrested in 2008, detained for nearly a year and ultimately died in custody at the age of 37. Russian authorities later charged Magnitsky posthumously. Hermitage’s American founder, William Browder, was convicted in absentia by Russian courts and faces the possibility of additional charges.

Why Brooklyn judge’s All Writs Act decision is huge win for Apple

March 1, 2016

(Reuters) – U.S. Magistrate Judge James Orenstein of Brooklyn does not have the power to bind other courts. The 50-page opinion he issued Monday, denying the Justice Department’s application for an order under the All Writs Act to compel Apple to help the government unlock the phone of a convicted drug dealer, will not end the California federal-court showdown between Apple and the Justice Department over an iPhone belonging to San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook. Judge Orenstein’s decision isn’t even the last word in the Brooklyn case – the Justice Department told Reuters Monday that it will ask for the order to be overturned by a district court judge.

With Scalia gone, defendants lose hope for class action reprieve

February 29, 2016

(Reuters) – Carter Phillips of Sidley Austin is one of the most experienced U.S. Supreme Court litigators in the country. According to his official bio, Phillips has argued 74 cases before the justices, more than anyone else in private practice, but if you hire Phillips, you’re not just paying for his quick thinking at the podium. You want his strategic advice about how – and whether – you can win your case.

Judge Breyer steers VW case with extremely firm hand

February 26, 2016

(Reuters) – U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer of San Francisco does not intend to permit the consolidated litigation between Volkswagen and owners of clean diesel VWs to be detoured by Volkswagen’s negotiations with the U.S. government or by the company’s proposal to resolve car owners’ claims out of court. Based on the transcript of the first substantive hearing since Judge Breyer appointed lead counsel for the car owners, the judge wants the consolidated litigation to be the arena where Volkswagen solves its problems in the United States.

In latest Argentina bond flap, mediator scolds hedge fund lawyer for disclosures

February 25, 2016

(Reuters) – Big news came from an unexpected quarter on Wednesday. At an open hearing on an arcane procedural issue before a panel of judges at the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, a lawyer for hedge funds entrenched in a 15-year fight with Argentina over defaulted sovereign bonds revealed that the hedge funds and Argentina have worked out the economic terms of a $5 billion settlement. The only remaining obstacles to a deal, according to hedge fund counsel Matthew McGill of Gibson Dunn & Crutcher, were “hiccups on mechanics.”

Kickback claims against Bernstein Litowitz unsealed by 2nd Circuit

February 24, 2016

(Reuters) – Did the renowned plaintiffs’ firm Bernstein Litowitz Berger & Grossmann pay a private lawyer in Mississippi $112,500 in order to secure its client relationship with the Mississippi attorney general’s office, where her husband worked?

In unsealed filing, DOJ claims Apple ‘misleading’ on decryption opposition

February 23, 2016

In Apple’s depiction of its intensifying fight with the U.S. Justice Department over accessing data from the iPhone of accused San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook, the company is heroically battling in courts across the country for the principle of protecting the privacy of cellphone users, even if that principle requires Apple to oppose government requests to help investigators crack security on suspected criminals’ phones.

New controversy in GM MDL sharpens debate over litigating mass cases

February 22, 2016

The consolidated federal-court litigation over GM’s defective ignition switch has turned into a symposium on how plaintiffs’ lawyers should manage a case in which their strategic decisions can affect thousands of people at a time.

Can U.S. law firms push VW into investor settlement in Holland?

February 19, 2016

(Reuters) – If I were an investor in Volkswagen common stock, I’d be very confused about the best way to try to hold the company accountable for the billions of dollars of market capitalization that disappeared when VW admitted its clean diesel cars were rigged to cheat emissions tests. As I told you in a post in December, all kinds of U.S. and European law firms and litigation funders are trying to convince VW shareholders to sign up with them to pursue litigation in Germany or a settlement in Holland. This week, the field got even more crowded when the New York shareholders’ firm Bernstein Litowitz Berger & Grossmann announced that it has formed a Dutch “settlement foundation,” or stichting, for VW investors to join.