(Reuters) – In 2012, after a bruising yearlong debate, the American Bar Association’s Commission on Ethics 20/20 chose not to propose a new model rule to permit lawyers to practice in firms owned in part by non-lawyers. At the time, Washington, D.C., was the only jurisdiction in the U.S. that allowed non-lawyers to take an ownership stake in a law firm, though other countries had begun to experiment with alternative law firm structures. An ABA working group dedicated to the issue drafted a proposal based on Washington’s rule, but, as the working group’s co-chair later recounted in a law review article, lawyers were overwhelmingly suspicious.
In the good old days of Delaware Chancery Court litigation – a mere 9 or 10 months ago – major corporate announcements would routinely be followed by shareholder suits. Then came last summer’s crackdown on disclosure-only settlements of M&A class actions. And just like that, Chancery Court filings dried up. When is the last time you heard about, say, a fight among plaintiffs’ firms to grab control of a Delaware shareholder suit?
The best test of the future of class action litigation at the U.S. Supreme Court may be the justices’ disposition of Google’s petition for certiorari in a case involving claims that the company deceived hundreds of thousands of California advertisers about the placement of Adwords ads.
Last week, New York University law professor Samuel Issacharoff filed a brief in his fourth U.S. Supreme Court case of the term, once again standing up for class action plaintiffs. This time, Issacharoff’s client is a union benefits fund prosecuting a racketeering class action against GlaxoSmithKline for allegedly defrauding private insurers by falsely marketing the diabetes drug Avandia. If Issacharoff is successful – as he has been in his three other cases this term – the justices will decide not to take the case.
(Reuters) – In 1971, when U.S. District Judge Manuel Real of Los Angeles had been on the court for only about five years, he got into a spat with defense lawyer Victor Sherman over Sherman’s attempt to impeach the government’s only witness against his client James Hibler, who was accused of robbing a postal carrier. In front of the jury, Judge Real taunted Sherman about the rules of procedure. “If you don’t know it Mr. Sherman, I am not here to teach you,” he said.
(Reuters) – The court system in this country is supposed to be open to the public. That’s a core principle, codified in the First Amendment and centuries of common law. Yet American corporations constantly push to restrict access to court records. Once in a while, media organizations or public interest groups get involved and orders to seal turn into First Amendment blowouts, but those cases are increasingly likely to be exceptions. Far more often, no one stands up in opposition when a corporation asks to seal or redact court filings.
(Reuters) – The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals just widened the divide between old-school journalism outfits like Reuters and online “journalism” sites.
On Monday, the National Football League’s Washington Redskins asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review the cancellation of several of the team’s long-held trademarks for violating the Lanham Act’s non-disparagement clause. One of the team’s arguments is that if the justices plan to consider the constitutionality of the Lanham Act’s non-disparagement provision, they need to hear from the team’s lawyers, who are “best positioned to ensure that this court enjoys the full benefits of the adversarial process.”
(Reuters) – The New York plaintiffs’ firm Samuel & Stein took seriously a threat last week from the class action lawyers who negotiated a settlement of claims against Major League Baseball for colluding with teams to monopolize broadcast rights to games. Samuel & Stein represented an objector to the proposed settlement, which reduces the price of MLB viewing packages. But when class counsel from Langer Grogan & Diver said they would move for sanctions unless the objection was withdrawn, Samuel & Stein asked for leave to drop out of the case.
(Reuters) – U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer of San Francisco made the formal announcement in court Thursday morning: Volkswagen has reached an agreement in principle to resolve the clean diesel emissions cheating mess in the U.S. The company’s settlement encompasses U.S. and California officials, including the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission, and owners of clean diesel cars, most of whom will have the option of selling their cars back to Volkswagen or getting the cars fixed to meet U.S. emissions standards. All of the details will be revealed in June, when the government and counsel for the car owners submit deal documents.