Good morning. Law firm Jackson Walker isfacing questions and court action in the aftermath of a U.S. bankruptcy judge’s resignation over his relationship with a lawyer at the firm. Plus, Latham says scammers are impersonating a partner; Hawaii’s top court clears a climate case against oil companies for trial; and Elon Musk has a deadline today to respond to an SEC subpoena case. Happy first Thursday of November.
A creditor is arguing that Texas law firm Jackson Walker should disgorge more than $860,000 in fees over its failure to disclose that one of its former partners was in a long-term romantic relationship with the judge overseeing the bankruptcy case of a Jackson Walker client,Dietrich Knauth reports.
The creditor, a woman who brought wrongful death claims against bankrupt hand sanitizer manufacturer 4E Brands alleging her father died from ingesting the product, argued that Jackson Walker should repay all of its fees for representing 4E Brands in U.S. Bankruptcy Judge David Jones’ court. The creditor also sought to recuse the new judge assigned to the case, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Marvin Isgur, based on his 30-year personal history with Jones.
Jackson Walker did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The firm has previously said that it instructed the partner, Elizabeth Freeman, not to work or bill on any cases before Judge Jones after learning about the relationship in March 2021.
Latham is suing in Virginia federal court to stop what it said were scammers using domain names similar to its own to defraud its clients and the general public. Latham’s complaint alleged the scheme involved impersonation of a Paris-based Latham partner, in an attempt to dupe people into sending money to pay off falsified invoices.
University of South Dakota law professor Sean Kammer’s spring semester course, The Taylor Swift Effect, looks to be the first law school class based on the sequined musical icon. The course will examine the musician’s interactions with the law, such as her rerecording of six albums and related copyright issues, Kammer said.
OSHA and the NLRB said they will work together on investigations and enforcement to protect workers who raise safety concerns from retaliation, which could spur more fines and legal complaints against employers.
A federal judicial panel will not reconsiderits decision to clear two judges appointed by Republican presidents of misconduct over their hiring of a law clerk reported to have texted “I hate Black people” to a colleague while at a conservative nonprofit. The 2nd Circuit’s judicial council declined to disturb its January 2022 decision dismissing a misconduct complaint.
A Brazilian lawyer who was working for Gibson Dunn as a visiting attorney pleaded guilty to insider trading after profiting off information about a $1.7 billion deal involving a firm client. The attorney entered his guilty plea in D.C. federal court, two months after his arrest. Sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 20.
That’s how much revenue Baker McKenzie earned last year, according to the firm. Both the firm’s revenue and its net income — tallied at $1.2 billion last year — remained flat as compared with the previous year, it said. The Chicago-founded firm’s financial results offer an early glimpse at how big firms have been copingwith a continuing slowdown in global deal-making, geopolitical uncertainties and other issues that have contributed to a challenging business environment over the past year.
The SEC is facing yet another headache from the U.S. Supreme Court’s major questions doctrine. Alison Frankel has the details on an investor nonprofit’s new friend-of-the-court brief in the SEC’s so-called shadow trading case against a biopharma exec who allegedly misappropriated confidential information about his employer to buy call options in a competing company’s stock. Notably, Frankel says, the brief was filed by one of the pioneers of the crypto industry’s arguments that the major questions doctrine bars the SEC from going after crypto defendants.
Elon Musk’s Quinn Emanuel attorneys face a deadline to respond to the SEC’s bid to force him to testify in its probe of his takeover of Twitter. The SEC is investigating whether Musk broke federal securities laws in 2022 when he bought stock in Twitter, which Musk renamed X, as well as statements and SEC filings he made in relation to the deal. The SEC said it subpoenaed Musk in May to provide testimony, and that Musk had agreed to appear, but two days beforehand raised “several spurious objections” and told the SEC he would not attend. Several former SEC officials said the agency was likely to win its fight with Musk.
North Carolina Supreme Court Justice Anita Earls will urge U.S. District Judge William Osteen in Greensboro to block the North Carolina Judicial Standards Commission from moving forward with an investigation into her that she says aims to stifle her criticism of the lack of diversity in the state’s courts. Earls said in her lawsuit that the commission began a probe after she spoke to a legal news organization about her court’s recent record on issues concerning diversity. The commission told Earls in a letter that she may have violated a state code of judicial conduct.
The Supreme Court of Minnesota will hear arguments in a case over whether Donald Trump can be disqualified from the state’s ballot in the 2024 presidential election because of his effort to reverse the result of the 2020 election. A Colorado judge separately is weighing a case there that seeks to bar Trump from the state’s ballot, testing a rarely used Civil War-era provision of the U.S. Constitution that bars people who have engaged in “insurrection or rebellion” from holding federal office. Minnesota’s top state court live streams its arguments.
Rudy Giuliani’s law license will go before a D.C. attorney ethics board, which will weigh a recommendation from a committee to deny the ability of the former personal lawyer to Donald Trump to practice law in the District of Columbia. The committee in July said in a report that Giuliani should be disbarred over his work on a failed lawsuit challenging the 2020 election results on behalf of Trump. Giuliani’s conduct “transcends all his past accomplishments,” the committee said. A lawyer for Giuliani, Barry Kamins, said they would make a “vigorous appeal” to the professional responsibility board.
The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing where it could vote to advance some of President Joe Biden’s judicial nominees, including Mustafa Kasubhai, a federal magistrate judge in Oregon who would become the nation’s third Muslim-American district court judge, and Eumi Lee, a South Korean state court judge in California nominated to serve in the Northern District of California.
Court calendars are subject to last-minute docket changes.
In the courts
The SEC must correct “defects” in a new rule on share buybacks adopted earlier this year, a 5th Circuit panel ruled, marking a partial win for powerful trade groups waging the legal challenge against it. In a rule adopted in May, the agency required public companies to disclose share buyback data, saying this would help investors evaluate the rationales behind them. (Reuters)
Hundreds of former Boy Scouts have asked U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Laurie Selber Silverstein to help them correct a nearly two-year-old paperwork error that leaves them at risk of receiving little or nothing from the youth organization’s $2.46 billion sex abuse settlement. Several law firms representing men who allege they were abused as children by troop leaders have asked to allow their clients to remove themselves from a “quick pay” program that caps their payout at $3,500, saying they mistakenly chose it. (Reuters)
D.C. Attorney General Brian Schwalb, working with plaintiffs’ firm Cohen Milstein, is suing tech company RealPage and more than a dozen of the city’s largest apartment building landlords for allegedly conspiring to artificially keep rents high. RealPage is also a defendant in multidistrict litigation in Tennessee federal court. The company has denied wrongdoing. (Reuters)
A jury in Cook County, Illinois, awarded a woman $7.1 million after she alleged she was burned by a can of cooking spray made by Conagra that suddenly ejected its contents and ignited. The lawsuit is one of several dozen brought by Koskoff, Koskoff & Bieder and Meyers & Flowers over cooking spray products including PAM and other brands. (Reuters)
Nintendo defeated a patent lawsuit brought by video-game peripheral maker Gamevice in California federal court accusing Nintendo’s Joy-Con controllers for its Switch console of infringing two Gamevice patents. U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg said Nintendo’s controllers work differently than Gamevice’s patented technology, ending Gamevice’s lawsuit before trial. (Reuters)
Debevoise hired Alessandra Love Simons as an M&A partner in San Francisco. Simons was previously co-chair of Goodwin’s technology M&A practice. (Reuters)
Blank Rome brought on Stephanie Hor-Chen as a Chicago-based partner focused on finance, restructuring and bankruptcy. Hor-Chen was previously at Katten Muchin. (Blank Rome)
Milbank added partner Jenna McGrath to the firm’s project, energy and infrastructure finance group. McGrath was previously with Paul Hastings. (Milbank)
Proskauer added trial lawyer Joe Drayton as a New York-based partner in the firm’s intellectual property group. Drayton was previously at Cooley. (Proskauer)
Freshfields added Tokyo-based partners Noah Carr and Gordon Palmquist. Carr, who focuses on public and private acquisitions, joins from Latham. Palmquist, previously at Mayer Brown, practices in M&A. (Freshfields)
Willkie brought on D.C.-based partner Matthew Comstock in the firm’s asset management group. Comstock was previously at Davis Wright. (Willkie)