Archive for the ‘Dan Levine’ Category

Patel Scolds Lawyers With Sharply Titled Order

November 1, 2006

Seyfarth Shaw lawyers couldn’t have thought it a good sign when their motion to clarify — filed in defense of client Costco in an employment discrimination action — provoked a reply from Judge Marilyn Patel entitled “Order Clarifying That Which Need Not Be Clarified.”

Indeed, the San Francisco federal judge smacked down the defense’s entreaties last week in language usually reserved for petulant children.



Wilson’s Hits Just Keep On Coming

October 20, 2006

When a report on stock option backdating says there is no evidence your law firm did anything illegal or hid anything from investors — much less that your shop invented the practice — you might breathe a little easier.

For Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, though, those positives resembled a disclaimer in a probing publication issued by The Corporate Library, an investor advocate and research firm based in Portland, Maine. (You can get the report online, but it’ll cost ya.)

The report says that Wilson’s multiple roles at companies under backdating scrutiny — i.e. serving as outside counsel while Wilson partners simultaneously sat on the board that awarded stock options to the law firm — could spell trouble for their clients.


Gay Marriage Judge Faces November Ballot

October 6, 2006

An overlooked tidbit regarding the First District’s ruling against gay marriage: William McGuiness, author of the majority opinion, is on the ballot for retention this November.

Appellate justices must run for retention every 12 years, meaning they must secure a majority of “yes” votes to stay on the bench. Few issues fuel as much passionate disagreement as gay marriage, and so with yesterday’s ruling, McGuiness just inserted himself in the middle.


What’s a Lawyer Joke Between Lefty Friends?

September 29, 2006

You know it’s a lefty crowd when radio personality Will Durst kills the room with this line about Dick Cheney: “I did love that he shot a lawyer in the face and got him to apologize.” On second thought, that would probably go down well with any group save the Bar Association, but such was the tenor inside the gilded Grand Lake Theater in Oakland Wednesday at an event organized by Progressive Action: East Bay.


Never Know Who You’ll Meet in the Buffet Line

September 22, 2006

South Bay lawyers packed the offices of McManis, Faulkner & Morgan Thursday night for the firm’s 35th anniversary shindig (free buffet included). As the assorted legal luminaries (California Supreme Court Justice Ming Chin, local civil guru Allen Ruby) got their groove on, Legal Pad was more interested in an elderly couple who seemed out of place among the zippy Valley types.

Turns out the petite woman in the gray slacks and blue blazer — with a flourishing silver “G” pin on the lapel — was none other than former San Jose Mayor Janet Gray Hayes. Her 1974 election marked the first time a major American city chose a female mayor, and at the time, she represented a liberal break from San Jose’s old political guard.

She was accompanied Thursday by her husband Kenneth, a trim gentleman with short gray hair. What were they doing at the party?

“My case is the longest running litigation Jim McManis has,” Hayes said. After she left office, the mayor said a historical publication falsely described her as an avowed homosexual. As she recounted this to Legal Pad while waiting in the food line, Hayes’ husband slowly shook his head. “You can imagine how I took this,” Kenneth said.

Hayes said she is still fighting the insurance companies for damages. McManis confirmed her claim is his longest active case, having started in 1991.

Dan Levine

Lerach in a Hard Place

September 13, 2006

Stick Bill Lerach in a den of corporate defense lawyers — with the atmosphere heavy from stock option backdating probes, not to mention the SEC enforcement attorneys in the room — and one could expect at least a few taut exchanges. Indeed, on a securities litigation panel yesterday in San Francisco sponsored by the Practicing Law Institute, the head of plaintiff firm Lerach Coughlin Stoia Geller Rudman & Robbins proved a rumpled foil for his sleeker counterparts.

Lerach, of course, argued his securities class actions serve the public good by forcing corporate boards to be more ethical — though at one point, he did digress into more personal motivations: “Hey, we all gotta eat.”


Timestamp May Be Best Backdating Defense

August 29, 2006

As Cal Law readers now know, medical device maker Heartport exhibited curious stock option grant timing in the late 1990s. Of seven grants to executives between 1996 and 1999, four came at 90-day lows, the odds of which stand at an improbable 385,000 to one.

Among the three grants that didn’t come at a nadir, though, one came the day before an annual low. On July 15, 1996 — when the stock traded at $21.75 — two Heartport executives got more than 500,000 shares combined. The stock bottomed out at $21.25 and then went on a rampage, topping $35 by the middle of October.     

Shady, right?


Fun With Campaign Cash

August 16, 2006

Fact No. 1: San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi is running unopposed for a second term.

Fact No. 2: He plans to raise $50,000 for his re-election campaign.

Asked why Adachi feels the need to muster money for a campaign that is now a nonevent, the public defender said he still feels it important to ask the public for its vote. The campaign is also a chance to educate people about the duties of his office and to reach out to the community, he said. “A lot of people don’t realize the public defender is an elected office,” Adachi continued. “You still have to be accountable to the voters.”

As for the cynical view that he is just as interested in raising his own profile (he is often mentioned as a possible 2011 mayoral candidate), Adachi acknowledged he might face that criticism. Yet he reiterated his argument that voters shouldn’t be taken for granted. Adachi also noted he isn’t the first elected lawyer to raise money without an opponent: City Attorney Dennis Herrera did the same last year, spending roughly $300,000 for his re-election campaign. The public defender said he won’t spend nearly that much.

— Dan Levine 

Trolling for Dollars (Oaktown Style)

April 20, 2006

For a guy mounting an anti-war primary campaign against U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., a Bay Area stop is a fundraising must. So businessman Ned Lamont swept through town yesterday, attending one event at Rubicon in San Francisco before hustling across the bridge for another at the Uptown Nightclub in Oakland.

Under a bank of yellow stage lights, he treated more than 25 political watchers at the Uptown to his standard stump speech, lambasting Lieberman for questioning the patriotism of those who oppose the war in Iraq. Lamont is considered a long shot to replace the well-funded incumbent, but his campaign has proved more vigorous than anticipated. Lieberman recently declared he will run as an independent if he loses the primary, which made observers take Lamont even more seriously.

Among the gushing spectators was lawyer Spencer Weisbroth, now the business affairs director for Grammy-award winning Kronos Quartet. “It’s very refreshing to hear a Democrat talk like a Democrat,” Weisbroth said. Lamont heads to Los Angeles today in what campaign manager Tom Swan calls a “seed planting” swing. The campaign hopes to raise at least $250,000 in California.

Dan Levine