Archive for the ‘Justin Scheck’ Category

Loveseth’s Clashes With Ryan to Pay Off

November 2, 2006

Defense attorney Ian Loveseth is due more than the satisfaction of winning two spats that have embarrassed U.S. Attorney Kevin Ryan — he’s finally going to get some money out of the government, too.

Earlier this week, Ryan’s office dropped a gun case against Loveseth client Lloyd Jamison after a prosecutor listened to taped conversations between the two — and after the prosecutors sparked an uproar by arguing in court that phone conversations between inmates and their attorneys aren’t subject to privilege. Satisfying as that must have been, it’s his other recent dustup with Ryan that’ll produce unusual monetary rewards.

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Milberg Probe Draws a Little More Attention

November 1, 2006

The Milberg Weiss case is making people jittery — again. Fortune Magazine wrote another big story on the saga (largely retread) and Fortune and the Daily Journal both wrote about the interesting presence of former Milberg expert witness John Torkelsen in downtown L.A. Long viewed by prosecutors as a key to the case, the expert, who was sentenced earlier this year to federal prison time in New Jersey, was moved to an L.A. facility weeks ago, ostensibly for a handwriting examplar. But his continued presence in SoCal has many lawyers in the case wondering if he’s flipped — or if prosecutors are just massaging him to coax out some bit of information.

In the meantime, Milberg’s lawyers are working hard to assert attorney-client privilege over any documents they can possibly fit under that umbrella, while prosecutors need to figure out if they can use the testimony of Steven Cooperman, the man who began the entire probe — or if his sketchy past makes him too tainted.

Lawyers involved with the case say the tension is unlikely to dissipate before the next big break — prosecutors risk judicial upset if they don’t file additional indictments by the end of the month.

Justin Scheck

 

Kevin Ryan’s Office Gets Emptier

October 27, 2006

Between the big trials, big investigations and big probes of his own managerial capability, U.S. Attorney Kevin Ryan’s had a lot on his mind lately. Look at this past week: While a task force investigated stock option backdating and two prosecutors from Ryan’s securities fraud unit wrapped up the trial of two former McKesson Corp. executives — the biggest white-collar trial the district has seen in years — other current and former assistant U.S. attorneys were being interviewed by DOJ staffers looking into whether there are problems with the office’s esprit de corps.

Of course, the bete noire in the long-running esprit de corps debate is attrition: While Ryan has insisted it’s no cause for concern, dozens of attorneys have departed the office since he took over in 2002, opening up the question of whether the office has suffered from the exodus of experienced prosecutors. That question just gets bigger:

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Bybee Takes Aim at Fan of Metal, Meth

October 24, 2006

Could there be a greater temperamental — and ideological — canyon than the one between Ninth Circuit Judges Stephen Reinhardt and Jay Bybee? The former was being called a liberal activist judge before Bybee was done with law school — and, one would hope, years before Bybee even considered signing the now-infamous 2002 Bush administration torture memo.

Combine those differences with some methamphetamine, heavy metal and murder, and you’ve got the makings of a good case (court .pdf).

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CPAs Grill Prosecutor, Partner on Backdating

October 24, 2006

Can you think of a more intimidating crowd than a roomful of accountants? They know all the issues, understand all the details, and can assail you with a stumper at any point in the question-and-answer session.

Still, Melinda Haag and Michael Wang — a defense lawyer and federal prosecutor, respectively — made an admirable showing Tuesday surrounded by the panoramic windows of the Carnelian Room, where they talked about stock option backdating before a group of CPAs. And while there’s been no shortage of verbiage on the subject of backdating over the past six months, the event put on by the California Society of Certified Public Accountants’ litigation section brought up some new questions, perhaps because of the crowd.

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Kevin Ryan: Cheap or Mean?

October 20, 2006

Got a big event on an important issue? Want the media there to get your message out? Well, here’s a statement you probably shouldn’t include in your press release: “Please arrive at 8:30 a.m. for set-up. Please bring valid press credentials. Lunch will be not be available for members of the press.”

Those are the closing words of an e-mail sent to journalists by a spokesman for U.S. Attorney Kevin Ryan, announcing a Northern California Gang Summit on Monday. And while the event sounds exciting — who wouldn’t want to wake up early to hear Sen. Dianne Feinstein bloviate on how to stop gang violence? — the absence of food for the hacks at an eight-hour event is a bit of a slight. Or, given Ryan’s prickly relationship with the press, a less-than-subtle way to discourage the Fourth Estate.

If there were food, you’d be able to read about the collected wisdom of would-be gang stoppers such as Feinstein, Ryan and Father Gregory Boyle of Homeboy Industries. We’re sorry not to provide full coverage — we just couldn’t stomach it.

Justin Scheck

Ninth Circuit More Receptive Than Angry Alsup

October 19, 2006

It’s not saying much that San Francisco federal prosecutors’ arguments in a big gang case got a better reception before a three-judge Ninth Circuit panel Thursday than they did this summer from U.S. District Judge William Alsup.

At a withering July hearing, Alsup pulled up about two invectives short of a full-out conniption as he harangued prosecutors for violating his ruling to turn over discovery material under a protective order — and suggesting he sanction them by precluding the death penalty against some of the gaggle of defendants. (more…)

Sex-case Lawyer Claims Cops Were Johns

October 17, 2006

While a sensational sex-trafficking case seems to have lost some of its salacious appeal, the attorney for a defendant in the case is trying to put some sizzle back in — by suggesting the cops were also customers at an alleged brothel connected to the case.

For San Francisco federal prosecutors, the press release last summer announcing 29 arrests seems to have been the high point for Operation Gilded Cage. Since then, what started out as a massive alien smuggling/sex trafficking prosecution has been reduced — through a series of dismissals and guilty pleas to lesser charges — to a prostitution ring case garnished with some alien harboring charges.

If Steven Gruel has his way, the lofty language of that July 1, 2005, press release (the prosecution “is a testament to the FBI’s commitment in investigating sophisticated human trafficking cases. These alleged illicit activities erode our social fabric and feed the coffers of many criminal enterprises,” FBI Special Agent Arthur Balizan is quoted as saying) will come back to haunt the government.

Gruel represents Anthony Lau, a defendant in the case, and he’s attached the press statement as an exhibit to his latest pleading, which calls into question a government search warrant with a verve rarely seen in court papers.

Gruel calls into question the government’s evidence to justify the search, and says its investigative work was limited to figuring out where Lau lived. “That’s it!” Gruel wrote.

But the most interesting point he makes in the filing comes later on. As support for his request for a hearing to determine whether investigators acted improperly in getting their warrant, Gruel writes that “Law enforcement were ‘customers’ at the Golden Flower,” Lau’s alleged brothel.

“According to the prosecution’s witness reports, individuals employed in law enforcement were ‘customers’ at the Golden Flower. The Lau defense is investigating these government reports to determine what impact this shocking information has on [FBI] Agent Rhea’s representations, and/or omissions, from his master affidavit,” Gruel wrote. But that’s all he says on the point. Reached by phone Tuesday, Gruel said he couldn’t make the discovery public, but is continuing to look into the matter.

Justin Scheck

Beginning of the End of L.A.’s Detective Scandal?

October 17, 2006

The private eye scandal that promised to devastate L.A.’s legal community hasn’t really delivered: Aside from high-profile litigator Terry Christensen, few of the people indicted for allegedly hiring detective Anthony Pellicano to engage in illegal wiretapping register on the legal radar screen. It’s not so surprising in hindsight that they seem to be the types that we outside L.A. imagine as crowding the margins of Hollywood — people clawing for a buck at the periphery of celebrity.

Over the last few weeks, though, as prosecutors and defense lawyers try to work out a trial date for Christensen — the erstwhile lead partner at the firm now known as Christensen, Glaser, Fink, Jacobs, Weil & Shapiro — rumblings in the L.A. bar have begun about a new wave of subpoenas sent out to attorneys at Greenberg Glusker, one of L.A.’s top firms and the home of Bertram Fields, the famed entertainment litigator.

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Will Being Everywhere Get Wilson Nowhere?

October 13, 2006

Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati has long profited from being in the heart of Silicon Valley’s business community — and representing a large percentage of the Valley’s most successful companies. Now, plaintiff lawyers are trying to use that seeming omnipresence to kick Wilson out of a high-profile piece of litigation over the still-metastasizing stock option backdating scandal.

In a derivative case against several former Mercury Interactive officers in Santa Clara County Superior Court, lawyers with Lerach Coughlin Stoia Geller Rudman & Robbins late last month filed a motion to disqualify Wilson partner Jared Kopel from the case. Kopel represents former Mercury COO Kenneth Klein. The purported conflict, the Lerach firm wrote in a court filing (.pdf), is based on the fact that Wilson also represents Hewlett-Packard, which is close to acquiring Mercury.

Since Mercury has joined in the litigation against Klein and other former officers — and HP will have to decide whether to continue pressing those claims — the Lerach firm says Wilson is in a position to be representing litigants on both sides of the case, and that Kopel’s request to stay the case until the HP merger is complete is a strategy growing out of that conflict. “In light of Klein’s continuous efforts to stall this litigation, it begs the question as to whether Klein, and Wilson Sonsini on behalf of Klein, engaged in these tactics precisely because both knew that the HP/Mercury merger was on the horizon, thus possibly providing Klein with a way out of this litigation without any adjudication of his fault,” Lerach wrote in his brief.

Justin Scheck