Risk Update

Conflicts Clashes — Improper Conduct + Conflict = Serious Sanctions, Trump Lawyer Conflicts Allegations (On Live TV), Trump Judge Judged

City of Atlanta Reaches $3.3M Settlement as Outside Counsel Hit With $584K Sanction” —

  • “More than a decade after an improperly working traffic signal contributed to a deadly crash, the city of Atlanta has settled a nuisance complaint for $3.35 million.”
  • “Plaintiff counsel credits the settlement as “the largest amount the city has ever paid to settle a personal injury [or] nuisance case,” but alleged the improper conduct of the defendant’s initial trial counsel has resulted in an additional $584,000 sanction for attorney fees and expenses.”
  • “Rogers said plaintiff counsel learned of multiple occasions leading to the date of their client’s January 2012 death ‘where employees had reported this signal, and others, not working.'”
  • “But it’s what the city’s outside defense counsel with Scrudder, Bass, Quillian, Horlock, Lazarus & Adele allegedly did after the jury had been selected that led the trial judge to later award a $584,000 sanction against it.”
  • “‘We spent two days picking a jury, only at the last minute to have counsel for the city stand up and announce they had just discovered a conflict and needed to withdraw from the case,’ Rogers said. Led by Matthew Lazarus, Scrudder Bass counsel allegedly refused to divulge to the court and opposing counsel the specifics of the conflict, according to plaintiff counsel.”
  • “When the city’s continued refusal resulted in Jacobs declaring a mistrial, plaintiff counsel said the trial judge issued its own sua sponte motion for sanctions against the city of Atlanta Law Department and Scrudder Bass. The court also allowed the Dietch + Rogers attorneys to conduct discovery to determine the conflict.”
  • “The conflict turned out to be time records that revealed a city employee had not worked on the dates relevant to two service requests that’d been submitted bearing her credentials.”
  • “But in his motion for sanctions, Jacobs determined ‘a review by Scrudder Bass and the City of Atlanta Law Department of the documents produced by their clients would have revealed the conflict years ago.'”
  • “‘These records were not obscured, as they had been the subject of pretrial motions and relied upon in eliciting deposition testimony,’ Jacobs’ sanctions order read. ‘The prospect that [the employee] might not have authored the Service Requests was specifically raised during her deposition almost four years prior to trial.'”
  • “Jacobs wrote that, because ‘the documents would and should have been in the possession of the City of Atlanta Law Department’ and ‘Scrudder Bass after their early 2018 entry of appearance,’ the firm’s discovery of the conflict ‘after the jury had been selected on March 2, 2022, rather than any point prior to trial cannot be the result of proper conduct.'”
  • “‘Of course, to be clear, the disclosure of the conflict itself is not what the Court finds improper,’ Jacobs wrote. ‘The Court finds improper the overall conduct surrounding the disclosure, i.e., the failure to timely disclose an apparent conflict to the point that a mistrial resulted when the necessary disclosure was made after a jury had been selected. There was ample opportunity for counsel to satisfy their real professional duties and obligations without necessitating a mistrial.'”

CNN anchor appears stunned as one Trump attorney throws another under the bus” —

  • “There was an odd moment of apparent legal one-up-manship on CNN during an interview regarding the representation of Donald Trump following his indictment.”
  • “Asked by CNN anchor Kaitlan Collins if Mr Tacopina was the ‘right person’ to defend the former president against the more than 30 charges purportedly in the sealed New York indictment, Mr Parlatore [one attorney for the former president] brought up a significant conflict of interest.”
  • “‘As to who’s going to try the case? I know that Joe has certain potential conflict issues, given his prior contacts, with Stormy Daniels. So, who’s the right attorney, to take it to trial, is something that the client will have to decide.'”
  • “Mr Parlatore walked back his reply when Collins pressed him on it and said he would not comment on Mr Tacopina, despite having just done so.”
  • “Mr Tacopina had exchanges with Ms Daniels in 2018 regarding potential representation and these were handed over to the Manhattan District Attorney’s office by her current lawyer Clark Brewster who sees them as a conflict of interest.”
  • “Mr Tacopina has denied any conflict of interest or that confidential information was shared with him or his office. He has also denied ever meeting or speaking with Ms Daniels.”
  • “In addition, in a 2018 appearance on CNN, Mr Tacopina seemed to criticise Mr Trump’s payments to Ms Daniels as potentially ‘illegal’ and a ‘fraud.'”

He already rocked MAGA world — twice. Now he’s Trump’s judge.” —

  • “Donald Trump fumed last week that the judge conducting his arraignment Tuesday — and likely overseeing his criminal trial — ‘HATES ME.'”]
  • “The basis for Trump’s assessment, made on Truth Social Friday, is that the judge, Juan Merchan, presided over two unrelated criminal tax fraud cases involving Trump’s real estate firm and his former CFO, both of which resulted in outcomes unfavorable to the defense. In the case of former CFO Allen Weisselberg, Merchan, citing corporate greed, said he would have imposed a ‘stiffer sentence’ than the five months jail time the ex-executive got from a plea deal.”
  • “Given that history, some New York lawyers suggested it would be bad optics for Merchan to preside over the new case against Trump. The court’s chief judge could intervene and handle the trial herself or replace Merchan with a different judge, according to a former court official.”
  • “But experts said there’s no legal basis to bar Merchan from presiding.”
  • “‘If there were some facts showing that the judge had become irrational or infuriated then there might be an argument, but simply having sat in these other cases is not grounds for disqualification,’ said Steven Lubert, co-author of ‘Judicial Conduct and Ethics.'”