Risk Update

Conflicts Contentions — A Fight Over a Firm (and More), Judicial Grandchild Conflicts Concerns, Trump Allegations

Attorney appointed to represent Peter Angelos denies having conflicts of interest” —

  • “The attorney appointed to represent Orioles owner Peter Angelos in his family’s fight over his fortune has rejected a move to disqualify him from the case, calling allegations that he has conflicts of interest ‘absurd’ and a ‘distraction.'”
  • “Angelos, 93, has been incapacitated by illness for several years, and his younger son Louis sued his mother, Georgia, and brother, John, the chairman and CEO of the Orioles, in June over control of the team, the family patriarch’s renowned law firm and other assets. Georgia Angelos subsequently sued Louis Angelos, likening his transfer of the law firm from his father to himself to elder abuse.”
  • “Georgia Angelos has been trying to dissolve or sell the decades-old firm, while Louis Angelos, who has been managing the practice since his father fell ill, has fought to keep it in operation.”
  • “In a court filing Friday, Benjamin Rosenberg said the attempt to disqualify him is part of Louis Angelos’ ‘increasingly desperate effort’ to conceal the finances of the law firm, which is currently much smaller than at its peak when it won billions of dollars in awards and settlements for victims of asbestos and tobacco.”
  • “Rosenberg, who was appointed by Baltimore County Circuit Judge Keith R. Truffer in October to represent Peter Angelos, said in court documents that he needs information about the firm’s finances and cases to develop an informed opinion on the dispute over its future.”
  • “But Louis Angelos has long refused to share that information, as far back as 2019 with his mother and her advisers as they sought to shut down the firm, and now with Rosenberg, he said in the most recent filing.”
  • “Louis Angelos’ attorney, Jeffrey E. Nusinov, is seeking to disqualify Rosenberg from the case, saying he has a personal ‘animus’ against the Angelos law firm because it once sued one of his law partners, a close friend. Additionally, Nusinov argued, the firm Rosenberg founded, Rosenberg Martin Greenberg, had represented a company, Bestwall, that accused the Angelos firm of failing to fully disclose evidence in its asbestos-related bankruptcy case.”
  • “That should disqualify Rosenberg from now being allowed to ‘rummage around’ in the Angelos firm’s records, Nusinov wrote in a motion to remove Rosenberg from the current case.”
  • “Rosenberg countered in his filing that he was not involved in the Bestwall case, which was largely handled by a partner who has since left the firm. Rosenberg Martin had a limited role in Bestwall’s bankruptcy case — it was retained by a Charlotte, North Carolina-based firm to act as local counsel — and that ended on Aug. 25, he wrote.”
  • “Rosenberg also questioned the timing of Nusinov’s attempt to disqualify him, more than three weeks after he was appointed to represent Peter Angelos. Rosenberg said Nusinov could have objected to his appointment in October but didn’t, and is only now raising the alleged conflicts to give his client a ‘tactical’ advantage in the dispute over access to the Angelos firm’s finances.”

For those raising eyebrow’s at a certain story last week, comes New York “Judicial Ethics Opinion 22-78” —

  • “A full-time judge’s non-lawyer grandchild, a college student, expects to work for a local law firm as a paid temporary clerical intern during the summer. The judge will not hear any cases involving the law firm during the internship, but asks if it is necessary to disqualify in matters involving this law firm after the internship ends.”
  • “In particular, a judge must not allow family, social, political or other relationships to influence the judge’s judicial conduct or judgment (see 22 NYCRR 100.2[B]). Therefore, a judge must disqualify from any proceeding in which the judge’s impartiality ‘might reasonably be questioned’ (22 NYCRR 100.3[E][1]), including where the judge knows that a sixth-degree relative ‘has an interest that could be substantially affected by the proceeding’ (22 NYCRR 100.3[E][1][d][iii]) or that a fourth-degree relative ‘is acting as a lawyer in the proceeding or is likely to be a material witness in the proceeding’ (22 NYCRR 100.3[E][1][e]).”
  • “We have previously considered the effect of a judge’s child’s temporary employment as a law student intern or summer associate with a law firm. We determined that where the judge’s child completes the summer associate program and does not contemplate future full-time employment with that firm after law school graduation, the judge’s obligations depend on whether the judge’s child was involved in the particular case before the judge.”
  • “If so, the judge is disqualified in the matter, subject to remittal where available (see Opinion 11-94; 22 NYCRR 100.3[F]). We explained in a footnote that ‘the judge may rely on his/her child to inform him/her of the cases in which the child was involved, without further inquiry,’ unless the judge learns otherwise ‘during the normal course of a proceeding’ (Opinion 11-94 fn 2). In other cases involving that law firm, where the judge’s child had no involvement, the judge need not disqualify or disclose the child’s former association with the law firm as a summer associate (id.).”
  • “However, we have not previously considered a judge’s obligations when the judge’s child or grandchild has an internship with a law firm as an undergraduate, doing clerical work.”

Trump ‘Paying for the Silence’ of Mar-a-Lago Witnesses—Former Prosecutor” —

  • “A former federal prosecutor has suggested there could be a conflict of interest to Donald Trump’s political action committee paying the legal fees for key witnesses in the former president’s classified documents criminal case.”
  • “Jim Walden was reacting to the reports that Trump’s Save America PAC is supplying lawyers to represent two people connected to the investigation into whether the former president mishandled top secret materials recovered from his Mar-a-Lago resort in August, and also attempted to obstruct the federal attempt to retrieve the documents.”
  • “According to The Washington Post, Trump’s PAC has paid more than $120,000 to the Brand Woodward Law firm, which is now representing witnesses Kash Patel, a close adviser of Trump, and Walt Nauta.”
  • “Trump is accused of telling Nauta to move boxes of documents into a storage room at his Florida resort after the former president received a government subpoena to return them in May.”
  • “‘It looks like the Trump political action committee is either paying for the silence of these witnesses, for them to take the Fifth, or for favorable testimony,’ Walden said. ‘These circumstances should look very suspicious to the Justice Department, and there’s a judicial mechanism for them to get court oversight if there’s a conflict.'”