Risk Update

Disqualification News: Judges & Experts Edition

Judge kicks himself off felon voting-rights case after defendant’s ‘deeply troubling’ legal maneuver” —

  • “A federal judge in Florida won’t be hearing a challenge to a restrictive Florida voting law because of a litigant’s choice of counsel.”
    “The consolidated cases before Walker challenged a Florida law creating hurdles for felons who want to vote. Lawmakers passed the law after voters approved a state constitutional amendment to restore voting rights to people convicted of most felonies.”
  • “Walker noted that one of the defendants, the Broward County supervisor of elections, had hired George Meros of Holland & Knight to represent him. Walker’s wife is a partner at Holland & Knight. Walker said the ‘conduct at issue is deeply troubling.’ In a footnote, he referred to a Florida ethics rule that says lawyers should not engage in conduct in connection with law practice that is prejudicial to the administration of justice.”
  • “A spokesperson for the Broward elections supervisor told the Sun-Sentinel and the Tampa Bay Times that Holland & Knight was not hired as a mechanism to get Walker removed from the case. The elections supervisor, Pete Antonacci, has known and worked with Meros since 1997, said spokesperson Steve Vancore.”

Bill Freivogel notes one expert and one judge-related matter of note:

  • Youngevity Int’l v. Smith, 2019 WL 2918161 (S.D. Cal. July 5, 2019). In this Lanham Act case Plaintiff moved to exclude expert testimony of Expert, primarily on Daubert grounds. One basis for the motion was that Expert was an owner of a related company. In denying the motion, the court said whether Expert has a conflict “goes to the weight and credibility” of his testimony, “rather than its admissibility.” [BF: Almost all expert disqualifications turn on the expert’s current or former relationship with the opposing party. In those cases admissibility is the test.]”
  • Abt v. Abt, 2019 ABQB 454 (CanLII)(Ct. Q.B. Alb. June 21, 2019). Matrimonial matter. Lawyer No. 1 represented W for 15 months until he became a judge. Lawyer 1’s legal assistant (“LA”) was with him that entire time. LA worked on that file and communicated with W. LA worked for H’s lawyer, Lawyer No. 2, for three weeks earlier this year and had “direct involvement” with H’s file. W moved to disqualify Lawyer No. 2. In this opinion the court denied the motion. LA swore she remembered nothing about the case from her time with Lawyer No. 1. Lawyer No. 2 declared that he learned nothing about the case from LA.”