Risk Update

Lawyer Conflicts Clashes — Tucker Carlson Conflict Called, FTX Fights Firm, Epstein Case Conflict Called Not

Last week: “Baker McKenzie Should Drop Tucker Carlson, Ex-Fox Producer Says” —

  • “Tucker Carlson risks being dumped by the lawyers defending him in a suit by a former Fox News producer, thanks to his recent firing, an attorney for the producer says.”
  • “Baker McKenzie lawyers are currently representing Carlson and Fox News in the civil suit filed by Abby Grossberg, the former head of booking for Fox’s ‘Tucker Carlson Tonight’ program. Grossberg’s lawyer says that presents a conflict, now that Carlson has accused Fox of fraud and breach of contract stemming from his April 24 firing.”
  • “‘It is our belief that Mr. Carlson may need to obtain independent legal counsel, given the conflictual nature of his relationship with his now former employer Fox News Network,’ Parisis Filippatos said in a May 9 letter to Judge Jesse Furman.”
  • “Grossberg alleges in her lawsuit that Carlson and others at Fox fostered an ‘overtly misogynistic work environment’ and that she suffered ‘countless’ examples of sexism and antisemitism while employed by the news network.”
  • “Filippatos, a White Plains, N.Y. employment lawyer, said Baker McKenzie ‘seems to be engaged in a likely conflict’ that could harm his client by delaying the case.”
  • “Filippatos in a May 5 letter to Evans and Katzenstein, cited separate leaks of racist statements by Carlson, which Filippatos said ‘presumably’ came from the network. The leaks ‘clearly indicate the existence of an inherent and unwaivable conflict of interest between Fox News and Mr. Carlson, which would make your joint representation of those two parties highly problematic for various reasons.'”

And then, on Sunday: “Baker McKenzie Drops Tucker Carlson in Fox Discrimination Suit” —

  • “Baker McKenzie is dropping former Fox News star Tucker Carlson as a client after a former producer argued the firm had engaged in a conflict by also representing Fox.”
  • “‘Mr. Carlson will be represented by separate counsel in this matter, who will enter an appearance reflecting as much,’ New York-based Baker partner Paul Evans wrote to US District Court Judge Jesse Furman on Friday.”

Judge rejects bid to disqualify JPMorgan’s law firm in Epstein litigation” —

  • “A federal judge on Thursday rejected an effort to disqualify the law firm defending JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N) against a lawsuit by women who claim they were abused by Jeffrey Epstein and that the bank aided in the late financier’s sex trafficking.”
  • “U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff in Manhattan said the firm WilmerHale did not have a conflict of interest because it once represented an anti-sex trafficking group that supported Courtney Wild, one of Epstein’s accusers.”
  • “Rakoff also found no proof Wild gave WilmerHale confidential information that was material to the JPMorgan case, and said the bank would suffer “great prejudice” from being disqualified “so late in this litigation,” five months before the Oct. 23 trial.”

Previously: “Law firm for JPMorgan in Epstein case fights disqualification bid” —

  • “Law firm Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr pushed back on Monday against an effort to bar the firm from defending JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N) in a lawsuit accusing the bank of helping to facilitate late financier Jeffrey Epstein’s abuse of women and girls.”
  • “WilmerHale lawyers said in a court filing that the firm’s past work for an anti-sex trafficking organization that supported an alleged Epstein victim, Courtney Wild, was ‘unrelated to and had nothing to do’ with the case against JPMorgan, which was brought by a different Epstein accuser in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.”
  • “WilmerHale lawyers authored a friend-of-the-court brief in 2021 on behalf of the anti-trafficking organization ECPAT-USA urging the U.S. Supreme Court to take up an appeal by Wild, who had sued to invalidate a 2007 non-prosecution deal between Epstein and U.S. prosecutors.”
  • “WilmerHale said in Monday’s filing that it did not represent Wild and that its work with ECPAT-USA was limited to filing the Supreme Court brief on a legal issue unrelated to the JPMorgan case. The firm argued that ECPAT-USA as an outside organization was not directly involved in Wild’s case.”
  • “WilmerHale attorneys accused the plaintiff of ‘gamesmanship’ in attempting to disqualify JPMorgan’s preferred law firm.”

FTX’s law firm is back in the cross-hairs as Bankman-Fried kicks off defense” —

  • “Indicted FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried has renewed his attacks on the bankrupt cryptocurrency exchange’s law firm as he mounts his defense against a raft of fraud, money laundering and campaign finance charges.”
  • “Bankman-Fried late Monday asked a judge to designate FTX’s current leadership and the exchange’s attorneys at law firm Sullivan & Cromwell as part of the ‘prosecution team’ in the criminal case against him.”
  • “FTX and Sullivan & Cromwell provided such extensive cooperation to the government that prosecutors had ‘effectively deputized the company to aid the prosecution,’ Bankman-Fried argued.”
  • “Sullivan & Cromwell, a prominent Wall Street law firm with about 900 lawyers, represented FTX on transactions and regulatory matters before its collapse last year. The firm secured court approval in January to advise FTX in its bankruptcy, overcoming objections from some FTX creditors and U.S. lawmakers that its past work created a conflict of interest.”
  • “Bankman-Fried publicly assailed Sullivan & Cromwell following the exchange’s collapse, claiming the firm rushed FTX into bankruptcy and downplayed its prior work for the exchange. The firm has denied the claims.”
  • “Monday’s filing in Manhattan federal court indicated that the one-time crypto billionaire would target Sullivan & Cromwell and current FTX CEO John Ray in his criminal defense as well.”
  • “If the judge grants Bankman-Fried’s request to designate them as part of the prosecution, they would be required to turn over any documents relevant to the case, including evidence that potentially bolsters Bankman-Fried’s defense. Normally only prosecutors face that obligation.”