Risk Update

Risk News — State and Local Conflicts Clashes, Law Firm Tik Tok “Conflicts” and Concerns

City seeks outside counsel to handle Cincinnati Southern Railway board ouster demand” —

  • “Cincinnati’s top lawyer is in the midst of hiring law firms ‒ at taxpayer expense – to figure out how to handle a request that Cincinnati City Council remove the five board members who oversee the Cincinnati Southern Railway.”
  • “Former Republican state Rep. Tom Brinkman, acting as a city taxpayer, sent a letter alleging the board failed to protect taxpayer interests when negotiating the proposed $1.6 billion sale of the city-owned railroad to Norfolk Southern Corp. The deal needs voter approval sometime in the next year and a half.”
  • “The city’s municipal code gives the city solicitor the power to ask City Council to remove board members if he or she believes there’s an issue. But the city solicitor’s office also represents the board in legal matters.”
  • “City Solicitor Emily Smart Woerner told the lawyer for the citizen in a letter dated May 3 she wanted to get an outside opinion. She wrote that she wanted to ‘ensure that I am providing the best advice and counsel to the city, and to avoid an appearance of any conflict of interest.'”
  • “She said she plans to hire two firms to handle the matter. Taft Stettinius & Hollister would represent the city, with the contract stating no more than $40,000 would be spent on this matter and an unrelated matter. Squire Patton Boggs would represent the rail board, with no more than $35,000 spent on this matter. The latter must be approved by the rail board.”
  • “Brinkman, who lives in the city’s Mount Lookout neighborhood, last month requested Woerner remove board members after it came to light the board accepted $500,000 less than first promised as part of the deal’s upfront transaction fee, which was first reported by The Enquirer.”
  • “Members of the Cincinnati Southern Railway Board − former Cincinnati mayors Charlie Luken and Mark Mallory, former Councilwoman Amy Murray, CPA Paul Sylvester, and Muething, an attorney − voted in November to sell the city-owned railroad to Norfolk Southern for $1.6 billion instead of leasing the railroad to the company as it has for years. The plan is to create a trust with the money and then give the city of Cincinnati money from the trust’s investments to repair infrastructure.”

Conflict of interest reportedly cited by Chesterfield’s top prosecutor in cases involving former Va. Beach delegate, but to what extent?” —

  • “Former Virginia State Delegate Tim Anderson is speaking out after a reported conflict of interest was raised in Chesterfield General District Court Thursday with the county’s top prosecutor.”
  • “In a social media post, Anderson said that Chesterfield County Commonwealth’s Attorney Stacey Davenport had ‘declared a permanent ethical conflict and that no prosecutor in Chesterfield can be involved in any case I have because of my public criticism of her in the John Blanchard case.'”
  • “Although Thursday’s court appearance was not related to the solicitation of prostitution case against Virginia Beach Pastor John Blanchard, Anderson said that Blanchard’s case was the source of the conflict that was mentioned. It was reportedly raised because Anderson, an attorney, was working as defense counsel for a suspect appearing in Chesterfield General District Court when a representative from Davenport’s office shared the concern about a conflict of interest before presiding Judge Keith Hurley.”
  • “Anderson told 8News on Monday that he was handling two cases out of Chesterfield County last week. ‘The Commonwealth’s Attorney refused to handle either and said they needed special prosecutors for both cases,’ he said. ‘Because I have publicly criticized Stacey Davenport in the performance of her office involving the John Blanchard case, that I’m penalized now, that I can’t work with any prosecutor in her office forever, that a permanent conflict exists.'”
  • “Anderson said that the prosecutor in court Thursday did not explicitly list Blanchard’s case as a reason for the conflict of interest, but instead referenced Anderson’s criticism of Davenport and a previous instance of saying that she had lied.”

While Montana just banned tik tok (and some may have ‘client OCG bans firm installation/use of tik tok app on their risk bingo cards): “Big Law Lawyers Are on TikTok. Their Firms Are Conflicted” —

  • “Priscilla Hamilton, an associate at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett who posts content to TikTok under the name ‘legallypriscilla,’ was approached by a brand to do a paid post, she said in a series of now deleted videos. Hamilton said her firm, which she did not name in her videos, told her that doing so was a conflict of interest. Hamilton also said she was also told that any paid partnerships she submits would be rejected ‘even if there’s no conflict of interest.'”
  • “‘Simpson Thacher does not permit employees to get paid to promote products or brands, in order to avoid potential business or legal conflicts with our current and future clients, in accordance with applicable law,’ the firm said in a statement. It added that it does not comment on any specific personnel matters.”
  • “Tirtasaputra said she’s connected with potential clients through the TikTok app, and some of her videos have influenced people to apply for Fox Rothschild’s fellowship program. At a recent recruitment event at UCLA, she was recognized by some law students who said they were expressly interested in the firm because of her account.”
  • “Fox Rothschild doesn’t discourage the use of social media, said its chief business officer Holly Lentz Kleeman, but any brand advocacy or sponsorship opportunities go through formal conflicts review process through its general counsel.”