Risk Update

Risk Update — Conflicts and Litigation Funding, R. Kelly Lawyer Conflicts Allegations

It’s Official: New Jersey Federal Courts Will Require Disclosure of Litigation Funding Arrangements” —

  • “The new rule says lawyers who get financial assistance from nonparties for legal fees and expenses must disclose the funder’s name and address, whether the funder’s approval is needed for litigation or settlement decisions, and what terms and conditions apply to such approvals.”
  • “Some critics have questioned the need for a rule mandating disclosure of litigation funding arrangements. But litigation funding is also facing criticism from the U.S Chamber of Commerce, which argues that such funding leads to meritless litigation, and will make settling suits more difficult.”
  • “Steven Richman, chair of the subcommittee that formulated the rule, said, ‘I’m pleased with the result. Our rule strikes the balance that was needed between those who were concerned that it would open up the floodgates of disclosure, and those who felt we needed to provide certain basic information.'”
  • “And Kerri Chewning, president of the Association of the Federal Bar of New Jersey, said the proposal hadn’t generated much feedback or interest among that group’s members. Chewning, of Archer in Haddonfield, who is also a member of the lawyers advisory committee, said she understood the purpose of the rule to help trial judges avoid a conflict of interest when parties in their court is using a litigation funder. A judge might own stock in a bank or other company that is affiliated with a litigation funder but trades under another name, and the rule change would make it easier to spot such conflicts, Chewning said.”

Conflicts involving an R. Kelly lawyer arise ahead of his trial” —

  • “As R. Kelly shuffles his legal team two months ahead of trial, a federal judge is weighing potential conflicts involving one of his remaining attorney’s past interactions with potential witnesses who may be involved in the trial.”
  • “Kelly is awaiting US District Judge Ann Donnelly’s decision on a request from two of Kelly’s long-time Chicago-based attorneys, Steve Greenberg and Michael Leonard, to withdraw from the case. Kelly’s remaining attorneys, Thomas Farinella and Nicole Blank Becker, said in court last week that the singer had terminated Greenberg and Leonard. Donnelly in court asked to hear about concerns about alleged conflicts Becker may have before approving Greenberg and Leonard’s request to leave the case.”
  • “An attorney who represented the women at one time said in a declaration filed by Greenberg and Leonard that was read in court Thursday, that Becker gave ‘legal advice’ to the women, one of whom began cooperating with prosecutors in early 2020 after severing ties with Kelly. Becker denied in court that she gave the women legal advice.”
  • “Prosecutors in the hearing raised another allegation of a potential conflict by Kelly’s legal team: that an attorney helped facilitate payments to one of the women who Kelly lived with before his arrest and who may testify in his defense at trial.”
  • “Federal prosecutor Maria Cruz Melendez, of the US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, voiced concerns over the alleged payments, saying a jury may be misled into thinking that the payments incentivized the woman to testify for the defense. Becker denied ever facilitating payments to the woman on Kelly’s behalf.”
  • “Donnelly said she would not discuss another alleged conflict involving Becker that was raised by prosecutors in a sealed letter to the court. Sources confirmed to CNN the matter deals with an allegation that Becker was connected to an effort to pay to silence a victim who is cooperating with the government. CNN has reached out to Becker for comment on the claim.”