Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Success has a proud father, but failure is an orphan

When should lawyers get their name in the paper? I suppose it depends . . .

In today's Star, Dan Margolies' column consists of two stories. In the first, he covers a decision by the 8th Circuit to reverse a local trial judge's decision to dismiss a case for discovery abuse. The Eighth Circuit agreed that both sides had provoked the Judge Whipple, but felt that he should be recused on the case because he lost his temper toward the plaintiff.

None of the lawyers' names appear in the paper. I know and like both sides' attorneys, so I'm kind of glad that they dodged mention in this stinker of a case, but it seems an odd editorial decision to include this quotation:
“You didn’t hear enough with four phone conferences, and I’m sorry you missed one, with three, four, I kept telling you to produce stuff, expert stuff. You ducked. You wove. You did everything to keep from producing them. You go to the Eighth Circuit. They tell you to produce them, and you still god---- don’t produce them. Now what the hell do you not understand? You must produce them”,
and not mention who the "you" was. I completely understand that in many discovery disputes, the lawyer is caught in the hard place between a recalcitrant client and an angry court, but the inclusion of such a gem of a quotation without a clear pronoun reference is striking.

At the other end of the spectrum, Kansas City's largest law firm is featured glowingly in the very next item. We are told that "Shook Hardy & Bacon won a big victory in Florida last week in a smoker’s liability case." It's notable that Shook, not the client, won the big victory, because when the vedict goes the other way, it's the client's loss:
In February a Broward County jury ordered Philip Morris USA to pay $8 million, including $5 million in punitive damages, to the widow and son of a chain smoker of Benson & Hedges cigarettes, finding that Philip Morris showed a reckless disregard for the smoker’s safety. Shook represented Philip Morris in that case also.
In victory, Shook wins, but in defeat, Shook merely represents its client.

In summary, the lesson seems to be that if the judge is yelling at you, then only your client's name will show up in the paper. If a verdict goes in favor of your client, though, the victory is yours.

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8 Comments:

OpenID Eric Rogers said...

When Shook represents Big Tobacco, I'd say they lose either way.

3/31/2009 11:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

those of us who are lawyers are always looking for the names. the paper never runs them. to me, that's an important part of the story.

3/31/2009 11:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The media has a responsibility to report the names so the public can be informed enough to choose whether to retain the judges and/or be informed about the kind of representation they may expect from the attorney they may select.

3/31/2009 12:34 PM  
Anonymous Kingsfield said...

The public is as informed as it needs to be about retaining Judge Whipple, since he has a life appointment.

3/31/2009 12:42 PM  
Blogger Hyperblogal said...

Who what where why and when.... who is first.

3/31/2009 4:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

FYI, the AP (a solid news outlet) is reporting that Dem. Minority leader Paul Levota is under investigation by the FBI for the "pay for play" corruption investigation/bribes going on in Jeff City. This could get REAL ugly for the dems - and needless to say Levota.

House Minority leader denies accusations of bribes
Tuesday, March 31, 2009 | 9:12 p.m. CDT
BY Emily Coleman
JEFFERSON CITY – A report by The Associated Press naming the House Democratic leader as the a subject of FBI questioning prompted a hasty closed-door caucus of House Democrats Tuesday.

Democratic Leader Rep. Paul LeVota, D-Jackson County, told reporters afterward that he told his caucus he knew nothing of any FBI investigation involving the legislature.

On Sunday, the Kansas City Star cited unnamed legislators as saying the FBI had questioned them about "pay for play" schemes in the legislature. On Tuesday, The Associated Press cited two unnamed legislators as saying they were questioned about LeVota and linkages between campaign contributions and committee assignment.

The caucus was held just a few hours after The AP story broke.

"I told the caucus that the AP reporter came in, mentioned that two lawmakers mentioned my name to the FBI," LeVota said. "I told the caucus what I told the AP reporter that I don't know anything about the FBI, never talked to the FBI, never been a target of the FBI."

He denied the accusations and said he thinks caucus members are behind the accusation.

"I think that there are disgruntled members of the caucus who are fabricating things against me," LeVota said. "...either committee assignments or anything else. It could be a number of things. When you're minority leader, you've got to make some decisions that not everybody's happy with," LeVota said.

Ted Wedel, chief of staff to the office of the Minority Leader, refused to comment on the matter.

The Jackson County Democrat said no vote was taken during the caucus meeting.

A few lobbyists and legislators said they would not be surprised if there was a corruption investigation because of activities between lobbyists and a few legislators in the past couple of years.

Rep. Brian Yates, R-Jackson County, said that he is not surprised by the news.

"In the previous administration of our speaker, I believe there was some ethically challenged things going on, but I don't have any evidence of an actual crime being committed," said Yates.

At the time, Rep. Rod Jetton had run a political consulting company at the same time he had been House Speaker. He accepted consulting payments from legislators whose bills were assigned to committee by Jetton

3/31/2009 10:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's the text of the actual AP article on Levota and the FBI's ongoing investigation of him. Look's like Paul has had his hand in the old cookie jar down in Jeff City:

Sources: FBI probing Mo. pay-for-play allegations
By DAVID A. LIEB – 4 hours ago

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — The FBI is questioning Missouri lawmakers about allegations that legislative leaders demanded campaign contributions in exchange for prestigious committee posts, legislative sources told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

Two lawmakers said they specifically were asked about House Minority Leader Paul LeVota, a Democrat from Independence. Both spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the ongoing probe and because they didn't want colleagues to know they had spoken with federal investigators.

In an interview with the AP, LeVota said he has not been contacted by the FBI. He denied any wrongdoing and suggested the accusations stem from a disgruntled political rival.

The Kansas City Star first reported Sunday, citing anonymous sources, that the FBI is investigating alleged pay-for-play scenarios at the Missouri Capitol.

Bridget Patton, a spokesman for the FBI office in Kansas City whose jurisdiction includes Jefferson City, said Tuesday that she could neither confirm nor deny a public corruption investigation at the Missouri Capitol.

The investigation into alleged political favors dates at least to 2008, when House Speaker Rod Jetton, R-Marble Hill, was in charge of the chamber. Jetton, who did not seek re-election last year because of term limits, said he had not been contacted by the FBI.

One of the lawmakers who spoke on condition of anonymity told the AP he had been contacted by the FBI multiple times in 2008 and 2009 with questions about pay-for-play scenarios in the Capitol, including whether House committee assignments were offered in exchange for lawmakers contributing money to campaign committees. The lawmaker said the FBI's questions focused on LeVota and others in legislative leadership positions.

Another lawmaker told the AP about an interview with the FBI that occurred several weeks ago in the Capitol. That lawmaker also said the FBI asked specifically about whether LeVota had made committee assignments contingent upon lawmakers contributing money to Democratic campaign committees.

The lawmaker also said the FBI asked about an e-mail sent last year by LeVota on the letterhead of the Missouri House Democratic Campaign Committee.

The Sept. 22 letter, obtained by the AP, asks for donations of between $50 and $250 to help Democratic candidates. But instead of listing the address for the committee, which helps all Democratic House candidates, the bottom of the letter directed donations to LeVota's personal campaign committee in Independence.

LeVota told the AP that he "never asked anyone to give an amount for a committee spot whatsoever."

He said his personal campaign address was listed because it was sent under his mass e-mail account.

"Hindsight tells me I should have took it off for that request," said LeVota, who later added: "It was my intent to try to raise money for the HDCC."

LeVota's campaign committee contributed $35,000 for the 2008 elections to the House Democratic Campaign Committee, according to campaign finance reports filed with the Missouri Ethics Commission.

LeVota said he believed the FBI's apparent questions were prompted by a "political rival who's trying to throw me under the bus."

Copyright © 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

3/31/2009 11:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's the text of the actual AP article on Levota and the FBI's ongoing investigation of him. Look's like Paul has had his hand in the old cookie jar down in Jeff City:

Sources: FBI probing Mo. pay-for-play allegations
By DAVID A. LIEB – 4 hours ago

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — The FBI is questioning Missouri lawmakers about allegations that legislative leaders demanded campaign contributions in exchange for prestigious committee posts, legislative sources told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

Two lawmakers said they specifically were asked about House Minority Leader Paul LeVota, a Democrat from Independence. Both spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the ongoing probe and because they didn't want colleagues to know they had spoken with federal investigators.

In an interview with the AP, LeVota said he has not been contacted by the FBI. He denied any wrongdoing and suggested the accusations stem from a disgruntled political rival.

The Kansas City Star first reported Sunday, citing anonymous sources, that the FBI is investigating alleged pay-for-play scenarios at the Missouri Capitol.

Bridget Patton, a spokesman for the FBI office in Kansas City whose jurisdiction includes Jefferson City, said Tuesday that she could neither confirm nor deny a public corruption investigation at the Missouri Capitol.

The investigation into alleged political favors dates at least to 2008, when House Speaker Rod Jetton, R-Marble Hill, was in charge of the chamber. Jetton, who did not seek re-election last year because of term limits, said he had not been contacted by the FBI.

One of the lawmakers who spoke on condition of anonymity told the AP he had been contacted by the FBI multiple times in 2008 and 2009 with questions about pay-for-play scenarios in the Capitol, including whether House committee assignments were offered in exchange for lawmakers contributing money to campaign committees. The lawmaker said the FBI's questions focused on LeVota and others in legislative leadership positions.

Another lawmaker told the AP about an interview with the FBI that occurred several weeks ago in the Capitol. That lawmaker also said the FBI asked specifically about whether LeVota had made committee assignments contingent upon lawmakers contributing money to Democratic campaign committees.

The lawmaker also said the FBI asked about an e-mail sent last year by LeVota on the letterhead of the Missouri House Democratic Campaign Committee.

The Sept. 22 letter, obtained by the AP, asks for donations of between $50 and $250 to help Democratic candidates. But instead of listing the address for the committee, which helps all Democratic House candidates, the bottom of the letter directed donations to LeVota's personal campaign committee in Independence.

LeVota told the AP that he "never asked anyone to give an amount for a committee spot whatsoever."

He said his personal campaign address was listed because it was sent under his mass e-mail account.

"Hindsight tells me I should have took it off for that request," said LeVota, who later added: "It was my intent to try to raise money for the HDCC."

LeVota's campaign committee contributed $35,000 for the 2008 elections to the House Democratic Campaign Committee, according to campaign finance reports filed with the Missouri Ethics Commission.

LeVota said he believed the FBI's apparent questions were prompted by a "political rival who's trying to throw me under the bus."

Copyright © 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

3/31/2009 11:10 PM  

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