Category Archives: Judicial

MISSISSIPPI SUPREME COURT JUSTICE JAMES E. GRAVES, JR.’S NOMINATION TO THE U.S. COURT OF APPEALS CONFIRMED BY UNITED STATES SENATE

The United States Senate confirmed Mississippi Supreme Court Justice James Graves nomination to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.  Congratulations, Justice Graves.

U.S. Senate to Consider Justice James E. Graves, Jr.’s Nomination on Monday

According to the The Hill’s Floor Action Blog , the U.S. Senate is scheduled to consider Mississippi Supeme Court Justice James E. Graves, Jr.’s nomination to the United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday, February 14, 2011 at 4:30 p.m. with a voice vote to follow at 5:30 p.m.

Vote on Justice James E. Graves, Jr. and Other Judicial Nominees Delayed

Republican Senator Chuck Grassley delayed a Judiciary Committee vote on Justice James E. Graves, Jr.’s nomination and several others today.  Senator Grassley delayed the vote until next week when new mmbers of the committee will be named.  Senator Patrick Leahy expressed frustration at the delay on the nominees and called it demeaning.  Leahy specifically pointed out that Justice Graves nomination should have gone forward because he has the support of Mississippi’s two Republican Senators and Mississippi’s Republican Governor Haley Barbour.  The Washington Times reports  Senator Leahy said to Senator Grassley and the other GOP committee members  “I’m disappointed.  I’ll let you call Governor Barbour and explain why [a vote on Graves nomination] didn’t happen.”

Clearly, the Senators appear to be frustrated with their ability to move forward with Graves and the other judicial nominees.  Hopefully, the Committee will move quickly and smoothly next week to approve Justice Graves’ nomination.

Mississippi Supreme Court Justice James Graves Scheduled For Judicial Re-Nomination Vote

I learned from Glenn Sugameli today that Mississippi Supreme Court Justice James E. Graves, Jr. has been placed on the agenda of the Senate Judiciary Committee for a Committee Executive Business Meeting to vote on judicial renominees who had hearings and unanimous committee votes in the last Congress.  The Committee is scheduled to vote on Thursday, January 27, 2011 at 10:00 a.m.

For a detailed history regarding Justice Grave’s nomination, please see the nomination’s history  here.

Carlton Reeves Confirmed as U.S. District Judge in Mississippi

Today, by unanimous vote, the U.S. Senate Confirmed Carlton Reeves of Jackson, Mississippi as the newest U.S. District Judge in Mississippi.  Reeves becomes the second African American U.S. District Judge in Mississippi.

Mississippi Jury Hits Chicago Based Law Firm With Staggering $103 Million Dollar Verdict

For the second time this year, a Mississippi jury has awarded a verdict in excess of one hundred million dollars.  Earlier this year, Ford was handed a $131 million dollar verdict in Jasper County, Mississippi.  Last week, a Jones County, Mississippi jury rendered a $103 million dollar verdict against Baker & McKenzie, a Chicago based law firm.  Mississippi blogger Philip Thomas of Mississippi Litigation Review first published reports of the verdict.  The judgment was also entered against one of its partners, Joel Held.   Baker & McKenzie has been ranked by the American Lawyers Global 100 Issue as the largest law firm in the world (based on gross revenue) with 2009 gross revenues of $2.104 billion dollars.

The suit was brought by S. Lavon Evans, Jr. who owned a drilling company.   Evans was introduced to Mr. Held by Reed Cagle who was already being represented by Mr. Held.  The complaint alleged that Mr. Held and his firm represented the two business partners simultaneously but ultimately acted to benefit Mr. Cagle at the expense of Mr. Evans.  As a result of the alleged conflict,  Mr. Evans claimed that his assets were used to obtain millions of dollars in loans for his insolvent business partner Mr. Cagle.  According to the Plaintiff’s allegations, after he discovered the schemed, the Defendants engaged in a litigation strategy designed to destroy him.  He accused the Defendants of working with Mr. Cagle to create separate legal entities which enabled his partner to use his collateral without the knowledge of the Plaintiff.  He sued for actual damages of $150 million dollars.

According to published reports, Baker & McKenzie and Mr. Held disagree with the verdict and plan to appeal.

Federal Judge Encourages Class Action Lawyers To Include Minorities and Women In Class Action Litigation

Generally, class action litigation is complicated and expensive.  The cases are often intense, intellectually challenging and financially rewarding.   The law firms and lawyers  that litigate class action cases are members of a relatively small club.  The number of minority and female lawyers who handle class action cases belong to an even smaller club.  At least one federal judge wants to change that.

Last month, U.S. District Judge Harold Baer of the Southern District of New York issued an Order in a securities class action case which required that:

  Co-Lead counsel, Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP and Labaton Sucharow LLP, shall make every effort to assign to this matter at least one minority lawyer and one woman lawyer with requisite experience.  

Judge Baer’s order noted that the class included thousands of individuals who likely had diverse backgrounds and gender.   The order noted that it should be important to all concerned that the Judge consider diversity “in terms of race and gender” when appointing class counsel. 

Judge Baer’s order raises an important issue regarding the exercise of a unique duty a judge must exercise when appointing counsel for a large group of people with various backgrounds, genders and races.  In my view, diversity should be considered when appointing counsel of any type.  The method defining how that consideration is done should be  be fairly debated and reasonably applied. 

The appointment of class counsel is a judicial function on behalf of the  plaintiffs.  There is no similar appointment authority for class action defendants.  On the defense side, diverse attorneys must rely on the goodwill of the defendants and the defense bar to be included in class litigation defense.   Hopefully, the class action defense bar will also recognize the need for diversity and include more minorities and women in the defense of class action litigation.

I have been fortunate.  I have worked with, in my opinion, some of the best class action defense lawyers in the country and I have grown professionally as a result of the experience.  Likewise, I have been able to provide valuable service to the clients in each case.  Increased diversity on both sides of the class action equation is a win-win proposition.