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In China there are civil consequences of defaming even deceased “heroes”: persons of high reputation. But the consequences may be more than civil liability. Beijing attorney Pu Zhiqiang since the Tian An Men 1989 protests has defended dissenters and provoked controversy on “sensitive” matters. He was charged and convicted last year of “picking quarrels” via his posts on WeiBo – a public internet platform like Google + widely used in China. But according to China Real Time Report the charges included Pu’s arrest for maligning the revered Lei Feng.
by Roy Strom
Finance has a long history of creative expansion. Financing lawsuits is proving to be no exception.
Since litigation finance hit the scene just a couple decades ago, the business has evolved from investing in single lawsuits to groups of claims to purchasing judgments at bankruptcy auctions, as Chicago-based Gerchen Keller Capital did earlier this year.
Now, some litigation finance firms are preparing for an even bigger change to their business model: Injecting cash directly into law firms in the form of an equity stake that isn’t tied to any specific case. Litigation funders Burford Capital and Woodsford Litigation Funding told Law.com they intend to invest in U.K.-based firms that are allowed to have nonlawyer owners, something that remains against professional ethics in the United States….
Jack Greenberg, a lawyer who became one of the nation’s most effective champions of the civil rights struggle, leading the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund Inc. for 23 years and using the law as a weapon in its fight for racial justice before the United States Supreme Court, died on Wednesday at his home in Manhattan. He was 91.
Mr. Greenberg was the last surviving member of a legendary civil rights legal team assembled by Thurgood Marshall, the founding director-counsel of the legal defense fund and later the first African-American Supreme Court justice.
by Professor Alberto Bernabe – The John Marshall Law School
As you probably know, there are differences of opinion as to whether the duty to disclose information imposed on prosecutors by ABA Model Rule 3.8 is broader than the duty imposed by the constitutional standards in Brady v. Maryland. The ABA Standing Committee on Professional Responsibility held that it does in Formal Opinion 09-454, but a few jurisdictions have held otherwise. I have written about this in the past here. (And for all my posts on prosecutors’ duty to disclose evidence go here.)
Courts or Ethics Committees have also decided the duty under rules of professional conduct is broader in Utah, Texas, North Dakota, Massachusetts and the District of Columbia have reached the same conclusion. Courts or Committees have decided otherwise in Ohio, Oklahoma, Colorado, Louisiana and Wisconsin.
Now comes news that the New York City bar’s ethics committee has issued an opinion holding that a prosecutor’s ethical obligation to disclose exculpatory evidence is broader than the constitutional minimums imposed by Brady v. Maryland. See N.Y.C. Bar Ass’n Comm. on Prof’l Ethics, Op. 2016-3, 7/22/15….
I’m wrapping up Chapter 2 today, teaching the pieces by Luban and Mukasey/Filip on the torture memos that appear at the chapter’s conclusion. This article from Clare Keefe Coleman has been helpful in framing the discussion: Teaching the Torture Memos: “Making Decisions Under Conditions of Uncertainty,” 62 J. Legal Educ. 81 (2012). Abstract follows the jump.Read More »
Interesting post by Prof. Alberto Bernabe. FWIW if there is no identifiable living person who would be harmed by the disclosure, I think that the old file can be donated to a library. A much harder case is that of, for example, about the files of the lawyers `cold war’ spies like Alger Hiss or the Rosenbergs for whom there are living heirs – who have explored, explained, and assessed their conduct . – gwc
The ABA Journal and Law.com have reported the story of a San Diego lawyer who was sentenced to five years in prison for using his IOLTA account to facilitate money-laundering activities. In his plea agreement, attorney Medina admitted that he used his IOLTA account for the receipt, transport, and transmission of cash to international destinations and that he “knew or had reason to know that the cash transactions described [therein] were proceeds of unlawful activity, or were intended to promote unlawful activity.”
This new story can be used in Chapter 2 when teaching Rule 1.2(d), which states that a lawyer “shall not counsel a client to engage, or assist a client, in conduct that the lawyer knows is criminal or fraudulent….” Although PR profs cannot possibly teach the substantive law of all crimes, I think it is important to make sure that our students are familiar with 18 U.S.C. § 1956. Among other things, § 1956 makes it a felony “to conceal or disguise the nature, the location, the source, the ownership, or the control of the proceeds of specified unlawful activity.” This means that activity that is perfectly legal in one context (such as forming one or more corporations) may be illegal if the purpose of that otherwise legal conduct is to hide the location or source of the proceeds of crime. (The 60 Minutes/Global Witness videos and the Panama Papers leak can provide useful hypos for discussion).
The San Diego case shows students that lawyers who assist money laundering activity face criminal law sanctions, as well as disciplinary sanctions under Rule 1.2(d). I found it noteworthy that the plea agreement with Attorney Medina recited that he knew or had reason to know that the money in his IOLTA account were proceeds of unlawful activity, or were intended to promote unlawful activity.
For additional information about the role of lawyers in preventing money-laundering, see this ABA Task Force webpage and the guidance provided by the ABA and jointly by the IBA, CCBE, and ABA about how to identify money-laundering red flags. (I give my students a 2-page summary of the ABA’s red flags guidance.)
My other work about lawyers and money-laundering includes these slides about the potential impact on US lawyer regulation of FATF’s 4th Mutual Evaluation of the US; slides that focus on US efforts to educate lawyers about money-laundering; and slides and a 2 page handout that discuss how US lawyer regulation could be affected if US lawyers don’t recognize money laundering situations. My most recent article about this topic is available here.