Pamela Phillips, Sean SeLegue, Douglas Winthrop and Jerome Falk of Howard Rice Candy Falk & Rabkin Under Extreme Scrutiny as New Evidence of Alleged Conflict of Interest Discovered
Contending that Howard Rice’s Jerome Falk, acting as Special Prosecutor on behalf of the State Bar of California, repeatedly sought to subvert justice in examining attorney misconduct in the litigation against Dole Food Company, sources close to the complainant claim a new and recent discovery shows “Smoking Gun” evidence of ethical misconduct.
Jerome Falk, Douglas Winthrop, Sean SeLegue, and Pamela Phillips of Howard Rice Canady Falk & Rabkin. In 2008, during an interview with a legal publication, Mr. Falk stated while describing some opposing counsel, “I would do anything to squash them. So those cases don’t settle. You just want to rip their throats out.” He recently dominated the news in his representation of Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss in their quest to rescind a prior settlement with Facebook.
Earlier this year Jerome falk was accused of grave misconduct as a result of his decision to exonerate Thomas Girardi of Girardi & Keese and Walter Lack of Engstrom Lipscomb & Lack for misconduct the two committed while litigating a case against Dole Food Company before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
During the Ninth Circuit proceedings, and after the case against Dole was dismissed, Chief Judge Alex Kozinski issued an order to show cause why attorneys Walter Lack, Paul Triana, and Sean Topp of Engstrom, along with Howard Miller and Thomas Girardi of Girardi & Keese, should not be disbarred or suspended from practicing before the Ninth Circuit. In addition, Judge Kozinski ordered the appointments of Senior Ninth Circuit Judge Wallace Tashima as special master and Rory Little as prosecutor in those special disciplinary proceedings known as the matter of In Re Girardi.
Subsequently, in late 2010, a Ninth Circuit panel comprised of Judges William Fletcher , Marsha Berzon, and Randy Smith found that Lack and Girardi had committed grave misconduct, and ordered them to report their misconduct to the State Bar of California. The State Bar of California declared a conflict in the matter because Howard Miller, a partner of Girardi & Keese, served as President of the State Bar; accordingly, the Bar appointed an outside attorney, Jerome Falk of Howard Rice Candy Falk & Rabkin, to look into the matter.
Judge William Fletcher, a member of the Ninth Circuit panel that adjudicated the matter of In re Girardi, 08-80090, rejected the lenient recommendations of Rory Little. He stated: “with any competent lawyer if you’re omitting part of a document, that is not accidental. That is intentional.” The court adjudicated that the grave misconduct by Walter Lack and Thomas Girardi included “the persistent use of known falsehoods,” and that the “false representations” were made “knowingly, intentionally, and recklessly” during years of litigation.
In his capacity as special prosecutor, and after reviewing the Ninth Circuit file, Falk chose to not file any disciplinary accusations against Walter Lack, stating that he believed Lack’s misconduct was not intentional. See copy of letter from Jerome Falk to Walter Lack ►http://tinyurl.com/3s2tjxz.
Once Falk’s decision was made public, a finger was pointed at him, and he was accused of having been influenced by pecuniary considerations due to the fact that Howard Rice and Skadden Arps (specifically, Falk and partner Douglas Winthrop) often litigate cases together as a team, such as in the cases of MGA vs. Mattel, Genentech and others. In addition, allegations were made that it was improper to select the firm of Howard Rice for this appointment because Douglas Winthrop, the firm’s managing partner, served as an officer of the State Bar of California. Specifically, Winthrop serves as President of a foundation maintained by the State Bar of California. See ►http://tinyurl.com/42t7zkj.
Additionally, and as part of the inquiry, Sean SeLegue and Pamela Phillips were asked to identify “[a]ny and all other factors or facts that would cause a reasonable person to entertain doubts as to the impartiality of Howard Rice and its members in the proceedings at issue, including the disclosure of relationships between members of the firm and others.” See ►http://tinyurl.com/3eotzfs.
The State Bar of California Board of Governors’ RAD Committee conducted its own investigation and retained special counsel to investigate this matter. The special master recommended that the matter be closed because there was no showing that Falk and Winthrop engaged in any misconduct; the RAD Committee adopted this recommendation. See ►http://tinyurl.com/3s82ac4 and ►http://tinyurl.com/3rjqm3v.
According to the sources, the newly discovered "Smoking Gun” evidence relates to the fact that starting in 2005, the law firm of Howard Rice Candy Falk & Rabkin represented both Girardi & Keese and Engstrom Lipscomb & Lack in a class action advanced by plaintiff Robert Copple.
As such, the sources maintain, Jerome Falk and Howard Rice were under a duty to reject the appointment, and to otherwise disclose the fact that Walter Lack, Thomas Girardi, Girardi & Keese, and Engstrom Lipscomb & Lack were clients of the firm.
To view the case of Copple vs. Astrella, please visit : ►http://www.leagle.com/xmlResult.aspx?xmldoc=20061271442FSupp2d829_11197.xml&docbase=CSLWAR2-1986-2.
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- #Gwen Moore
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- #opposing counsel