James Towery, Girardi & Keese’s Howard Miller and the Howard Rice Connection


  • Howard Rice Canady Falk & Rabkin’s Jerome Falk, Douglas Winthrop, Sean SeLegue, and Pamela Phillips Assailed by Complainant Re State Bar of California Handling of “In Re Thomas Girardi” Ninth Circuit Matter

    For prior coverage and background information, please visit the following links: http://tinyurl.com/3s2tjxz , http://tinyurl.com/42t7zkj , http://tinyurl.com/3eotzfs , http://tinyurl.com/3s82ac4 , http://tinyurl.com/3rjqm3v

    Dear Mr Hawley:

    This will serve to formally update you regarding newly-discovered
    evidence pertaining to the scheme executed by your office, Howard Rice Canady Falk & Rabkin, and others relating to the decisions which resulted in Jerome Falk of Howard Rice acting as a special deputy trial counsel to examine attorney misconduct in the litigation against Dole.

    Within the past few days, I learned that Howard Rice Canady Falk & Rabkin actually REPRESENTED the law offices of Girardi & Keese and Engstrom Lipscomb & Lack.

    In plain English, Girardi & Keese and Engstrom Lipscomb & Lack were (and very likely are) clients of Howard Rice Canady Falk & Rabkin.

    The case at issue is entitled Copple v. Estrella & Rice (case number 3:2005 cv03961 JSW) 442 F.Supp.2d 829 (2006). It was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on September 29, 2005 by Robert Copple (represented by Lindley & Wood).

    As the rules of professional conduct make very clear that an attorney can never represent another party in an action adverse to a current or former client, it was improper for Howard Rice and Jerome Falk to accept the invitation to act as special deputy trial counsel.

    Similarly, it was improper for the State Bar to make such a
    designation. It was improper for everyone involved to maintain secrecy over the relationship, particularly the law offices of Skadden Arps, and partners Thomas Nolan and Alec Chang.

    In addition to filing the ethics complaint with BOG/RAD and the Intake Office, I also communicated my concerns to Douglas Winthrop, Sean SeLegue, and Pamela Phillips of Howard Rice, and also invited them to disclose all other cases which potentially give rise to a conflict of interest. None of these individuals ever responded.

    In fact, Howard Rice, Girardi & Keese as well as Engstrom Lipscomb & Lack , actively and by omission, took actions to conceal the matter.

    This unfair and unlawful conduct caused injury to the people of the State of California, Dole Food Company, the federal judiciary, the fair administration of justice, as well as to yours truly.

    In my view, the fact that Howard Rice and Engstrom Lipscomb & Lack had an attorney-client relationship is by far the most compelling and credible evidence I have submitted to date concerning this matter. As such, and however futile, I must renew my request that the OCTC and RAD take the appropriate actions.

    Thank you for your time.

    To view the case of Copple vs. Astrella, please visit : http://www.leagle.com/xmlResult.aspx?xmldoc=20061271442FSupp2d829_11197.xml&docbase=CSLWAR2-1986-2

  • 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.