organization:los angeles county superior court


    A former partner of Los Angeles-based Buchalter Nemer — who California Governor Jerry Brown appointed to the Los Angeles County Superior Court bench under questionable circumstances involving his cousin, former California Public Utility Commissioner Geoff Brown — is accused in federal court of committing myriad financial crimes and acts of fraud.

    Documents filed in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia reveal that Holly Fujie of Los Angeles allegedly engaged in predicate acts of racketeering through and by means of money laundering, mail and bank fraud, as well as conversion of funds.

    The lawsuit, filed as a civil-racketeering action by Marina Del Rey-based community activist Daniel Dydzak, also names as a defendant Bet Tzedek Legal Services of Los Angeles and Eric George — the son of the controversial former chief justice of California, Ronald George.

    Both Holly Fujie and Eric George were directors of Bet Tzedek, an entity which obtained millions of dollars from the various trusts funds maintained and operated by the State Bar of California, as well as funds from the California Bar Foundation, where Holly Fujie presently serves as the vice-president.

    Both the State Bar of California and the California Bar Foundation are under the direct control of the California Supreme Court.

    The various legal trust funds maintained by the State Bar of California are overseen by the Legal Services Trust Fund Commission where, coincidently, Holly Fujie also served as director.

    Heading the commission is David Lash of O’Melveny & Myers, another lawyer who is a director of Bet Tzedek, and Bonnie Rubin of 1st Century Bank — a bank owned by former president of the State Bar of California Alan Rothenberg. Coincidently, Eric George is part owner of 1st Century Bank.

    Dydzak alleges in his lawsuits that part of the millions originated from the State Bar of California and its foundation headed to Bet Tzedek were embezzled by the various actors and were siphoned to off shore bank accounts.

    Bet Tzedek is headed by CEO Sandor “Sandy” Samuels — former Chief Trial Counsel at embattled Countywide Financial Services — who according to Dydzak was appointed President and CEO of Bet Tzedek largely due to his working knowledge of how to operate an enterprise which engages in myriad financial crimes.

    According to confidential sources familiar with the situation, Dydzak filed the suit in Washington DC, because he is extremely concerned that given the caliber of the defendants and the fact that they are in control of the justice system in California, they will seek to injure him in various ways, including in seeking to somehow derail the suit.

    According to these sources, Tom Layton, investigator from the State Bar of California who is well connected with Los Angeles Sheriff Lee Baca, in the past paid a visit to Dydzak’s neighborhood, and sought to convince his neighbors to falsely accuse Dydzak of various acts of misconduct, including providing improper and unlawful legal counsel.

    Key words:
    California Governor Jerry Brown, Holly Fujie, Buchalter Nemer, California Public Utility Commission, Geoff Brown, Los Angeles County Superior Court, Bet Tzedek Legal Services, Eric George, Ronald George, State Bar of California, California Bar Foundation, California Supreme Court, Legal Services Trust Fund Commission, David Lash, O’Melveny & Myers, 1st Century Bank , Alan Rothenberg, Tom Layton

  • Amid Controversy Zurich Financial Services and Farmers Group, Inc. Asked to Post Complete Set of Legal Documents on Fogel v. Farmers Official Settlement Website

    Amid allegations of breached ethics rules and conflicts of interest, Swiss insurance group Zurich Financial Services AG ( ZURN) and its U.S. subsidiary Farmers Group, Inc. were recently asked to post a complete set of the ex parte motions submitted to the Los Angeles County Superior Court on the official Fogel v. Farmers settlement website.

    The request was made in connection with an ongoing controversy surrounding the concurrent legal representation by Farmers Group, Inc.’s legal counsel (Law Offices of Skadden Arps) of Thomas Girardi and Girardi & Keese in the Ninth Circuit matter of In Re Girardi throughout the entire time the Fogel v. Farmers Group, Inc. matter was being litigated.

    According to an ethics complaint submitted to the State Bar of California, despite their respective roles as plaintiffs’ counsel and defendants’ counsel in Fogel v. Farmers, Girardi & Keese and Skadden Arps entered into a wholly separate agreement by which Skadden Arps represented Girardi & Keese and Thomas Girardi before the Ninth Circuit in the matter of In re Girardi ( Ninth Circuit case number 08-80090) following that court’s issuance of an order to show cause why Girardi & Keese, Engstrom Lipscomb & Lack, Thomas Girardi, and Walter Lack should not be suspended, disbarred, or otherwise sanctioned as a result of the massive fraud which took place in litigation pursued by them against Dole Food Company.

    The Ninth Circuit issued a decision heavily sanctioning both Walter Lack and Thomas Girardi (and their respective firms) almost $500,000; the court also reprimanded Mr. Girardi and suspended Mr. Lack from practicing before the court for a period of 6 months.

    In order to conceal the relationship from class members in the Fogel class action (approximately 12.5 million Americans) , the day after the Ninth Circuit issued its published decision, Skadden Arps (on its behalf as well as on behalf of its clients, Girardi & Keese and Thomas Girardi) officially asked the court to remove its name from the decision. The court rejected the unusual request, noting that redaction was not merited.

    Additionally, on April 28, 2011, after Zurich Financial Group and Farmers Group, Inc. realized that a complaint had been filed with the State Bar of California alleging ethical violations, attorneys for both Zurich and Farmers approached the Los Angeles County Superior Court judge overseeing the Fogel matter (Judge William Highberger), seeking and obtaining an ex parte order modifying the settlement agreement, with little or no opposition from the plaintiff class. (Thomas Girardi, Walter Lack, as well as several attorneys form the state of Texas)

    Additionally, per the ex-parte order, the class was notified that once the court approves the settlement, class members will be prohibiting from alleging in the future that they were not adequately represented by their attorneys due to the prior attorney client relationship between Girardi & Keese and Skadden Arps.

    According to sources familiar with the situation, the request to post a complete set of the ex parte motion on the official Fogel settlement website was made to provide class members notice of all relevant events. “It is only fair that the class and objectors be afforded an opportunity to review those documents in order to formulate replies and state their positions in an educated manner at the upcoming fairness hearing,” the source stated.

    The settlement of Fogel v. Farmers Group, a nationwide class action lawsuit pending in Los Angeles County Superior Court, will resolve all claims dating back to 1999, in a complaint originally filed in August 2003.

    According to Farmers Group, Inc., “under the terms of the settlement a sum of $455 million will be made available to up to 13 million policyholders who may qualify for distributions under the settlement, with any residual amount going to the Exchanges owned by their respective policyholder subscribers. While the allocation plan for payments to class members has not yet been determined, and while actual individual payments may vary considerably, this averages out to a mere estimated $35 per class member or policyholder subscriber. Zurich also will pay attorneys’ fees to class counsel of up to $90 million.

    As part of the settlement, plaintiffs have agreed to dismiss the case and drop all claims against FGI and its parent, Zurich. All terms of the proposed settlement are subject to execution of a formal settlement agreement and court approval.

    Robert Woudstra, Farmers Group Chief Executive, stated that his company settled rather than prolonging the uncertainty and cost of a legal battle that has already lasted seven years. Farmers Insurance Group of Companies is the nation’s third-largest insurer of both personal lines passenger automobile and homeowners insurance, and also provides a wide range of other insurance and financial services products.”

    *Farmers is a trade name and may refer to Farmers Group, Inc. or the Farmers Exchanges, as the case may be. Farmers Group, Inc., a management and holding company, along with its subsidiaries, is wholly owned by the Zurich Financial Services Group. The Farmers Exchanges are three reciprocal insurers (Farmers Insurance Exchange, Fire Insurance Exchange and Truck Insurance Exchange), including their subsidiaries and affiliates, owned by their policyholders, and managed by Farmers Group, Inc. and its subsidiaries.

    For more information about Farmers, visit its website at

    For more information about the Fogel settlements, including links to the official settlement web-site, please visit:


    Fascinating Historical Overview of Widespread Fraud in the Los Angeles Court System As TLR Communicates with Dr. Joseph Zernik

    by lesliebrodie Pro @ 29/08/2011 – 23.02:17

    In response to a request by The Leslie Brodie Report ("TLR"), Dr. Joseph Zernik provided a short review (published below as a simulated interview) of the history of the corruption in the Los Angeles County Superior Court, highlighting the Iran-Contra Scandal, the Rampart Scandal, and corruption within U.S. District Court in Los Angeles as key causes of the corruption.

    The vacationing doctor joined us over the net, and we shall publish selected part of the communication, below:

    TLR: Doc Zernik, Good Morning, thank you for joining us.

    DZ: Thank you Leslie, good morning to you as well.

    TLR: The rampant corruption of the state and US courts is fully documented from coast to coast, thanks to your endless efforts. However, and as you stated, studying and quantifying corruption remains difficult. Regardless, it is estimated that Los Angeles County and the Los Angeles Superior Court remain one of the most corrupt in the nation, and we were hoping you can help us understand why such is the case?

    DZ: Los Angeles County was notoriously corrupt already in the early 20th century, during the “Water Wars,” remembered by the public primarily through the movie Chinatown. In 2006, the Blue Ribbon Review Panel published its report, following a 3-year study. The report opined that corruption in Los Angeles County at that time (2006) was higher than during the Water Wars. The report also pointed out specifically the LASC as a key to the corruption.

    TLR: The question, why Los Angeles, and not San Diego or Sacramento? What is so unique about Los Angeles?

    DZ: A surge took place beginning in 1982 with the Iran-Contra Scandal. It was a key period in corruption of the LASC. During the period between 1982 to 1995, federal agencies engaged in wholesale trafficking and distribution of cocaine in LA County. Local and state law enforcement, as well as the courts, had to collude in such corruption, which effectively designated Los Angeles County as an extra-constitutional zone.

    In the aftermath of Iran-Contra, LAPD and some federal agencies continued to control and profit from drug trade in LA, as documented in reports from the Rampart Scandal - the largest court corruption scandal in the history of the United States. However, following their conduct during the Iran-Contra Scandal, federal agencies were not ready, willing, and able to address corruption of the LAPD and the LASC. Therefore, they left the corrupt LAPD, DA, and LASC to investigate, prosecute, and adjudge themselves. The outcome was a cover up, with the resulting ongoing false imprisonment of thousands of Rampart FIPs (Falsely Imprisoned Persons).

    The public and media ignored the corruption, since they it pertained primarily to the criminal courts, and the victims were almost exclusively blacks and Latinos. However, whoever thought that the same judges could be corrupt in the morning in a criminal case, and honest in the afternoon in a civil case, must have been deluded.

    TLR: Any other factors?

    DZ: It is claimed that already in the late 1990’s the LASC moved on from control of the drug trade to real estate and financial institution fraud as its core business. It is claimed that it was the synergy between the two corrupt organizations - LASC and Countrywide - that created the “epicenter of the epidemic.”

    The current financial crisis in its core reflects widespread corruption of the US justice system, and the breakdown of any semblance of due process in deprivation of life, liberty and property.

    TLR: It has been fascinating communicating with you,

    DZ: Thanks. It was great to be here.

    In future installments we hope to discuss with Dr. Zernik topics such as Bet Tzedek as well as alleged collision between the Daily Journal/Sustain/California State Bar and the LASC.

  • As a service to the community, The Leslie Brodie Report publishes below an objection recently submitted to the court in the matter of BENJAMIN FOGEL vs. FARMERS GROUP, INC. CASE NO BC300142

    Dear Judge Highberger:

    This will serve to inform this Court about ethical violations and fraud on this Court stemming from collusion between the law offices of Girardi & Keese and Skadden Arps, to equitably object in the interest of justice to the proposed settlement in this matter, to seek a decree from this Court that all sums allocated as attorneys’ fees be shifted to the general fund allocated to compensate the class, and to seek any other relief this Court deems proper (collectively “Objection”).

    The Objection is based on the fact that while the matter of Fogel vs. Farmers Group was pending before this Court, the law offices of Skadden Arps and Girardi & Keese entered into a wholly separate agreement by which Skadden Arps agreed to represent Girardi & Keese in the matter of In Re Girardi (Case No.08-80090), which was pending before the Ninth Circuit. Neither the Ninth Circuit nor this Court (or for that matter, the class of plaintiffs which Girardi allegedly represents) were ever informed of the concurrent representation. In fact, as will be shown, Skadden Arps, and its clients Girardi & Keese and Thomas Girardi, both actively and by omission took action to conceal the matter.


    In August 2003, plaintiff-Fogel filed a class action lawsuit against Farmers Group, Inc. in Los Angeles County Superior Court, case number BC300142. Walter Lack (of Engstrom, Lipscomb & Lack) and Thomas Girardi and Graham LippSmith (of Girardi & Keese) represent plaintiff-Fogel and the class. Skadden Arps and partner Raoul Kennedy represent the defendants, collectively referred to as Farmers Group, Inc.

    Separately, on August 25, 2005, the Ninth Circuit issued an order to show cause why Girardi & Keese, Engstrom Lipscomb & Lack, Thomas Girardi, and Walter Lack should not be suspended, disbarred, or otherwise sanctioned as a result of the massive fraud which took place in litigation pursued by them against Dole Food Company. This gave rise to the new matter involving the potential disbarment and sanction of counsel, referred to as In re Girardi, Ninth Circuit case number 08-80090.

    Very shortly thereafter, and despite their respective roles as counsel for plaintiffs and defendants in Fogel v. Farmers, Girardi & Keese and Skadden Arps entered into a wholly separate agreement by which Skadden Arps and partner Thomas Nolan would represent Girardi & Keese and Thomas Girardi before the Ninth Circuit in the matter of In Re Girardi.

    Subsequently, on July 13, 2010, the Ninth Circuit issued a decision heavily sanctioning both Walter Lack and Thomas Girardi (and their respective firms) almost $500,000. The Ninth Circuit reprimanded Mr. Girardi and suspended Mr. Lack for practicing before the court for a period of 6 months. 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.

    On July 14, 2010, the day after the Ninth Circuit issued the published decision, Skadden Arps and Thomas Nolan (on their behalf as well as on behalf of its clients, Girardi & Keese and Thomas Girardi) moved to redact their names from the decision. The court rejected the request, noting that redaction was not merited.

    Skadden Arps and its clients were in a rush to remove their names from the Ninth Circuit’s published decision in hopes of further hiding from the public and members of the Fogel v. Farmers class the existence of its relationship with Girardi & Keese.

    As discussed above, Thomas Girardi hired Skadden Arps to represent him in the matter of In Re Girardi after Girardi undertook representation of the plaintiffs in Fogel v. Farmers. The fact of the matter is that Mr. Girardi had a choice, and could have selected a different lawyer and a different law firm to represent him other than Skadden Arps and Thomas Nolan. He did not do so. Instead, by his actions, Girardi chose to breach the duties of loyalty, zealousness, and candor he owed to his clients, as well as the duty of candor he owes this Court.

    Alternatively, assuming a claim be made that Girardi & Keese and Thomas Girardi were entitled to select counsel of their choosing in the matter of In Re Girardi, they were still under a duty to inform this Court as well as the class of plaintiff of the concurrent representation. They did not. Instead, by omission, they defrauded both this Court and the plaintiff-class. The omission was intentional because counsel did not want to run the risk of disqualification.

    By the same token, Skadden Arps (like defendant Farmers) had a duty to inform this Court of the concurrent representation. Skadden Arps, wishing to collect fees from its clients Thomas Girardi and Girardi & Keese, as well as fees from its client Farmers Group, Inc., chose to remain silent. One can safely also entertain the thought that Skadden Arps (and, by extension, Farmers) took advantage of the matter to coerce Girardi & Keese to acquiesce to a less than desirable settlement in the Fogel matter than otherwise would have been reached.

    The ethical responsibilities of both Skadden Arps and Girardi & Keese were governed by Rule 3-310 of the California Rules of Professional Conduct. By any measure, both firms failed to live up to these responsibilities. Rule 3-310(C)(1) requires an attorney to obtain informed written consent before accepting representation of more than one client in a matter in which the interests of the clients potentially conflict. No showing can be made that Girardi & Keese and Skadden Arps ever obtained the WRITTEN consent of their respective clients. By denying their clients the opportunity to consent/object, both firms violated their ethical obligations.

    While the Skadden firm may argue that Skadden partner Thomas Nolan had absolutely no involvement in the Fogel matter, this Court should reject such a proposition.

    As this Court is aware, defending Farmers Group, Inc. is Skadden Arps’s Raoul Kennedy, who is subordinate Thomas Nolan, co-chair of Skadden’s West Coast Litigation practice. In addition, Nolan and Kennedy are close friends and throughout this entire period also, jointly, defended MGA in its litigation against Mattel. Note that in the Mattel vs. MGA case, both Kennedy and Nolan were counsel of record. Incidentally, it was Thomas Girardi who referred MGA and Issac Larian to Skadden Arps after a dispute erupted between MGA and its former counsel (O’Melveny), leading Issac Larian to knock on Girardi’s door.

    As such, any argument that Kennedy and Nolan maintained an ethical wall should and would fail. In any event, California law does not fully recognize the concept of ethical walls. In fact, California law presumes imputed knowledge to all members of a firm. Any determination of the existence of an ethical wall requires an individual determination on case-by-case basis. Here, this Court was never informed of the simultaneous and adverse representations, and was not allow to properly exercise its judgment.

    Simply stated, these lawyers clearly placed their desire for fees above their loyalty to their clients, and deceived the Court in the process.

    At this late stage of the game, and after years of litigation by which this Court and the class of plaintiffs were deceived by their less-than-forthcoming counsel, this Court should be extremely skeptical of any claim that Raoul Kennedy and Thomas Nolan maintained an ethical wall. Any wall constructed was a privacy wall for the purpose of hiding the truth from this Court and the class of plaintiffs. Note that two of the lawyers involved were already found by the Ninth Circuit to make use of “the persistent use of known falsehoods,” and that the “false representations” were made “knowingly, intentionally, and recklessly” during years of litigation.

    Both Skadden Arps and Girardi & Keese (and their respective lawyers) engaged in the above-described misconduct for financial gain. Specifically, Skadden Arps wished to receive the fees from Girardi in the matter of In Re Girardi. Conversely, Girardi & Keese and Thomas Girardi were hoping to obtain a quick cash settlement from Farmers Group, Inc., to the detriment of their clients. In addition, Skadden sought to obtain benefits for its long-time client, Farmers Insurance Group, at the expense of the class of plaintiffs, while causing injury to these plaintiffs, the Court, and the fair administration of justice


    Both federal and California courts have held that, when the ethical violation in question is a conflict of interest between the attorney and the client, the appropriate fee for the attorney in question is zero. Despite the admittedly harsh consequences, courts routinely and liberaly employ this remedy. See generally Fair v. Bakhtiari (2011) 195 Cal.App.4th 1135. As such, and due to the serious nature of the violations described above, it is respctfully requested that no attorney fees be awarded to counsel in this case. Instead, any amount which was origianly designated for that purpuse should be shifted to the pool of money designed to companastate the class.


    This Court should be aware that the undersigned is not a member of the plaintff-class in this matter, and never owned any policy issued by Farmers or any of its subsidieries.

    In January of 2011, undersigned filed an ethics complaint against Howard Rice’s Jerome Falk, who acted as a special prosecutor on behalf of the State Bar of California, for his decision to “exonarate” Thomas Girardi and Walter Lack for the grave misconduct the two committed before front of the Ninth Circuit. The basis of the complaint was that Jerome Falk should have declared a conflict due to his ongoing relationship with Skadden Arps’s Thomas Nolan. Not surprsingly, Jerome Falk was also part of the legal team that represented MGA in the litigation between MGA and Mattel.

    While researching this matter, the undersigned learned that Skadden had moved the Ninth Circuit to remove its name from the decison in the matter of In Re Girardi.

    In March 2011, the undersigned advanced a wholly separate ethics complaint concering the conflicts of interest in the case of Fogel vs. Farmers Group, Inc. based on the facts described above. Named in the complaint were Thomas Girardi, Graham LippSmith, Rauol Kennedy, and Thomas Nolan. Because Mr. Girardi has numerous contacts and close acquaintances within the State Bar (i.e. Executive Director Joe Dunn, who Girardi assisted in launching an online newspaper, for example), and because of other factors and externalities, there appears to be a very small likelihood that the State Bar will take any action in response to this complaint.

    As such, it is up to this Court to ensure that 12.5 million consumers recieve fair and honest dispensation of justice. The undersigned also asks the Court to recognize that, without the actions taken by the undersigned, the Court would have remained ignorant of the above-described facts. As such, it will also be up to this Court to determine the manner in which to treat this objection (which was styled as an “equitable objection” given potential issues with standing) and the related informal request to intervene in the interest of justice.

    Thank you for your consideration. Please do not hesitate to contact me if the Court needs any further information or clarification of the above-described facts.

    • Hi Leslie, welcome on Seenthis!

      It’s not a good idea do copy an entire article from another webpage on Seenthis (even if you own the copyright):
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