Friday, February 22, 2008

How to buy a judge

An investigation by Mark Tapscott of the Examiner into the finances of superstar lawyers William Lerach and Melvyn Weiss shows how to buy your own justice. It is, of course, illegal to pay the judge directly. So, first, you need to create a non-profit foundation; Lerach and Weiss called their's the Institute for Law and Economic Policy. The foundation then sets up conferences in expensive resort hotels. Lerach and Weiss, for example, chose Los Cabos in Mexico, Lake Los Vegas in Nevada, and San Diego in California. Then, you invite judges who might preside over your cases to the (invitation-only) conferences. Finally, you reimburse the judges for their expenses. Mission accomplished: you have given the judges money and it is legal! According to Tapscott:
At least 14 federal judges were reimbursed by the foundation for attending its events, including two on the Southern District of New York (SDNY) bench who presided over dozens of cases brought by the two firms. Neither of the judges responded to Examiner questions delivered to them by the SDNY clerk.
If the judges did attend any lectures at your conference, it is even better since you chose only lectures that support your side.

Not everything that Lerach and Weiss did was legal, however. Tapscott writes:

Lerach and two former Milberg Weiss colleagues have pleaded guilty to felonies in connection with more than $11 million in kickbacks to plaintiffs they recruited to bring more than 150 lawsuits that netted the firm at least $200 million in tainted legal fees, according to federal prosecutors.
More here.

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