New York Times Wakes Up on Milberg

By June 17, 2008Briefly Legal

When Mel Weiss was sentenced to 30 months in prison for his decades-long conspiracy to corrupt the judicial system with manufactured class-action lawsuits, The New York Times buried the story on page C3. As Walter Olson of the Manhattan Institute observed at Point of

The problem is not with the story itself, by reporter Jonathan Glater, or its related item on the Times’s DealBook, both of which are fine. But in relegating the coverage to a snoozy inglenook deep inside the paper the Times’ editors again reinforce the impression — as we noted two years ago — that they view the giant Milberg scandal as an embarrassment they wish would just go away. Nor are we going to hold our breath waiting for the editorial — any more than for the (still-nonexistent) one about the Scruggs scandal. More: some funny observations from Larry Ribstein.

The power of shaming! Today the Times runs the news about the Milberg law firm’s settlement with prosecutors on page A1. The story, “Big Penalty Set for Law Firm, But Not a Trial” is a basic but fair-enough recap of the issues in the case and the repercussions for the legal profession and the economy. And there’s this nice paragraph:

Now increasingly conservative courts impose tougher standards on shareholder claims. The reputation of the lawyers who file such suits has suffered. The image of Mr. Lerach brandishing shredded documents from Enron, taking a stand against corporate corruption, has been eclipsed by sordid revelations of these lawyers’ conspiracies to fool the courts and by confessions of criminal misconduct.

The Times also notes the call by House Republican Leader John Boehner for congressional investigations. Good idea, we think.

UPDATE (11:20 a.m.): More commentary from Walter Olson at Point of Law and Ted Frank at Overlawyered.


Join the discussion One Comment

  • David says:

    In terms of the Congressional investigations, don’t we have better things to do? I mean talk about beating a dead horse. Yes, this is a big deal but all the lawyers in the current firm have been cleared. To wit: federal prosecutors also stated their “belief that no attorney currently a partner or associate with Milberg LLP is culpable with respect to the Investigated Conduct.” The guilty parties have been punished, let the firm get back to doing the work it does best – legally.

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