Lerach: “Everybody was paying plaintiffs”

by Walter Olson on February 11, 2008

“A prominent class-action lawyer facing sentencing today for secretly paying plaintiffs to file securities lawsuits, William Lerach, is suggesting that the under-the-table practice was widespread and was not isolated to the firm he helped run for decades, Milberg Weiss. … Despite the highly publicized travails of what was once America’s leading class-action law firm, there has been little public discussion of whether other firms may have emulated the secret payment scheme Lerach and other Milberg lawyers devised.” Notwithstanding a request by Lerach’s lawyers that the letters from his friends and supporters asking clemency be sealed from public inspection, most of the letters have become public, revealing the identities of such entirely unsurprising Lerach backers as Ralph Nader (who in this one particular case did not favor prison for white-collar criminality) and Ben Stein, known to readers of these pages (though apparently not to many readers of his New York Times column) as an expert witness hired repeatedly by Lerach to help portray sued companies’ conduct in the harshest possible light. (Josh Gerstein, “Lerach Says Payoffs Were Widespread”, New York Sun, Feb. 11). Another letter writer: Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) And the list of letter-writers (PDF) includes “two redacted names in between Gordon Churchill and Charles Cohen”, leading to speculation that one or both surnames might be “Clinton”. It seems unlikely, though, that either prominent ex-White House resident would have risked the sort of negative publicity involved even as a gesture to acknowledge Lerach’s past favors. (CalLaw “Legal Pad”, Feb. 8)(corrected shortly after posting to reflect release of most letters by stipulation of parties, not judicial order). Update 4 p.m. EST: sentence is 24 months.

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“Mother Teresa, move aside”
05.29.08 at 2:58 pm

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1 P Saunders 02.11.08 at 2:49 am

Ever notice how, when a lawyer’s back is against the wall, he starts to turn on his own kind?

2 Ed Sodaro 02.11.08 at 8:37 am

I have not the slightest doubt that William Lerach is telling the truth: Most plaintiffs receive illegal payoffs in American class action litigation.

3 Phil Jacobson 02.11.08 at 8:52 am

The spacing sure does fit, doesn’t it?

10. Churchill, Gordon S.
11. (Clinton, Hillary Rodham)
12. (Clinton, William Jefferson)
13. Cohen, Charles C.

4 Dave White 02.11.08 at 11:16 pm

Remember a few years ago when the Pentagon released a “censored” PDF where the actual data was still hiding under the censor bars? They just made the same mistake with this filing.

I ran FileJuicer over the PDF to extract the image layers and the redacted names are NOT the Clintons.

5 Walter Olson 02.11.08 at 11:26 pm

Isn’t technology great? Thanks.

6 mojo 02.13.08 at 6:00 pm

How refreshing. One so rarely sees a “tu quoque” argument in legal briefs these days.

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