“Mother Teresa, move aside”

by Walter Olson on May 29, 2008

Mel Weiss — yes, that Melvyn Weiss, of Milberg Weiss, the one who ran a corrupt but lucrative kickback scheme premised on systematic lies to judges over decades, then stonewalled its disclosure through years of investigation — “deserves recognition as ‘one of the greatest humanitarians of our time,’ according to a sentencing memo his lawyer filed Friday.” (Ben Hallman, “Urging Leniency, Big Names Go to Bat for Mel Weiss”, American Lawyer, May 28).

Included were more than 240 supportive letters filed by friends and well-wishers of the famously piratical class-actioneer. It’s hard to read the WSJ law blog’s excerpts from these letters without shedding a tear of admiration:

“Donald Kempf, the former chief legal officer at Morgan Stanley says that after an unexpected on-the-street encounter, Weiss offered to help Kempf find a certain kind of watch. “And he did.”

According to a letter submitted by a friend and art dealer in Sun Valley, Idaho, in a “spontaneous” gesture while in Vienna, Weiss bought the art dealer’s wife an expensive pair of boots.

(WSJ law blog, May 27). The roster (PDF) of character vouchers and pleaders for leniency includes many names familiar to readers of this site, including Stephen Susman, Benedict Morelli (president of the New York State Trial Lawyers Association), David Boies, Stan Chesley, Edward Labaton, and Christopher Seeger; the list is headed by lawprof and frequent Milberg Weiss expert witness Arthur Miller. We commented in February on the similar batch of letters on behalf of Weiss’s felonious collaborator Bill Lerach.

{ 6 comments }

1 Christopher Eckel 05.29.08 at 4:56 pm

This completely erases any respect I ever had for Arthur Miller or David Boies..wait isn’t he the Netflix scam artist.. At any rate, I no longer have respect for Arthur Miller.

Weren’t the names of supporters suppressed by the court for one of these convicts? Isn’t a letter to the court just like a character witness testifying in open court? So why the secrecy? It should be a matter of public record.

To a different point, if you are going to use the power of the state to force a settlement from another private citizen, shouldn’t that result be a matter of public record?

2 VMS 05.29.08 at 5:56 pm

It’s easy to be generous with ill-gotten money.

3 P Saunders 05.30.08 at 5:54 am

As we all know, helping someone find a watch and buying someone else boots is right up there with feeding the starving, comforting the sick and dedicating your life to uplifting the poor. What a shallow lot Weiss and his friends are.

4 Deoxy 05.30.08 at 9:42 am

So, buying expensive luxuries for other wealthy people is equivalent to preventing the desperately poor from literally dying of starvation.

Who knew?

5 jbd 05.30.08 at 1:54 pm

In a case like this, it’s just bad advocacy to argue that your client should be recognized as “one of the great humanitarians of our time.” You blow all credibility, the judge loses interest, and he probably stops reading right there.

There’s an art to acknowledging transgressions while painting a picture of your client as a whole person who might deserve a measure of mercy. That lawyer is no artist. But in fairness, I guess counsel may have been writing the memo to impress his paying client rather than to persuade the judge.

6 Theodore A. Bechtold, Esq. 05.30.08 at 11:44 pm

Little weight should be given to the fact that Mel Weiss might really be a great guy and did much exceptional charity work and helped the poor and the sick and the financially challenged. Great weight should be given to millions of class members whose interests were “protected” by Seymour Lazar, Howard Vogel and Steven Cooperman. Keep in mind that the representative plaintiff is the only one in a position to supervise the lawyers and protect the interests of absent class members. Kickbacks left Mel Weiss alone with the money.

Think about how many victims surely would have gotten greater recovery if there was at least some possibility that Mel Weiss would have to answer to anyone for his settlement. He is still in denial while on his way to jail. To see a letter sent to Judge John F. Walter that provides a more balanced picture of Mel see http://www.stoplegalfiction.org

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