Milberg hires judge who ruled in its favor

by Walter Olson on February 25, 2009

Last year New York trial judge Herman Cahn ruled in favor of class-action giant Milberg in a high-profile dispute over whether it could share its winnings from past cases with disgraced felon and former name partner Melvyn Weiss, the firm’s former driving force. Judge Cahn stepped down from the New York bench in December, and now it develops has been hired by Milberg as its “distinguished” new attorney. And you — with the Wall Street Journal’s editorialists today — certainly have a suspicious mind. There probably won’t be any shortage of funds with which to pay the former jurist: an American Lawyer headline last month read “Milberg Among Plaintiffs Firms Awarded $120 Million in Xerox Class Action”.

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PointOfLaw Forum
02.25.09 at 8:50 am


1 John Hochfelder 02.25.09 at 8:49 am

If I were a prosecutor or on an ethics board with jurisdiction over this type of matter, I’d be looking into this hiring. It stinks.

2 Ray Beckerman 02.25.09 at 10:26 am

I think you’re barking up the wrong tree here.

1. Judge Herman Cahn was one of the finest judges in the system. A totally honest, by the book, caring judge.

2. All you are saying is that after he retired he accepted a job at a law firm which had won a favorable ruling from him when he had been a judge. That means absolutely nothing. There isn’t a commercial law firm or experienced commercial litigator in New York that hasn’t received favorable rulings and unfavorable rulings from Judge Cahn.

3 Kurt 02.25.09 at 11:34 am

I think by taking the job he shows what kind of attorney he is.

4 Y. Keeman 02.25.09 at 4:44 pm

they probably hired him for his fine legal mind and ability to try cases rather than the thought that he would attract clients hoping that his former status might influence the legal luminaries sitting in New York Supreme.

5 Commentor 02.27.09 at 7:26 am

It would be hard for a retiring federal judge who retired went to back into private practice in the same state not to work for a firm for which he had previously ruled favorably. My guess is that in the past he has also ruled against Milberg Weiss or its clients on other issues.

6 Another Commentor 02.27.09 at 12:31 pm

“It would be hard for a retiring federal judge who retired went to back into private practice in the same state not to work for a firm for which he had previously ruled favorably.”

But would it have been so hard to find a firm without the baggage of Milberg? Why would Cahn choose a firm that previously was indicted and currently under a compliance agreement after paying a $75 million fine with former partners convicted on felony charges and sitting in jail? There are plenty of firms with no baggage at which Cahn could have joined.

7 Stupid WSJ 03.01.09 at 5:36 pm

Beckerman is right. This is a stupid editorial that jumps to conclusions without exmaining the facts. Firs, Cahn’s ruling did NOT favor Milberg. If Cahn had invalidated the fee agreement, Milberg would have been absolved from paying him and would be that much richer. Also, as noted by the WSJ’s earlier stories, Cahn disapproved any payment from any case which was connected to the indictment. One wonders whether the WSJ even tried to contact Cahn or Milberg before it ran its editorial smearing the reputation of one of NY’s most highly respected judges.

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