Posts tagged as:

Rielle Hunter

March 16 roundup

by Ted Frank on March 16, 2010

  • Are you a member of Tyson chicken or H&R Block Express IRA class action settlements?
  • Jim Copland on Harry Reid and the trial bar. [NRO]
  • Jim Copland on the Ground Zero settlement, which may pay lawyers $200 million—but the judge plans fee scrutiny. [NY Post; NY Daily News]
  • Kevin LaCroix interviews the Circle of Greed authors. [D&O Diary]
  • Judgeships: Rhode Island lead paint trial lawyer in despite mediocre rating, but Sri Srinivasan out because of his clients—not Al Qaeda, but, heaven forfend, eeeevil corporations like Hertz.
  • There’s no evidence that workers on automotive brakes (which sometimes contain asbestos) get mesothelioma at a greater rate than the rest of the population, but auto companies still get sued over it. Ford fought one in Madison County, rather than settle, and won. [Madison County Record]
  • Overview of defensive medicine at work. [AP]
  • Pantsless Rielle Hunter on John Edwards: “He’s very honest and truthful.” [GQ]

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February 24 roundup

by Walter Olson on February 24, 2010

  • Adventures of a 28-year-old California foreclosure attorney [McSweeneys]
  • National Enquirer ruled eligible for Pulitzer Prize consideration for John Edwards coverage [ABC, Guardian]
  • Las Vegas attorney agrees to plead to unspecified charges in tort-mill scheme initially described by prosecutors as massive [ABA Journal, earlier here and here]
  • Expect demands for greater regulation of general aviation after Austin attack [Skating on Stilts]
  • Dear firm colleagues: does Morocco has an extradition treaty with the U.S.? Need to know quickly [Lowering the Bar] Related on Scott Rothstein: do not purchase investment advice from persons with gold toilets;
  • Is a Texas prosecutor seeking to criminalize workplace accidents? [Bennett, Defending People]
  • Cold comfort dept.: lawprof tired of people carrying on about being dragged through litigation, it’s not as if they’re being held liable [Howard Wasserman, Prawfsblawg]
  • Iceland’s free-press project “is largely symbolic – which is not to say unimportant” [N.Y. Times quoting David Ardia, earlier]

October 6 roundup

by Walter Olson on October 6, 2009

  • Woman who escaped first WTC bombing broke her ankle ten days later. Should New York’s Port Authority pay her $500,000? [Hochfelder]
  • Former New York congressman and Pace Law School dean Richard Ottinger and wife rebuffed in what court deems SLAPP suit against commenter who criticized them on online forum; commenter says legal fees have cost him two years’ income [White Plains Journal-News, Westchester County; earlier] Amici in Massachusetts case endorse anti-SLAPP protection for staff of media and advocacy organizations [Citizen Media Law] “Canadian Court Rejects Defamation Liability for Hyperlinks” [same]
  • “Chuck Yeager Tries Again to Stretch Right of Publicity” [OnPoint News, earlier]
  • And naturally the advocates are demanding more regulation rather than less: “[Restaurant] Calorie Postings Don’t Change Habits, Study Finds” [NYT] More: Ryan Sager, Jacob Sullum.
  • Famed L.A. lawyers Thomas Girardi and Walter Lack might get off with wrist-slaps over Nicaraguan banana suit scandal [The Recorder, Cal Civil Justice, earlier]
  • Ralph Lauren lawyers: don’t you dare reproduce our skinny-model photo in the course of criticizing our use of skinny models [BoingBoing; and welcome Ron Coleman, Popehat readers; more at Citizen Media Law and an update at BoingBoing] Copyright expert/author Bill Patry is guestblogging at Volokh Conspiracy [intro, first post, earlier]
  • Profile of John Edwards aide who played key role in Rielle Hunter affair [Ben Smith, Politico]
  • Blind lawyer’s “call girl bilked my credit card” claim includes ADA claim against credit card company (but judge rejects it) [ABA Journal, Above the Law]

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Elizabeth Edwards as Mrs. Stephen Haines, on Rielle Hunter as Crystal Allen: “I don’t know any people like this, I don’t have any friends like this person.” But she does [Paul Horwitz, Prawfsblawg ("It does, after all, take two to tango -- or, more precisely, two plus Fred Baron"); more from Mickey Kaus and again]

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What with all the money in Edwards’ own name from his legal career, not to mention the late Texas trial lawyer Fred Baron’s generosity in solving the housing needs of Edwards’ girlfriend, it wouldn’t seem necessary to use campaign or charitable funds for her benefit, too, but a U.S. attorney is said to be pursuing allegations along those lines. Hunter was paid $100,000 to do documentary filmmaking about the Edwards campaign, which gave the couple many opportunities to be close to each other. [New York Daily News, CBS News, Raleigh News & Observer] More: Althouse, Kaus.

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September 3 roundup

by Walter Olson on September 3, 2008

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Aficionados of the John Edwards-Rielle Hunter scandal may have noticed a new attorney’s name cropping up in news reports: Lee Rohn of the U.S. Virgin Islands. From the New York Daily News:

One day before Edwards went public with the affair, Hunter and 6-month-old daughter Frances were flown to the Virgin Islands on a chartered jet, the Enquirer reported.

The $50,000 trip was paid for by friends of Edwards. The newspaper also said she stayed at the oceanfront home of another Edwards’ pal, lawyer Lee Rohn.

(Larry McShane, “John Edwards promised Rielle Hunter they’d be together – report”, Aug. 20)(via ABA Journal)(Update: Rohn vehemently denies the Enquirer story as false, saying she neither hosted Hunter nor is close to Edwards; see below). Readers may be wondering: is Rohn yet another attorney whose doings are going to make irresistible copy for a site like this, much as with Edwards chum/Democratic moneyman/perennial Overlawyered mentionee Fred Baron? To which the answer would appear to be, “you bet”:

St. Croix attorney Lee Rohn has stirred up a chorus of criticism and complaints about her professional practices both inside and outside the courtroom.

Her most vocal critics have been opposing parties or counsel in lawsuits she has filed. They have alleged a wide spectrum of professional conduct violations.

Among Rohn’s frequent targets is Innovative Communication Corp., which runs the Virgin Islands’ local telephone provider and the islands’ newspaper, and whose lawyers say they’ve lost count of how many times she’s sued them. The company’s chairman, Jeffrey Prosser, has called in vain for Rohn’s disbarment, complaining of “intolerable” and “abusive” instances of “ethical misconduct” as well as “vitriolic” public attacks: “In some cases with us, she coerced her clients to sign documents that were knowingly false [and] ignored judge’s orders on limits of discovery inquiry during depositions,” he wrote.

In 2002, Rohn publicly blasted one of the islands’ two federal district judges, Thomas Moore, accusing him of inappropriate behavior, and Moore recused himself from some of her cases citing the antipathy. Subsequently, after she moved to demand Moore’s recusal from yet another of her cases, he refused, stating in his written ruling, “I believe attorney Rohn’s personal attack on one of the two sitting judges in this jurisdiction was nothing more than a calculated litigation tactic that would be labeled ‘judge shopping’ in most places.” Moore, who has sanctioned Rohn for insulting and profane language toward witnesses and court personnel, wrote in another case, in which the Caribbean Geoffrey Fieger “sought to compel testimony from all the federal judges in the territory”:

“Nothing Lee Rohn does surprises me anymore, although subpoenaing all the federal judges in the jurisdiction is a high point of ingenuity and creativity in attempting to manipulate the system,” Moore wrote.

“I do not believe, however, that an attorney should be allowed to use her calculated personal attack on a sitting judge as a technique to prevent that judge from presiding over any of her cases, especially in a small district with only two judges.”

A few weeks ago, it may be recalled, we looked at the question of lawyers’ public denunciations of judges and whether they do or should result in recusal by those judges. (Jason Robbins and Lee Williams, “From judges to opponents, Rohn has no shortage of harsh critics”, Virgin Islands Daily News, Mar. 29, 2004 — the newspaper, it bears repeating, and its parent company have been frequent targets of Rohn’s litigation, as in this libel case arising from her airport pot bust). Death by a Thousand Paper Cuts has more, including a picture of the Rohn villa.

The National Enquirer, which keeps breaking new developments in the story, is now reporting that “a team of six more lawyers have been involved in the coverup”. They can’t all be as interesting as Baron and Rohn, can they?

Update Fri. 8:20 p.m.: the Daily News reports Rohn categorically denies the story’s truth:

The Enquirer quoted Virgin Island pol Anne Golden as saying Hunter stayed for 10 days in an oceanfront home owned by prominent St. Croix lawyer Lee Rohn.

Rohn hotly denied that to the Daily News and vowed to sue.

“It is absolutely false,” she told The News. “The Enquirer knows the story is not true as they sat on a hill above my house for a week with telephoto lenses and video cameras and had no sighting of her. The guest cottage she was supposedly staying in is under construction and has no floor.”

Rohn said that while she donated money to Edwards, she is not friends with him. Records show she gave $2,300 to Edwards a year ago and another $2,300 to Barack Obama early this year.

(Helen Kennedy, “John’s island girl Rielle fled to St. Croix on eve of cheating flap”, Aug. 21). And — hat tip to commenter Ken Floyd — the opinions of heated Rohn critic Jeffrey Prosser, the newspaper/telephone magnate, should be evaluated in the perspective of his own controversial and colorful business record, which recently culminated in high-profile bankruptcy proceedings involving his Innovative Communication empire. Some sources on that here, here, here, and here. For more background on the recusal disputes involving Rohn and Judge Thomas K. Moore, see this Moore opinion (U.S. v. Roebuck, PDF) and this Third Circuit opinion (Selkridge v. Mutual of Omaha, 360 F. 3d 155). DBKP wishes it had been a fly on the wall during an AAJ award ceremony honoring Rohn. And see commenter #7 below who seems to have been doing considerable digging.

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Thursday’s New York Times investigates Fred Baron’s role (Serge F. Kovaleski and Mike McIntyre, “Lawyers’ Ties Hint at Extent of Hiding Edwards’s Affair”, Aug. 14; AP/L.A. Times; commentary at Deceiver, Jeralyn Merritt/TalkLeft, Greg Pollowitz/NRO Media Blog, DBKP; earlier). And more from DBKP here and here. P.S. And I didn’t realize until reading USA Today’s profile that scandal figure Andrew Young has served not only as a loyal Edwards foot soldier, but also as a lobbyist for the North Carolina trial lawyers’ association.

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(Bumping Aug. 14 6:43 pm post to keep at the top of the page.)

In a post I made yesterday, I noted a transaction between Andrew Young and Timothy Toben that I suggested may raise the possibility of a sweetheart deal on the purchase and sale of a 5000-square-foot Raleigh home. I have since done some additional research that rules out that possibility–it turns out that Young purchased a plot of land in a different county, which explains what had otherwise appeared to be a discrepancy–but raises other interesting issues about Young’s cash flow shortly after the National Enquirer allegations first appeared. I have updated the post, and regret the error in the premise.

Update: See important update below. The Toben-Young transaction appears to be for a different parcel of land than the $1.2 million house–but the new documents reveal something else that’s interesting. More details below.

Andrew Young, who publicly claims to be the father of Rielle Hunter’s baby (though he hasn’t been heard from since John Edwards’s confession of an affair), was moved to Santa Barbara by the generosity of John Edwards’s campaign chairman, trial lawyer Fred Baron. He was paid $3,500/month to work for the Edwards campaign. Yet the Raleigh News & Observer reports that Andrew Young and his wife sold their Raleigh house to Carolyn Grissom for a jaw-dropping $1.2 million on February 14, 2007, and moved into the Chapel Hill Governors Club country-club gated community, where they rented a few doors down from Hunter. (Rentals there are available for as low as $1700/month, and home prices range from $289,000 to $2.3 million, so nothing necessarily unusual about that.)

(Update: New documents I’ve found show that the Toben-Young transaction appears to be for a different parcel of land than the $1.2 million house. More details below. This paragraph, based on the mistaken reading of the transaction that it was for the Raleigh home, is incorrect. I regret the error, but the correction reveals something else interesting about the Toben transaction; see the discussion below.) What’s more unusual is that North Carolina real-estate records on the web show that Andrew and Cheri Young purchased the 5000-square-foot house for $300,000 on September 28, 2005. (Update: this is incorrect. The house was purchased in 2001.) (The home was built in 1989, so they weren’t buying a vacant lot and building.) So either Andrew Young is a secret real-estate genius on a level not seen since Hillary Clinton’s commodities trading, and was able to flip a house for a 300% and $900,000 return in under eighteen months, or something else is going on.

It’s interesting to note that the Youngs purchased the place from North Carolina real-estate developer Timothy Toben–a long-time North Carolina Democratic fundraiser who donated $6,500 to the Edwards campaign in 2007 (which, if the FEC reports are accurate, exceeds the federal campaign limits substantially). If Toben gave Young an unusually good deal, the 2005 timing suggests that Young got the deal for some reason other than Rielle Hunter, but, if so, what?

Meanwhile, if one looks up the home on Zillow.com, one sees that Zillow is skeptical of the $1.2 million purchase price, and values the house for substantially less (though well over $300,000), because of “anomalies” in the deal, though it does not specify what those anomalies are. (I found no indication that Carolyn Grissom is anything other than an innocent homebuyer; she’s not listed in the FEC database.)

This could all be coincidence in hindsight, and there could be a perfectly innocent explanation for all of this. It could be that the $300,000 figure is wrong, though then that raises the question of how Young was able to afford a 5000-square-foot house on a $42,000/year salary. But reporters with more resources than I might want to look into whether an Edwards staffer was getting a sweetheart deal from an Edwards contributor, why, and whether campaign finance laws were violated.

And welcome Michelle Malkin readers; apologies that so many of you clicked through that you briefly crashed the site. For Overlawyered’s coverage of the Rielle Hunter scandal, see the tag, and don’t miss our years-long coverage of John Edwards and his trial-lawyer record.

(August 14: Welcome Kaus and Instapundit readers. Post was corrected August 14, because it incorrectly said “Chapel Hill” instead of “Raleigh” as the location of the $1.2 million house.)

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Baron grants an interview to the Texas Lawyer, and makes some implausible claims:

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Per Marisa Guthrie at the magazine Broadcasting & Cable, ABC News was able to force John Edwards’ hand in part because it had been tracing the Fred Baron money trail (which, it will be recalled, Edwards supposedly had nothing to do with). “According to multiple sources, Edwards was apoplectic that ABC News broke the story on its website and began promoting it early on Friday” because the former North Carolina senator — who, y’know, was beating up on himself so bad and wanted nothing more than to come clean with the American people — “had hoped to control the news cycle by making his admission late on a Friday night when the country was watching the Olympics and the long weekend yawned ahead.” Earlier here and here.

Many commentators have questioned whether Edwards was telling the truth about when the affair ended. (Despite her family’s publicly expressed wishes for a paternity test, Rielle Hunter says she won’t allow one; whether this refusal is or is not related to her presumably ongoing financial dependence on Fred Baron’s largesse is not for us to know.) A second question is whether Edwards was telling the truth on ABC when he said he hired Hunter first for her filmmaking skills and began the relationship later, thus dodging charges of having put his mistress on the payroll. Sam Stein at Huffington Post examines chronologies here. Relatedly, Advice Goddess Amy Alkon has this to say about the L.A. Times’s straightfaced description of Hunter as a filmmaker: “Katie, honey, in this town [L.A.], we know to look at imdb.com to see if somebody actually is a filmmaker. This is a good dating tip for you, too, dear, because half the guys you’ll meet at the bar in this town are ‘producers.’”

More: Welcome Michelle Malkin readers.

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Yes, I’m being facetious

by Ted Frank on August 9, 2008

Where’s the trial lawyer bringing a class action on behalf of all of the people who were defrauded when they gave money to John Edwards’s presidential campaign?  It’s certainly a much more plausible claim of causation, reliance, and financial injury than the typical class action.

More seriously, I hope someone somewhere is investigating whether Fred Baron violated federal campaign finance law when he set aside tens of thousands of dollars to pay Rielle Hunter hush money without disclosing the payments on behalf of Edwards.  Edwards said he was in the Beverly Hilton to help keep the story from becoming public, which makes it seem unlikely he’s telling the truth when he said that he had no knowledge that Baron moved Hunter to California.  Alas, ABC didn’t ask the right follow-up questions, such as how Edwards thought meeting Hunter in a hotel room would help keep the story quiet.  And “Fred Baron” appears nowhere in the New York Times story, even as he is a major fund-raiser for Barack Obama today.  Obama is still running for president, right?

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We described the Dallas attorney as poster boy for legal ethics for his astoundingly brazen conduct in the scandal over an asbestos testimony-coaching memo. Now his name is hitting front pages on the John Edwards-Rielle Hunter affair:

Dallas lawyer Fred Baron told The Dallas Morning News today that he paid relocation and housing expenses for the woman that former presidential candidate John Edwards has confessed to having an affair with.

Mr. Baron, who was chairman of Mr. Edwards’ presidential campaign finance committee, said he paid money for Rielle Hunter to move from North Carolina to another location. …

He said Mr. Edwards did not know about the arrangement.

(Gromer Jeffers Jr., “Dallas lawyer Fred Baron paid for Edwards’ mistress to relocate”, Dallas Morning News, Aug. 8).

More coverage of Edwards’s (partial or otherwise) confession: ABC News, AP, Memeorandum, Marc Ambinder, Ben Smith/Politico, News & Observer, Just One Minute, Shaun Mullen/Moderate Voice. Readers will remember that Ted had the story very, very early, before it was much noticed even on the blogs (more). As for Edwards’s own credibility, Mickey Kaus, whose news judgment in pursuing the matter now stands vindicated, has this to say: “There is now one player in this scandal with far less credibility than the National Enquirer, after all.”

More: Byron York at NRO “Corner” quotes the Raleigh News & Observer account with Baron’s statement:

“I decided independently to help two friends and former colleagues rebuild their lives when harassment by supermarket tabloids made it impossible for them to conduct a normal life,” Baron, a Dallas trial lawyer said in a statement, Rob Christensen reports.

“John Edwards was not aware that assistance was provided to anyone involved in this matter,” Baron said. “I did it of my own voilition and without the knowledge, instruction, or suggestion of John Edwards or anyone else. The assistance was offered and accepted without condition.”

York points out:

Hunter and Young, the recipients of Baron’s generosity, were not high-ranking officials in the Edwards campaign. How Baron got to know them and how he decided to fund their move to California, and why he decided to do so without Edwards’ knowledge, might be the subject of more questions as the Edwards matter goes forward.

Blogger Gina Cobb hopes the window of Baron’s generosity is still open:

I am touched and moved by your generosity. I especially like the part about “The assistance was offered and accepted without condition.” Accordingly, I would like to request the same generosity from you. Henceforward, I would like you to rent me an enormous house and pay my living expenses in perpetuity. I can assure you that the assistance you offer will be accepted without condition.

And see Ted’s follow-up post.

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August 7 roundup

by Walter Olson on August 7, 2008

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I have no idea if the allegations that former presidential candidate John Edwards has a love-child with Rielle Hunter are true–though his actions seem pretty damning.

But let me be the first to point out that, if the allegations are true, Elizabeth Edwards can take advantage of North Carolina’s unusual tort law to sue Hunter for alienation of affection. When we last looked at the state of affairs in North Carolina in 2006, there were 200 such suits a year, with some verdicts in the six and seven digits. Of course, Mrs. Edwards would need a trial lawyer willing to take on her husband first.

Efforts to abolish the tort in the state have not been successful, though it is worth noting the fact that several dozen states have abolished heartbalm statutes without anyone suggesting that this tort reform is constitutionally problematic.

Update: Edwards persuades me that the story might be true when he gives a lawyerly non-denial denial filled with negative pregnants: “That’s tabloid trash. They’re full of lies. I’m here to talk about helping people.”  Someone needs to ask a more targeted question of a purported candidate for vice president or attorney general.

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Rielle Hunter and John Edwards

by Ted Frank on September 27, 2007

Who is the “formerly hard-partying girl who claims that she found enlightenment” who met John Edwards in a bar and was paid six digits by the campaign to make videos of him that “lingers over the former senator’s behind as he tucks a starched white shirt into his pants,” and why is the campaign suddenly hiding the webvideos she made of Edwards on questionable legal grounds? Mickey Kaus is curious after reading this Sam Stein post. Separately, Garance Franke-Ruta notes the irony of Edwards stumping the SEIU for votes and donations on the leftist union’s “Lobby Day.” For other Edwards campaign shenanigans on Overlawyered, see Sep. 19.

Update, July 22: new revelations about Edwards and Hunter?

Update, August 13: Where did Andrew Young get his money?

(For continuing Rielle Hunter scandal coverage, see our Rielle Hunter tag.)

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