The DSCC Is Guilty Of Malpractice
SHEAN: So now the DEMOCRATS are attacking a candidate for practicing a criminal defense law
How glad I am that I can say I don't work for these people:
Against a candidate who is demonstrably unfit in so many ways, they produce this rubbish. They may wind up doing to Lew Fidler what Carl Kruger and DACC did to John Duane.
GALLAGHER: Worse than that. In 2010, DSCC (Democratic Senate Campaign Committee) [Evan Stavisky] did a mailing for Antoine Thompson attacking Mark Grisanti for representing criminal defendants. Grisanti was a third generation attorney---the firm was started by his grandfather. He had an excellent reputation among the members of the bar. Buffalo has a tight-knit legal community. More than a hundred lawyers signed a full page adv. attacking Antoine for doing this. Most of these lawyers were Dems. They included retired judges, Terry Conners (former head of bar association) etc. etc. Lots of these lawyers lived in Delaware Ward (I believe it's Delaware with the old mansions--where Former Mayor Tony Masiello's house is). I was told by locals that this was the final nail---hundreds of Democratic lawyers and their family members voted against Antoine. He lost by 519 votes. One prominent local Democratic lawyer told me he and his wife voted for Grisanti. “Why,” I asked. "All the Democratic lawyers did because of that mailing.”
Stupidity is one thing. Repeating it is crazy.
A few weeks ago, after Lew Fidler finally controlled the damage from his tongue slip at Wheeler’s bar (followed by an extremely stupid press release defending it), and admitted he’d been inaccurate in saying his opponent, David Storobin, was linked to skinheads, when he was only linked by them (because they loved what he said so much), an operative from the Sen Dems whined to me:
“The mistake was neither the press release nor the bar speech, but the unwillingness to own the attack. It's actually true this shitstain IS a whack job - but when you start backpedaling it's over.”
In 2010, the campaign of Congressman Michael McMahon thought they had a goldmine in the seemingly suspicious money Mahon’s opponent, Michael Grimm had raised from a congregation of strange Jewish cultists; instead, \their ham-fisted manner of rolling out the issue made it too toxic to ever mention again.
McMahon never again regained his momentum.
In some ways, what happened to Fidler (more from the aftermath facilitated by the Sen Dems press release than from the Wheeler’s remarks) is somewhat similar. It gave the appearance of moral high ground to a character truly beneath the contempt of civilized society.
The anti-Storobin ad my friends so objected to is pretty bad.
While it can be argued that Storobin is seeking business from those accused of possession and distribution and downloading of child pornography (you would think he would have scrubbed his ad in the same manner he scrubbed his blog posts), there seems to be no proof Storobin ever actually represented such people (Seems to me if one were going to go down this road, which I would not, it would be better to focus on something verifiable, like the guide Storobin published on how to discredit police testimony in drunken driving cases).
But what if Storobin really does represent such people?
What happened to the presumption of innocence and due process?
Not that a candidate like Storobin, who proudly crusades against the rights of Muslims to build an as of right house of worship in Sheepshead Bay, has the moral standing to raise the Bill of Rights in any manner.
Not that a candidate like Storobin, who so vehementally asserts that families headed by consenting adult same sex couples should not be entitled to equal protection of law (comparing such protections to legislation enacted by the Nazis), really has the right to high moral dungeon over the rights of accused rapists of minors to legal representation.
Further, Storobin is hardly in a position to complain about his opponent making an issue of his legal practice, when he’s done the same to his opponent.
As I noted on my Hack N. Sack Blog, Storobin did exactly that to Fidler; what follows is the relevant text::
Mr. Storobin has issues with Mr. Fidler’s private employment. “Mr. Fidler has, for many years, been on the payroll as chief counsel to a company named LawCash. This is a company that advances money at extremely high interest rates to people who are suing corporations including the corporation of the City of New York.
“There are two problems with this.
“One, Mr. Fidler thinks it’s okay — in fact he’s said he’s “proud” of his association with (those are HIS words) — proud of his job at LawCash, a company that makes its living poaching low income people with little hope, and then bleeding them of large chunks of settlements…
…And second, Mr. Fidler is under the employ of this company while he is a sitting City Councilman. This is an outrageous conflict of interest!
“This is a man who was elected by the people of New York to protect their interests, their tax dollars, and to be a good steward of the public trust. How can Mr. Fidler protect the interests if the taxpayers of New York City when, at the SAME time, he is the chief lawyer for a company that takes money from people who are suing this city?
While I think it’s ironic that Storobin has accused of being a predator, the one elected official who sounded the alarm about predatory lending three years ahead of anyone else (and introduced legislation to address it), I’ll let Mr. Fidler answer Mr. Storobin for himself, using some comments he posted a few years ago:
“… the company in question is ENDORSED by the likes of ACORN, for the very reason that it levels the playing field in litigation for poor people against insurers who rely on the economic distress of struggling people. Over 80% of the funds advanced by this NATIONAL industry goes to keep people in their homes. Try to go to a bank and ask for a loan against your contingent interest in a lawsuit. See what reply you get.
…the company in question is a leader in the association in the industry for better business practices. Under its leadership, the association entered into an agreement with then Attorney General Spitzer, codifying the good business practices. This model has since been replicated in other states.
… the company in its documents tells people that if they have any other option for funding they should avail themselves of it. Since the company is engaging in a high risk transaction, rates are higher than for say credit cards, banks or your favorite uncle---though each of those will require that you re-pay them even if you lose.
For those of you who are confused, here is how this industry works. By the way, it is a nationwide industry with hundreds of companies and a billion dollars out in advances. The practices have been upheld by the courts repeatedly. Please do not get the impression that this is some sinister guy loan sharking on a corner.
You have a personal injury case, say worth about $100,000. Nevertheless, out of work, perhaps, stuck with big bills, you are having difficulty paying your rent for the next month. You have tapped out on credit cards etc. The insurance company offers you $10k to settle. Your lawyer recommends against it, saying your case, if you are patient, will go for 10 times that. You say you will be homeless before then, you want to take the offer. Your lawyer, by the way, is prohibited from lending you money as well. The bank surely isn't interested, and Uncle Mo is tapped out.
You go to a personal injury advance company. They evaluate your case for both liability and value based upon the information provided by your attorney. Most companies will give you an advance of no more than 10% of what they believe your case is worth. So in this example, they will offer you say 10k. Since the money is at risk---meaning that if you lose the case you owe them nothing---the interest rate is high. Often more than 2% per month.
However, you are able to pay your rent and stay the course of your litigation. At the end, you get the 100k that your lawyer says it was worth. Depending on how long it takes, the 10k that you got earlier and had unfettered use of, may cost you 5-8k. BUT, you wind up with your 2/3 share of 100k, not 2/3 of 10k. Like I said, everyone is happy except the insurance company that was trying to lowball your fair payment based upon your economic duress.
The company that I do legal work for is one of the largest and least expensive in terms of rates. I will not mention it, as I do not want to appear to be "advertising". But as I said, it is endorsed by ACORN because of its role HELPING poor people leverage powerful insurers. Far from predatory.
Anyway, I hope this clarifies things for anyone who has the patience to read it all.
While I do not think that such operations, if run in a lawful manner raise any ethical questions, I happen to think that operations like Law Cash do raise some legitimate public policy issues, and it would be nice if someone intelligent discussed their actual pros and cons, instead of doing a hit job. Fidler has made a very articulate presentation in the affirmative; there are arguments to be made to the contrary, and it would be nice to see them discussed in a manner other than as a vehicle for character assassination. Clearly, Storobin has no interest in such things
Unfortunately, the contrary arguments are usually supplied by vested interests like “The Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York” (LRANY). LRANY’s members include the New York Business Council, the National Federation of Independent Businesses, Unshackle Upstate (itself a collection of special interests). The Farm Bureau of New York, The American Congress of Obstetrician and Gynecologists, and the Association of General Contractors.
In other words, those opposing what is called "Non-recourse civil litigation financing," or “lawsuit lending” are people who get sued and would like to get sued less.
There is no doubt that the courts see much in the way of frivolous litigation. What groups like LRANY refuse to admit is that frivolous litigation is a two way street. Litigation results and drags on longer because insurance companies often refuse to settle insurance claims reasonably. Dragging out the process is often a tactic used to apply pressure upon poor litigants to close cases more economically. Companies like Law Cash put a crimp in the ability of insurance companies to squeeze poor litigants.
Much of what LRANY says about “lawsuit lending” is in the realm of crocodile tears:
“They seek out consumers who have filed lawsuits and offer to pay them up-front money in exchange for a percentage of whatever award they may later receive in their lawsuit – a percentage which increases over time. Litigation companies prey on vulnerable consumers – people who are often injured and unable to work, with no financial support, and desperate for cash. These companies force the consumer to agree to unfair terms that ultimately result in the consumers giving up a big piece, if not all, of any award they may receive for their injuries.”
The question is “compared to what?”
Insurance companies also prey on the vulnerable—vulnerable victims--people who are often injured and unable to work, with no financial support, and desperate for cash. These companies force the victim to agree to unfair terms that ultimately result in the victims giving up a big piece, if not all, of what they would have gotten if they’d received a just award for their injuries.
Sadly, operations like Law Cash exist because of our society's great economic inequality. Restoration of the sort of free-legal services gutted in the early 80s by Reagan would not even begin to address the problems which compelled the creation of operations like Law Cash. But the question remains, in the absence of societal transformation, what alternatives exist to such operations? Until something similar is created on a not-for-profit mode, Law Cash is at worst a necessary evil, and arguably something quite positive and laudable.
What proves to me that Storobin could care less about the policy questions, even from a pro-insurance company viewpoint, is that he by take his complaint on a side trip through red herring-land into the question of Fidler’s non-existent conflicts of interest.
Since Fidler is not providing legal representation to Law Cash's clients, whether they are suing the city or someone else would seem besides the point; and how Fidler is trading on his position, as Storobin implies, remains a mystery to me after reading the Storobin’s whine three different times.
Fidler also addressed this point a few years ago:
Now, the nonsense about the City. The company I work for does business in 48 states of this country. Within that massive portfolio, I am sure that there are a few cases in which we have advanced money to persons who may be suing the City of New York. No doubt. So what? I refer you to the other entry for an explanation of how this business works. Once money is advanced to a litigant, the company has absolutely NO role whatsoever---as specified in the contract---in the conduct of the case. The company does not advise, does not appear in Court. Nothing. If the case is lost, nobody pays the company back. Period. If you win, when the defendant pays, the company's lien is satisfied from the proceeds through the litigant's personal attorney. If the company is defrauded, and not paid, it is the personal attorney and/or the litigant who are liable. So the defendant is not an issue. Ever. In 7-8 years of doing over 100 million dollars in business, a defendant has not been sued ONCE.
…As the company I do legal work for---like any of my other legal clients---does absolutely NO business with the City of New York, and does absolutely NO City lobbying on any issue of any kind…I don't understand what the conflict question is. If anyone can clearly articulate it for me, I will gladly ask the Conflict Of Interest Board for an opinion if it poses a legit question.
Once again, what amazes is that Storobin is a lawyer. He was required to pass an ethic exam to be admitted to practice in this state, so he knows what constitutes a conflict of interest. That there is no conflict here is not even a close question.
Yet Storobin put his name on this statement regardless. In this case, one hopes that he did so without reading it, since the idea that he would put his name on such a statement knowing what it said implies a failure of intellect or character of astonishing dimensions.
I should note an important difference here is Storobin’s nonsense came directly out of his mouth, while the Democratic nonsense came from DSCC rather than from Fidler personally.
But, even as pure cynical politics, this ad makes no sense. If one is going to run such trash, one does not do so so that it hits the mailboxes three weeks before the election; one does it so that it hits the weekend before, so that the chickens have no time to come homr to roost.
Under the circumstances, I think Fidler should sue the DSCC for malpractice.
.I think even LRANY would agree that this would not be frivolous litigation.
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