Punishments for Crimes through the ages – from the bizarre to outrageous, from the sublime to the ridiculous. We don’t know how lucky we are!
Many of us are apt to complain about sentences handed out by our Courts for crimes these days – too harsh, too lenient. But a quick look at some punishments for crimes through the ages, including in some countries today, we should really consider how much we really have to complain about.
Not only have punishments been truly shocking (and in some instances still are), but even some of the crimes are truly unbelievable.
Many Sydney criminal lawyers would have had their work cut out for them if some of these historical crimes were still on the statute books! Lucky for us that our complaints about the justice systems these days are limited to whether an offender should be given a jail sentence or community service, or whether a 2 year sentence is sufficient or whether 5 would have been better, and so on.
Thank goodness we don’t have to contend with crimes for which the penalty is being tortured to death by some truly unimaginable means. Criminal lawyers in Australia, as in Europe, the United States, Canada, New Zealand and others, these days don’t have to plead for the type of mercy that offenders of times gone by had to. And of course, some of these barbaric practices do still exist today in other parts of the globe, as you can see below.
Some Crimes and Some Punishments You Won’t Believe
In 2009, Emily Galvin-Almanza, a public defender, drove five hours to a California state prison to visit a client. As she approached the metal detectors, a male officer turned her away.
The reason? Her bra.
Lawyers and loved ones who visit correctional facilities are subject to strict dress codes: no skirts shorter than 2 to 3 inches above the knee, no sleeveless tops, no open-toed shoes — and no underwire bras.
So Galvin-Almanza marched back to her car, tore up the stitching of her plain, beige Victoria’s Secret bra, and pulled out two C-shaped bands of wire from it. She sure as hell wasn’t going to drive home without doing her job, she told herself.
“These are 19th-century modesty rules,” Galvin-Almanza said. “There’s no rational basis for them.”
The rules in that prison weren’t an anomaly. In prisons and courtrooms across the US, strict dress codes disproportionately affect female-presenting lawyers. As in-person prison visits and courtroom trials begin to reopen, women are contending with renewed concerns over how their wardrobes influence their work.
A persistent history of harsh dress codes for women
Professional dress codes for women have been relaxed since several decades back, when drab skirt suits with hems below the kneecaps were the fashion du jour and women in pants were taboo in office settings.
But even as recently as a handful of years ago, law firms, law schools, and bar associations instructed female lawyers on what they should and shouldn’t wear. In 2010, the Chicago Bar Association held a “What Not to Wear Fashion Show,” where a panel of judges commented on legal-fashion faux pas, from tightly fitted suits to dark nail polish and hair in a ponytail.
According to a blogger who attended the show, one professor said, “Maybe you bought your suit at Express or somewhere … and you bent over to get a Danish and I can see your tramp stamp.”
While dress-code guidance has been made in the name of professionalism, female lawyers told Insider that the rules sought to hold women responsible for men’s reactions.
“These justifications are a vestige of white-male privilege that dominates our culture,” Jennifer Sellitti, a training director at the New Jersey Office of the Public Defender, said. “It’s demeaning to see others think you can’t handle yourself as a professional.”
Sellitti said she had wasted countless hours changing her outfits before visiting clients in prison to make sure they wouldn’t be deemed inappropriate.
Professional dress codes also often fail to take into account the way that clothes look on different body types.
“I once wore a flowy shirt that didn’t show any cleavage. But a former professor looked at me and said it looked like I was trying to show off my breasts, and my opposing counsel would think that’s what I was trying to do,” Ashley Kincaid Eve, a civil-rights attorney, said. “It floored me, and the worst thing is, it made me question myself.”
Judges sometimes weigh in on courtroom attire
Courts are traditionally conservative, and most US courts expect lawyers of all genders to adhere to specific dress codes as a sign of respect. But the rules often place a greater burden on female-presenting lawyers.
Corporette, a fashion and lifestyle blog for professional women, advises that women dress “vanilla” when appearing in court and “absolutely” recommends “wearing a skirt for the first few days, if only until you get a feel for the judge and the lay of the land.”
Female lawyers often share judges’ sartorial preferences — and attitudes toward nonmale attorneys — via whisper networks across the legal profession. There are some judges, for example, for whom “a skirt suit with pantyhose is pretty much mandatory,” Galvin-Almanza said. “All of these gendered norms are completely, overtly reinforced in the courthouse.”
While judges won’t explicitly issue such dicta, attorneys have been pulled aside by court marshals and told they should use all the buttons on their blouse or refrain from wearing too-tight suits, according to women who spoke with Insider. Other aspects of appearance, like makeup, hairstyles, and shoes, are scrutinized as well.
Women of color face heightened scrutiny
Things can be doubly difficult for women of color, who often have to contend with implicit biases based on their race.
“I practice in a jurisdiction where a lot of clients fortunately look like me, but I need to make sure I look different to make sure people take me seriously as a lawyer,” Heather Pinckney, a managing partner at the DC firm Harden & Pinckney, said.
Pinckney, who often has her hair in braids or “anything somebody’s rocking on the street,” said that she’d been stopped by marshals and court officials who assumed she wasn’t an attorney — and that her white colleagues, dressed in similar fashion, hadn’t been confronted in this way.
“What about me doesn’t look like a lawyer? Is it because I’m a short Black woman?” she said.
Pregnancy can bring added dress-code complications
A few years ago, the human-rights attorney Jessica Jackson was denied a visit with an incarcerated client because her shirt was too stretchy. Jackson was eight months pregnant at the time. She drove up the road to the nearest Target and bought the biggest T-shirt she could find. By the time Jackson changed and returned to the correctional facility, half her allotted time with her client was over.
“It’s not just the delays,” Jackson said on the effect dress codes can have on her work. “You’re basically told you’re too young, too pretty — you’re totally discredited.”
Jackson hasn’t forgotten the incident. She’s pregnant again and worried about a repeat incident, she said.
In early June, Jackson was preparing for her first in-person visit to a correctional facility since the start of the pandemic. Jackson, nearly five months pregnant, was stressed about what to wear and ultimately landed on a conservative all-black outfit — plus an extra pair of pants, in case the first pair was too tight.
“I shouldn’t need to think about all that stuff,” Jackson said. “I should’ve been able to relax and use that time I spent finding a sports bra to focus on my client’s case instead.”
US News & World Report ranks Stanford Law School (SLS) second in the nation, making it a prime target for aspiring attorneys.
If you’re applying to this Palo Alto-based graduate school, then you’ll need more than the standard application advice to turn heads. After all, less than 10% of applicants are accepted at SLS.
Insider spoke to four alumni to get the inside scoop on how they landed coveted spots.
Find ways to expose yourself to law school as an undergraduate
When Afam Onyema, class of 2007 and CEO of The GEANCO Foundation, was a junior at Harvard University, he worked with the special-events office of Harvard Law School during the week of their commencement.
“Immediately after it was over, I worked overtime to convince the head of the special-events office to hire me part time for my senior year,” Onyema said.
This hustle became an invaluable way to get exposure to a top law school as an undergraduate.
“To me, it wasn’t just a job — it was an entrepreneurial opportunity to soak up all that school had to offer,” he said.
He recalled setting up for a conference and then, instead of retreating back to his office, hanging out in the back of the room and listening to all the speakers.
“I did that for a wide variety of conferences, events, symposia, and speeches covering literally every aspect of law and the legal professional,” Onyema said. “I even once escorted Supreme Justice Stephen Breyer to a keynote speech and took the opportunity to pepper him with questions about law school, the legal profession, and how the Court functions.”
Onyema’s boss took notice of the student’s extra efforts and wrote a letter of recommendation for him touching on how fully and uniquely Onyema had seized the role.
“When accepting me, Stanford Law School made note of how ‘entrepreneurial’ I was in both working and learning at the law school, when most others simply would have used the job as a way to make a few extra dollars as a student,” Onyema said.
Convey a clear plan for your degree and career
Katie Spielman, class of 2007, advised emphasizing your motivation for attending law school — and what you hope to do with a law degree.
“SLS has always, I think, favored admissions candidates who have a strong sense of purpose and a very clear vision of what they hope to do with their law degree and in their legal career,” Spielman, who’s been a consumer-insurance and disability-rights attorney at DL Law Group in San Francisco since 2017, told Insider.
Following her own advice wasn’t an easy task, she noted.
“I found it challenging at the time to be very specific about what exactly I wanted to do in the law,” she said. “I was just 21 years old, and while I had some ideas and work experience that gave me a general idea of where I was headed, I didn’t really have what I felt was a concrete plan.”
Spielman said her personal statement held the key to tying together her academic, work, and personal experiences and showing the admissions officers that her desire to study the law and advocate for people with disabilities and mental-health needs was “genuine, informed, and enduring.”
She wrote about her experience being raised by a single mother with a mental-health disability, as well as her observations of the injustices and challenges that her mother faced.
“I wrote about her inability to access quality mental-health care, or to pay for it or get it covered by insurance when it was available, the difficulties she faced in the workplace, ultimately leading to job loss, foreclosure, and eviction from our home, as well as the long struggle to obtain disability benefits when she could no longer work,” Spielman said. “With all these experiences, I had the distinct impression that there was an inherent unfairness and imbalance of power. I wanted to work within the law to help even the playing field.”
She then included concrete details and steps she’s taken already that backed up this passion, such as majoring in psychology, working with children with disabilities at a local middle school during the academic year, and working in the summers at plaintiff-side civil litigation firms that championed the rights of individuals against much larger, more well-resourced corporations.
Stephen Kane, class of 2006 and founder and CEO of dispute resolutions platform FairClaims, agreed with Spielman that your personal statement should go beyond the abstract and get specific.
“‘Batman Begins’ is my favorite Batman movie because it does what great origin stories do — gives you insight into Batman’s core motivation,” Kane said. “That’s what you need to do to get into Stanford Law School.”
Kane asked his classmates what they wrote in their essays and noticed a consistent pattern: personal stories that connected the missing puzzle piece of a world-class legal education with their intrinsic motivation for changing the world.
So in his application, Kane told the story of his Mexican immigrant grandfather who went on to be a civil-rights leader and fight in World War II and single mother who didn’t go to college but “sacrificed so I could,” he said.
“It doesn’t matter that dozens or even hundreds of other qualified applicants had similar stories,” he added. “It’s that my classmates and I wove a deeper narrative into our stories about how we wanted to leverage our perspectives and motivations to put our law degrees to good use.”
Get honest feedback from trusted colleagues
Jibril Jackson, class of 2006, told Insider that he studied for the LSAT in a Barnes & Noble on Peachtree Road in Atlanta, using a book of official tests that he “borrowed” from their shelves and ultimately getting a score in the top 1% of his LSAT class.
But even a stellar test score doesn’t guarantee an immediate spot — like many applicants, he said he worked hard on his personal statement.
After drafting it up, he first circulated it to a close group of friends and family. While most of them “thought it was hilarious,” he said — as he intended it to be — they gave him some valuable feedback.
“Consistently, they felt that the real story was in the parts I left out,” Jackson said. “The struggle that led me here, the history of it all.”
He took their feedback and wrote a second draft — “still honest, but in some ways revealing more about my environment than me,” he said.
When he felt the draft achieved a sort of “local consensus” among his readers, he decided to go with it and finish the rest of the application.
Jackson was all set to submit his package before he started second-guessing his statement. So as a sanity check, he reached out to one of his best college friends.
“During school, he would often babysit for his cousin, an award-winning author,” Jackson said. “I had spent enough time over there to have a rapport with the family. He agreed to help me solicit her feedback.”
The author got back to Jackson right away.
“She hated it,” Jackson said. “‘Where is your on-top-of-the-world humor? Where is the swagger?'” he recalled her telling him.
In that short email, the author gave Jackson some writing advice that he said he follows to this day: “Don’t just tell the truth — tell a truth that allows me to see you within it.”
Emboldened, Jackson sent her the original essay he’d penned, and she loved it.
“We went back and forth on minor changes for a bit, and in the end she encouraged me to take the courageous path,” he said. “I’m glad I did.”
Touch on the generous loan repayment program and how you plan to use it
According to Onyema, a point of great pride for Stanford Law is that it has the most generous loan repayment assistance program (LRAP) among all leading law schools. He suggested that an applicant who desires to go into public service or legal aid should make note that LRAP is a leading reason why they’re applying to the school.
“I made a note in my personal statement that the existence of LRAP was a huge draw for me and that I planned to make use of the program at some point after law school graduation to do public-interest/social-impact work,” Onyema said. “That prediction came true, as I started my foundation and signed up to LRAP right after I graduated in 2007, and remained in it for the full 10 years I was eligible.”
US News and World Report ranks New York University (NYU) School of Law sixth in the nation in terms of best law programs.
While not an Ivy nor the best school in its region, admissions consultant and former LSAT instructor Joseph Vijay Ingam, who’s helped students get into NYU, Harvard, Stanford, Columbia, and UCLA, said NYU’s “clawed their way up to their high ranking through excellent quality of education and career placement.”
According to public database Law School Numbers, NYU accepts only about 34% of applicants. Here’s what it takes to get into the prestigious program.
Location matters — and so does when you apply
In Ingam’s experience, out-of-state applicants may have an advantage over locals — a situation that he said is true for most private law schools.
“All other things being equal, it’s easier to get into NYU if you are from California than from New York,” Ingam said. “My New York clients are really unhappy to hear that.”
One tip he offered is to leverage the fact that NYU uses rolling notification — in other words, applications are sent to admissions in the order in which they’re completed. Ingam has seen that it can be advantageous to apply early.
Show a passion for international experiences, business success, or public service
NYU Law has a reputation for three specialties: an international focus, law and business offerings, and public-service opportunities.
“If applicants have experiences studying abroad or working overseas, it helps position them as a candidate with a global perspective and adds to their mission in developing legal talents that can make an impact in a fast-changing world,” Ingam said.
“You can mention things such as, ‘I’ve noticed the importance of legal affairs and legal knowledge from working in the business world, such as healthcare and financial services, and that’s why I think pursuing education in law helps me advance my career,'” Ingam said.
Finally, he said, if you express an interest in a JD to “make the world a better place” or provide pro-bono legal services to underprivileged groups, “that’s a big plus.”
Riley Jones IV, class of 2020, said he talked about how the history of his family, having migrated from the South, “informed the unfortunate history of discrimination” in a place like Chicago, where he grew up.
“I talked about wanting to change that circumstance as quickly as possible,” Jones said. “I specifically said, ‘My journey to law school is not for me, but for the people before me who did not have this opportunity, and my peers who never will.’ I think NYU cared about that perspective more than a lot of other schools I came across.”
Make your resume sparkle
According to Ingam, your resume is particularly critical to get right.
“Academic resumes are longer and focus more on academic and community-service accomplishments,” he said. “If you want to actually get accepted by the school, it is important to have a good resume that is customized for the needs of an academic institution.”
Jones used his to talk about the technology company he started.
“We build software to improve employment outcomes for young people from low-income communities,” Jones said. “In my application, I talked about the work we had done on a national level, such as hosting an event at the White House in 2016 and conferences that attracted people from all across the country.”
He believes this approach helped reveal his commitment to the “common principle” of his entire application, which he described as “economic and educational opportunity.” It’s also what allowed him to eventually get financial support when the school created the NYU Law Venture Fund.
“All of that foundation was laid in my application,” Jones said.
Connect with affinity groups
Jones, a student of color without attorneys in his family, initially struggled to network with admissions staffers and professors. He said he eventually overcame this by getting in touch with affinity groups.
“Specifically, leaders of the Black Law Students Association (BLSA) really took me under their wing to mentor me in my application process,” Jones said.
“I met two students, Alex and Mitchell, who mentored me through the process of applying and selecting a school. They invited me to spend time on campus with them socially and at professional development events that were happening so I could get a glimpse of what was going on,” he added.
Prepare a lot for interviews
Jones was also able to participate in the Jacobson Scholars Program, targeted for those interested in a career that intersects law and business.
Many of NYU’s scholarship opportunities require finalists to participate in an extremely competitive interview process. Ingam said he spends 10 hours on average preparing his clients and coaches them to spend about 20 hours preparing on their own.
“NYU looks for professionalism, maturity, compassion, passion for learning, and a strong interest in the law,” Ingam said. “You project these characteristics in an interview for admission or a scholarship program by discussing your motivations to become an attorney, who are your attorney mentors that inspire you and you admire, educational background, and law-related coursework, community service, and professional experience.”
He also suggested mentioning specific courses you’d like to take or specific student clubs you’d like to join and why they interest you.
Top corporate law firms like Kirkland & Ellis, Shearman & Sterling, and White & Case have recently opened offices in the state and are bolstering their ranks with key hires.
The firms have also been hiring the many junior lawyers who moved to Texas during the pandemic in search of a lower cost of living and a higher quality of life, recruiters told Insider.
“You can get some experience working in big law firms on the East and West Coast, then go to Texas, get paid the same salary, and get a 4,000-square-foot house,” said Wendy Boone, a principal recruiter at Lateral Link.
Despite the influx of young lawyers, firms are struggling to fill vacancies. Large firms in Houston and Dallas are eyeing the same pool of lawyers, offering sign-on bonuses that range from $20,000 to six figures to attract talent, Boone said.
“It’s a candidate’s market,” said Christine Ruffner, a recruiter at Parker + Lynch.
Here are the six practice areas driving demand for legal talent in Texas.
1. Capital markets
Corporate work has been driving the national legal market. As companies went under or sought to reorganize during the economic turmoil caused by the pandemic, they turned to corporate lawyers to help with financing matters.
As companies ride the wave of an economic recovery, capital markets is the most “white hot” of practice areas, according to legal recruiters. Boone said that in her decade of legal recruiting, she’d never seen this many firms looking for capital-markets attorneys.
“Corporate took a nosedive during the pandemic and is rebounding like nothing we’ve seen before,” Ruffner said.
The SPAC frenzy has also driven demand for lawyers in this field over the past year. “They’re also going to need them for de-SPAC-ing transactions,” said Robert Croyle, a managing director in Major, Lindsey & Africa’s Houston partner-practice group.
2. Private equity and M&A
Demand for private-equity and mergers-and-acquisitions associates has soared in recent months, especially as transactional work — from purchasing and selling assets to full-blown mergers — gains speed.
“It’s gotten to the point where internal recruiters at law firms are telling me, just show me anyone — associates and partners are working way too hard,” said Andrew Glynn, a managing director at Major, Lindsey & Africa. “Litigation partners can afford to be picky. Corporate partners cannot.”
Texas’ robust energy industry, whose oil and gas sectors were “decimated” during the pandemic, has been picking up speed, Croyle said. The revival of the industry — in addition to the Biden administration’s focus on renewable energy — has spurred a boost in related private-equity and M&A work.
“The price of oil is starting to return to pre-pandemic levels, and that means there’s going to be more opportunities for transactions in the market,” Croyle said.
3. Emerging growth and venture capital
Law firms are seeking to bolster their ranks with lawyers skilled in helping venture capitalists and emerging growth companies navigate everything from company formation and financings to governance, acquisitions, and public offerings.
Austin especially has become a mecca for startups and tech giants, like Apple and Dell, that have relocated or expanded to Texas to take advantage of the state’s more favorable business regulations, taxes, and costs of living.
The Southern District of Texas is a popular venue for bankruptcy filings, mainly because of two prominent judges, Marvin Isgur and David Jones, who have revamped the courts to become more efficient and effective, Croyle said.
Texas also has “very favorable” and generous bankruptcy laws, making it an attractive jurisdiction for companies, Ruffner said. During the pandemic, a record number of companies filed for bankruptcy in Houston.
While bankruptcy needs have slowed from the height of the pandemic, demand for attorneys who can help companies and individuals navigate restructurings and reorganization remains high, recruiters said.
5. Intellectual property
As tech companies decamp to Texas, they’ve driven demand for IP lawyers who can handle patent prosecution and trademark work. Almost one in five patent cases filed in the US last year went to Judge Alan Albright in Waco, near Austin, Insider reported in April.
Law firms are looking for seasoned litigators as courtrooms return to in-person trials. The market for IP litigators has increased steadily over the past year, Croyle said.
6. Real estate
The boom in construction and corporate work has brought an “unbelievable” spike in demand for real-estate lawyers, Ruffner said.
Ruffner said the practice area had been “very hot” before the pandemic. After a stall in real-estate development during the pandemic, companies have begun to put plans back into action. Dallas-Fort Worth especially has robust energy and finance sectors, galvanizing substantial real-estate development in Texas.
This interview accompanies a story about Judge Jed Rakoff’s new book, “Why the Innocent Plead Guilty and the Guilty Go Free.” It has been edited for length and clarity.
Summary List Placement
What are the top takeaways from this book?
The main takeaway is that there are a number of very serious problems with our legal system in the United States, most especially the criminal-justice system. But they’re all fixable. They cannot be fixed, however, without an appreciation by the general public of just how serious these problems are.
Let’s start with why the innocent plead guilty. You lay a lot of this at the feet of plea bargaining. I was struck by these statistics you included about how before World War II, trials were much more common. How did we get here?
This is one of several unfortunate results of laws that were passed in the 1970s, ’80s, and ’90s, with bipartisan support, in reaction to the rising crime rates of that period. The problem was, it was a considerable overreaction — and in particular, the laws that were passed imposed harsh and frequently mandatory sentences for a very large number of crimes. The result was, someone who might have gone to trial in the past, guilty or innocent, now recognized that the best thing that could be done was to minimize his risk by pleading guilty to a lesser offense.
So if you were facing, for example, 20, 30, 40 years mandatory if you were convicted, even if you were innocent, it might be perfectly rational for you to say to yourself, “Well, there’s no guarantee I’ll be acquitted, and the government is offering me a five-year mandatory plea bargain, and I’d just rather not take the risk of going to jail for 40 years where the judge won’t have any way to reduce it. I’d rather take the five years even though, of course, I know in my heart that I’m innocent.”
Today, a lot of people talk about how America is overpoliced and overincarcerated, but not many talk about how America is underjudged, as you argue. Do you think we should have fewer cops and more judges?
I don’t know about fewer cops, but certainly more judges. Because what happens, particularly in state court, where most of the criminal cases are, is that the judge cannot give meaningful attention to a guilty plea, which is usually the main role the judge is now playing in the system.
Here are the statistics: In the state courts of the United States, the average time for a guilty-plea allocution is 13 minutes. Of those 13 minutes, at least five, or more commonly 10, are spent advising the defendant of the rights he’s giving up, like his right to a jury trial and his right to confront the witnesses against him and so forth — rights that are in the Constitution. And after the judge has elicited that, yes, he’s willing to waive all those rights, the judge then has a few minutes, at best, to probe as to why he’s pleading guilty.
It’s just not realistic, at that stage, with the huge volume of cases that most judges have, to expect that instead of three minutes, they’d spend three hours probing what the facts of the case are. And even then, at that late stage, it would be hard for a judge who knows nothing about the case until the guilty plea to really probe deeply.
Now let’s talk about why the guilty go free. You describe how prosecutors have shifted from charges against executives to charges against corporations themselves. What’s wrong with this scenario?
A corporation never commits a crime. It’s only people within the corporations, the human beings, who make the decision to commit criminal misconduct. I’ve never really seen the moral force of going after a corporation for criminal misconduct. I think there’s abundant evidence that the best deterrent for white-collar crime is sending the miscreants to jail, whereas in the case of a corporation, of course all you can do is impose monetary sanctions and make some compliance measures.
Less important, but not unimportant: When you go after just the corporation and impose a fine, you are actually punishing the shareholders who pay the fine, and nine cases out of 10, they had absolutely nothing to do with it. It’s a very perverse result. It came about for a lot of reasons, but I think the most important reason is a question of resources. It’s a lot easier, particularly under federal law, to bring a case against a corporation than it is to bring a case against a high-level individual.
What about at the state level? I’ve heard that, at least in New York, it’s harder to charge white-collar cases — prosecutors have called for state laws to be reformed — and that the penalties tend to be lighter.
I disagree with all of that. The greatest prosecutor of white-collar crime in our lifetimes was Robert Morgenthau. When he was US attorney, he founded the first securities-fraud prosecution unit and aggressively went after high-level executives who had gone after major white-collar financial frauds. When he became district attorney, he didn’t change. There were significant white-collar prosecutions brought, like the BCCI case.
The Southern District had turned the case down. Morgenthau, who had a very good nose for this kind of thing, thought there was a case to be made, and he made it. So it is not, in my view, a function of the law in these jurisdictions, or anything else. It’s a function of leadership. And as for the sentences, all the studies indicate that you don’t need a lengthy sentence to achieve a major deterrent effect in white-collar crime. These are people who their whole self-image is not being behind bars. If they wind up in prison, or they read about someone else spending time in prison, that’s their worst nightmare. It doesn’t have to be 20 years.
I’m also curious what you think of the notion, encapsulated in the title of Jesse Eisinger’s book “The Chickenshit Club,” that many prosecutors are simply too afraid to take a case to trial and lose. Is that a bigger factor in why executives don’t get charged?
I’m a huge admirer of Jesse Eisinger, but he and I don’t fully agree on this. At the assistant US attorney level, there is, if anything, a desire to bring a high-visibility case. It will help make your career. Where greater impediments have been imposed has been at the very highest levels in central justice.
I think there were a variety of reasons why that happened, but one of the reasons, which Jesse discusses in his book — very accurately — is that the Department of Justice received a lot of bad publicity in two cases in particular. One was the Arthur Andersen case, where they got reversed in the Supreme Court, and the other was the Bear Stearns case, where they lost the trial in Brooklyn early in the period right after the financial crisis began. I think that was an unfortunate overreaction.
The general story that was placed on the Arthur Andersen case was, “Oh, they were forced out of business, and yet in the end, they were proved innocent.” That’s completely false. They were not found innocent by the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court found that the charge given by the judge had gone too far. Had they not been out of business, they would have received a new trial. And they were out of business because their participation at Enron was just the latest in a whole series of involvement in financial fraud. Nevertheless, certain people were able to put a spin on Arthur Andersen that gave people in the higher echelons of the Justice Department some fears.
With respect to Bear Stearns, all the people I know who watched that trial thought it was badly tried by the government. In those cases, the government will lose. But if you are not willing to take an occasional loss, you’re never going to be successful at prosecuting white-collar crime, because these are not easy cases. They have the best lawyers on the other side. The issue is always questions of intent, which is inherently subjective. A percentage of these are going to be lost, but if you make that the reason for not prosecuting the cases, it’s basically open season.
I’ve heard you say that the increasing trend toward specialties in the legal profession has made it harder for people to hire a lawyer. So many normal people are self-represented, especially once you get outside of cities with robust legal aid and right-to-counsel laws. Can you talk about this a little?
A lot of this goes back 30 or 40 years, when the major companies in the United States became concerned, and rightly so, that their legal bills were an ever-greater percentage of their budget. So what’s a sensible company going to do? They’re going to find ways to cut that bill. So what do they do? They brought the routine stuff in-house.
I think the first major company to go that route was General Electric, under its very great general counsel Ben Heineman. By the time he left, there were something like 500 lawyers, and there are even more now. So the big firms that had traditionally relied on the everyday work to make money now had to find a new way to make money, so they became more specialized. So you had a change in most of the major law firms in the United States to ever-greater specialization.
Lawyers are — I’m sorry to say — a cartel, from an economist’s perspective, with high barriers to entry, who are increasingly focused on making their money through high charges for highly specialized services. This carries over to all aspects of the profession. The average partner in all the firms in the United States, big and small, now charges $500 an hour. Now, maybe you can pay that, but I can’t, and neither can most folks.
Twenty or 30 years ago, in family court and housing court, which are the two courts that most everyday folks get involved with, it used to be that well over 90% of people were represented by lawyers. Now, in some housing courts and some family courts in some of the states, less than 10% are represented by a lawyer. The results speak for themselves, but there have been studies of this. Where you are represented by a lawyer, you do much, much better than when you’re representing yourself.
Services like LegalZoom exist for situations outside of the courtroom, but I think a solution that would include courtroom situations would be to have the legal equivalent of a nurse practitioner. Someone who would go to law school for maybe six months, instead of three years — and when I mentioned this to my brother, who’s a law professor, he threw his hands up in horror — and then would be maybe apprenticed for another six months or so, and then would do basic stuff. Could they represent a high-level executive in a complicated securities matter? No. But that guy doesn’t need this kind of representation.
What do you think about proposals to scrap or radically overhaul the bar exam?
You know, I don’t have a strong feeling about this, because it’s been so long since I took the bar exam. My recollection of the bar exam is that it’s mostly a memory test. There are parts that are national, but I can’t answer that question.
You propose a lot of reforms in this book. You also look abroad, for instance, at the UK barristers who switch off between prosecuting and defending cases. Your suggestion that magistrates get involved in plea bargaining, as they do in Florida and Connecticut, reminded me of how magistrates have roles in criminal investigations in Italy. Is the judiciary eager to take up these ideas?
I have not heard about it, and that’s been a major disappointment to me. If you have no judicial involvement in the plea-bargaining process, what you’re saying is judges will have no involvement in 96% of cases in the federal criminal system, and that seems to me to be crazy.
What I propose — and as you say, it’s really an elaboration of things that have been successful in Connecticut and somewhat in Florida — would be that a junior judge, who would not be the judge who would be trying the case, would meet with each side separately. He’d then explore with them: “What’s this case all about? Why haven’t these avenues been pursued? Why haven’t you pursued those other avenues?” On the defense side, he might be saying, “Have you hired an investigator? If your guy can’t afford it, you know, at least in the federal system, you can get money for that. If you have an alibi defense, why aren’t you out there looking for witnesses?”
That’d be the preliminary discussion, and it would serve, I think, to sensitize both sides to potential weaknesses. Then you’d meet with them three to four weeks later, and then the junior judge would express his recommendation. It’d be nonbinding, but I’d be willing to wager that because it’s coming from a neutral party, the suggestion would be followed in a great many cases. And the result would be a much fairer, more neutral, judicially overseen plea-bargain process than we have now.
On May 31, 1921, hundreds of white people overran Greenwood, a largely Black neighborhood in Tulsa, Oklahoma. They killed dozens of people, burned hundreds of businesses and homes, and imprinted young Lessie Randle with memories that would haunt her for life.
Now 106 years old, Randle is suing Tulsa and the state of Oklahoma for reparations.
But the Tulsa lawyer Damario Solomon-Simmons and Randle’s other attorneys — a group of local civil-rights attorneys, law professors, and big-firm litigators — are using a somewhat unusual legal tactic. They’re accusing the city and county of Tulsa, the state of Oklahoma, and a regional business association of creating a “public nuisance” that continues to this day.
Randle and other massacre survivors want a victims’ compensation fund, similar to the one created by Congress in response to the September 11, 2001, attacks. They’re also asking for a land trust, scholarship funds, and tax abatements to benefit victims, their families, and longtime residents of Greenwood and North Tulsa.
“We’re asking for a lot because we need a lot to abate the nuisance,” Solomon-Simmons, who is representing the plaintiffs, said earlier this month. He said massacre victims and their families have faced decades of discrimination at the hands of governments, insurers, and banks.
Public-nuisance laws have been invoked in fights against Big Oil, gunmakers, lead-paint companies, and opioid manufacturers, with mixed results. Some view them as a powerful tool for justice, while others say the laws are being stretched far beyond their original purpose.
Public-nuisance laws are hundreds of years old and have been used in a wide variety of cases
Public-nuisance laws date back to medieval England, but in recent decades, plaintiffs’ lawyers and regulators have used them in a wide variety of public-interest cases. Lawsuits against big banks, tobacco companies, and polluters have all been brought under public-nuisance law.
Some recent nuisance lawsuits have been successful. In 2019, California counties and private-sector plaintiffs’ lawyers struck a $305 million settlement with Sherwin-Williams and other companies over their sales of lead paint in the 1970s and earlier. And in Oklahoma, a court ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $465 million over its marketing of opioids. (J&J has said it will appeal.)
But most high-profile public-nuisance lawsuits have fallen flat. Lead-paint cases in Rhode Island and New Jersey failed. Cities like Chicago sued Smith & Wesson and other gunmakers in the late 1990s using public-nuisance laws, but almost all those cases were tossed out by 2004, the Chicago Tribune reported. Cleveland and Cincinnati accused big banks of creating a nuisance by foreclosing on thousands of homes during the 2000s financial crisis, but those cases were also dismissed.
More recent lawsuits accusing Exxon, BP, and other fossil-fuel companies of creating a public nuisance by feeding into the climate crisis have generally met the same fate. A Texas court went so far as to scold California cities for trying to enlist the courts “to do the work that the other two branches of government cannot or will not do” on the climate emergency.
“It is part of the history of mass industrywide litigation in which ideas are largely cooked up in the offices of private lawyers and sold to municipalities,” Walter Olson, a senior fellow at the libertarian Cato Institute, said at a panel last year.
Victims’ lawyers say they’re trying to fix long-simmering injustice
States’ nuisance laws vary, but Oklahoma’s law, which dates back to at least 1910, is broadly worded. It bans any act or failure to act that “in any way renders other persons insecure in life, or in the use of property.”
Lawyers for the victims of the Tulsa massacre say they’re using the law in the same way Oklahoma did when it sued Johnson & Johnson in an effort to hold the company accountable for the opioid epidemic.
The city government of Tulsa, the state of Oklahoma, and other defendants have all sought to have the case thrown out. They have said the claims by some plaintiffs, or allegations against some defendants, including agencies like the Tulsa Development Authority, are too vague. They also noted that other survivors of the massacre sought relief in a lawsuit in 2003 that was dismissed for statute-of-limitations reasons.
Some of the defendants have also said the Tulsa lawsuit stretches the boundaries of public-nuisance law too far.
But Michael Swartz, an attorney at the law firm Schulte Roth & Zabel who is working on the case pro bono, believes the public nuisance law is appropriate in the Tulsa context, he said.
“This is not some generic race theory,” Swartz said. “These are real people who are alive, traceable, identifiable, and concrete.”
Kaimi Wenger, an attorney with the Inner City Law Center in Los Angeles, said the Tulsa case may succeed where other reparations cases — mostly based on mass-tort claims — have failed. Unlike tort claims, public-nuisance claims don’t need to focus on specific acts of wrongdoing. They need to show only that actions have harmed a community, according to Wenger.
Some racial-justice advocates think public-nuisance claims aren’t the right legal approach to take, Wenger said. “Traditionally, people have just wanted to bring tort claims,” he said. “But, I mean, as a pragmatist, if it works, it works.”
The Tulsa massacre may have happened 100 years ago, but Randle and her coplaintiffs say its scars cut deep. The destruction of Greenwood, sometimes called “Black Wall Street,” and the failure of insurers and banks to help Black Tulsa residents get back on their feet left families destitute and caused some to leave.
The defendants “owe us something,” Randle said in recent testimony before Congress. “They owe me something. I’ve lived much of my life poor. My opportunities were taken from me and my community. North Tulsa — Black Tulsa — is still messed up today.”
She added: “It seems like justice in America is always so slow, or not possible, for Black people. And we are made to feel crazy just for asking for things to be made right.”
The University of Chicago Law School is the fourth-best law school in the US, according to US News and World Report
The school’s website notes that 98.5% of the class of 2019 had a job 10 months after graduating, with a median private-sector salary of $190,000.
Insider spoke with current and former admissions officers, consultants, and graduates to learn what it takes to make your application stand out.
According to Ann K. Perry, associate dean of admissions and head of the admissions department, UChicago takes a “broad and holistic view” of each applicant.
“When applying, an applicant needs to make sure that they use every item in their application as a way to advocate for their acceptance,” Perry told Insider. While some students believe that admissions looks only at test scores and GPA, the resume, personal statement, and letters of recommendation are also very important.
“I like reading an application where the pieces fit together and tell the applicant’s story in a clear and thoughtful way,” she said.
Anna Ivey, a consultant and former dean of admissions and alumnus at UChicago, added that admissions also looks for a strong presentation of “soft factors,” such as life experience and diversity.
Use your resume to showcase extracurriculars
Perry said a resume can be useful to outline everything you’ve done outside the classroom.
“It is important to include detail about any of the extracurricular activities, provide information about part-time work and summer experiences,” Perry said.
She added that it’s okay if it stretches to two pages.
“We would rather you to provide more detail and explanation for the admissions committee to review,” Perry said.
Choose recommenders who know you well
Perry said applicants should give significant thought as to who writes their recommendation letters.
“It should be someone who knows the applicant and can provide insight into their academic success and abilities,” Perry said.
A strong letter provides information about how the applicant works with coworkers, analyzes and solves problems, and takes initiative with projects, as well as other signs of professionalism and maturity.
“For example, one applicant in recent years had a recommender who was their undergraduate thesis advisor, who spoke in detail about how the applicant had engaged in unusually complex fieldwork and developed strong relationships with all the other researchers in their lab,” Perry said.
Treat your personal statement like a writing sample
Perry said the committee looks at the personal statement as a writing sample.
“One of the most important skills a lawyer has is writing,” she said. “During law school, students will learn how to write like a lawyer, but we want to make sure the applicant has a good foundation in writing.”
One memorable statement Perry recalled reading talked about the applicant’s volunteer experience at a nursing home.
“The applicant talked about the new perspectives he gained as well as empathy for others around him,” Perry said. “This particular statement showed the admissions committee how the applicant has grown and how he takes advantage of learning in different environments.”
Law-school consultant Ali Nash suggested writing about something “personal, relevant, and completely individual to you,” noting that unlike other law schools, UChicago doesn’t require you to answer, “Why law school?”
“This may include writing about a significant aspect of your background, a quality or trait that you believe defines you, a transformative experience, or the things that interest and motivate you,” Nash said.
Your personal statement isn’t the place to demonstrate your knowledge of the law or role of attorneys, she added.
“Your readers likely know quite a bit about those topics,” Nash said. “Your job is instead to educate the admissions committee on yourself.”
Suzie Kim, class of 2020, said the biggest challenge she faced was differentiating herself from other applicants.
“When applying, I felt the need to strongly demonstrate how my undergraduate experience and relatively short work experience after college ultimately made me interested in the field of law and prepared me for law school,” Kim told Insider.
She decided to focus on her role as chair of the International Student Advisory Board of Columbia University, where she advised administrators on implementing new policies to improve campus life and job-search opportunities for international students. She also highlighted her experiences as a research assistant in the psychology department and provided details about a grant proposal she drafted for the nonprofit Nutrition and Education International.
Show you’re intellectually curious
Ivey said UChicago is tough academically, so it helps to signal in your application that you’re not just ready for that, but that that kind of environment is attractive to you.
“It has ‘real grades’ in a way that other top law schools have largely abandoned. It’s a culture that is proud to take academics seriously, and there’s a lot of intrinsic motivation — people want to do well because they take personal pride in learning. The ‘life of the mind’ is a real thing there,” Ivey said.
UChicago law students as a whole tend to be exceptionally studious and focused.
“They tend not to disappear and goof off too much during 3L [the third year of law school], which is what happens at some other peer schools,” Ivey said. “They stay engaged.”
As an example, she said a student’s version of fun might be to join a book club hosted at a professor’s home or take Roman Law because they feel like it.
Miranda Perry Fleischer, a 1996 graduate who’s now a professor at the University of San Diego School of Law, agreed that UChicago has a long history of attracting people who are intellectually curious.
However, “it is not cutthroat in an ‘every person for herself’ way,” Fleischer said. “Students help each other out and listen respectfully to others’ arguments, viewpoints, and ideas.”
“You end up knowing almost everyone in your class as well as your professors,” she added. “You don’t feel you have to knock others down to get a recommendation from a professor, for example, because everyone has a chance to get to know the professors.”
Dig deep in the interview
Shreya Gupta, class of 2019, recommended using the interview process to really ask yourself what you want out of a law school, ensuring that you explain why attending UChicago accomplishes that.
“Maybe it’s the school’s law and economics-based approach, the class size, or maybe it’s the federal criminal-justice clinic, which is unique to the school itself,” Gupta said. “Regardless of your reasons, dig deep past the surface-level names of classes or clinics.”
Kim added that interviews might also include unique queries that may be more difficult to answer.
“For example, I remember being asked the following question: ‘If you had a chance to meet a historical figure, who would it be and why?'” Kim said.
Perry said that given the unprecedented challenges associated with COVID-19, UChicago will evaluate applicants in this upcoming cycle — and in future cycles — with these impacts in mind, including respecting decisions to grade courses with a pass/no pass or other basis.
This year, UChicago Law offered students a hybrid schedule.
“We look forward to a full in-person schedule of courses for the 2021-22 academic year,” Perry said.
Litigation finance has been called the legal industry’s hot new job, pairing savvy lawyers with Wall Street financiers to generate double-digit returns for yield-hungry investors.
But success doesn’t always come easy. The biggest financial backer of a litigation finance firm that claimed to have raised $200 million by pursuing cases in Chinese courts has estimated it will incur a $41 million loss on the loan, according to court documents reviewed by Insider. The documents offer a rare peek behind the curtain of an industry where confidentiality is the norm.
Patent investor Brian Yates and litigator Rasheed McWilliams founded iPEL in 2017 with the goal of buying patents and filing infringement suits. They struck an agreement to borrow up to $100 million from Direct Lending Investments, or DLI, to get off the ground.
iPEL reportedlyacquired patents from ZTE, Panasonic, and Huawei. It filed patent infringement cases in China against AsusTek, a Taiwanese electronics maker, and Yates reportedly said in 2018 that cases against “household names” would come soon, including one he predicted would result in a $100 million award.
The claim raised eyebrows in the patent-enforcement industry. Nine-figure patent verdicts come along a few times a year in the US, but Chinese intellectual-property courts typically award less than $1 million. Those courts also tend to move slowly in cases with foreign parties involved, said Mark Cohen, a lawyer and scholar focused on Chinese IP law.
China “is quickly proving to be the best place in the world to license and litigate patents for an innovator,” Yates was quoted saying in the industry publication IAM. “I could write an entire article explaining why Chinese patents [are] a superior investment to US ones!”
But in November, DLI predicted it would lose tens of millions of dollars on its investment in iPEL. DLI’s chief executive faces criminal charges alleging that he overvalued parts of its portfolio, and DLI was sued by the Securities and Exchange Commission for allegedly manipulating performance data .
A judge appointed consultant Bradley Sharp to size up the fund and salvage what he could from DLI’s portfolio, including its iPEL loan. Sharp subsequently sued Duff & Phelps, a consultant to DLI, and included details about a company he referred to as “Investment M.” A review of documents by Insider reveals that the firm in question is iPEL.
The receiver has not sued iPEL, but he accused Duff & Phelps of inadequately scrutinizing the terms of DLI’s investment in Investment M. Sharp said iPEL paid millions to its owner, with “substantial losses expected” for DLI. He called DLI’s loan to iPEL “overvalued” and “insufficiently underwritten” and said iPEL’s China strategy was “far more challenging and risky” than the one it initially planned.
According to Sharp, iPEL only pivoted to Chinese patent litigation after a strategy focused on US courts became untenable. By August 2018, iPEL’s agreement with DLI was tweaked to let it use borrowed money to pay interest.
“Despite the fact that China was developing its intellectual property legal system and that there was no real data to which one could look to predict the results of future litigation efforts,” Sharp wrote, Duff & Phelps “rubber-stamped DLI’s valuations” of its iPEL loan.
iPEL was identified in the Duff & Phelps lawsuit as “Investment M,” a litigation finance firm focused on China. A search of patent assignment records for DLI entities uncovered a publicly filed agreement between DLI and iPEL, and financial records of DLI entities filed by Sharp included payments to and from iPEL that added up to a $6.5 million net payment from Investment M.
Despite DLI’s receivership, iPEL has remained active, announcing last summer that it reached a confidential settlement in Chinese litigation it brought against Extreme Networks, a publicly traded company that sells networking equipment.
Court records also indicate that DLI received $3.3 million in 2020 for “iPEL payoff (Parabellum Partners)” and a $1 million “anniversary” payment in 2021 involving “Parabellum.” Parabellum Partners is the name of at least one fund managed by Parabellum Capital, a well-known litigation finance firm. Two executives at Parabellum Capital didn’t respond to a comment request.
Yates, iPEL’s CEO, said in emails that Insider got its facts wrong, but he wouldn’t say which ones, citing confidentiality agreements. Shown the financial records found by Insider, Yates said his lawyers were investigating.
iPEL is not the first litigation finance firm to have taken money from an entity that later fell under regulatory scrutiny. Platinum Partners, a hedge fund manager that was taken into receivership in 2016, had a very illiquid portfolio that included some litigation investments.
As President Donald Trump reluctantly prepared to leave the White House, his onetime chief strategist Steve Bannon asked the Department of Justice for a taxpayer-funded reimbursement for the hefty legal fees he incurred in connection with the Russia investigation, according to records obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request.
“It is our understanding that the White House supports reimbursing Mr. Bannon’s attorneys’ fees,” Bannon’s defense lawyer William Burck wrote on New Year’s Eve to the Justice Department. “We are in the process of obtaining a written statement confirming the White House’s agreement and will provide it to you as soon as possible.”
Burck provided invoices to DOJ dating back to early 2018 with an almost hour-by-hour chronicle of his work on Bannon’s behalf during the Russia investigation.
An Insider review of the invoices showed Bannon racked up more than $1 million in legal fees between 2018 and 2020 as he sat for hours of questioning from the special counsel Robert Mueller’s team, responded to congressional inquiries about Russian interference in the 2016 election, and testified in the November 2019 trial of the longtime Trump associate Roger Stone.
It was during that same time period that Bannon became involved in a fundraising effort called We Build the Wall, which claimed to support Trump’s signature effort to erect a wall along the US border with Mexico. In August, federal prosecutors charged Bannon with defrauding donors. They alleged that despite his promise that “100 percent” of the funds would be used for wall construction, he personally received more than $1 million, much of which he used for personal expenses.
Trump’s Justice Department never acted on Bannon’s bid for the reimbursement of his legal fees. In an email to Insider, Burck said the Biden-led Justice Department denied Bannon’s request.
Brian Boynton, the acting DOJ civil-division head, made the denial decision, according to a person familiar with the matter.
The department’s civil division handles requests from current and former government officials for the reimbursement of outside attorney’s fees. When DOJ approves reimbursements, it generally does so at a fraction of the hourly rates charged by premier white-collar defense lawyers.
Bannon could not be reached for comment.
‘The Russia Probe’s most popular lawyer’
Burck’s pursuit of a reimbursement for Bannon came two months after the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel found that the attorney general has the power to authorize such payments.
In an October opinion, the Office of Legal Counsel said current or former federal government officials could be reimbursed for their attorney’s fees if they met with the Mueller team “under threat of subpoena about information the person acquired in the course of his government duties.” The office’s opinion also said “a number of current and former federal employees interviewed by the Special Counsel are expected to make requests for reimbursement of attorney’s fees.”
But only Bannon’s bid for reimbursement surfaced from a public-records request seeking documentation of former Mueller witnesses asking the Justice Department to cover attorney’s fees.
In his December 31 letter to the Justice Department, Burck said Bannon “paid and is responsible for paying the attorneys’ fees and costs and that he has not been reimbursed, in whole or in part, by insurance or any legal defense fund.” Burck added that Bannon was not a subject or target of the Mueller investigation.
Bannon had been subpoenaed by Mueller’s team before ultimately agreeing to be interviewed by the special counsel’s office rather than testifying before a grand jury. He was among several high-profile Trump associates whom Burck represented in the Mueller investigation.
Burck, a top partner at the law firm Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, also advised Trump’s first White House chief of staff, Reince Priebus, and former White House counsel Donald McGahn, who emerged as a key witness in the special-counsel investigation.
On his law firm’s website, Burck advertises that he was “referred to in the press as ‘the Russia Probe’s most popular lawyer.'” Outside the Russia investigation, Burck has defended the New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and serves as the post-presidency legal liaison to George W. Bush and his official White House papers.
Earlier this month, Burck accompanied McGahn to Capitol Hill for a closed-door interview where he took questions from the House Judiciary Committee about Trump’s efforts to impede the Russia investigation. McGahn agreed in May to appear for a transcribed interview, in a compromise with House Democrats and the Justice Department that marked a conclusion to a two-year legal battle over his testimony.
Burck declined to comment on why he did not seek reimbursement on behalf of McGahn and Priebus.
The invoices turned over to the Justice Department provide a new, detailed portrait of Burck’s representation of Bannon in the Russia investigation. In the first month alone, Burck and his firm charged Bannon more than $230,000 as they prepared Trump’s former strategist for his appearance before the special counsel’s office, according to the records obtained from the Justice Department.
In January 2018, Burck recorded calls with Bannon, the special counsel’s office, the White House, the House Intelligence Committee, and Abbe Lowell, the prominent white-collar defense lawyer who represented Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner in the Russia investigation. Burck said in the same invoice that he met with Lowell later in January 2019 as Bannon’s interview with the special counsel’s office neared.
On one of the days in January 2018, Burck billed Bannon for 10 hours in connection with his interview before the House Intelligence Committee. The Justice Department blacked out the hourly rates of Burck and other lawyers at Quinn Emanuel.
In March 2018, Bannon received a bill for $420,000 covering expenses surrounding his February 2018 appearances before the special counsel’s office. Burck billed Bannon for nine hours on February 12, 2018, in connection with “SC interview.” On February 14, 2018, he billed again for “SC interview,” this time for 10 hours.
The following year, Burck logged phone calls with Trump’s lawyer Jay Sekulow, and Quinn Emanuel lawyers billed Bannon for time spent preparing him to testify at the Stone trial. At the trial, Bannon testified that he viewed Stone as the “access point” between the Trump campaign and WikiLeaks, which released a trove of hacked Democratic emails in the run-up to the 2016 election that were damaging to Hillary Clinton.
Stone was found guilty of obstructing a congressional inquiry, lying under oath, and tampering with a witness and later sentenced to more than three years in prison. Trump commuted the sentence before Stone set foot in prison and then pardoned him in December.
At the time of Stone’s pardon, Bannon was facing criminal charges alleging he defrauded donors to We Build the Wall as early as 2019. Burck appeared as Bannon’s defense lawyer in that case but withdrew in November, a day after Bannon suggested that Dr. Anthony Fauci and FBI Director Christopher Wray should be beheaded.
In the final hours of Trump’s presidency, Bannon received a pardon. But his legal expenses from the Russia investigation remained his to bear.
Triller Fight Club, the boxing event wing of the social media app, has continued filing lawsuits against online individuals who they say pirated one of their fights.
On April 23, Triller Fight Club filed a lawsuit against eight websites and five YouTube channels in US District Court for the Central District of California for $100 million in damages. Triller claimed that these channels and sites illegally streamed the Jake Paul vs. Ben Askren boxing match on April 18 and alleged copyright infringement, violations of the Federal Communications Act, and violations of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. That suit was amended by United States District Court Judge Percy Anderson who labeled it as a “misjoinder” and had all but FilmDaily dropped as defendants.
Two weeks later on May 7, Triller filed another lawsuit against channel h3h3 productions on YouTube for $50 million after their podcast showed a clip of the final round of the event. That case is still ongoing, with the latest development on June 3 being a Report on Filing of Copyright Action.
Triller continued legal action with three separate lawsuits on May 27 in the United States District Court of California that were obtained by Insider. Triller filed these suits against Robiul Awal and Robiul Islam (who Triller claims are owners of Online2LiveStream.us), YouTube channel ItsLilBrandon and Canadian corporations Canada inc and Diglo inc alongside an individual named Nicolas Klivokiotis. Triller is alleging copyright infringement, vicarious copyright infringement, violations of the Federal Communications Act, conversion, and violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act in each of these suits.
On June 3, Triller filed a lawsuit against Matthew P. Space, who they claim owns the 2,200 subscriber YouTuber channel Eclipt Gaming. The complaint includes a screenshot of a livestream that shows that it had 257 views, with the suit saying the stream “has resulted in damages suffered by Plaintiff by stealing and diverting at least 300 unique viewers of the illegal and unauthorized viewings of the Broadcast.”
The most recent lawsuit Triller filed on June 11 alleges in the United States District Court Southern District of Ohio that Jerren Swords pirated the stream. According to the complaint obtained by Insider, Swords commented on co-owner of Triller’s Instagram Ryan Kavanaugh, writing that he had “watched the Jake Paul fight for free” and “he can’t sue me.” Kavanuagh responded with “give me your real name and we can check about that” (Insider was unable to confirm these Instagram posts). The lawsuit seeks damages up to $150,000.
Space and Swords did not respond to a request for comment. Triller did not immediately respond to a request for comment.