USA’s Phantom conflict evokes spirited response from MRGO Plaintiffs

Uncle Sam embarrassed. MRGO Plaintiffs retain outside ethics counsel.
Uncle Sam embarrassed? MRGO Plaintiffs retain outside ethics counsel.

Without warning, at approximately 5:15 p.m. Tuesday, April 28, 2009, and during the Government’s cross examination of a witness that Mr. Andry had just finished examining on direct, Mr. Andry and the Court were advised by Robin Smith of the filing of a Motion to Disqualify Mr. Andry and Ms. Sherman from this matter.

Robin Smith represented to the Court that the USA had not yet “ascertained” the facts, but was filing a motion in the event of a “potential” conflict of interest…Mr. Smith, as an officer of this Court, specifically declared,”We became aware of this conflict or potential conflict late last week and we sought guidance from our professional advisory office. We just received their report today advising us to go ahead and file this. It’s an issue for the Court to look into. It’s not something for us to determine. We can’t do it. We don’t know the facts. Opposition to USA’s Motion to Show Cause Why Plaintiffs’ Attorneys…Should not be Disqualified(emphasis in document)

Yesterday must have been Mr. Smith’s day to specifically declare.  According to the attached Affidavit of attorney Elwood C. Stevens, Jr., his brief conversation with USA attorney Smith ended with Smith specifically declaring:

…he was tired of plaintiffs’ counsel offering him ethics advice and he declined to withdraw the motion.

Likely, Plaintiffs’ counsel was tired of the need to offer ethics advice to an attorney representing our government.  Uncle Sam was probably embarrassed the Plaintiffs had to retain an outside  Ethics expert but they did and the affidavit of attorney Basile Uddo is included, too, as are affidavits from the two attorneys whose names are specifically declared in the motion the ethics weary Mr. Smith filed with court yesterday.

Mr. Smith may have over exerted himself coming up with what the Plantiffs’ response referred to as a “phantom conflict,” however, one would think Plaintiffs’ counsel were beyond tired, if not totally exhausted, by the end of what appears to have become a very long day.

Within thirty (30) minutes of the adjournment of Court on the 28th day of April, 2009, Mr. Andry, Ms. Sherman, nine other lawyers, three paralegals, and outside ethics counsel began researching and organizing information in order to respond to the Motion to Disqualify filed by the USA.

The USA, in what can only be seen as an attempt to gain an improper advantage at trial, filed this motion to disqualify. It is important for this Court to be cognizant of  the fact that this motion was filed at 5: 15 p.m., in the middle of the examination of the plaintiffs’ damages expert and on the eve of the day that the plaintiffs indicated to the defendant that the plaintiffs would be resting.

The plaintiffs devoted substantial resources to respond to this baseless motion because of the serious allegations made therein and to address the issues presented in the motion in an expeditious way so as not to upset this trial. While the cost of responding to this baseless motion have not been totaled, they can and will be substantial, in addition to time spent in support of the Motion for Sanctions under Rule 11 that Ms. Sherman and Mr. Andry will be filing against the lawyers for the USA and the USA. (emphasis added)

In addition to claiming there was no conflict, the Plaintiffs’ brief cited the waiver quoted in the most recent SLABBED update on the MRGO case – and then they went a step further:

While the lawyers for the USA have represented that it is only within the last few days the USA has become aware of a potential conflict, in fact and in reality, lawyers for the USA in this case were clearly aware of this alleged conflict as far back as the 2nd of October, 2008, when Kea Sherman in fact attended two depositions on behalf of the Robinson plaintiffs and/or the putative class representatives in the MR-GO Master Class Action Complaint…

Notably, Ms. Sherman appeared at a deposition on April 9,2008 as counsel for Jefferson Parish where the USA’s lead counsel, Robin Smith, was also in attendance. USA was therefore aware of Ms. Sherman’s previous representation of Jefferson Parish at the time she appeared in this litigation on behalf of the Robinson plaintiffs in early October, 2008.

In fact, one of the attorneys affiliated with the interests of the Robinson plaintiffs, Brendan O’Brien, who has been admitted pro hac vice to this Court, attended a deposition taken in the Robinson matter on the 2nd of October, 2008, when one or more of the attorneys for the USA, U.S. Department of Justice, were overheard by him (and by Kea Sherman) to say to Ms. Sherman a clear acknowledgment then that she was understood by them to now be a lawyer not for the Parish of Jefferson, Louisiana, but a lawyer now for the Robinson plaintiffs. At that deposition there was joking amongst all individuals present in the room that Ms. Sherman had “joined the dark side.” The foregoing is evidenced by the attached Affidavits of Brendan O’Brien and Kea Sherman.

Expect some choice words from Judge Duval.  Keep your dictionary handy!

23 thoughts on “USA’s Phantom conflict evokes spirited response from MRGO Plaintiffs”

  1. I don’t know who is right, and this motion sure seems to come late in the game, but I’ve also never heard of a lawyer appearing in the same litigation at various times on behalf of different parties. It seems like all of this could have been averted. Maybe there is a written conflict waiver that will clear all of this up pretty quickly.

  2. Thanks again for your continuing coverage of the Robinson case. I don’t think the Times Picayune has reported on the case since the start of Jazz Fest.

  3. Really. Thanks, Ashton.
    Whoa. Doucy, you got it goin’on no lie. slabbed is starting to make msm coverage kinda ho’hum’drum…
    I look all over the country on this story, and even many of the law blogs are a step behind. ‘Course then I usually leave them a link’a’roo hehehe… stitch’hikin.

  4. FLASH: Judge Duval has already “tossed” the Government’s Motion to Disqualify the Andry law firm. Boy, that was “quick”! Haven’t seen a written Order and Reasons yet, but this was entirely predictible if, as I firmly believe, the “fix” is already “”in” (and it is). Where is the FBI?

  5. It is like there is some kind of well orchestrated conspiracy or something and our residents are the intended victims. FBI? I think they might be on the wrong side of the table.

    We should see if government would settle for secession, We’ll take everything south of I-10, except B.R. – Sabine to Pearl.

    Thanks to you people providing updates, background information, etc.

  6. Thank you, Ray. We can see the interest in our stats but we do very much appreciate hearing from an appreciative reader – particularly one that offers a solution!

    Secession probably won’t be an option, however, as the coastal areas of our country contribute too much to the benefit of all.

    But, since none of that seems to be enough to outweigh the levee building and insurance lobby, we might need to consider charging more to offset the prevailing “why buy the cow when you can get the milk free” crowd.

    Oops, forgot to add that I checked and could not find any indication of Judge Duval ruling on the USA’s request/motion – but I’ll check again later. The “fix” that’s “in” IMO is the waived right to seek such a ruling.

  7. I’m not betting against you. Government lies have been persistent and pointed since the levees and floodwalls fell down. Critics have been crucified. Justice in New Orleans is a bad joke. greed? hate? why us?

  8. Ashton:

    Have you filed any bar complaints against any of these attorneys? You know, the Louisiana Supreme Court ruled a couple of weeks ago that the confidentiality provisions of section XIX, part 16 regarding such bar complaints is unconstitutional.

  9. Ashton:

    Didn’t you submit an affidavit saying that one of the plaintiffs’ attorneys had called you and said he could help you out with the court? Whatever became of that?

  10. Ashton, I’ve read what you’ve sent and posted and know you care very much about those who experienced the loss and destruction of Katrina.

    There are 120,000 or so people out there who have invested what little hope that have left at this point into the MRGO case

  11. In a perfect world, the Corp’s flood immunity would need to be found unconstitutional. The responsible party should be liable for the damage they cause. Why was I led to believe that was the way it worked in this country? Immunity? -when there was negligence and malfeasance and thousands died and hundreds of thousands of citizens lost everything, including their sanity?!?

    Personally, I don’t like any of the law suits that pursued home owners insurance for their flood losses, or barges that passed across the floodwall after it had collapsed or the state agencies or the contractors or anyone other than the responsible party.

  12. Ours is such an imperfect world, Ray, but I understand what you’re saying.

    Most people do not realize Katrina did not hit New Orleans, the storm hit east and south.

  13. The repositioning of Katrina, the hurricane that did not hit New Orleans, as the cause of the city’s flooding was a strategic decision – as documented in this chapter of The Scheme.

    Immediately after Hurricane Katrina came ashore, and before anyone could possibly assess the damage, the insurance industry began pushing the message that the damage was caused by flooding, rather than wind.

  14. Ashton, what I didn’t include in my comment about the barge case is that I feel to an extent it has merit in that there may have been people surviving the storm in the homes the barge rammed. Recovery may have been easier for those barge victims had the barge not rammed their home. Geez, for what I know about admiralty law, someone associated with that barge might aught do the right thing for all of the familiesvictimized by the barge. I don’t know. But, it was the Corps that caused the flooding and mass killing and destruction of the Lower Ninth and the barge shouldn’t be held responsible for that.

    I heard people report they saw that barge crash through the floodwall just below the southern end of the breach while they were sitting on their roofs surrounded by very deep floodwaters.

    Yea, their was that levee board screw up with the floodwall railroad gate, but that caused no breach.

    forget fair compensation for losses, That is hopeless, I’d be happy if our representation could settle for a little fairer recovery funding, vindication, an accurate recording in the history books a government apology and some sort of remedy to straighten out all their slander against our little world. and more xanax 🙂

  15. Ashton said: “What kind of IDIOTS could have put their signatures on an opinion that said that the 17th Street Canal South of the Hammond Highway Bridge is

  16. That’s funny, Ray, at one point I’d suggested they pack Valium in the ready-to-eat meals. Xanax would be fine.

    At this point “fair compensation” is impossible – particularly when people have lot their homes and four years of their life.
    The piddling little amount offered in the cases involving Citizens ($500-$1000) is insulting IMO.

  17. Oh yea. That is what really gets me. They obviously believe some of their slander. They insult our intelligence almost daily.

    Too bad the state went out of their way to create an unfair Road Home program. They could have come closer to righting more of the wrongs.

    I don’t know why I’m complaining. My family and I rebuilt and are doing just fine, except for my outrage about our mistreatment.

  18. If the barge rammed my ancestor’s house while they might have still been in there, alive, I’d expect to feel perfectly justified pursuing recovery from the barge. They deserve more than an apology too.

  19. To CrescentCityRay and nowdoucit: Guys are the three of us the ONLY people reading SOP’s Web-Site? The MRGO litigation and the CORRUPTION of the entire “Victims of KATRINA” litigation is, I believe, extremely important to the Citizenry. Since I have been publicly disgraced, embarrassed and marginalized, the so-called “Main-Stream-Media”, consisting largely of a bunch of pseudo-intellectual “twits”, who are both spineless and interested in “spinning” things to foster their own agenda(s), won’t report what I have shared with you in the past few days. PLEASE get the “word” out by sharing with your friends and Families what I have shared with you . AROD. 5/2/09.

  20. No, we’re not the only people reading – there are lots of folks out there, even on the weekend.

    Most just read; but, Sop and I set this site up to make information on the issues and court cases that surfaced after Katrina more accessible.

    I put an O’Dwyer page up on the right sidebar and have been moving comment there – plus I left it open for comment making more like an on-going post than a file.

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