Lawyer Foreperson Who Criticized Counsel Is Focus of New Trial Request
Posted Dec 8, 2009 9:40 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss
Lawyers for former McKesson chairman Charles McCall, convicted last month of securities fraud in a corporate accounting scandal, are seeking a new trial based on an alleged clarification by the jury foreperson—a California lawyer who was critical of their trial techniques.
The lawyer foreperson was Christine Griffith, a land use lawyer at Ellman Burke Hoffman & Johnson in San Francisco and a graduate of Stanford Law School, the Recorder reports. After the trial, Griffith said McCall’s lawyers were less effective than prosecutors and the lawyer for former McKesson general counsel Jay Lapine, who was acquitted in the same trial, according to an earlier Recorder report.
"It goes to show spending millions of dollars on your defense is not necessarily effective,” Griffith said.
Now one of McCall’s lawyers, Michael Shepard of Hogan & Hartson, is seeking a new trial or at least an evidentiary hearing because of information in a juror questionnaire filled out after the verdict. The juror claimed Griffith helped deliberations by clarifying what "reckless disregard" means.
Shepard says in court papers that reckless disregard was a central issue regarding intent, and the clarification "differs in no material way from one in which a juror impermissibly consults a dictionary for the definition of a term,” the latest Recorder story says.
Griffith wasn’t the only juror who criticized McCall’s lawyers while praising Lapine’s lawyer, Marcus Topel of Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman. McCall was represented at trial by Shepard and Theodore Wells Jr. of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison.
One juror, Raymond Leong, criticized McCall's defense counsel as “New York acting.” On the other hand, several jurors said Topel came off as an approachable “country lawyer.”