Legal Ethics

Ralph Nader Takes on Big Pa. Law Firm

Ordered last year to pay $81,000 in court costs after a major Pittsburgh-based law firm successfully sued on behalf of a client to remove him from the 2004 presidential ballot, consumer activist Ralph Nader is fighting back.

In a recent court filing, he contends that Reed Smith failed to disclose its close ties to three of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court justices who decided the case in favor of the firm’s client, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Specifically, Nader contends that the firm should have pointed out that it represented Chief Justice Ralph J. Cappy in a taxpayer misconduct complaint filed over a pay raise for judges while his own ballot case was pending. And, Nader says, Reed Smith also had an obligation to reveal it made a $5,000 contribution for then-Justice Sandra Schultz Newman’s 2005 retention campaign, not to mention that Justice Ronald Castille had formerly worked for the firm and had an “open-ended offer of employment.”

Daniel Booker, a Reed Smith lawyer, says the firm’s representation of Cappy was widely reported at the time, and its political contributions were publicly filed.

Although Castille worked for the firm before he took his supreme court seat more than a decade ago, he said through a court spokesman yesterday that he “severed all ties with Reed Smith” after that and has “absolutely no ‘open-ended offer of employment’ ” there.

Nader’s filing apparently was made in state court in Washington in order to fight an effort to enforce the Pennsylvania judgment there, according to the Inquirer article.

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