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Legal Ethics

Special Prosecutor Named in Case Stemming from Improperly Named Defendants

Posted Jun 10, 2008 9:44 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A special prosecutor has been appointed to pursue a sanctions case against two plaintiffs lawyers in connection with misstatements made in a toxic-tort case.

A panel of the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals appointed the prosecutor to pursue the case against Thomas Girardi and Walter Lack, the Recorder reports. Girardi's lawyer, Thomas Nolan, told the publication his client had sought a special prosecutor and plans to introduce mitigating evidence in the disciplinary hearing.

Nolan told the publication a special prosecutor should be pursuing the case rather than lawyers for the defendants.

The accusations stem from a Nicaraguan complaint filed by the lawyers and Nicaraguan counsel that used incorrect variations of two corporate names. A Nicaraguan judge ordered the two companies and three others to pay $489.4 million for their use of a pesticide banned in the United States.

A report (PDF posted by Legal Pad) by special master A. Wallace Tashima, a senior 9th Circuit judge, said Lack had a role in wrongfully asserting that the mistake had been corrected in a writ of execution to enforce the judgment, the story says. He also said Girardi failed to repudiate the misstatements.

Tashima has recommended a sanction of $375,000 against the lawyers for making the false statements and filing a frivolous appeal in the case.

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