Trials & Litigation

Judge disqualifies Winston & Strawn in San Bernardino bankruptcy

Winston & Strawn has been disqualified from representing a bond insurer in the San Bernardino bankruptcy, due to a conflict created by the law firm’s hire of a lawyer who formerly worked for an opponent in the litigation.

The Chicago-based international law firm had argued that the former California Public Employees’ Retirement System lawyer could be screened from those involved in the Chapter 9 bankruptcy. However, Judge Meredith Jury agreed with CalPERS in a Thursday ruling, holding that Winston & Strawn may not represent National Public Finance Guarantee Corp. in the Riverside case, according to Bloomberg and Reuters.

“No matter how good the ethical wall is, there will always be a sense that there is a fox in the henhouse,” said Jury during a court hearing.

At issue in the matter was a former K&L Gates partner who worked for the firm, on behalf of CalPERS, in San Bernardino and Stockton bankruptcy cases and was subsequently hired by Winston & Strawn.

See also:

Reuters: “Winston disqualification flap raises issue: What is direct conflict?”

Sacramento Bee: “CalPERS wins round in city’s bankruptcy case”

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