News Roundup

Afternoon Briefs: $75M verdict for exonerated half brothers; surprise at high-profile lawyer's disbarment

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Jurors award $75M to exonerated half brothers

Jurors in Raleigh, North Carolina, awarded $75 million Friday to two half brothers exonerated in the rape and murder of an 11-year-old girl after DNA evidence pointed to a convicted murderer as the perpetrator. The brothers, Henry McCollum and Leon Brown, had spent nearly 31 years in prison. Jurors awarded each man $1 million for each year they spent in prison against two agents with the State Bureau of Investigation and $13 million in punitive damages. They will get an additional $9 million as a result of a settlement Friday with the Robeson County sheriff’s office. The brothers were represented by a legal team led by lawyers from Hogan Lovells. The lawyers had contended that the half brothers’ confessions were coerced, and evidence in their case was suppressed and fabricated. (The News & Observer via the Marshall Project)

High-profile lawyer consents to disbarment

Criminal defense lawyers in Washington, D.C., are expressing shock over the consent disbarment of former Cozen O’Connor shareholder Bernie Grimm. “Bernie was one of the finest, most dedicated, and most imaginative advocates I’ve ever encountered,” lawyer Barry Coburn of Coburn & Greenbaum told Grimm is a high-profile criminal defense lawyer who has appeared on CNN, Court TV and Fox News. The reason for the disbarment, which takes effect Sept. 1, is unknown. ( here and here, the Legal Profession Blog, The D.C. Bar’s Board on Professional Responsibility report and recommendation)

9th Circuit upholds $25M Roundup verdict

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals at San Francisco has upheld a reduced award of $25 million in a lawsuit claiming that the Roundup weed killer was a substantial factor in the cancer of Edwin Hardeman of California. Jurors had initially awarded $80 million. The 9th Circuit said federal pesticide laws don’t bar allegations that Roundup failed to warn of cancer risks. The May 14 decision was issued just days before Roundup owner Bayer will seek preliminary approval for a $2 billion deal to resolve future Roundup claims. The company said it stands by the safety of Roundup. (Reuters,, Law360, the May 14 decision)

Judge upholds federal anti-riot law

Former President Donald Trump’s first Black appointee to the federal bench has upheld the federal anti-riot law in a First Amendment challenge. U.S. District Judge Terry Moorer of the Southern District of Alabama upheld the law in the case of Tia Pugh, 22, who is accused of smashing a police car window during protests following the May 2020 death of George Floyd. (Politico, the May 13 opinion)

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