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July 30, 2004

Rebuked asbestos judge joins asbestos advisory firm

Back in June -- before our site was launched to the public -- I wrote about the Third Circuit's disqualification of Senior District Judge Alfred M. Wolin from presiding over 3 of 5 consolidated asbestos bankruptcy proceedings, for Owens Corning, W.R. Grace, and USG Corp. As I noted then:

"A writ of mandamus to disqualify a judge is an extraordinary remedy, only granted when the reviewing court finds 'clear and indisputable evidence' that a 'reasonable person' would conclude that a judge's impartiality is in question.

"In this case, the court determined that Judge Wolin abused his discretion by relying on a five-member 'Council of Advisors' with whom he consulted about the case. The court ruled that two of the five advisors had a clear conflict of interest in that they also served as class counsel for asbestos plaintiffs on parallel but unrelated asbestos bankruptcy proceedings."

Judge Wolin subsequently retired from the bench.

This Wednesday, in a disheartening but hardly shocking turn of events, the retired judge announced that he would join the Newark law firm Saiber Schlesinger Satz & Goldstein, where his son also works. The firm was one of the "advisors" Judge Wolin brought in to help him with the asbestos bankruptcy cases. Readers are left to form their own conclusions...

Posted by James R. Copland at 12:09 PM | TrackBack (0)

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