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Update: Ness Motley and James Down

A feature from the Chicago Tribune on the Ness Motley sellout of its clients in the James Blair Down case (see Jul. 7 and follow-ups Aug. 24 and Jan. 17) is revealing about forum-shopping:

[Blair] Hahn told his clients he knew exactly where to find the class-action judgment they needed: in Madison County, across the Mississippi River from St. Louis.

In testimony later, [former Secret Service agent James] McGunn said Hahn assured them he could "manipulate" the court, and that "his wishes would be granted."

"The reason that they selected Madison County was because the judge there looked very kindly on Ness Motley and would be very favorably impressed with whatever they said," McGunn recalled Hahn telling him. "They would have no problem in Madison County."

On February 18, Madison County Judge Phillip Kardis (Oct. 7) held a twenty-minute hearing and preliminarily approved a class action settlement that provided millions for the lawyers and little for the class. (Greg Burns, "The lawsuit capital", Chicago Tribune, Mar. 8).

[cross-posted from Overlawyered, where it ran Mar. 25, 2004]

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Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Manhattan Institute


Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.