Archive for November, 2012

LawReader Receives Report that U.S. District Judge Danny Reeves has been transferred

Thursday, November 1st, 2012

Judge Danny Reeves, until recently has been assigned to the Frankfort division of the Eastern District Federal Court.
This week we received a report that he has been transferred to the London, Kentucky office.
Reeves was born in Corbin, Ky. and after eleven years on the Federal bench may have desired to relocate.
Born in Corbin, Kentucky, in 1957, Reeves received a B.A. from Eastern Kentucky University in 1978 and a J.D. from Northern Kentucky University, Salmon P. Chase College of Law in 1981
Reeves is a federal judge on the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky. Reeves was nominated by President George W. Bush on September 4, 2001, to a new seat created by 114 Stat. 2762. He was confirmed by the United States Senate on December 6, 2001, and received his commission on December 10, 2001

SIXTH CIRCUIT ISSUES SHOW CAUSE ORDER TO ANGELA FORD TO EXPLAIN WHY HER APPEAL FROM JUDGE REEVES DISCLOSURE ORDER SHOULD NOT BE DISMISSED – U.S. Attorney seeks Angela Ford’s banking records and more…

Thursday, November 1st, 2012

Nov. 1, 2012
On August 28, 2012 the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals issued an order giving Angela Ford and the U.S. Attorney’s Office a short time to show cause why Ford’s appeal efforts to avoid disclosure of the names of the attorneys with whom she shared legal fees shouldn’t be dismissed.

For close to two years the U.S. Attorney’s Office has been seeking disclosure of information about Angela Ford’s handling of some $42 million dollars in assets seized from William Gallion, Shirley Cunningham et al. In a story written by Courier Journal Andy Wolfson, Ford admitted that she had shared her attorney fees “with other attorneys”. She continues to refuse to disclose information about her distribution of funds she seized from Gallion et al, in a court ruling which has been set aside by the Court of Appeals, and which is now on discretionary review by the Kentucky Supreme Court.
Ford has filed two appeals to the Sixth Circuit seeking to avoid having provided this information to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. U.S. District Judge Danny Reeves has previously ordered her to provide this information to the U.S. Attorney.

It is almost a certainty that the show cause letter by the Sixth Circuit means that Ford will have to release that information to the U.S. Attorney. The briefs reveal that the U.S. Attorney is seeking disclosure of Angela Ford’s personal finances and banking accounts.

The question must be asked. Why is Angela Ford resisting the efforts of the U.S. Attorney. She was appointed “victim’s advocate” by the Federal Judge in the Fen Phen criminal trial. The federal court had jurisdiction to award her a fee, but she jumped the gun and seized assets and made distributions without consulting with the Federal court.

The very Circuit Court judgment she relied on to seize $42 million in assets was set aside by the Court of Appeals, and is now on appeal to the Ky. Supreme Court.

The granting of discretionary review of the Court of Appeals ruling shocked many. The delay in ruling on this appeal may suggest that there is an internal argument among the Justices and they may be having trouble in coming to agreement on a ruling.
The Supreme Court could well benefit from waiting for final disclosure in the Federal Court of Ford’s assets and distribution. The U.S. Attorney has been dedicated to obtain discovery and documentation of Ford’s financial dealings.

The briefs reveal that the U.S. Attorney is seeking far more information than just a disclosure of which attorneys she shared fees with. We would suspect that the U.S. Attorney is not playing games here….we wish we knew what they know, but they are tight-lipped. LawReader called the U.S. Attorney today, and they would only confirm that the final ruling of the Sixth Circuit had not yet been released.
Ford has already distributed $42 million dollars. If the Supreme Court upholds the Court of Appeals it will be almost impossible for Ford to recover the expended funds and place them in escrow pending the new trial which was ordered by the Court of Appeals. How many of Ford’s 400 clients received a check from her and still have all the money in their bank?

The potential violations of the Supreme Court rules regarding handling client’s money, communicating with clients, etc. are mind boggling. One must wonder why the KBA Bar Counsel has apparently chosen to sit quietly sat on the sidelines. The KBA could be of great assistance to the U.S. Attorney in convincing Angela Ford that she must be transparent regarding the handling of client’s funds. This whole episode appears like the movie “Groundhog Day” redux. Didn’t this all start out with a claim of mishandling of the Fen Phen clients money?

Ford has argued that the Ct. of Appeals reversal had no effect on her right to collect the $42 million and to disburse the money to herself, her clients, and “other attorneys”. That legal theory is highly contested by legal scholars. The ruling of the Court of Appeals set aside the Circuit Court summary judgment of Judge Weir…and Ford is appealing to get the Circuit Court judgment reinstated.
The pending efforts of the U.S. attorney to obtain discovery of Ford’s handling of the $42 million would have inspired quick action and support by the KBA in most cases, but strangely in this case, the KBA has stood by and allowed Ford to hide her financial dealings with her client’s money.

The action of the Sixth Circuit basically says, “the Federal District Judge has ruled that Ford must provide a disclosure of her handling of the $42 million, we have previously upheld that ruling, and the U.S. Attorney is entitled to full disclosure. And the second appeal to the Sixth Circuit will be dismissed due to a lack of jurisdiction of the Sixth Circuit to interfere in the rulings of the Federal District Court.”

LawReader goes out on a limb and guesses the Sixth Circuit’s ruling on the show cause briefs (described below) will be handed down before the end of the year, if not sooner.
There are three pleadings discussed in this article. The Sixth Circuit’s show cause order, Ford’s supplemental brief and the U.S. governments brief.

THE SIXTH CIRCUIT ORDER STATES:
“It is not apparent to the Court that there is a continuing case or controversy to support appellate jurisdiction in this appeal. Appellant Angela ford is aggrieved by the district court’s order for disclosure or a sealed accounting to the government. Both the district court and the Sixth Circuit have denied her request to stay the disclosure.
Hence, the panel assumes the information has either been disclosed to the government or is available for its review. The relief sought by appellant (i.e., that the court vacate the order of disclosure), would not undo the disclosure and would appear to be moot. Insofar as the appellant may be concerned about potential misuse or further disclosure of the information, such an appellate claim would appear not to be ripe.

Accordingly, the appellant shall show cause not later than Sept. 5, 3012, why this appeal should not be dismissed for lack of a justiciable controversy. The government shall file its response not later than Sept. 12, 2012. Each supplemental brief shall be limited to five pages in length.

Entered By Order of the Court – Leonard Green, Clerk
Issued August 28, 2012.”

IN THE SUPPLEMENTAL BRIEF PREPARED AND FILED BY R. KENYON MEYER OF DINSMORE AND SHOHL, IN BEHALF OF ANGELA FORD IT IS ARGUED:
1. “…A continuing case or controversy exists between her and the United States concerning the orders on appeal, which require Ford to provide an accounting including information about her personal finances.”

2. “Although the sealed accounting has been made available to the Unites States, the United states has taken the position that the district court’s June 29, 2011 and September 9, 2011 orders require Ford to produce more information than what was contained in the sealed accounting and to provide updated information about her personal funds on an ongoing basis. “

3. “On November 19, 2011, Ford provided the United States with additional information regarding funds collected by her and not distributed to the victims, including information about funds collected in 2011. …Four days later, the United States wrote to Ford’s counsel, requesting additional information regarding those funds, including recent bank statements, year-to-date ledgers for each account, and current financial statements.”

4. “In early December of 2011, Ford produced additional documents in response these (sic) continued requests. Four days later, the United States indicated in an email that it believes that the district court’s orders entitle the government to obtain even more additional information from Ford including personal bank statements.”

5. “Thus, even though the initial accounting filed under seal has been made available to the United States, the orders on appeal continue to subject Ford to ongoing efforts by the United states to obtain records from her. Ford has a “personal stake” in whether she can be compelled to provide information on her personal finances, and this Court can no doubt grant Ford “meaningful relief” by vacating the orders providing the orders that are providing the basis for the government’s ongoing efforts to obtain such information.”

6. “The United States possesses numerous records that have been produced by Ford to comply with the orders on appeal. These records contain information about Ford’s personal finances. If this Court vacates the orders, this Court or the district court could order the government to return to Ford or destroy records that Ford has produced to the United States. …This Court is capable of providing Ford with “meaningful relief” by vacating the orders on appeal, so Ford’s appeal should not be dismissed as moot. See American Atheists, 567 F.3d at 287.”

THE UNITED STATES ASST. ATTORNEY CHERYL D. MORGAN SUBMITTED A SUPPLEMENTAL BRIEF IN BEHALF OF THE UNITED STATES:
Issues raised included:
1. SUMMARY OF ARGUMENT: This appeal should be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. In her initial brief, Ford sought the vacatur of the district court’s orders requiring her to disclose an accounting that she had prepared. Ford’s appeal is moot because an accounting has been produced to the United States. Thus there is no case or controversy for this Court to review.
(LawReader footnote: Vacatur is defined by a legal dictionary as: vacatur noun abolishment, abrogation, annulment, canceling, cancellation, cessation, defeasance, deprivation, dissolution, invalidation, neutralization, nullification, rescission, revocation, undoing, vacation, vitiation
Associated concepts: vacating a judgment.)

2. In her supplemental brief, Ford expands her claim and asks this Court to intervene in a dispute over the scope of discovery that has not been resolved by the district court. This Court lacks jurisdiction over Ford’s supplemental claim because the claim is not ripe. Regardless, Ford waived the right to bring he supplemental claim by failing to raise the issue in her initial brief.

3. (Argument:) “Article III of the Constitution limits federal courts to the adjudication of actual, ongoing controversies between litigants…It is not enough that a controversy existed at the time the complaint was filed…” “An actual controversy must exist at all stages of review…”

4. “Ford represented victims in a civil action in Kentucky against several attorneys for breach of their fiduciary duty and fraudulent misrepresentations, and the district court appointed Ford to represent the victims in criminal proceedings against the attorneys (Note: Gallion, Cunningham, Mills)
During the course of the criminal proceedings, the district court ordered Ford to provide a “full and complete accounting” of all the funds, including the location of the funds, that she had collected in the state court action case that had not been distributed to the victims….The court also denied Ford’s subsequent motion to alter, amend or vacate the order. …Ford provided an accounting to the district court under seal, but she asked the court to stay the orders requiring an accounting and disclosure to the United States pending an appeal. Ford claimed that the disclosure of her accounting to the United States would “effectively” deny her the rights afforded by an appeal. The court granted Ford a sixty-day stay to seek relief in this Court, but the court denied Ford’s request to stay the disclosure of the accounting to the United States.

In her initial brief, Ford sought the vacatur of the district court’s orders requiring her to disclose her accounting to the United States.
In her supplemental brief, Ford expands her claim and asks this Court to intervene in a discovery dispute that has not been resolved by the district court.
This appeal should be dismissed for lack of a justiciable controversy. Ford’s appeal is moot because her accounting has been produced to the United States. Thus there is no case or controversy for this Court to review.

This Court lacks jurisdiction over Ford’s supplemental claim because the claim is not ripe. In her supplemental brief, Ford claims that the discovery dispute between the parties constitutes a “continuing controversy between (her) and the United States concerning the accounting.

She notes that “the United States has taken the position that the district court’s…orders require (her) to produce more information than what was contained in the sealed accounting and to provide updated information about her personal funds on an ongoing basis. And that “the orders on appeal continue to subject (her) to ongoing efforts by the Unites States to obtain records from her.”
Thus, Ford asks this Court not only to vacate the district court’s orders, but to order the United States to return or destroy the records that she has produced. Ford’s request attempts to bring life to matters that are not ripe for appellate review.”

5. (Discovery motions before district court) “The district court, which is the proper forum for adjudicating the parties’ discovery dispute, has not ruled on the issue.”
“The parties’ dispute over the scope of a discovery issue that the district court has not decided does not meet the fitness test.”

6. “Regardless, Ford waived the right to bring her supplemental claim by failing to raise the issue in her initial brief. See United States v. Johnson , 440 F.3d 832, (6th. Cirt. 2006) (appellant waives all issues not raised and argued in initial brief on appeal.

7. Regardless, Ford’s appeal should be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction.”

OUT OF STATE BILLIONAIRES ARE INCREASINGLY FUNDING STATE APPELLATE COURT RACES

Thursday, November 1st, 2012

Posted by John Hopkins October 31, 2012 10:17 AM
The justice system in Florida is under attack today. Well-funded political action committees (PAC’s) supported by the Kansas billionaires, the Koch brothers, and those led by Karl Rove are trying to buy the justice system to make it work for them and their special interests.
Today, in the National Law Journal, two former Supreme Court Justices spoke out; Former Chief Justice of the Arizona Supreme Court Ruth V. McGregor and former Chief Justice of the Indiana Supreme Court Randall T. Shepard. Both of these justices were appointed by Republican governors and they have no partisan axe to grind. These justices are in fear of PAC’s buying justice one state at a time:
“For more than a decade, special interests have engaged in increasingly partisan efforts to tilt the scales of justice, spending tens of millions of dollars to elect judges whom they believe fit their political beliefs. Now these assaults on America’s courts are expanding in troubling new ways and in dimensions we have never witnessed.
In states as dissimilar as Florida and Iowa, interest groups are seeking to oust judges because they disagree with a few rulings in controversial cases. By focusing on retention elections — a historically low-key vote focusing on judges’ professional qualifications — these groups have threatened to puncture a protective shield that keeps politics outside the courthouse.”
Justice McGregor and Justice Shepard both well understand the function of merit retention races and the design they be non-partisan in which justices are reviewed for their competence and ethics, but not assaulted with a handful of rulings cherry picked from thousands they have decided.
This year, Florida saw a single political party come out and assault three competent and ethical Supreme Court Justices; injecting politics right into the heart of 2012 merit retention votes. Justices Lewis, Pariente and Quince have had a few cases they have decided twisted and spun to fit the needs of special interests to label them as “activist judges”.
Florida has seen its chief lawyer, Attorney General Pam Bondi, run from defending the merit retention process and supporting the ideal of keeping politics out of the courts. Ms. Bondi has opted for a “no comment” position.
The man who stands to gain the most from defeat of these justices is Florida’s governor and leader of the Florida Republican Party, Rick Scott. Mr. Scott will be permitted the opportunity to appoint justices who he believes will vote “his way”, rather than justices who will uphold the law and the constitution.
To add insult to injury, this year we are also faced with rumors of badly designed ballots, printer errors on ballots, confusing constitutional amendments and voters coming to vote only to be told they already have voted.
So, for the remainder of America; beware your courts and justice in your respective state are not put upon the auction blocks for the most powerful, richest in the country to bid on and to purchase their own special brand of justice. Sadly, I am afraid we have turned back the clock to the “good ol’ days” when robber barons controlled politicians and justice was a commodity instead of a right.