May 18, 2005
Judges and Corporate Defendants
Most judges do very well in handling these complex business trials. But some do not. I sense a growing problem from press accounts of recent trials but do not have the data to support it.
In the suit of Ronald Perelman against Morgan Stanley, it one believes the reporters, the role of Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Elizabeth Maass was – well – high profile. She made “chastising Morgan Stanley a spectator sport” according to the reporter for the Wall Street Journal. Her legal rulings gave Perelman a legal edge – she told the jury that the jury should assume that Morgan Stanley had engaged in fraud – and her conduct and statements during the trial gave Perelman an edge in court atmosphere as well. (Case Coverage)
The conduct of the judge in the Frank Quattrone case is similarly aggressive. I have recently testified in another case involving a corporation as a defendant and the judge, in federal court, was difficult – very, very hard on the corporation’s counsel. Is this a trend? Do we have judges interjecting themselves into trials with unusual frequency when corporate defendants (or corporate managers) face claims from individual investors (or pubic officials)? Are judges, anxious to help the less powerful, less guided by decision-maker objectiveness and more willing to inject their views during trial?
May 18, 2005 | Permalink
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