TorteDeForm

Justinian Lane

In addition to forum shopping, there’s also judge shopping - like Merck just did

Merck fired a law firm it was happy with just to make sure a pro-corporate judge could hear their appeal...  I can imagine the howls from the "reformers" if plaintiffs had done this:

Merck & Co. Inc. has dropped New Jersey's Lowenstein Sandler from its appeal of a $13.5 million Vioxx case to prevent recusal of a potentially pro-company state Supreme Court justice who the firm represents in a private matter.

....

"The representation did not change because of anything they did or didn't do in their appellate work," Merck spokesman Kent Jarrell says of the firm's lawyers. "They did a very good job in the early arguments." (Emphasis added.)

....

Rivera-Soto, a former federal prosecutor, in-house counsel for Atlantic City casinos and partner at Fox Rothschild, is widely viewed as the most conservative justice on a court with a reputation for plaintiff-friendly jurisprudence in tort and product liability cases.

In two Vioxx cases already heard by the court, he voted with the majorities that handed Merck significant victories. 

Source: Law.com - Lawyer's Legal Work for N.J. Justice Bounces Firm From Vioxx Case

To be clear, I don't think there's anything "wrong" with this.  Just wanted to point out that big corporate defendants engage in the same practices that purportedly unethical plaintiffs' lawyers do.

Justinian Lane: Author Bio | Other Posts
Posted at 2:15 PM, Jul 15, 2008 in Civil Justice
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Comments

Hmmm... So you're saying that not wanting to force the recusal of a state supreme court justice in a case that's already reached a verdict is somehow analogous to shopping your case to a forum without real contacts to either defendant or plaintiff? I'm not sure that makes a heck of a lot of sense. If a plaintiff wanted to switch lawyers to avoid conflicting out a supreme court justice, I don't think you'd hear any complaints; of course, that assumes that the actual plaintiff has control of his case in mass tort litigation, which is a dubious assumption indeed.

Posted by: Jim Copland | July 15, 2008 5:36 PM

I think we're using different definitions of judge shopping. That's the problem with these made-up "reform" terms - there's no universally agreed-upon definition.

I consider "judge shopping" to be when a litigant takes actions to try and ensure they get a favored judge. Which is a practice I don't condemn in general.

Posted by: Justinian Lane | July 15, 2008 6:20 PM

LIKE THE PSC ISN'T IN THEIR POCKET. 8% OF 4.5 BILLION BUYS LOTS OF POCKET SPACE.

Posted by: VICTIM | July 15, 2008 6:56 PM

Changing attorneys to avoid conflicts of interest happen all the time. Please find a single instance of a reformer criticizing a plaintiffs' attorney for doing so and stop using strawmen. You have repeatedly demonstrated that you don't have the first clue what reformers actually say.

Posted by: Ted | July 16, 2008 8:40 AM

Explain how changing law firms is forum shopping or judge selection. Are there documents expressing such intent? Your claim seems flimsy in the absence of specific expressions of intent.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | July 16, 2008 2:11 PM

Judge shopping?? I think that the recusal of this judge should be a no brainer. Even though the attorney that has done work for this judge has been released by Merck, his name is on the case before the State Supreme Court and is a conflict of interest for this Judge. This horse cannot be put back in the barn.

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