U.S. Fifth Circuit - The FindLaw 5th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog

20-Year Sentence Upheld for Ex-Litigator Who Bribed Judge

An ex-litigator Marc Rosenthal was sentenced to 20 years for his strong-arm tactics in settlements and for bribing a judge and witnesses.

The former attorney in question -- Marc Rosenthal -- appealed the decision against him and argued that government wiretaps of his conversation should have been excluded from the body of evidence. That argument fell on deaf ears and the Fifth Circuit upheld the conviction.

It seems that Texas has been getting hit with lawyer/judge bribery cases lately. It's a big state.

A Brief History

In 2013, Marc Rosenthal was sentenced by a lower court in Texas to 20 years in federal prison for racketeering and fraud charges. At trial, jurors convicted Rosenthal on a handful of different counts, all of which involved crimes of moral turpitude.

Prosecutors outlined a four year scheme between Rosenthal firm and (former) Judge Abel Limas in which Rosenthal bribed Limas with money or other valuable consideration in exchange for favors including favorable court rulings. Not only that, but Rosenthal employed agents to manipulate the court case assignment system so that his firm's cases would most likely end up in Limas' court. He also bribed witnesses for favorable testimony.

Incidentally, the judge got 72 months in federal prison.

Appeal

Rosenthal appealed his sentence, but the Fifth Circuit just upheld the lower court's ruling. Rosenthal had sought to secure a new trial based on the argument that the lower court was in error to allow recordings of his conversations secured by the 2013 government wiretaps into the body of evidence.

First, the appeals court found that prosecutors had lawfully obtained a government warrant to tap Rosenthal's phone since there was probable cause present.

Second, the Court opined that even if the wiretaps had been inadmissible, they did not amount to "fruit of the poisonous tree" because jurors would have heard equally damning evidence against him from Limas and other trial witnesses. Thus, due process had not been violated and any error was harmless.

Obviously, with the conviction standing, Rosenthal's license to practice law has been suspended. The Texas State Bar is now seeking a permanent revocation.

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