This case may be the onion of attorney misconduct cases, in light of the numerous layers of ethical chicanery.
Yesterday, two Kentucky attorneys challenged their wire fraud and wire fraud conspiracy convictions before the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, arguing that the district court made them “look like bad guys” by releasing 22 findings from the Kentucky Supreme Court against them, even though the high court never held a hearing, reports CBS News. The lawyers, William Gallion and Shirley Cunningham Jr., are arguing that they were deprived their right to a fair trial.
Cunningham and Gallion represented 440 clients in a class action lawsuit over diet drug fen-phen. The attorneys were convicted in 2009 of taking more than their agreed-upon rate of 30-to-33 percent plus expenses. While the clients should have been divvying up approximately $135 million, they only received $74 million.
Attorneys involved in the case, including Cunningham and Gallion, took $106 million, and set up a shady, $20 million charitable trust called the Kentucky Fund for Healthy Living. Gallion, Cunningham, and Judge Joseph F. Bamberger, who oversaw the settlement, were all named as paid directors of the trust, collecting over $5,000 per month, reports The New York Times. Bamberger, who has since repaid the fees from the trust, was reprimanded by the Judicial Conduct Commission. All three have been disbarred.
Considering the overwhelming evidence of attorney misconduct in the matter, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals did not seem swayed that the appellants' were denied their right to a fair trial based on the Kentucky Supreme Court disclosure. At one point during the hearing, Judge Eric Clay criticized Gallion's attorney for his failure to cite legal authorities to support the appeal. The Justice Department, on the other hand, argued that the full list of allegations from the state's high court were not revealed to the jury, and that jurors "were later instructed to disregard what they had been shown," reports The Republic.
- Federal Appeals Court Hears Fen-Phen Lawyers Case (Legal News Online)
- No New Trial: Shady Tactics Don't Equal Prosecutorial Misconduct (FindLaw's Sixth Circuit blog)
- Stellar Record Doesn't Mitigate Attorney Misconduct (FindLaw's Fourth Circuit blog)
- Judicial Privacy Versus the Right to a Fair Trial (FindLaw)