Milberg allies see political agenda in prosecution

Washington Post
Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Following a federal indictment implicating law firm Milberg Weiss, a specialist in class action suits, the firm's allies are portraying the case as a partisan attack by a Republican administration trying to do in court what it could not accomplish in Congress.

Milberg Weiss was implicated in a federal indictment unsealed last week against a client of the firm who allegedly took secret kickbacks to act as a plaintiff in more than 50 class action suits related to securities over two decades.

The law firm contends the payments were referral fees to other law firms that had been disclosed on tax documents.

A lawyer for former Milberg Weiss partner William Lerach called the transactions "common and legal" and suggested prosecutors had other motives.

"Bill Lerach has done more to protect shareholders than this (Securities and Exchange Commission) and this (Department of Justice)," Lerach's attorney John Keker said in a statement released on Tuesday.

"The nonexistent facts in this case raise the troubling question as to why the Bush Justice Department is focusing attention on the firms who fight on behalf of shareholders and pension funds," he said.

Joanne Doroshow, director of the Center for Justice and Democracy, described the three-year federal probe as part of a "long-standing partisan political fight."

"This is a very broad assault on the trial lawyer profession that has been going on since Bush took office and has really picked up the administration has moved forward to undermine the class action system," Doroshow said.
For a copy of the complete article, contact CJ&D

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