10/22/2005: More nomination troubles for 'Harrie'...
The Chicago Tribune is reporting this *troubling* accounts of Harriet Miers continuing nomination problems from her stint as managing partner at Locke Liddell & Sapp:
"... Miers' tenure as the firm's managing partner was among the credentials that President Bush cited when he nominated her for the Supreme Court.
The suits have attracted the interest of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which this week asked Miers for more information about them. Committee staffers said Friday they want to know more because the settlements seemed unusually large for legal malpractice complaints.
Miers' firm, Locke Liddell & Sapp, admitted no fault in the settlements, and a spokeswoman for the firm said Miers was not involved in the cases that gave rise to the malpractice claims.
"We settled the lawsuits . . . on a basis that was agreeable to everyone involved," said Julie Gilbert, a spokeswoman for Locke Liddell.
The incidence of the malpractice suits is notable because as a member of Chicago-based Attorneys' Liability Assurance Society Inc., Miers sat on a committee that reviewed malpractice allegations against the insurer's members and devised ways for law firms to protect themselves against taking on unethical clients, according to company reports and interviews.
Two of the suits alleged that the law firm's management knew or should have known that its lawyers were helping clients devise two Ponzi schemes that together bilked hundreds of investors out of at least $68 million.
Both of the clients, former football star Russell Erxleben and Brian Stearns, had previous brushes with the law related to investment scams. Both men were sentenced to federal prison for fraud for masterminding the scams involving lawyers at Locke Purnell Rain Harrell PC, one of the firms that merged in 1999 to become Locke Liddell.
In charge at the time
At the time of the alleged malpractice, Miers was president of Locke Purnell, a 200-lawyer firm. As head of a firm that size, she could not be expected to know all the clients or what all of the firm's partners were doing, according to legal management consultants.
But she would be responsible for establishing systems to ensure compliance with legal and ethical obligations, said Joel Rose, a New Jersey-based legal management consultant.
The claims against Locke Liddell were paid by the Attorneys' Liability Assurance Society, or ALAS, the same firm Miers had served as a director from 1994 until January 1999..."
Karen on 10.22.05 @ 08:48 AM CST