A bunch of partners are headed back to school — or at least back to CLEs. Partners Paul J. Andre, Lisa Kobialka, and James Hannah of Kramer Levin and John Palmer of Naman Howell were sanctioned to take 30 hours of continuing legal education courses in ethics by U.S. District Judge Alan D. Albright of the Western District of Texas for claims made in post-trial briefings.
So, what actually happened? Kramer Levin and Naman Howell represent Israeli company Freshub in a patent infringement case against Amazon. They were unsuccessful in their claims at trial. In post-trial briefingsw, they made claims that Amazon’s attorneys from Fenwick & West were anti-Semitic. As reported by the ABA Journal:
In their motion for a new trial, the four lawyers argued that Amazon lawyers “played on the stereotype of greedy Jewish executives of an Israeli company allegedly taking advantage of U.S. companies, to trigger religious biases and deepen the ‘us vs. them’ nationalistic divide in the minds of the jurors.”
The motion also argued that “defendants blew this Jewish stereotype ‘dog whistle’ at every opportunity to unfairly bias the jury.”
Fenwick hit back at the notion they perpetuated any anti-Semitic stereotypes:
Fenwick partner Saina Shamilov, who fled with her family from the Soviet Union to escape religious persecution, said at the October hearings that the allegations “hit right at my heart.” At no time during the trial did anyone on her team “raise any Jewish stereotypes, mention Judaism, any religious affiliations of anyone, or present anything that the Waco community would interpret as a dog whistle,” she said.
Albright agreed with Fenwick’s position, and even took offense to the suggestion that he ignored any anti-Semitism going on at trial. He noted that Freshub’s lawyers did not object to references to Israel during trial, and that Amazon’s attorneys only referenced Israel when relevant or to rebut specific allegations. He also said that a reference to Israeli shekels was appropriate because Freshub’s financial records are reported in shekels.
But the judge has a theory about why they allegations of anti-Semitism came up now, and it has everything to do with being bitter about losing:
“The court did not turn a blind eye to any racist or anti-Semitic conduct because indeed there was none,” Albright wrote.
“The court finds that Freshub’s inflammatory allegations are nothing but baseless attacks on the integrity of this court and the reputation of defendants’ counsel,” Albright said.
“A bitter losing party’s difficulty in explaining its loss is never a proper basis for counsel to invoke baseless allegations of racism and anti-Semitism to request a new trial. Such vitriolic and unsubstantiated allegations are not only shocking but also offensive to this court.”
The Kramer Levin attorneys are not unfamiliar with benchslaps. U.S. District Judge William Alsup called out the same attorneys last July.
Kathryn Rubino is a Senior Editor at Above the Law, host of The Jabot podcast, and co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. AtL tipsters are the best, so please connect with her. Feel free to email her with any tips, questions, or comments and follow her on Twitter (@Kathryn1).