PRO BONO OR PRO FRAUDO?
By Nicholas Biondi
In the Broome versus Biondi case, Joseph N. Sacca, a Skadden Arps attorney, claimed that he was representing the plaintiff, Gregory Broome, on a pro bono basis. In his current internet posting, Mr. Sacca represents that he devotes substantial time to pro bono work. Pro bono works means that the legal work is done without the usual payment that a lawyer charges. This is the claim; the following are the facts.
There are three main ways that a lawyer can represent a client and charge for his services:
1. At an hourly rate ($300 an hour times hours worked on the case) For example $300 an hour times 1,000 hours worked on the case equals $300,000.
2. On a contingency basis (usually 33% of the amount awarded to the plaintiffs)
In the Broome case $804,000 was awarded to the plaintiffs ($640,000 to the Broomes and $164,00 to Simone Demou). 33% of $804,000 would total to $267,732 as payment for the lawyers.
Before we continue on to the third method of reimbursement, I would like to remind you that Judge Carter pushed aside another judge to take this case when he was alerted to it by something or someone. I would also like to remind you that Nick Biondi and the Beekman defendants were denied a fair trial by the random selection process called “the wheel” that tries to secure the selection of an impartial judge. We also have to assume that Judge Carter did not at 83 years of age decide to take on this extra work to assure that Nick Biondi and the Beekman defendants received a fair trial or an impartial judge. If you believe that Judge Carter took this case to give the defendants a fair trial, there is a bridge I would like to sell you in Brooklyn.
Under the above two methods of reimbursements for the attorneys representing the plaintiffs, Judge Carter and the Skadden Arps and Latham & Watkins attorneys knew that on an hourly basis or a contingency fee basis, there was a limit as to how much they could receive in compensation for their representation. (see above)
3. On a pro bono basis. This allows the judge to decide what he should compensate the lawyers if they are successful in their case. And SURPRISE! SURPRISE! Judge Carter awarded the attorneys representing the plaintiffs, Skadden Arps, and Latham & Watkins, a total of $886,000.
A reasonable person may speculate, that given the size of the attorneys’ fees awarded on a pro bono basis, which is more than three times the amount that could have been earned on a contingency basis, that some of this outsized attorneys’ fees award may have found its way back to Judge Carter’s favorite charity. But this is speculation.
What is not speculation is that for twelve years up until July 18, 2012 Mr. Joseph Sacca and Mr. Scott Musoff of Skadden Arps continuously boasted on their internet postings that they represented Mr. Gregory Broome on pro bono basis. This despite the fact that the attorneys were awarded close to $1,000,000 in attorneys’ fees. The following is a direct quote from Mr. Sacca’s internet posting: “Mr. Sacca devotes substantial time to pro bono work. Among his successes in this area was his representation of plaintiffs in the trial of a housing discrimination case in which the jury awarded what was widely reported to be the largest verdict ever against a New York City cooperative.”
Mr. Scott Musoff of Skadden Arps has the following quote on his page: “Additionally Mr. Musoff has done a substantial amount of pro bono work. Among the successes he won the largest known federal jury verdict in a housing discrimination case against a New York City cooperative.”
For these attorneys to claim continuously for twelve years that they did this work on a pro bono basis, or for free, when in fact they were paid handsomely by a judge who selected this case for himself, is in my opinion a continuous and ongoing outright fraud !! It is a deceptive and disingenuous claim by Skadden Arps and the attorneys.