Thursday, March 13, 2008

Rob Riley's financial gain is latest Siegelman twist

Obviously there is another Rob Riley on a "quest for justice" out there, or at least on The Google, yet let us focus on this one. I'll give Rob Riley this ... he has a serious academic pedigree. Even Hugo Black, and they hardly claim him in Clay County (it's not because of his KKK connection I regret) for the most part, didn't have that level of education. Via AlterNet I located Sam Stein's HuffPo piece titled New Evidence In Siegelman Case Points To Republican Cabal. I surely don't know if there's fire here yet there's some smoke. Sam writes:

In the early days of 2005, HealthSouth and Scrushy were in the midst of a long-waged battle over whether the company had "perpetrated an elaborate scheme to deceive HealthSouth's investors." The case alleged that the company, and its financial supporters, had "committed deceptive acts whose primary purpose and effect was to create a false appearance" of good financial results and future prospects. There were no connections to Siegelman.

On January 13, Rob Riley, a lawyer for the firm Riley & Jackson P.C. and the son of the state's governor, was abruptly added as local counsel to the New Mexico State Investment Council, a relatively new plaintiff in the case against HealthSouth. It was an interesting move. Riley, who specialized in medical malpractice law, had little history in complex securities litigation. Co-plaintiffs complained, as they often do, that his presence would simply drive up the cost of the case and cut into the pot of any settlement. But their appeal was denied.

Why did Riley come on board? According to him, it was a product of local stature and a bit of luck.

"A guy in New Mexico said, 'Hey, we are trying to get involved in this case,'" Riley recalled. "At that point, it was pretty well out in the papers that there had been fraud at HealthSouth. So I felt like it was probably a good case. I didn't know what chance we had at being lead counsel."

That settlement was a "big lick" indeed. Again, I'm not convinced this was more about Don Siegleman and lawyering up with the perfectly connected practitioner. If I'm thinking I need local counsel why not turn to the Governor's son? Even if not a securities law guru that is hardly a killer. That being offered, I do think coverage of the connections ought to make it into the Alabama papers.

Don Siegelman's case has been something I've posted on often and I remain convinced he ought to be released pending the running of his appeal. John Gunn

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