Crimes and Their Punishments – Through the Ages

Punishments for Crimes through the ages – from the bizarre to outrageous, from the sublime to the ridiculous. We don’t know how lucky we are!

Many of us are apt to complain about sentences handed out by our Courts for crimes these days – too harsh, too lenient. But a quick look at some punishments for crimes through the ages, including in some countries today, we should really consider how much we really have to complain about.

Not only have punishments been truly shocking (and in some instances still are), but even some of the crimes are truly unbelievable.

Many Sydney criminal lawyers would have had their work cut out for them if some of these historical crimes were still on the statute books! Lucky for us that our complaints about the justice systems these days are limited to whether an offender should be given a jail sentence or community service, or whether a 2 year sentence is sufficient or whether 5 would have been better, and so on.

Thank goodness we don’t have to contend with crimes for which the penalty is being tortured to death by some truly unimaginable means. Criminal lawyers in Australia, as in Europe, the United States, Canada, New Zealand and others, these days don’t have to plead for the type of mercy that offenders of times gone by had to. And of course, some of these barbaric practices do still exist today in other parts of the globe, as you can see below.

Some Crimes and Some Punishments You Won’t Believe

Take a look …

Crimes and Their Punishments

Tinder founders say former CEO 'groped and sexually harassed' an executive at a company party in a bombshell $2 billion lawsuit

Greg Blatt Match Group

  • Included in a jaw-dropping lawsuit brought by Tinder’s founders against its parent company, IAC, are allegations of sexual misconduct against its former CEO.
  • The lawsuit alleges that the former Tinder CEO and IAC Chairman Greg Blatt “groped and sexually harassed” Rosette Pambakian, Tinder’s vice president of marketing, and that IAC conducted an internal investigation, not an independent one pushed for by Sean Rad, a Tinder cofounder.
  • Though Blatt was replaced in January by Mandy Ginsberg, a source tells Business Insider that Blatt was still frequenting Tinder’s offices until recently. 

Tinder’s founders and executives have filed a lawsuit against their parent company, IAC, filled with some jaw-dropping allegations. They are seeking at least $2 billion in damages over what they allege was a deliberate attempt by IAC to cheat them out of money owed for their stock options.

IAC says the lawsuit is unfounded, based on “sour grapes,” and that its subsidiary Match Group has paid out “in excess of a billion dollars in equity compensation to Tinder’s founders and employees.” (The company’s full statement is below.)

But included in the lawsuit is another bombshell allegation: that the former Tinder CEO and IAC Chairman Greg Blatt “groped and sexually harassed” Tinder’s vice president of marketing, Rosette Pambakian, at a company party, and that the company’s human-resources department and legal counsel knew about the incident and “covered up” the alleged misconduct.

Specifically, the lawsuit alleges: “At Tinder’s December 2016 holiday party in Los Angeles, Blatt, who had just taken over as Tinder’s ‘interim’ CEO, groped and sexually harassed Rosette Pambakian … In mid-2017, [Tinder cofounder Sean] Rad learned about these events … Rad immediately reported Blatt’s conduct to Match’s General Counsel, Jared Sine.”

Sean Rad

The lawsuit alleges that Sine and Match Group conducted an internal investigation led by an HR executive who had worked for Blatt for more than 10 years.

Rad, who was pushed out and replaced as CEO by Blatt, wanted an independent investigation, not one conducted by Match insiders, according to the lawsuit. It says that Rad asked to speak to the board about it but that his request was refused.

The suit alleges that IAC “even allowed Blatt to contact Pambakian and one of the eyewitnesses [of the alleged incident] directly, whom Blatt then pressured to conceal his misconduct.” Blatt was allowed to continue his duties as interim CEO during the internal investigation, the lawsuit says.

And the lawsuit includes yet another serious allegation: that Match “had previously concealed other sexual misconduct allegations through confidential payoffs and settlements.”

A source close to the Tinder executives tells Business Insider that Blatt remained involved with the company until recently and was frequently seen in the offices. However, Blatt’s official involvement with the company is unclear. (We’ve asked IAC to clarify.) Blatt’s long-standing corporate email account is no longer active, and he is not listed on IAC’s management pages.

In January, Match promoted Mandy Ginsberg as CEO.

Rosette Pambakian

Here is IAC’s full statement about the lawsuit.

“The allegations in the complaint are meritless, and IAC and Match Group intend to vigorously defend against them.

“Since Tinder’s inception, Match Group has paid out in excess of a billion dollars in equity compensation to Tinder’s founders and employees. With respect to the matters alleged in the complaint, the facts are simple: Match Group and the plaintiffs went through a rigorous, contractually — defined valuation process involving two independent global investment banks, and Mr. Rad and his merry band of plaintiffs did not like the outcome.

“Mr. Rad (who was dismissed from the Company a year ago) and Mr. Mateen (who has not been with the Company in years) may not like the fact that Tinder has experienced enormous success following their respective departures, but sour grapes alone do not a lawsuit make. Mr. Rad has a rich history of outlandish public statements, and this lawsuit contains just another series of them. We look forward to defending our position in court.”

SEE ALSO: How this woman went from a Pizza Hut employee to a founder of a $4 billion startup

READ MORE: Tinder’s founders are suing Match Group and IAC, saying they’ve been ripped off — and they’re seeking at least $2 billion in damages

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Paul Manafort lawyers' decision to rest without calling witnesses 'happens all the time' — and could lead to … – CNBC

Ex-Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort’s lawyers made a tactical decision on Tuesday to not call any witnesses in their client’s defense. That may have surprised many people who are following the trial, but it is a strategy that happens “all the time” in criminal cases, according to defense attorneys.

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“It’s not at all unusual,” said Christopher Brennan, a former prosecutor in New York who now is a defense lawyer. He said the defense can sometimes accomplish more by cross-examining prosecution witnesses and poking holes in their testimony. Especially if the key witness lacks credibility.

“If I thought I had scored major points against the key prosecution witness and [prosecutors] had a strong documents case … I would have done exactly the same thing,” Brennan said.

Manafort’s lawyers might be justified for thinking just that Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Virginia, when they made it clear that neither Manafort nor anyone else would take the witness stand in his defense at his trial for alleged tax crimes and bank fraud.

Asked outside court what he would say to people who believe that decision makes Manafort look guilty, Manafort’s lawyer Kevin Downing replied, “This is the United States of America. You’re presumed innocent until proven guilty. We believe the government cannot meet that burden.”

Days earlier, the defense team had subjected the prosecution’s star witness, Rick Gates, to a withering cross-examination that hammered away at his embezzlement from Manafort’s company, his extramarital affairs and his lying to authorities about his misconduct.

Gates, who earlier pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy and making false statements, testified as part of a plea deal with special counsel Robert Mueller’s office, in which he hopes to win leniency at sentencing.

“If your defense is that the government’s case is based on a liar like Gates, which they beat him over the head with eight ways to Sunday … why does your client need to take the stand and say the same thing?” Brennan said.

Gerald Lefcourt, another defense lawyer in New York, said, “The obvious strategy is to blame Gates for everything and argue his credibility which clearly took a big hit on cross.”

“If Manafort testifies he shifts the jury’s attention from Gates’ credibility to his own credibility,” Lefcourt said. “That’s a real problem, because the person who’s got the most to gain by fabricating is the defendant.”

Brennan agreed with that, saying that Manafort risked a lot by taking the witness stand, even if he thought he would be able to sway the jury to believe his version of events.

Brennan noted that federal prosecutors have access to files about a defendant from a raft of government agencies, including the FBI, IRS and Securities and Exchange Commission, all of which can be used to undercut that defendant’s testimony during cross-examination.

As a result, he said, for most criminal defendants in federal trials “it’s a losing game” to take the witness stand “unless you have a really good story to tell.”

Manafort’s legal team, however, is leaving unrebutted by any witnesses the stack of financial documents entered into evidence by prosecutors against Manafort.

Prosecutors argue those records are damning evidence of Manafort hiding money earned overseas from consulting for a pro-Russia political party in Ukraine and then duping banks into giving him loans when that income stream ran dry.

For Manafort’s lawyers, “The risk is that you don’t have any answers to the statements that the prosecutors are going to make” in closing arguments, Brennan said.

But “the defense strategy is to ignore the documents” and “be focused on Gates” in closing arguments to jurors, Brennan said.

“I’d stand up there in front of them and say, ‘Why does Manafort even have to be here?'” Brennan said.

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Tinder and Match Group were a poor match from the beginning, according to the new $2 billion lawsuit filed by the dating app's founders (MTCH, IAC)

sean rad


The legal dispute between Tinder and parent company Match Group is new, but the bad blood between key figures at the two companies apparently isn’t.

Three of Tinder’s cofounders, along with a group of current and former key employees, believe that the management of Match Group and its corporate parent, IAC, have repeatedly reneged on formal agreements and shorted them of money and ownership since the founding of the dating-app company in 2012, according to a lawsuit filed on Tuesday. The bad-faith dealing by Match and IAC culminated in the alleged scheme that forms the centerpiece of the suit — Match Group’s alleged attempt to undermine the value of the stock options held by Tinder employees.

The Tinder founders and employees are seeking $2 billion in compensation plus additional punitive damages in the suit.

Match Group and IAC “cheated the Tinder plaintiffs out of their contractual right to participate in the future growth of the company they built,” the Tinder founders and employees allege in their suit. “Defendants willfully breached their contracts and their legal duties, pocketing billions of dollars earned by the Tinder plaintiffs and other Tinder optionholders.”

A Match Group representative denied the allegations in a statement and suggested that the suit was the result of envy, not bad-faith dealing.

Two of the plaintiffs in the suit are no longer with the company, the representative noted in the statement. Sean Rad, Tinder’s founder and former CEO, was “dismissed” more than a year ago; and Justin Mateen, left “many years” ago, the representative said.

Rad and Mateen “may not like the fact that Tinder has experienced enormous success following their respective departures, but sour grapes alone do not a lawsuit make,” the representative said. “Mr. Rad has a rich history of outlandish public statements, and this lawsuit contains just another series of them. We look forward to defending our position in court.”

Match and Rad repeatedly clashed

Barry Diller IACMatch and Rad and his team were at odds almost from the beginning and repeatedly clashed, according to the suit.

Here are some of the key moments and allegations, as laid out in the Tinder team’s legal complaint:

  • Although Rad initially developed Tinder in 2012 while working for Hatch Labs, an IAC-owned incubator, and his basic concept won a hackathon contest Hatch sponsored, IAC and Hatch initially declined to foster the development of the app or to allow Rad to seek outside funding for it.
  • Instead Hatch said Rad could develop it with a team he was already on that was working on a separate app — and only in their free time.
  • Because of that arrangement, Rad proposed that the Tinder founding team get a majority stake in the app, with Hatch being a minority investor. IAC and Hatch agreed to those terms.
  • But in 2013, after Rad and his team had launched the Tinder app and seen initial success with it, IAC reneged on those terms. When it incorporated Tinder, it didn’t assign any ownership to the founders, insisting that it owned all of the app and company. It only assigned the founding team “stock appreciation rights,” which the plaintiffs claim were worth far less than the value IAC had promised them. 
  • In 2014, Rad and his team got Match to agree to grant them stock options in Tinder — but only after a bitter six-month negotiating battle.
  • In 2015, Rad proposed that Match allow Tinder option holders to sell their stakes to outside investors. The options agreement allowed Tinder’s founders to do that, but Rad wanted to open it up to all Tinder employees. Match initially agreed. But then it changed the terms. It would either allow all employees including the Mateen and Rad to sell their vested options at a $1.75 billion valuation for the entire company — or it would allow all employees except Rad and Mateen to sell their options at a $3 billion valuation. Rad and Mateen chose the latter option, allowing employees to cash out.
  • In mid-2016, Rad proposed that Match again allow Tinder option holders to sell their vested options — this time back to Match. Match agreed, but didn’t follow the terms under the stock option agreement for valuing Tinder. Match came up with a $1.6 billion valuation — little more than half the valuation it had recognized nearly a year before, despite Tinder’s growth over that time. Rad and other Tinder executives advised employees not to take advantage of the selling opportunity.
  • In December 2016, Match ousted Rad and several key executives at Tinder just months before the first scheduled option selling opportunity under the 2014 options agreement.
  • In early 2017, Match proposed to value Tinder at $1.8 billion for the upcoming scheduled options sale. After Rad rejected that amount, Match then provided “false, misleading, and incomplete information” about Tinder’s finances to ensure a lowball valuation.
  • Match ended up valuing Tinder at $3 billion for the option sale — the same valuation it had recognized two years earlier, despite the app’s growth in revenue and usage.
  • After finalizing the $3 billion figure, Match merged Tinder into itself, effectively cancelling the future planned options sales.

“Defendants, acting in bad faith, breached the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing inherent in” the options agreement and related deals, the Tinder executives and employees said in the suit.

SEE ALSO: Snapchat is stalling out, and there’s not much hope that it’ll get back on track

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'Criminal Minds' season 14 Air Date, Spoilers: Show Exec Confirms Possibility of More Episodes for New Installment – EconoTimes

‘Criminal Minds’ season 14 Air Date, Spoilers: Show Exec Confirms Possibility of More Episodes for New Installment

Photo by: Criminal Minds/You Tube

Wednesday, August 15, 2018 8:02 AM UTC

“Criminal Minds” season 14 was renewed at the last minute, so there were speculations prior that it would already come to an end. The rumors about the series’ cancellation further swirled when CBS did not specify the number of episodes for the next installment.

More recently, Deadline reported that CBS Entertainment president Kelly Kahl addressed the rumors during the Television Critics Association press tour this month. He revealed that they have decided to order 15 episodes for “Criminal Minds” season 14.

This is fewer than the usual 22 episodes but he explained that they are placing the show in the Wednesday 10 p.m. timeslot so that it will have a chance to be extended for more episodes.

“As scheduling evolves and we try to get more original episodes on air, we have to cut and paste and sometimes trimming episodes on some of those shows to get more originals on the air,” Kelly Kahl said. “They possibly can get a couple of more episodes. It depends where they are in production, they will let us know when we need to make that call.

“Criminal Minds” executive producer Harry Bring is ready if ever they receive the call for additional episodes. In July, he tweeted, “I left the 22 up on my calendar in case they do give us more.” He added, “I will already have it in tow if they do and be ready to pounce. I don’t think so but ready if they do.”

In any case, as for the rumors that “Criminal Minds” season 14 is going to be the last, Kahl said that they did not say that it will be the last season. He added that in case that the finale finally comes, CBS will “have an honest discussion with them” regarding the show’s fate.

Harry Bring also confirmed in July that “Criminal Minds” season 14 is set to premiere on Sept. 26 at 10 p.m. on CBS.

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Vannoy inducted into NC Bar General Practice Hall of Fame – Wilkes Journal Patriot

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Wilkes Journal Patriot

Vannoy inducted into NC Bar General Practice Hall of Fame
Wilkes Journal Patriot
According to a statement from the NCBA, Vannoy “is especially revered for lending guidance to other lawyers who have experienced difficulty navigating the criminal courts of North Carolina.” He devoted about 90 percent of his practice to litigation

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Tinder's parent company allegedly faked financial information to lower the dating app's valuation, according to a new lawsuit (IAC, MTCH)

Tinder cofounder president Sean Rad

  • Tinder’s cofounders and executives are suing parent company IAC and Match Group over allegations that the parent company cooked the books to create a lower valuation for the popular dating app.
  • IAC and Match allegedly inflated Tinder’s expenses and downplayed new features in an effort to create a “false picture” of Tinder’s finances.
  • This led to a private valuation of $3 billion in 2017, according to the lawsuit.
  • The end goal was to save the parent company billions of dollars when employees cashed-in their equity, by maintaining an inaccurately low valuation for the dating app, the lawsuit claims. 
  • IAC and Match Group called allegations in the complaint “meritless.” 

Tinder’s parent company allegedly faked the popular dating app’s financial figures in a scheme to avoid having to pay the app’s founders and long-time employees billions of dollars in equity, according to a bombshell lawsuit filed in New York on Tuesday.

The lawsuit, filed by a group of Tinder founders and executives, alleges that the app’s parent company IAC and its subsidary Match Group created a “disinformation campaign” and a “false picture” of Tinder’s financial figures and projections in order to reach a lower valuation for the company. 

The key allegations in the complaint are that IAC inflated Tinder’s expenses, “inventing an alternative universe in which Tinder was stagnating toward freefall.” IAC also allegedly downplayed upcoming features which would impact Tinder’s performance figures.

As the result, Tinder was valued at $3 billion in 2017 when its growth could have valued it even higher, according to the lawsuit. 

The 2017 valuation was based in part on IAC and Match Group’s projection that Tinder would earn $454 million in revenue for 2018, according to the complaint. But when Match Group announced its earnings on August 8, 2018, it said that Tinder is actually “on pace to exceed $800 million in revenue in 2018.”

Like many companies in Silicon Valley, Tinder offered employees and founders stock options to give them “skin in the game,” according to the lawsuit, and Tinder plaintiffs owned more than 20% of the company’s value. 

But as a subsidiary of IAC, Tinder’s financial figures were private and its valuation was set outside of the public eye. 

This gave IAC the opportunity to “undermine Tinder’s valuation” to “save themselves billions dollars,” according to the complaint. 

After the $3 billion valuation was set, IAC cancelled three scheduled independent valuations set for 2018, 2020, and 2021, and reorganized Tinder’s executive structure so that its early employees could not exercise their stock options at a higher valuation, according to the complaint.

Founding CEO Sean Rad was replaced by IAC insider and CEO Greg Blatt. 

In a joint comment, IAC and Match Group called the allegations in the complaint “meritless.”

Here’s IAC and Match Group’s full statement: 

“The allegations in the complaint are meritless, and IAC and Match Group intend to vigorously defend against them.”

“Since Tinder’s inception, Match Group has paid out in excess of a billion dollars in equity compensation to Tinder’s founders and employees.  With respect to the matters alleged in the complaint, the facts are simple: Match Group and the plaintiffs went through a rigorous, contractually – defined valuation process involving two independent global investment banks, and Mr. Rad and his merry band of plaintiffs did not like the outcome.  Mr. Rad (who was dismissed from the Company a year ago) and Mr. Mateen (who has not been with the Company in years) may not like the fact that Tinder has experienced enormous success following their respective departures, but sour grapes alone do not a lawsuit make.  Mr. Rad has a rich history of outlandish public statements, and this lawsuit contains just another series of them.  We look forward to defending our position in court.”

Here’s the full complaint:


SEE ALSO: Tinder’s founders are suing Match Group and IAC saying they’ve been ripped off — and they’re seeking at least $2 billion in damages

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'Criminal Minds' Season 14: CBS Boss On Possibility Of More Episodes & Is It Series' Final Chapter – TCA – Deadline

Criminal Minds

When CBS crime drama Criminal Minds clinched another last minute renewal in May, the number of episodes was not revealed amid speculation that the veteran series may be getting an abbreviated final season.

The network eventually settled on a 15-episode order but, being on the fall schedule and returning to the Wednesday 10 PM slot, Criminal Minds could conceivably do more, as many as 22 episodes, which has been the norm for the veteran crime procedural.

“As scheduling evolves and we try to get more original episodes on air, we have to cut and paste and sometime trimming episodes on some of those shows to get more originals on the air,” CBS Entertainment president Kelly Kahl told Deadline at TCA on Sunday. “They possibly can get a couple of more episodes. It depends where they are in production, they will let us know when (we need to make that call).”

Will Season 14 be Criminal Minds‘ last?

“I’m not saying this is the last season,” Kahl said. “We will have an honest discussion with them at the right time.”

While the core cast of Criminal Minds is already locked in for next season, they will have to make new deals for a potential fifteenth season.

After a long run at 9 PM, Criminal Minds moved to 10 PM last season. It has improved the time period and is doing well in delayed viewing. The crime drama ended its 13th season on a cliffhanger. It will now be resolved in the Season 14 premiere, which will mark the show’s 300th episode.

Criminal Minds revolves around an elite team of FBI profilers who analyze the country’s most twisted criminal minds, anticipating their next moves before they strike again. Joe Mantegna stars as David Rossi, along with Paget Brewster as Emily Prentiss, Matthew Gray Gubler as Dr. Spencer Reid, A.J. Cook as Jennifer “JJ” Jareau, Aisha Tyler as Dr. Tara Lewis, Kirsten Vangsness as Penelope Garcia, Adam Rodriguez as Luke Alvez and Daniel Henney as Matt Simmons.

ABC Studios produces in association with CBS Television Studios. Long-time showrunner Erica Messer, Mark Gordon and Breen Frazier executive produce. Jeff Davis was the series creator.

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Contingency Fee? When Hourly Fees Run too High in a Criminal Case –

Joel Cohen

The disciplinary rules are unambiguous: both ABA Model Rule of Professional Conduct and New York Rule 1.5(d) flatly prohibit a lawyer from charging a contingency fee in a criminal case. Yet a contingent fee is perfectly acceptable in a tort case; a class action lawsuit; a real estate squabble; defense of a civil suit; a hostile takeover; and just about everything else (except a matrimonial action).

So those of us who labor in the vineyard of criminal law are forced to ask: “Why?” And since the prohibition is based on legal ethics, we might further ask: “Are we less ethical than our partners in trying to obtain a bigger paycheck at day’s end by making our fee contingent on the outcome?” Compared to the civil practitioner down the hall, would we be ethically deficient because our client’s freedom may be at stake, whereas their civil client has only their financial future at stake? More to the point, if I charge a defendant a flat fee of $50,000 plus an additional $50,000 if he is acquitted (or not sentenced to jail), are the ethics rules suggesting that I’m going to suborn perjury from witnesses to get the extra $50K?

Maybe. The prohibition against contingency fees in criminal cases rests on several rationales, all discussed in Professor Roy Simon’s invaluable treatise, Simon’s New York Rules of Professional Conduct (Thomson Reuters). First, criminal clients are simply more vulnerable because so much is on the line. Second, the prohibition “removes the [lawyer’s] temptation” to win at any cost, “even if that means using false evidence, perjured testimony, or other improper means to obtain a fee contingent on an acquittal.” This disturbing premise can also be found in the commentary to the ABA Criminal Justice Standards for the Defense Function, at 4-3.3—in a criminal case the “stakes are high, and thus the danger of abuse resulting from a contingent fee is especially great.”

Judges have joined the chorus. In Garguilio v. Heath, 293 F.R.D. 146 (E.D.N.Y. 2013) aff’d, 586 Fed. Appx. 764 (2d Cir. 2014), which considered whether a “bonus” to be paid to a criminal defense lawyer upon an acquittal led to ineffective assistance of counsel, Judge Jack Weinstein observed that bonuses for acquittal “violate public policy since they may induce counsel to cross the line of propriety in matters such as inducing perjury or tampering with evidence.” Third, according to Simon, a contingent fee agreement incentivizes the defense lawyer to persuade the client to go to trial, even in the face of an objectively lenient plea deal, because a guilty plea could leave the defense lawyer with no fee at all.

Finally, former EC 2-20, states that public policy condemns contingency fee agreements in criminal cases because a favorable result will not yield a fund from which the lawyer can be paid—that is, if the defendant wins at trial he won’t receive money, whereas a plaintiff in a personal injury case will receive a pot of money out of which to pay her lawyer.

As Simon politely puts it, “[a]ll of these arguments … are open to debate.” Taking them one by one, he explains, first, that those criminal defendants who can afford private lawyers already pay enormous fees to counsel—but because the rules prohibit “excessive” fees (Rule 1.5), there is already in place a sufficient control of contingency fees. As to the second argument, Simon asks, “if contingent fees would cause lawyers to use illegal methods in criminal cases, wouldn’t they also have that effect in civil cases?” On the third, Simon reminds us that contingency fees need not be all or nothing, meaning a fee could be X if a defendant is sentenced to 10 years or less, X+ if the sentence is five years of less, and so on. And as to the fourth, it is no different than civil cases where, for example, a lawyer can be paid on a contingent basis if she obtains an injunction, i.e., a non-monetary result.

Assistance of Counsel

The Second Circuit has been unequivocal: “Without doubt, trial counsel’s acceptance of the contingency fee agreement for representing a criminal defendant is highly unethical and deserves the strongest condemnation.” Winkler v. Keane, 7 F.3d 304, 308 (2d Cir. 1993), cert. den., 514 U.S. 1024 (1995). Thus, contingency fees create a conflict bearing on a defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to effective assistance of counsel. The New York Court of Appeals summed it up thusly:

The conflict between a client’s interest in effective assistance of counsel and an attorney’s financial inducements to satisfy the contingent fee qualifying terms creates an atmosphere for risky compromise of the client’s best interests on the gamble that the contingency fee might produce a bonus to the attorney rather than justice to the client.

People v. Winkler, 71 N.Y.2d 592 (1988).

Federal courts have held that a contingency fee arrangement constitutes an “actual conflict,”  and that “[s]uch an agreement is a paradigmatic example of a conflict of interest.” Garguilio, 586 Fed. Appx. 765. As articulated by the Second Circuit in Winkler v. Keane:

Winkler argues that the contingency fee created an actual conflict of interest because Winkler’s interests in effective representation were pitted against trial counsel’s monetary interest. We agree … trial counsel had a disincentive to seek a plea agreement, or to put forth mitigating defenses that would result in conviction of a lesser included offense.

Although the conflict is created by a contingency fee arrangement, the agreement is not a per se violation of a defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to counsel, and a defendant seeking to set aside his conviction must also show that he was adversely and prejudicially affected by the arrangement. Keane.

Real World Questions

So we have the Rules, the ABA Defense Function Standards, and the courts’ condemnation of contingency fee arrangements. But let’s be pragmatic and consider real world scenarios. You represent a client on an hourly basis. Or even a flat fee. As such, flat fees in criminal cases are fine—a defendant’s agreement to pay one amount if there is no trial, and an additional amount if there is a trial, is “not a contingent fee but merely an attempt to relate the fee to the time and services involved.” Commentary to Standards for the Defense Function, at 4-3.3.

What if your client runs out of money mid-case, and a loan from a relative won’t be forthcoming if your client looks like he is headed to jail? Or what if your client’s money is all tied up—possibly subject to forfeiture—so there’s an implied, unstated, never articulated, de facto understanding that you basically won’t be paid unless you keep your client out of jail. Have you created a contingency fee arrangement that violates the Rules? (A contingent fee for a return of forfeited monies, by the way, is not a problem as it is a civil action. Nassau County Ethics Opinion 90-12.)

Or what if your implicit understanding is a little different? Maybe it is that you will get “something extra” if you are successful. If a bonus is contingent upon an outcome, it is treated no differently than a contingency fee and is verboten. Garguilio. Is it different, however, if the bonus comes without having been the subject of a contractual understanding between attorney and client? What if the bonus comes in the form of a mink coat for your wife, a block of stock, or a brand new Mercedes? Must you give it back? One could well argue that all of the concerns raised by a contingency fee or bonus arrangement simply don’t apply if it is not part of a firm agreement with the client. Or even consider a client who says, when his money runs out, that “I’m in a position to send you a stream of well-heeled referrals who will definitely seek your legal services. Remember, I pay my debts!” Should this be a problem?

Some Thoughts

I don’t have answers to all these questions. The thinking behind the Rules presupposes that a criminal defense lawyer will not serve his client with propriety if there is a contingency fee arrangement, i.e., the lawyer will possibly advise against a plea which might be his client’s objectively best option if his fee depends upon a complete acquittal. And even if one were to consider the courts’ holdings that such an arrangement constitutes an actual conflict, it does not mean that a defendant received ineffective assistance of counsel. Bear in mind, the bar against contingency fees in criminal cases is an ethics rule, not a criminal “ineffective assistance” rule. Edward Bennett Williams, probably the greatest criminal lawyer of his day, theoretically could have given his client the absolutely best trial defense possible, having first advised his client against a guilty plea in the case (as would have 100 of the 100 best defense lawyers), but he still would have violated the ethics rules if his fee was dependent on his client’s total exoneration.

Should the Rules assume that a criminal defense lawyer will act less honorably than her civil counterparts merely because her fee is contingent upon an outcome, or because her client is more vulnerable? Clearly, the criminal client is more vulnerable than the typical client, as is the divorce client. But perhaps there’s a way to deal with it. Maybe contingency fees should be permitted—which may, indeed, help a client who might benefit from the ability to receive contingency fee representation—conditioned upon the client consulting with an independent attorney who can counsel the “vulnerable” client on the benefits or disadvantages of being represented by a lawyer who agrees to, or even proposes, a contingency or partial contingency representation. Somewhat like an independent attorney appointed by the court for a Curcio hearing, to assure the court that the defendant has been properly advised concerning the danger of his lawyer representing him, despite a (waivable) conflict. U.S. v Curcio, 680 F. 2d 882 (2d Cir. 1982). 

We live in a time where legal fees have skyrocketed. Worthwhile, and ethical, alternatives to mandatory hourly or flat fee structures deserve deeper consideration.

Joel Cohen, a former prosecutor, is of counsel at Stroock & Stroock & Lavan. He is an adjunct professor at Fordham Law School. Dale J. Degenshein, special counsel at Stroock, assisted in the preparation of this article.

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An aristocrat who claims his family should have inherited the throne of Monaco is suing France for $401 million

Monaco Grand Prix Yachts

  • A French aristocrat is suing France for €351 million ($401 million) in damages.
  • Count Louis de Causans says the French state cheated his family out of the throne of Monaco.
  • De Causans told Le Parisien that “sleight of hand” had allowed the French state to rewrite Monaco’s laws of succession.
  • De Causans’ ancestor was apparently once Monaco’s rightful heir, but missed out on the throne because he was German, and France was on the brink of World War I at the time.

Louis de Causans is a prince without a kingdom — or so he says.

The French-born count is seeking compensation of €351 million ($401 million) in damages from France, which he says cheated his family out of the throne of Monaco.

The aristocrat, full name Louis Jean Raymond Marie de Vincens de Causans, told Le Parisien that “sleight of hand” had allowed the French state to rewrite Monaco’s laws of succession during the reign of Luis II of Monaco (1922-44).

He said: “I want the truth to come out and this injustice perpetrated by France on my family to be put right.

“In reality, my cousin Prince Albert acceded to the throne by a sleight of hand … France found a solution to get its hands on Monaco. Afterwards, they managed business on the Rock as they wished.”

Louis de Causans

He said Louis II had no heirs, meaning the throne should have passed down to his branch of the Grimaldi family, making his ancestor Guillaume II de Wurtemberg-Urach the new ruler.

However, Guillaume II was German — and to have a German ruler of Monaco at a time when France was on the brink of war with their neighbours was unthinkable.

So, Louis II adopted his illegitimate daughter Charlotte Louise, whose mother was a cabaret singer. A law, which was later deemed illegal, was passed in 1911 to secure her succession.

“I thought it was the Grimaldis’ fault, but then I found out it was the French state that caused this dramatic turnaround for us,” De Causans said.

It’s easy to see why De Causans is upset. Monaco’s current ruler Albert II is worth $1 billion. However, he stressed that he does not blame the prince for his qualm.

Le Parisien also spoke to De Causans’ lawyer, Monsieur Jean-Marc Descoubès, who said that the enormous sum of money being demanded was in line with the losses sustained by the aristocrat’s family.

“His fortune would be out of proportion with what it is today,” Descoubès said.

You can watch the full interview in French here.

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