Judge “reaches out” to Attorneys’ Clients

In a rare illustration of the unstated Way Things Are, a judge has extended a deadline for settlement in a major 9/11 lawsuit brought on behalf of police and firefighters and construction workers injured in the aftermath of the World Trade Center attacks.

Almost all of the 10,000 plaintiffs have agreed to the settlement.  But there are 520 “holdouts”, and the judge “wants to make certain the 520 plaintiffs who did not join were aware of their options.”  He has appointed a “special counsel” to offer “free legal advice” to any of the holdouts.  He wants to “…make sure they weren’t giving up simply because they had become disillusioned with their attorneys.”

In other words, the judge harbors such a low opinion of the lawyers involved that he appoints another lawyer to offer free, independent advice to another lawyers’ client.  This gives “getting a second opinion” new meaning.

Implicitly, the judge believes the non-settling litigants can trust him and his appointed lawyer more than they can their own lawyer.  Or he suspects the litigants feel that way.

Who knows, maybe they ought to.  Besides, many of these litigants are special:  cops and firefighters, two of the most powerful public employee unions in New York.  They’re probably tough clients, being so used to getting their own way in courts and all.

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