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Occupy Wall Street Battleground Isn't a Park - It's a Courtroom

. By
New York, NYAs the massive Occupy Wall Street movement continues to spread across the globe, many protestors, when questioned, come up short on specifics as to the actual source of their angst. A certain lawsuit? A specific case? A basket of Securities Class Action Lawsuits? Well, yes. And no. And not really. In truth, many are simply drawn into a movement for the sake of belonging, caught up in the wave of rage against machine, the groundswell of good v. greed that is #OWS.

But for most, it's a feeling—an instinct that lay deep in their gut ever since they could remember. A germ that began to bloom and fester amidst the bursting bubble of the sub-prime mortgage crisis, together with the financial downturn of 2008 and beyond. A bacterium that began to infect following the 'Bailout-and-Bonuses' debacle that saw influential corporate executives line up for previously negotiated and contracted performance bonuses—their reward for having their hands on the rudder of corporations requiring a bailout with taxpayer dollars.

In an eerie foretelling of the #OccupyWallStreet movement, The New York Times on March 14, 2009, included the following nugget in its coverage of the A.I.G. story related to the proposed payout of $165 million in bonuses to executives "in the same business unit that brought the company to the brink of collapse last year.

"…The payment of so much money at a company at the heart of the financial collapse that sent the broader economy into a tailspin almost certainly will fuel a popular backlash against the government's efforts to prop up Wall Street."

Touché.
"And yet those in the legal profession know that the court of public opinion can only deliver so much. There is no room in the judicial system for public opinion."

While many of the participants in Occupy Wall Street and related actions are protesting for the sake of protest, many others are there because they don't know where their next meal is coming from. They don't know how they're going to make the rent at the end of the month.

They don't know how they're going to break the news to their kids that they'll have to give up their warm bed and the only home they've ever known for the cold comfort of a cot in a drafty room somewhere.

Citizens who are doing all they can to get by, but just can't seem to get there. They work hard, yet their reward is hollow. They ask the government for help but get nothing, while they witness that same government shelling out billions in bailouts—$170 billion to A.I.G. alone—to a sector that doesn't appear to have earned it.

That's $170 billion borne on the backs of that same taxpayer who's about to lose his home…

And so the citizens of the world are saying they have had enough—of Wall Street, of Fat Cats, Big Business, Lobbyists and all of that.

Watching all this from a distance, are the attorneys…

You know what they say about those damned lawyers. Opportunists, all. Ambulance chasers. Fee-bitten varmints.

No, the judicial system is based on rule of law. And no amount of #OWS protesting will persuade, dissuade or ultimately have a bearing on legal arguments involving some of the very cases serving as grist for the protestor's mill—even if they may not have a specific target, or case in mind.

Judges base their decisions on jurist prudence and legal precedence. Jurors are counseled to render their decisions based on fact, evidence and reasonable doubt, rather than emotion.

Thus, the lawyers doggedly pursue their mission of bringing down the Bernie Madoffs of this world: individuals who take advantage of the uninformed, and those corporations wielding power and influence at the expense of those who can least afford it.

It hasn't been a group of sign-wielding protesters parading around a drive-up ATM that's brought about the recent Bank of America settlement over excessive overdraft fees—or the court ordering Wells Fargo to cough up $200 million for repayment of bank fees charged as a result of reordering customers' transactions. Lawsuits delivered those results.

While the Occupy Wall Street protests continue to gain momentum and mass public awareness, the lawyers are quietly pursuing the issue as they always have—where it counts—in the courtroom.

As reported in LawyersandSettlements.com last week, officials in the state of New Jersey have resurrected their Securities Fraud Lawsuit against Ernst & Young LLP, alleging the firm aided attempts by the now-defunct Lehman Brothers to overstate the true value of the company—and thus, putting up a veil that allegedly misled investors and resulted in stock fraud.

If you recall, Lehman Brothers—the massive global financial company—would have liked to have snagged a bailout as well, but instead was allowed to fail, affording #OWS protestors one less target. Still, there are issues. While Ernst & Young LLP defended its auditing practices related to Lehman Brothers and noted that the collapse of the global economy was the real reason for Lehman's demise, The Wall Street Journal noted on October 11 that former Lehman officials settled with the state of New Jersey for $8.25 million without admitting wrongdoing.

Forgive #OccupyWallStreet protestors for asking: if Ernst & Young LLP did nothing wrong, why must they pay $8.5 million?

The Ernst & Young LLP Securities Fraud Lawsuit is separate from a Securities Class-Action Lawsuit involving allegations from several plaintiffs of losses when Lehman Brothers collapsed.

No amount of public opinion will recover those losses. Occupy Wall Street protests will not result in a magical credit to plaintiff's bank accounts, plaintiffs who fell victim to alleged corporate largess and mismanagement through no fault of their own.

What stands the greatest chance for returning that money, for winning restitution and bringing true fairness and justice to bear are the voices of the lawyers, who wield years of education and decades of experience arguing on behalf of those plaintiffs taking their protests to the courts of law via a specific case.

Mass protests can impact perceptions and the foundations of social consciousness: the unfairness that sees the top one percent controlling 42 percent of financial wealth in this country. Overall, according to 2007 data highlighted by William Domhoff, 93 percent of all financial wealth is controlled by the top 10 percent of the country. It's the thrust behind the sign held up by one #OWS protestor last weekend in New York: "Dear 1%, we fell asleep for awhile. Just woke up. Sincerely, the 99%."

But real change happens in the courtroom.

Thus, when the #OccupyWallStreet participants come in from the cold, the attorneys and those in the legal profession will be at the ready to represent their interests in the courts of law—the place where the Occupy Wall Street message has the most value and holds the most promise for real change.

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READER COMMENTS

Posted by

on
how manyof those lawyers are crooked

Posted by

on
Lawyers and the courts are the people who caused the problem. I am challenging corporate person hood case law and the USA Patriot Act, but when I contact your law office for help - you run and hide from standing up for what is right. Overall, lawyers are a large disappointment because they refuse to stand up for the people, the U S Constitution and for what is RIGHT, concerned far more with lining their own pockets - and We The People know it.

You have a valid point that for real results the court is the place to seek redress. However, you shouldn't discount the mass movement of people at Occupy Wall Street because the courts have made decisions in the past to offer tranquility to our nation - using the Preamble to the U S Constitution as their guide.

Admire the wise words of Thomas Jefferson below that predicted our nation could be reduced to tyranny by our own government. [And Lawyers] Corporate Persona Hood case law is a cancer to our nation that continues to grow. As you look below you will see his words come to life as case law decisions from 1819 thru 2010, have slowly perverted our nation into Tyranny.

"Experience has shown that even under the best forms [of government] those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny."
Thomas Jefferson

Significant U.S. Court Cases in the Evolution of
Corporate Personhood / Commercial Free Speech

•Trustees of Dartmouth College v. Woodward (1819)
Corporate charters are ruled to have constitutional protection.
•Munn v. State of Illinois (1876)
Property cannot be used to unduly expropriate wealth from a community (later reversed).
•Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad (1886)
The substance of this case (a tax dispute) is of little significance, but this fateful case subsequently was cited as precedent for granting corporations constitutional rights. Several articles linked above detail how this happened.
•Noble v. Union River Logging Railroad Company (1893)
A corporation first successfully claims Bill of Rights protection (5th Amendment)
•Lochner v. New York (1905)
States cannot interfere with "private contracts" between workers and corporation -- marks the ascension of "substantive due process" (later mitigated after President Roosevelt threatend to add Justices to the Court).
•Liggett v. Lee (1933)
Chain store taxes prohibited as violation of corporations' "due process" rights.
•Ross v. Bernhard (1970)
7th Amendment right (jury trial) granted to corporations.
•U.S. v. Martin Linen Supply (1976)
A corporation successfully claims 5th Amendment protection against double jeopardy.
•Marshall v. Barlow (1978)
The Court creates 4th Amendment protection for corporations -- federal inspectors must obtain a search warrant for a safety inspection on corporate property.
•First National Bank of Boston v. Bellotti (1978)
Struck down a Massachusetts law that banned corporate spending to influence state ballot initiatives, even spending by corporate political action committees. Spending money to influence politics is now a corporate "right." Justice Rehnquist's dissent is a recommended read.
Related articles: * Ballot Initiatives Hijacked * Behind the Powell Memo
•Central Hudson Gas v. Public Service Comm. of NY (1980)
This oft-cited decision concerns a state ban on ads promoting electricity consumption.
•Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce (1990)
Upheld limits on corporate spending in elections.
•Nike v Kasky (2002)
Nike claims California cannot require factual accuracy of the corporation in its PR campaigns. California's Supreme Court disagreed. The U.S. Supreme Court took up the case on appeal, then issued a non-ruling in 2003. See our comprehensive archive on this case.
•Randall v Sorrell (2006) While this case dealt with the legality of Vermont's contribution limits, not corporations directly, it carried important implications for corporate political influence, as Daniel Greenwood detailed in our amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court.

•Citizens United v Federal Election Commission (2010). In a 5-4 ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court overrules Austin and a century of federal legislative precedent to proclaim broad electioneering rights for corporations. [Emphasis added] *

Posted by

on
While this Article correctly addresses CPA's culpability/fiduciary negligence/collusion, the Al Jazeera posted (Canadian film Co) of the 4-part series "MELT DOWN" more succinctly directs the ultimate responsibility - for Fiduciary Negligence, Collusion and Breach of Contract....for the Duty to the U.S. Society - Non more so guilty than Alan Greenspan, whose ultimately Duty (and that Government) was to establish/insure the economic platform we all depend upon.
To say that all change is achieved through the legal system/rule of law...is to ignore both the written works/history of Thomas Paine (i.e. The Reader), and the current DA prosecutor and Administration's back door "solutions"....of plead out (by paying fines to the establishment), [thus avoiding CEO/Broker etc. prison/loss of license or bar from U.S. auto market- Ref. Toyota recalls & irrelevant max. Tread Act violation max. fine caps].
Also, not to be ignored, is the gross environmental pollution/abuses...as well as the above gross financial abuses/pollution.
Perhaps, the lead by California (Orange County) ...when they filed for Bankruptcy - due to derivatives speculation - was not a big enough wart on Uncle Sam's Face! A wart that has grown Worldwide (2010') to the tune of $670 Trillion. The U.S. will be relegated to the #2 economic power...predominantly due to the failure to address the chronic trade deficits with China...to the tune of hundreds of billion per yer.
To merely focus on the rather slow legal system solutions (though a key element)....is to fail to incorporate recent(s)- such as the Arab Spring.
WE ARE OCCUPY....WE WILL NO GO AWAY

Posted by

on
The Monster that has been created by a complacent people, and a group of positional leaders, who care more about votes and pocket change; Are feeling the repercussions now, because of the decisions they have made, and not made in the past.

A greed driven political state, and over bearing judicial system, and just plain old stupidity ,has brought this nation to it's wonderful wake-up call.

Most have no idea why any of this is actually happening, because they have been asleep for the last 20,30,40 years,while evil in men hearts, has been alive an kickin'.

Because man has made both a conscious and unconscious decision to take GOD out of the picture; and sit himself on the throne; punishment is now at the door step of reality.

The greed monsters, corrupt political officials, the judges with no moral or ethical standing, a president who has totally disregarded his place and position , a bunch of lawyers who think their above the law, will attract into their own personal lives the destruction they deserve.

I am not at all shocked at any of this; it was just a matter of time when the rebellious evil black hearted sinners need a good knock upside the head, to wake them up. Of course many will not change, because sinning is "ssssssssooooooo much funner"
than being good, or doing the right thing.

I could say alot more, yet, I must go and make a difference in someone else's life.

Thanks for letting me post, and God Bless !!!

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