ECBA Attorneys Finalists for 2017 Trial Lawyer of the Year Award

Public Justice has announced that the attorneys for Sykes v. Mel S. Harris & Associates, LLC are finalists for the organization’s 2017 Trial Lawyer of the Year Award.  ECBA co-counseled with MFY Legal Services and the New Economy Project to bring a federal class action challenging a fraudulent debt collection scheme.

Under the settlement negotiated by the legal team after six years of hard-fought litigation, the defendants paid nearly $60 million to class members.  They also agreed to exit the debt collection business and to extinguish all outstanding consumer debt that was part of the scheme, which had a total face value of over $1 billion. In a cutting edge component of the settlement, the defendants also agreed to cooperate with a supplementary state court proceeding to vacate the default judgments en masse and, as a result, nearly 200,000 fraudulently-obtained default judgments have been vacated. More on the case and the settlement is available here.

ECBA attorneys working on this case include Matthew Brinckerhoff, Debra Greenberger, Elizabeth Saylor, Jonathan Abady and Jessica Clarke.

More information on Public Justice’s Trial Lawyer of the Year Award can be found here.


ECBA files a federal lawsuit on behalf of Harry Belafonte, human rights activist and music legend

ECBA filed a federal lawsuit in New York last week on behalf of Harry Belafonte, human rights activist and music legend. In his lawsuit, Mr. Belafonte seeks the return of three historic documents given to him by the late Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his wife, Coretta Scott King. Mr. Belafonte and Dr. King worked closely together throughout the Civil Rights movement and forged a deep and enduring personal friendship. The three documents given to Mr. Belafonte are an outline for Dr. King’s now famous “The Casualties of the War in Vietnam” speech, Dr. King’s notes from another, undelivered speech to be given in Memphis, Tennessee that were found in Dr. King’s suit pocket after he was assassinated in 1968, and a condolence letter sent by President Lyndon Johnson to Mrs. King after Dr. King’s assassination.

The documents have been in the possession of Sotheby’s auction house in New York since 2008, when the Estate of Martin Luther King Jr, Inc. and Bernice King, on behalf of the estate of Coretta Scott King, asserted that Mr. Belafonte obtained the documents from a wrongfully acquired collection. No shred of evidence has been offered to support this claim.

Mr. Belafonte seeks to put an end to the current situation in which the Estate and Bernice King have prevented him from recovering the documents. Mr. Belafonte is represented by ECBA attorneys Jonathan S. Abady, Andrew G. Celli, Jr., and Vasudha Talla, and Prof. Charles J. Ogletree, Jr.

To read the complaint, click here. For More information, please read the New York Times article here.


ECBA Co-counsel Charles J. Ogletree speaks out on the historic 50th anniversary of the March on Washington

Charles J. Ogletree, Jr., distinguished Harvard Law School Professor; teacher and advisor to President Barak Obama; and ECBA co-counsel, speaks out on the historic 50th anniversary of the March on Washington on MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Show and the Broad Side: The news with Jime Braude.

To watch the interview with Rachel Maddow, click  here and to watch the interview with Jim Braude, click  here.


Lawsuit Filed on Behalf of Miami Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones Against Miami Mayor and Miami-Dade State Attorney

ECBA filed a federal civil rights lawsuit in Miami this morning on behalf of Miami City Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones against Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado, Florida State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle, Assistant State Attorney Richard Scruggs, and an SAO investigator.

The Complaint asserts sixteen claims for fabrication and concealment of evidence, false arrest, malicious prosecution, civil rights conspiracy, and violations of the First Amendment, Fourth Amendment, and Due Process Clause of the United States Constitution. The Complaint also alleges that Rundle, Regalado, and others engaged in a conspiracy in violation of the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO).

Ms. Spence-Jones is represented by ECBA attorneys Ilann M. Maazel, Debra Greenberger, and Jennifer Keighley, Ray Taseff in Miami, and Prof. Charles J. Ogletree.

To read the full press release, click here. To read the complaint, click here.