March 13, 2021
The former co-chair of the Wilkie Farr & Gallagher law firm, Gordon Caplan, paid $75 to have his daughter's college admission test scores upgraded by a bribed test proctor. After pleading guilty to the ensuing criminal charge, and after serving a month behind bars, Caplan suffered the further indignity of having his law license suspended. All of which serves as a springboard for guest blogger Aegis Frumento's musings on the point -- and the value -- of higher education.
For those of us who practice law, there are two distinct aspects of most cases. First, we have the substantive side of the dispute -- the lurid allegations and demands for damages with lots of zeros after the dollar sign. Second, we have the procedural side of things that involves when and where to file a pleading and whether a given court has jurisdiction. More often than not, the early reports about a lawsuit involve so-called motion practice, where we watch the procedural wheels and gears of the law turn and mesh, but sometimes seize up. In a recent federal case, the often boring motion practice reveals an underlying fact pattern that's an eye opener.
I had another article prepared to run this morning. It had to deal with a FINRA regulatory settlement. There were some interesting aspects to the case but I opted to shelve the publication of that piece for another day. Why? Because my blood boiled after I read about the sentences handed out in a case of financial exploitation of an elderly widow. Now, mind you, my blood does tend to boil easily, and there are those who have become all too desensitized to my frequent rants and jeremiads. Hey, what can I say -- I'm passionate about what I do for a living. So . . . do me a favor, tell me if you too don't find your blood boiling after reading about today's apparent miscarriage of justice.
This rambling, shambling tale begins with a 2008 customer complaint, which morphed into a 2010 FINRA Arbitration against Ameriprise and a stockbroker. Responding to allegations of discovery shenanigans during that arbitration, in 2014, FINRA suspended the stockbroker for three months and fined him $50,000, but, on appeal in 2016, FINRA increased the stockbroker's suspension to one year. On further appeal in 2017, the SEC remanded the regulatory case back to FINRA. In 2019, FINRA smugly declined to budge. Suffice it to say, in 2021, the SEC was not amused with FINRA's lack of reconsideration.