Leaving a job after nearly a decade requires quite a bit of desk
clearing. U.S. District Judge Richard Holwell of Manhattan
federal court, who announced Tuesday that he's resigning to join
a litigation boutique with two Kasowitz Benson Torres & Friedman
partners, appears to have attacked that task with a vengeance.
Holwell, who made headlines for presiding over the 2010
trial of Galleon founder Raj Rajaratnam, is opening Holwell
Shuster & Goldberg with Michael Shuster and Daniel Goldberg. The
65-year-old judge practiced with Goldberg and Shuster at White &
Case before he was appointed to the bench in 2003 and they went
on to Kasowitz. Dorit Ungar Black, another former Kasowitz
partner, will also be a founding partner of the new firm.
The new firm opened its doors Tuesday, and if Holwell's pace
over the last week is any guide, it's going to run at full
speed. According to PACER, Holwell (and, let's face it, his
clerks) have put out a whopping 17 orders and opinions since
Feb. 1. That's a lot of paperwork. By comparison, Holwell's
chambers released six opinions in the last week of January, and
just one in the preceding four weeks. In the first week of
February 2011, he put out four, in case you were wondering if
the judge just happens to be particularly prolific around
"I wanted to finish unfinished business and didn't want to
saddle my former colleagues with a lot of open matters," Holwell
told On The Case Tuesday afternoon, as he waited for a train.
"There were a couple of sentences I needed to get done and a
number of opinions I felt obligated to get it out. It's been a
pretty busy couple of weeks."
Highlights from the judge's final opinions included his
dismissal of most of the remaining claims against Vivendi in a
shareholder suit accusing the French company of duping investors
in connection with a $46 billion merger. As Jon Stempel of Reuters reported, Holwell said the "underlying logic" of the
U.S. Supreme Court's 2010 opinion in Morrison v. National
Australia Bank extended to shareholders' claims under the
Securities Act of 1933. As Reuters' Grant McCool noted, he also
issued what will be his final ruling in the Rajaratnam saga.
Holwell closed some less-celebrated cases as well. He issued
a Jan. 31 opinion denying DirecTV Inc.'s motion to dismiss
contract claims brought by a former employee of a company
DirecTV acquired and remanding the case to state court. And he
handed UBS Global Asset Management Inc. a victory on Feb. 1,
granting its summary judgment motion against a former employee
alleging gender discrimination.
Holwell even dealt with a somewhat mundane discovery matter,
denying a request by claimants in a forfeiture action to stay
interrogatories, depositions, and summary judgments motions.
There aren't any rules as to what judges must wrap up before
they step down, but Holwell told us "it's bad form" if you fail
to take care of outstanding business, especially when you've
already heard evidentiary arguments that would have to be
presented to another judge if you dropped the ball.
In any event, Holwell told us his opinion-writing days are
officially behind him. "They're done, I'm now in the private
sector," he said.
(Reporting by Erin Geiger Smith)
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