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NY Times: Our lawyer David Boies betrayed us by secretly helping Harvey Weinstein kill our reporting

NY Times: Our lawyer David Boies betrayed us by secretly helping Harvey Weinstein kill our reporting

Power corrupts. Harvey Weinstein’s power corrupted absolutely.

Ronan Farrow, who did as much as anyone to rip the lid off the Harvey Weinstein sexual harassment/assault scandal, has another eye-opener. And the subject is superstar lawyer David Boies, who among other things, represented the plaintiff in the Supreme Court case on same-sex marriage.

Weinstein, according to Ronan’s reporting, had an Army of Spies to kill stories about his misconduct:

In the fall of 2016, Harvey Weinstein set out to suppress allegations that he had sexually harassed or assaulted numerous women. He began to hire private security agencies to collect information on the women and the journalists trying to expose the allegations. According to dozens of pages of documents, and seven people directly involved in the effort, the firms that Weinstein hired included Kroll, which is one of the world’s largest corporate-intelligence companies, and Black Cube, an enterprise run largely by former officers of Mossad and other Israeli intelligence agencies. Black Cube, which has branches in Tel Aviv, London, and Paris, offers its clients the skills of operatives “highly experienced and trained in Israel’s elite military and governmental intelligence units,” according to its literature….

The explicit goal of the investigations, laid out in one contract with Black Cube, signed in July, was to stop the publication of the abuse allegations against Weinstein that eventually emerged in the New York Times and The New Yorker. Over the course of a year, Weinstein had the agencies “target,” or collect information on, dozens of individuals, and compile psychological profiles that sometimes focussed on their personal or sexual histories. Weinstein monitored the progress of the investigations personally. He also enlisted former employees from his film enterprises to join in the effort, collecting names and placing calls that, according to some sources who received them, felt intimidating.

The full article is worth a read to understand the extent to which Weinstein used his wealth and power to try to silence the people alleging sexual assault and harassment, and to prevent reporting.

There is one aspect of the article, however, that is gaining a lot of attention. And it concerns David Boies. Turns out he was part of the Weinstein effort to kill stories, including at the NY Times. There was one problem. Boies was representing the Times on unrelated matters.

Farrow writes:

In some cases, the investigative effort was run through Weinstein’s lawyers, including David Boies, a celebrated attorney who represented Al Gore in the 2000 Presidential-election dispute and argued for marriage equality before the U.S. Supreme Court. Boies personally signed the contract directing Black Cube to attempt to uncover information that would stop the publication of a Times story about Weinstein’s abuses, while his firm was also representing the Times, including in a libel case.

Boies confirmed that his firm contracted with and paid two of the agencies and that investigators from one of them sent him reports, which were then passed on to Weinstein. He said that he did not select the firms or direct the investigators’ work. He also denied that the work regarding the Times story represented a conflict of interest. Boies said that his firm’s involvement with the investigators was a mistake. “We should not have been contracting with and paying investigators that we did not select and direct,” he told me. “At the time, it seemed a reasonable accommodation for a client, but it was not thought through, and that was my mistake. It was a mistake at the time.”

Boies’ conduct potentially is much more than a mere mistake. Boies and his firm had a duty of loyalty towards its client, the NY Times, and also was bound by conflicts provisions of the code of professional conduct.

The NY Times seems to be focusing on this professional problem in this statement:

“We learned today that the law firm of Boies Schiller and Flexner secretly worked to stop our reporting on Harvey Weinstein at the same time as the firm’s lawyers were representing us in other matters,” the statement read. “We consider this intolerable conduct, a grave betrayal of trust, and a breach of the basic professional standards that all lawyers are required to observe. It is inexcusable and we will be pursuing appropriate remedies.”

Whether you agree with David Boies on a particular case or not, there’s no doubt he had a stellar reputation prior to acting as Harvey Weinstein’s henchman to silence alleged sexual assault victims and reporting on the allegations.

Power corrupts. Harvey Weinstein’s power corrupted absolutely.


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This is the kind of wreckage you expect in the wake of a psychopath.

A lot of his or her victims will still vaunt them to the sky as the best people they’ve known. This makes the victims who know who they are all the more isolated.

The NYT spelled “ethics” correctly. Amazing.

Can’t be corrupted unless your morals are for sale to start

Boies’ career is over, and he may lose his license. Just as he deserves.

    4th armored div in reply to Matt_SE. | November 7, 2017 at 10:56 am

    let’s see if he is sanctioned –
    he and his firm know LOTS of secrets –
    be careful poking the bear.

    OleDirtyBarrister in reply to Matt_SE. | November 7, 2017 at 11:54 am

    Ridiculous conjecture and entirely wrong. Little, if anything, will come of it. Watch and see. The NYT is the one that can forcefully assert the conflict, and it will not do anything punitive to Boies (other than perhaps shifting work) because it wants the whole thing to blow over.

      I don’t know about that.

      The State Bar of New York has vast powers to initiate it’s own investigation. The New York Times has made a public statement, about a high-profile attorney specifically violating his duty of representation to a client.

      There might be enough there that the State Bar HAS to act in some form, lest they set a precedent that might be used by some other attorney in the future regarding selective enforcement regarding client duties.


regulus arcturus | November 7, 2017 at 10:34 am

This raises some serious civil rights questions.

I would absolutely go after Boies and his firm, were I any of these impacted parties.

    I’m not exactly clear on what those civil rights are but… It seems clear to me that the integrity of one law firm is in question. What does affect everyone is whether there are any repercussions. If the NYT does not proceed and the NY bar does not proceed then the man-on-the-street will clearly lose more faith in the legal system. Of course, assuming that there is more faith to lose, and that having a properly functioning legal system is worth something to our society.

      regulus arcturus in reply to RasMoyag. | November 7, 2017 at 3:56 pm

      The threat to sue effectively silenced victim’s first amendment rights here.

      There are probably other violations as well, but at a minimum, Boies must be scrutinized for even thinking about putting his name on a doc which silences victims, the same way the corporate lawyer for the Weinstein Cos. who put the harassment clause in Weinstein’s contract should be disbarred.

Ethical standards and conflict of interest rules are for little people. Move along.

    Ragspierre in reply to tiger66. | November 7, 2017 at 3:11 pm

    You might want to look up one of the VERY few bodies that held Dollar Bill Clinton to account. See Clinton, Bill, disbarment.

    Was it enough? Hell, NO! But it was something, and it was lawyers.

Get into the octagon if you want to be called tough, lawyers and judges. Sorry, prof. And I did get into the boxing ring, Navy, but I’m not tough. I got my @## kicked by men who are tough.

What I’m saying is David Boies was never any hero of mine. I’m sick and tired of people being sold to me as straight shooters. Like James Comey, or Robert Mueller.

The last straight shooter I knew of was “Manilla John” Basilone. And you best bow your head shoud you pass by Basilone Road on the I-5 between L.A. and San Diego.

Well, Jimmy Thatch, too.

Another unethical Democrat lawyer. What’s new?

I’m not saying lawyers or judges can’t be tough. But I’m sick of prosecutors calling themselves tough because of their conviction rates. That’s not tough, that’s just being an @$$&&&le when it’s nice and safe to do so.

Lets also deal to Weinsteins army of spies! Get their names out in to the open so it can be guaranteed their stench has been removed!

Nothing to see here. It is just a big out of court settlement coming. Is anyone surprised?

Sexual abuse was an easy target when it was the Catholic Church, but a good hard look at the music and pro-athletic worlds are just massive. If you really want to have fun, review the sexual abuse by take a knee crowd.

I followed the Kobe Bryant trial. What a mess. Clear cut rape and he got off (no pun). I have trouble believing that the 20,000 women wilt chamberlain slept with were all willing. How many groupies have been drugged or drunk when they were taken advantage of?

Pretty soon it is all going to be normalized and we will not care anymore.

David Boies is one of the slickest lawyers out there. I am guessing that he knows how to work the law in his favor and I doubt they will be able to show a conflict. It is interesting that someone who was suppose to be championing sex trade victims end up working for one of the top predators. Classic democrat.

Isn’t funny how much money Hollywood promotes and makes on sex and gun violence, yet their “political” party is suppose to be against it.

Sorry, prof. Uncalled for.

OK, and I mean this. Because it involves the NFL.

Concrete Charlie. It bears repeating.

    MarkSmith in reply to Arminius. | November 7, 2017 at 2:15 pm

    Not sure why you have two down vote. I really enjoyed the article about Concrete Charlie. I bet the game would be a lot more exciting if they paid the players a lot less.

    Arminius in reply to Arminius. | November 7, 2017 at 3:40 pm

    He went down hard, left in a heap by a crackback block as naked as it was vicious. Pro football was like that in 1960, a gang fight in shoulder pads, its violence devoid of the high-tech veneer it has today. The crackback was legal, and all the Philadelphia Eagles could do about it that Sunday in Cleveland was carry a linebacker named Bob Pellegrini off on his shield.

IANAL, so I have some questions.

Absent an included criminal act, are ethics code violations punishable under criminal law?

Would (should) his partners have been consulted when the decision to represent both parties was made? (Do the partners act independently, or is it reasonable to assume they concurred in the decision?)

    Generally no. An ethics code violation is generally not a criminal act, unless it also references the penal code (like some sort of fraud or theft).

    However, it IS sanctionable by the State Bar of New York, with penalties such as Private or Public Reprimand, Suspension of Law License, or even Disbarment.

    Again generally, in order to represent multiple clients in ANY RELATED MATTER, you have to have the agreement of both parties.

    In the event that the parties develop a conflict of representation (meaning that one party wants to act at the expense of a non-agreeing other party), an Attorney is generally required to withdraw from representing BOTH parties, because they have learned client confidences that may be used against the non-agreeing party in the future. This USUALLY may only be overcome by getting the party that you don’t want to represent anymore to give you a “waiver” regarding the conflict.

    Any conflict of an individual in a firm is imputed to the ENTIRE firm. The only exceptions are Government employment (and there, the only place where they are still allowed at all, you have to develop safeguards to prevent information leakage: aka the “Chinese Wall).” See The ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct Rule 1.10.

Michael Johnson | November 7, 2017 at 1:25 pm

“Whether you agree with David Boies on a particular case or not, there’s no doubt he had a stellar reputation”

He had a reputation for success, but not necessarily for honesty. In Gore v Bush he argued for recounting only Democrat precincts which invariably favors Democrats, rather than a state wide recount. For some reason, the more times Democrat precinct workers handle ballots, the more Democrat the vote becomes.

Also, Boies was the lawyer on the Microsoft anti-trust case. I remember that in different parts of the brief Boies faulted Microsoft for charging too much and then too little for the same product.

    ugottabekiddinme in reply to Michael Johnson. | November 7, 2017 at 4:16 pm

    You beat me to the keyboard-> a “stellar” reputation does not arise from making misleading statements to the tribunal, as Boies was known to have done in the Microsoft case and the Florida recount case.

    Too big and successful to be sanctioned? Well, we shall see. It’s a given that if he were a prominent lawyer representing conservatives, the NY Bar would already be preparing disbarment proceedings, but with a well-connected Dem like Boies? Who knows? Maybe with the NYT pressuring the Bar something will come of it, but I expect it will be a “tsk – tsk” letter of reprimand or some such.

    YellowSnake in reply to Michael Johnson. | November 7, 2017 at 10:43 pm

    Please, why do you want to re-litigate Bush v. Gore when Bush won? When an election, sporting contest, etc is that close, any of a 100 ‘bad calls’ could be picked as the reason it didn’t go your way. I could argue for Gore, but I have better things to do.

    Like working for the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact!

Baloney. Nothing more than damage control. If perp had been a Republican NOTHING in the world would have stopped the NYTs from running stories for months, even if accuser’s story was on very shaky ground.