Cryptocurrency Law Firm Roche Freedman Fights To Stay In Bitcoin Case After Videos Surfaced

Representations of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies on a screen showing binary codes are seen through a magnifying glass in this illustrative photo taken on September 27, 2021. REUTERS / Florence Lo / Illustration

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(Reuters) – A disputed fight for disqualification in the US 11th Circuit Court of Appeals should provide a good indication of how much damage cryptocurrency law firm Roche Freedman is facing after last month’s disclosure of surreptitious video recordings. by partner Kyle Roche.

The anonymous website Crypto Leaks released video clips of Roche, a well-known crypto litigator, last month. In the clips, as my Reuters colleague Jody Godoy reported, Roche appears to boast a lucrative financial stake in blockchain firm Ava Labs Inc and hint that it has filed collective action against Ava’s competitors for the benefit of the blockchain company. Roche also appears in the video clips to disparage class action plaintiffs as “100,000 idiots out there” and criticize jurors as “idiots”.

Roche, who did not answer a question I sent to him and partner Velvel Freedman, denied any improper conduct in the litigation, stating in an August 29 media post that the videos were illegally recorded by an agent working for a defendant in class action filed by Roche Freedman. Roche also claimed that the clips were selectively edited, that he was drunk when the recordings were made, and that Ava had no say in Roche Freedman’s cryptographic class actions.

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The company itself acknowledged that Roche’s comments on class members and jurors were “inappropriate”, although it also echoed Roche’s claim that he was illegally recorded in a “defendant orchestrated arrangement.” The company claims that Roche’s boast about using class actions to promote Ava’s interests was “simply false,” describing Roche’s claims as a misleading attempt to impress the alleged venture capitalist he believed he was meeting with.

Roche Freedman has, however, removed Roche from its class action practice, including pending cases against stablecoin creator Tether Ltd and cryptocurrency exchange Bitfinex, citing the “deplorable distraction” of videotapes.

This action has not appeased some critics. Roche Freedman is facing disqualification requests in the Tether case not only from the defendants, but also from his own co-lawyer Selendy Gay Elsberg and Schneider Wallace Cottrell Konecky. U.S. District Judge Katherine Polk Failla of Manhattan has scheduled a hearing for Oct.3 on disqualification requests, which argue, among other things, that Roche Freedman’s continued involvement in class action will bog down the conduct discovery litigation. by Roche.

But in the meantime, Roche Freedman is also rejecting an 11th Circuit ban motion of Craig Wright, the self-proclaimed inventor of Bitcoin who was hit earlier this year with a $ 143 million sentence in one case. which Roche Freedman challenged on behalf of the ownership of Wright’s former business partner, David Kleiman. I would say that the outcome of the 11th Circuit disqualification will tell us even more than the Tether case about the extent of the damage to the company caused by the Roche tapes.

Roche Freeman’s client, who asked Wright for hundreds of billions of dollars, has initiated the 11th Circuit appeal, despite getting a $ 143 million sentence from the court. Roche Freedman and Boies co-lawyer Schiller Flexner argued in their opening memoir that the trial judge made several critical errors before and during the 2021 trial against Wright, which resulted in a $ 100 jury verdict. millions on one of the inheritance claims, but a verdict defense on a dozen other claims. Wright did not appeal the ruling.

The chronology is significant. Roche and Freedman began representing the Kleiman estate in 2018, before they even left Boies Schiller to found their own company. The Ava Labs didn’t exist when they first filed a lawsuit against Wright. And according to Roche Freedman, the two partner names were nearly two years after the property case against Wright before they were hired to do any legal work for Ava.

So what does the Wright case have to do with Roche’s videotaped comments about his relationship with Ava?

There is only one direct link, according to the 6 September disqualification motion filed by Wright’s principal attorney Andrés Rivero di Rivero Mestre. Roche allegedly referred to Wright in one of the Crypto Leaks video clips as a “nemesis” of the founder of Ava, suggesting a reason to push hard against Wright. The motion of disqualification also theorized that Roche’s bragging about his wealth suggests that he doesn’t feel compelled to put clients’ interests ahead of his own. In this case, Wright’s motion argued, Roche Freedman blew up a potential deal that would benefit the property.

Most importantly, the brief is an opportunity for Wright and Rivero to highlight Roche’s nasty comments, including his claim that jurors and class members are “idiots.” The filing, in effect, invites the 11th Circuit to join Wright’s disapproval.

“[Roche’s] admissions of wrongdoing demonstrate the company’s illegal “business plan” and its continued efforts to subvert the fair administration of justice, which accumulate contempt and discredit on the legal profession and every court (including this one) in which the company has appeared “said Rivero.

Roche Freedman’s September 19 response pointed out that the Wright litigation was well underway before Ava existed and was being tried for a verdict months before Roche was filmed.

“Wright’s suggestion that this action was taken for an improper purpose defies logic,” said Roche Freedman. “To state the obvious, this action was brought because the plaintiffs – who have never met anyone and have no affiliations with Ava Labs – believed in good faith that Wright had converted their valuable intellectual property related to bitcoin and blockchain.”

Freedman worked out an email response to the question I sent to him and to Roche. “Wright’s movement is frivolous,” he said. “Even if we understand that he has a personal hostility against the company, we would have hoped that he would not be reflected in his documents. Unfortunately we were wrong “.

Wright Rivero’s attorney retorted, “Their answer doesn’t even begin to address their confessed misconduct.”

Freedman said he doesn’t expect other Roche Freedman opponents to follow Wright’s lead. I’ve written about litigation long enough to predict that if the 11th Circuit uphold Wright’s motion, despite the relatively tenuous link between Roche’s recorded comments and his company’s litigation against Wright, we can expect Roche Freedman’s opponents they will accumulate with their own disqualification moti.

The 11th Circuit motion is basically a test of whether the judges can stand Roche’s conduct. If they can’t, Roche Freedman could be in big trouble.

Read more:

Law firms try to oust Roche Freedman from the Tether cryptocurrency case

The verdict against the self-proclaimed inventor of Bitcoin rises to $ 143 million

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Alison Frankel

Thomson Reuters

Alison Frankel has been involved in high-risk commercial litigation as a columnist for Reuters since 2011. A graduate of Dartmouth College, she has worked as a journalist in New York covering the legal and law industries for more than three decades. Prior to joining Reuters, she was a writer and editor at The American Lawyer. Frankel is the author of Double Eagle: The Epic Story of the World’s Most Valuable Coin.

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