The Reed Smith Watch

Last we reported, sole practitioner Oliver Hall was going mano a mano against the giant Pittsburgh corporate law firm of Reed Smith.

Hall’s client, Ralph Nader, was ordered to pay $81,000 in court costs to Reed Smith in conjunction with litigation arising out of Nader’s 2004 Presidential campaign.

(The nutshell version: Reed Smith represented Democrats, who Nader claims unjustly knocked him off the ballot in Pennsylvania by challenging his petition signatures. Reed Smith partner Efrem Grail boasted on his web site that he “successfully challenged Ralph Nader’s effort to qualify for inclusion on Pennsylvania’s 2004 general presidential election ballot.” Nader sued and last month — nine years after the election and after years of litigation — the Supreme Court finally said to Nader and Hall — no.)

Now the action has moved from the courts to the Internet.

Hall and Nader have put up a web site titled thereedsmithwatch.com.

“The ReedSmithWatch was launched by consumer advocate Ralph Nader,” the web site says on its home page.

“Its purpose is to compile a comprehensive case study of the corporate law firm Reed Smith LLP, which cuts through the PR and propaganda to get at the truth.”

“Issues investigated include firm culture, ethics and professional responsibility, clients and billing practices, recruiting and hiring, political activities and more.”

“Our goal is to expand on research previously documented in books such as No Contest: Corporate Lawyers and the Perversion of Justice in America (Random House 1996), co-authored by Nader and Wesley J. Smith, and The Other Government: The Unseen Power of Washington Lawyers, (Grossman 1975) by Mark J. Green.”

“By focusing on a single firm in a continuously updated online format, RSW provides daily witness to the impact corporate law firms can have on the legal, professional and political communities in which they operate.”

“While RSW focuses on Reed Smith, we may post related information about other corporate law firms, provided it is accurate and verifiable.”

“Tips or comments? Email us: [email protected]

In response to a query about the web site, Reed Smith sent us this comment:

“Mr. Nader has resorted to this website in what has become a nine year case against Reed Smith for its work representing clients which resulted in excluding him from the 2004 Pennsylvania presidential ballot. The courts have repeatedly rejected Mr. Nader’s arguments in this litigation. With Monday’s U.S. Supreme Court’s denial of his writ of certiorari, we look forward to an end to this matter.”

Hall called the case an “egregious miscarriage of justice.”

“Reed Smith’s misleading attempt to play the victim would be laughable if this case didn’t involve such an egregious miscarriage of justice,” Hall said.

“Reed Smith is pursuing claims against Mr. Nader – not the other way around – and it has been since it initiated attachment proceedings against him in May 2007. That’s the only reason this litigation is ongoing.”

“Furthermore, Reed Smith’s claims are unprecedented in American legal history. Candidates have never been required to pay litigation costs to private parties who challenge their nomination petitions, because it violates the First Amendment.”

“Are Reed Smith’s ‘clients’ comfortable with that?” Hall asked. “The Democratic National Committee retained Reed Smith during the 2004 election.”

“Finally, the suggestion that courts have ‘rejected’ Mr. Nader’s arguments is also misleading. Instead, judges have used dubious procedural grounds to deny Mr. Nader’s basic due process right to be heard and present evidence in his defense. Procedurally blocking the courthouse door to prevent a hearing on the merits does not end the quest for justice. It just changes the venue.”

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