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REST ASSURED THAT TRIAL BAR STILL FIGHTS FOR CIVIL JUSTICE To the editor: In his review of Stephanie Mencimer’s important new book, Blocking the Courthouse Door: How the Republican Party and Its Corporate Allies Are Taking Away Your Right to Sue, Seth Stern appears extremely eager to announce the demise of the trial bar [" How the Plaintiffs Bar Lost the War," Dec. 18, 2006, Page 42]. Powerful interests like the pharmaceutical lobby and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have indeed spent millions to eliminate the right of individuals to hold wrongdoers accountable, thus seeking to escape responsibility for their negligent actions. Through a well-funded misinformation campaign riddled with phony studies, bogus polls, and front groups, they have limited access to justice for many Americans. But trial lawyers and the American Association for Justice, formerly the Association of Trial Lawyers of America, remain in the forefront of efforts to protect the civil-justice system from those who would do it harm. We will continue the fight to assure that any person injured by the misconduct and negligence of another can continue to receive justice in the courtroom, even when confronting the most powerful of interests. When corporations act irresponsibly, the civil justice system is the last resort for victims seeking to hold wrongdoers accountable. Without it, wrongdoers will continue to place profits above the public’s safety. Jon Haber Chief Executive Officer American Association for Justice Washington, D.C.
NOW LET US PRAISE MR. C’S SERVICE To the editor: I write to note the imminent retirement of an extraordinary civil servant, David M. Cohen, from the Justice Department. Mr. Cohen has worked in the department for 35 years, most of them as a director of the Civil Division’s Commercial Litigation Branch. He has supervised hundreds of attorneys working on thousands of cases in which literally billions of dollars were at stake. In his efforts to protect the public fisc, he has been a brilliant and zealous, yet always ethical, advocate. I was fortunate enough to work for Mr. C (as attorneys in the Commercial Litigation Branch called him) from 1996 through 2000, when the office was inundated with claims from savings-and-loan institutions after United States v. Winstar Corp. (1996). The Supreme Court ruled in Winstar that the United States could be sued for breach of contract by the S&Ls for changes to regulatory accounting rules in 1989. I worked with a number of trial attorneys on Glendale Federal Bank FSB v. United States, which was the first S&L case to go to trial after Winstar. Although the trial concerned only Glendale’s claim for damages, it lasted for more than a year and a half — the second-longest civil trial ever involving the Justice Department, with a trial transcript that filled more than 20,000 pages. As director, Mr. Cohen reviewed the daily trial transcript, supervised meetings of the trial team, and provided numerous suggestions on strategy and legal arguments. Ultimately, after two sets of appeals to the Federal Circuit, Glendale was awarded $381 million — far less than the $2 billion that it sought (and that amount was not thought to be unreasonable at the time). During the long trial, we often worked late into the night and returned to work late the next morning. When we arrived, it was not surprising to encounter Mr. Cohen outside on a break. The memory remains indelible: On a cold winter day, with the wind swirling around our building at 1100 L St., there was Mr. Cohen in his suit, not wearing a winter coat, with a lighted cigarette in one hand and a brief in the other. Although I felt sheepish about arriving late and tried not to look at Mr. Cohen (to indulge in the fiction that perhaps he had not seen me), I found his presence so intense that I had to take a look. Walking inside, I inevitably felt energized. Mr. Cohen deserves to be recognized for his long and distinguished career. That rare attorney who devoted his career to public service, he inspired countless other government lawyers to do their jobs with diligence and integrity. For the Civil Division and for the United States, his retirement is a great loss. Rodger D. Citron Assistant Professor of Law Touro Law Center Central Islip, N.Y.

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