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LOS ANGELES � A federal judge in the criminal case against Milberg Weiss Bershad & Schulman delayed a trial-setting conference while criticizing prosecutors on Sept. 20 for taking so long to file a superseding indictment. U.S. District Judge John Walter of the Central District of California had planned to set a trial date in a case alleging that Milberg Weiss and two of its partners, David Bershad and Steven Schulman, obtained $216.1 million in fees by paying kickbacks to lead plaintiffs. The New York-based law firm and the two partners pleaded not guilty to those charges in July. On Wednesday, Walter set the next hearing for Nov. 27, at which time he expects to set a trial date. But he expressed frustration at prosecutors, who indicated that they expect to file a superseding indictment with potentially more defendants or allegations. Many believe a superseding indictment could include charges against William Lerach, the former Milberg Weiss partner who left in 2004 to open San Diego-based Lerach Coughlin Stoia Geller Rudman & Robbins. “How much longer are you going to investigate?” Walter asked the three prosecutors in Los Angeles. “At some point in time, it’s got to end.”
Complete coverage of the Milberg-Weiss investigation

Assistant U.S. Attorney Douglas Axel replied, “I understand. Believe me, I understand,” but noted that “a lot of what we’re doing will be out of our control.” Defense attorneys told the judge that the ambiguity over when prosecutors would file a superseding indictment made it difficult for them to agree on a trial date. Defense attorneys need “to know which case to try and which indictment we’re going to dismiss,” said William Taylor, a partner at Washington’s Zuckerman Spaeder who represents Milberg Weiss. Amanda Bronstad is a reporter with The National Law Journal, a Recorder affiliate based in New York City.

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