When I first began litigating in 1994, Jones Day assigned me to an elite team of newcomers who would be given semi-autonomy in handling cases. Although partners would retain oversight, we were given enormous independence in these cases. The first one I was assigned intimidated me terribly.
Plaintiff was suing our client, a credit-reporting company, for millions, as I vaguely recall. Her complaint was impossible to refute. She had been earning a ton of money at a bank as a home-mortgage lending vice president. Then, for some incalculable reason, our client began reporting her every time she sought a loan or other credit as a former bankrupt with many prior defaults, tax liens, bankruptcies, and worse. Ultimately, she could not buy a car, could not buy via Amazon until she got a debit card. Eventually, her employing bank found out, and they fired her. They would not harbor as a vice president in charge of home lending a person who herself could not handle her own assets responsibly. Our client’s erroneous reporting had destroyed her life. As a result, she found herself forced to move to another state, to a dinky town therein, where she tried launching a home business that failed miserably. So, she lost even more. She wrote my client, asking them to correct their mistaken facts, and my client just would not comply. Now she was suing our client who unquestionably had destroyed her life, and it was my job to defend the morally, ethically, and legally indefensible.
I sat with my law partner, explained the case, and asked to be excused from defending. I have a rabbi’s conscience. Besides, I never lose, and this lawsuit potentially would lose our client millions in actual damages and in punitive/exemplary damages. The law partner gave me a pep talk and urged me to stick with defending. He also added that maybe the Firm would excuse me, an Orthodox rabbi, from defending a neo-Nazi or other known Jew-hater, but otherwise the job at the big firm is mostly about defending. I swallowed — gulped — and had sleepless nights for weeks.
Meanwhile, I also did my job. I began investigating the best I could, utilized highly sophisticated outlier means of investigating, and learned the following:
A few years earlier, she had been fired by that very bank. At that time, she had sued the bank for sex harassment and for maintaining a sexually hostile environment. But still we continually had been reporting her credit information incorrectly. As that litigation wound down, she had collected — “settled for” — a boatload of cash, and the highly respected superior was fired and destroyed. He maintained to the end that he never had done anything she had claimed. (Compare: Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh vs. Christine Perjury Ford. Compare also Johnny Depp vs. Amanda Heard.) In other words, as a matter of legal record, she had been fired because she had refused sex pressure, not because of my client’s erroneous credit reporting.
Truth be told, she had a solid record of paying bills, never a default or worse. But still we continually had been reporting her credit information incorrectly. How justifythat? And her surname was very unusual, so we presumably were not confusing her with another. And why had we not corrected her credit information after she had written us again and again, month after month? And consider how we had driven her to a rinky-dink town where she thereupon lost a bunch of money on a failed home business that never would have gotten past Shark Tank, not even royalties for Mr. Wonderful?
It turned out that we indeed had been correcting her credit information every time she wrote us. But the way the system worked back then before digital data was that every single creditor in America would send our client, the national credit-reporting company, an old-fashioned tape, with each month’s newly updated credit data on all their former and present debtor clients. She had been writing to us, but she never had written them, the ones who continually reported those bankruptcies to us in their monthly tapes, month after month, and we simply had been uploading their latest info each month, essentially and unknowingly overwriting our corrections with their newest mistaken tapes. Thus, we had a flaw in our system — and I worked with our client to transform that aspect of modern-day credit reporting to assure that corrections, once made, never could be overwritten again later. (You all are welcome.)
It also turned out that one day, during this era before ATMs, she had been at the bank teller window, transacting some deposit or withdrawal. As she departed, she inadvertently had left her wallet and driver’s license behind. Fatefully, right behind her on the line that day was a woman who that very day had been released from the Sybil Brand Correctional Institute for Women after having served several years for identity fraud. With odds beyond one in a million (Think: Rich Strike in the 2022 Kentucky Derby), that crook next came to that same teller’s window, saw the forgotten wallet, and saw that the two of them shared the same cockamamie name. That crook, who had a history of defaults, tax liens, and bankruptcies, grabbed the wallet, charged all the credit cards to their maxima, and never paid a bill on any of them, resulting eventually in the respective creditors declaring her debts in default. And since they had identical names, lived in the same zip code, and even had somewhat (though not exactly) similar birth dates — well, their credit information got mixed with each other. (This same lawsuit led to major upgrades in accurate credit reporting, too.) (Yes, you are welcome again.)
Finally, having left the bank job, she married a very successful entrepreneur who lived out of state in a rinky-dinky town. He was so rich that, between her successful sexual harassment lawsuit and his earnings, she never had to work again. So, she decided to pursue her art-related hobby and to “contribute” to household net income by losing money each year for purposes of tax deductions on Form 1049, Schedule C. (Kids, don’t try this at home.)
Thanks to the facts I discovered, her original story had imploded, and the parties settled. Our deepest concern — punitive damages — had been lopped off the table because, although indeed we had to own some fault, it was not intentional, and we had not acted recklessly. Rather, we really had been trying to get it right and did not realize a serious bug existed in our system.
I thought back to this case the other night as I watched Part One of the Annual Nancy Pelosi Christmas Trump Impeachment. After trying unsuccessfully two Christmases in a row to impeach Trump, now she was using Christmas Season December 2021-January 2022 to impeach the guy a third consecutive year — even though he no longer is in office. It was a staged-for-television, decidedly one-sided affair. The committee actually was un-American, comprised solely of vitriolic Trump Haters among Democrats, with the ridiculously nominal effort to convey “balance” by adding in the two most intense Trump haters among House Republicans, with both a bare few months from their political swan songs.
I watched as they showed edited tapes and videos. Even those did not show a Trump-incited insurrection. I personally know three members of my synagogue congregation who were there that day, and they went to protest the problems inhering in the November 2020 voting, not for insurrection. They would not know what an insurrection is. For an insurrection, people bring rifles and machine guns, hand grenades and pistols — not Halloween costumes dressing like elks and showing off their painted-all-over “six packs.” If any “Proud Boys” or “Oath Keepers” came with other intents, that was they — and I presently give them the benefit of the doubt, too.
Much of January 6 was not pretty, but much actually was inspiring: thousands gathering from around the country to petition their government and to assemble peacefully asking to be heard. Certainly not in the league of a summer of Democrat-inspired and Democrat-supported violent destructive riots throughout America’s cities that saw unbridled arson and smash-and-grab looting of department and jewelry stores under the aegis of the Antifa-Black Lives Matter crowd. President Trump personally had appeared at the January 6 protests and, in the most explicit terms, had called for peaceful and lawful conduct. If he agreed afterwards privately with some schmendrick who said Vice President Pence “should be hanged,” that is Trump in his ridiculously hyperbolic 1950s-style Catskills humor. Trump likewise always smiled when his MAGA rallies would erupt in “Lock her up!” Yet, in four years he never locked up that felon who had spoliated so much evidence under federal investigation. (Compare to the Leftist FBI’s disgraceful abuse and mistreatment of Peter Navarro.)
Most importantly, not a word During Part One about President Trump’s timely advanced request for 20,000 National Guardsmen to be on hand for January 6, a request that only Pelosi could agree to under the law that places that authority in the hands of the Speaker of the House, not the Commander-in-Chief. Not a word.
In my very first litigation, I learned a lesson that I have experienced time and again since — and that is enshrined in our Sixth Amendment. No matter how compelling a narrative may be, the other side’s narrative not only may prove to be more compelling — but may prove to be the real truth. Pelosi’s circus is just an annual charade. Her TV spectacles aim at hiding the truth.