Big News In OSTK vs. Gradient/Rocker Lawsuit
That is sort of the question Gradient must be asking today.
I just got word that Gradient's attorneys, Wilmer, Cutler, Pickering, Hale & Dorr filed a motion with the court in Marin County, indicating that they were resigning as counsel for Gradient and the individuals within Gradient named as defendants in the Overstock lawsuit. You can view the motion here.
I have cautioned against jumping to conclusions in this case, and advised that we as a group should exercise Solomon-like restraint and wisdom in our interpretation of the details - let us know the facts as they become known, has been my policy. There have been those who would try the case in the media, and certainly there has been no shortage of slimy press who are quick to paint Dr. Byrne and OSTK with a negative brush, pre-judging the facts, and dismissing the serious allegations against the hedge fund and the research entity as nonsense. They have called Dr. Byrne every imaginable name. And they have even said nasty things about the Easter Bunny.
And then the lawyer quits.
I am not making this up.
So, if you are not an attorney, you probably have a host of questions. Like:
Is that bad?
I mean, your lawyer ups and quits (or is fired, but wanna bet that isn't the case?) without giving anyone in the press any notice - is that bad?
Because it looks kinda bad to me.
I can't really imagine a set of circumstances where that would be good. I mean, maybe he wants to spend more time on the sailboat, or the firm has decided that taking money to defend against "specious" allegations is dirty, or that they are above this sort of thing.
Some other questions are, well, why did they quit, assuming they did? Did they learn enough to decide that the case is indefensible? Did they find something out that they don't want to be a part of? That is hard for me to even imagine, knowing the attorneys I know - I mean how bad does it have to be to not take the 500 jings per hour to listen to the mewling whining of your client's "Ah din't do nuthin'" mantra? That's kind of what you do for a living, right? One of the board posters at Yahoo posited that they didn't get paid, but wouldn't you think that they would have taken this on contingency, as OSTK's attorneys did? I mean, these were the same lawyers that were issuing press releases about how Byrne can't read, and how they were going to sue everyone - wouldn't you think that if all these counter-suits were going to have a shot, that they would have taken it on the come? So I can't imagine that they quit because Gradient stiffed them - the money sounded like a sure thing from their press releases - I mean what attorney isn't going to take a sure thing?
Unless that was all hyperbole and posturing, and the counter-suits don't stand an ice cube's chance in hell.
I'm sure there are innocent explanations for this, and would celebrate the might of the media machine that has been so relentless in attacking Dr. Byrne being applied to finding out why Gradient's attorneys just quit. If this happy holiday rodent's little furry paws can hammer out an op-ed in minutes, surely the Post or Motley Fool or the WSJ or Barron's or Fortune or any of the rest of these giants can get a straight answer to the question, "why did you guys quit?"
Roddy Boyd of the NY Post claims to have gotten an answer (in the comments section of this entry), namely that they quit over a conflict of interest between clients related to naked short selling - although what that conflict could be isn't clear, as the OSTK suit does not mention naked short selling anywhere (and Dr. Byrne has gone to great lengths to avoid saying that Gradient or Rocker are involved in naked short selling). So that explanation seems a trifle nonsensical - how could defending Gradient be about naked short selling, thus creating a conflict? Unless Mr. Boyd has some information that is non-public about the OSTK suit being about naked short selling, or the attorney has some information that leads him to believe that naked short selling is a real issue in the case, the whole explanation creates more questions than it answers - I find it illogical.
But that is the info we have at present. It is what it is.
Gradient's lawyers quit, and the only explanation advanced by someone purporting to have spoken to them is that it was over a conflict involving naked short selling.
Huh. Maybe the attorneys know more than we do. Who knows? They are nothing if not inscrutable, those lawyers are.
Stay tuned for yet more melodrama here in the next installment of, "As The Bunny Turns."