Minimum Competence - Daily Legal News Podcast
Minimum Competence
Legal News for Tues 7/2 - Energy Transition Investment Boom, Giuliani to Liquidate Assets, Trump Weaponizes SCOTUS Immunity Decision

Legal News for Tues 7/2 - Energy Transition Investment Boom, Giuliani to Liquidate Assets, Trump Weaponizes SCOTUS Immunity Decision

Boom in energy transition investments benefiting law firms, Giuliani's move to liquidate assets in bankruptcy, and Trump's efforts to overturn his NY conviction following SCOTUS immunity decision.
Supreme Court in ruins, pencil sketch.

This Day in Legal History: Sherman Antitrust Act

On July 2, 1890, U.S. President Benjamin Harrison signed the Sherman Antitrust Act into law, marking a transformative moment in American economic history. This landmark legislation aimed to prohibit the formation of trusts and monopolies that restricted trade across states, fundamentally altering the landscape of American industry. Named after Senator John Sherman, the act sought to promote fair competition for the benefit of consumers.

The Sherman Antitrust Act was a response to growing public concern over the power and influence of large corporations, which often stifled competition and controlled vast market shares. Notable entities affected by this law included John D. Rockefeller's Standard Oil and the Bell System of telecommunications. Standard Oil, once a dominant force in the oil industry, was dismantled into smaller companies in 1911, following a landmark Supreme Court decision that found it in violation of the act.

Similarly, the Bell System, which had monopolized the telecommunications industry, was broken up in 1982, leading to the creation of several independent companies. The Sherman Antitrust Act thus paved the way for more robust enforcement of antitrust laws and inspired future legislation, such as the Clayton Antitrust Act of 1914.

The act's passage represented a significant shift toward greater governmental regulation of the economy, aiming to protect consumers and ensure a level playing field for businesses. Over the years, it has served as a critical tool for the U.S. Department of Justice in pursuing antitrust cases. The Sherman Antitrust Act remains a cornerstone of American antitrust policy, highlighting the ongoing importance of regulating corporate power to maintain market integrity.

The transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy and new technology is providing a significant boost to private equity fundraising, benefiting law firms specializing in these areas. Investors have raised $17.4 billion for energy transition projects by June, surpassing last year's total of $10.3 billion, according to Preqin. This surge is driven by tax incentives from the Inflation Reduction Act, public demand for climate change solutions, and advancements in technologies like carbon capture.

Prominent law firms, such as Davis Polk & Wardwell, Gibson Dunn, and Vinson & Elkins, are seeing increased activity due to the growing interest in energy transition investments. Michael Piazza of Gibson Dunn noted that despite the rise in renewable energy investments, continued investment in oil and gas remains necessary to support the energy transition responsibly.

Major funds include Brookfield Asset Management's $10 billion fund announced in February and Morgan Stanley's plan to raise at least $1 billion. Firms like Blackstone, TPG, and KKR are also dedicating substantial resources to energy transition projects.

While private equity fundraising has generally been sluggish, the energy transition sector stands out. Last year, private equity aggregate capital reached its lowest level since 2018, dropping over 8%. Limited partners are holding onto portfolio companies longer due to fewer exits via IPOs and secondary sales, complicating fundraising efforts.

Law firms with expertise in private credit, fund formation, and energy deals are capitalizing on this trend. Firms such as Latham & Watkins and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett have been instrumental in advising on significant private credit loans and fund formations. The demand for legal services in energy transition has prompted firms like Paul Hastings and Sidley Austin to invest in hiring specialists in private credit and finance.

Overall, the focus on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) initiatives has further fueled the energy transition boom, as limited partnerships increasingly include ESG criteria in their investment mandates. This shift provides incentives for investors to choose funds dedicated to climate technology and ESG projects over traditional private equity investments.

Energy Transition Boom Aids Lawyers During Private Equity Slump

Rudy Giuliani has requested to convert his Chapter 11 bankruptcy to a Chapter 7 liquidation. If approved by Judge Sean H. Lane of the US Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York, a trustee will manage Giuliani's estate and liquidate his assets to pay off his creditors, including a $148 million defamation judgment owed to two Georgia election workers.

Creditors had previously called for a trustee, alleging that Giuliani had delayed financial disclosures and moved assets out of their reach. Giuliani's lawyers denied any dishonesty, stating he was correcting past financial mismanagement. The motion to convert the bankruptcy was filed as a one-page document, indicating Giuliani's decision to pursue this legal option against what his spokesperson described as a "partisan and politically motivated proceeding."

Judge Lane has expressed frustration over the slow progress of Giuliani’s bankruptcy case, noting Giuliani's focus on appealing the defamation judgment. Giuliani filed for Chapter 11 in December following the defamation ruling. His legal team is from Berger, Fischoff, Shumer, Wexler & Goodman LLP, while the committee of unsecured creditors is represented by Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP.

Giuliani Moves to Liquidate Assets to Pay $148 Million Debt (1)

Donald Trump is seeking to overturn his New York hush-money conviction following a U.S. Supreme Court decision that grants him some immunity from criminal prosecution for actions taken while president. Trump's lawyers have taken initial steps to request that the New York judge, Juan Merchan, set aside the jury's verdict, and propose delaying his sentencing to allow for briefing and arguments.

The Supreme Court's 6-3 decision earlier stated that former presidents have immunity from prosecution for many official acts, reversing lower-court rulings and potentially influencing Trump's New York case. While two judges previously rejected Trump's immunity claims before this ruling, the decision could impact other legal proceedings against him.

Trump's conviction involves 34 counts of falsifying business records related to payments made by his former lawyer, Michael Cohen, to adult-film star Stormy Daniels during the 2016 election. Prosecutors argued Trump reimbursed Cohen with payments falsely recorded as legal services. Despite Trump's defense, the jury found the payments were intended to silence Daniels about an affair, not for legitimate legal work.

The Supreme Court ruling could also affect other cases against Trump, including federal charges related to the 2020 election and classified documents. The legal landscape for Trump remains complex and dynamic as he navigates multiple legal challenges.

Trump Seeks to Toss NY Felony Conviction After Immunity Win (1)

The U.S. Supreme Court's recent decision on presidential immunity leaves Judge Tanya Chutkan with the challenging task of determining the extent of immunity Donald Trump has in his federal criminal case related to his efforts to overturn the 2020 election results. The Court's 6-3 ruling affirmed that Trump has broad protection from prosecution for actions within his official duties as president. Judge Chutkan must now assess which actions fall under this protection and which do not, significantly impacting the four-count indictment brought by Special Counsel Jack Smith.

This complex evaluation includes analyzing Trump's public statements before the January 6 Capitol attack and his attempts to organize alternate electors. Additionally, Chutkan will decide if prosecutors can overcome the presumption of immunity regarding Trump's pressure on then-Vice President Mike Pence. The Supreme Court's ruling suggests these communications are considered official acts.

The process will delay the trial, originally scheduled for March, potentially pushing it beyond the November 5 presidential election where Trump is the Republican candidate. Chutkan, known for her no-nonsense approach, has previously shown little tolerance for delays and has a history of imposing strict sentences on Capitol rioters. Trump's legal team plans to appeal any unfavorable rulings, which could further prolong proceedings.

Chutkan's previous ruling in December 2023 rejected Trump's broad immunity claims, but the new Supreme Court guidelines require her to reassess this stance. Additionally, a separate Supreme Court decision last week raised the bar for federal obstruction charges, directly affecting two of the four counts against Trump. The outcome of these legal challenges will set a significant precedent for future presidential immunity cases.

US Supreme Court leaves Judge Tanya Chutkan to parse Trump immunity | Reuters

Minimum Competence - Daily Legal News Podcast
Minimum Competence
The idea is that this podcast can accompany you on your commute home and will render you minimally competent on the major legal news stories of the day. The transcript is available in the form of a newsletter at