On this day in legal history, September 20, 1884, American suffragists formed the Equal Rights Party on the platform plank of recognizing women’s right to vote.
On this day in legal history, September 20th, we cast our gaze back to a significant milestone in the fight for gender equality in the United States. The Equal Rights Party, a political entity deeply rooted in the advocacy for equal rights and opportunities for all, irrespective of gender, convened for its national convention in the vibrant city of San Francisco, California. In a groundbreaking move during this convention, the party nominated Belva Ann Lockwood, a distinguished attorney based in Washington, D.C., as their presidential candidate. Lockwood was not only a prominent figure in the legal sphere but also a fervent activist for women's rights, making her nomination a historic event in the pursuit of gender equality in American politics.
Belva Ann Lockwood, born on October 24, 1830, was a trailblazer in the fields of law and politics, notably being one of the first female lawyers in the U.S. and the first woman to practice law before the U.S. Supreme Court in 1879. Initially a teacher and school principal, she later ventured into law, facing numerous gender-related barriers including being denied her diploma initially upon completing her law studies. Despite the challenges, she successfully lobbied Congress to pass a bill in 1879 that allowed qualified women attorneys to practice in any federal court. Lockwood also made history by running for president in 1884 and 1888 under the National Equal Rights Party, becoming the first woman to officially appear on ballots. Apart from her legal and political pursuits, she was a fervent advocate for women's rights, equal pay, and world peace. Lockwood passed away on May 19, 1917, leaving behind a legacy that broke barriers and paved the way for women in law and politics.
Adding to the historic gravity of the event on September 20th was the nomination of Marietta Stow for the vice-presidential position. Stow, who served as the chairman of the convention, became the first woman to preside over a national nominating convention, marking a significant stride in breaking the gender barriers prevalent in the political arena during that period. Her nomination, alongside Lockwood's, underscored the party's commitment to fostering a society where leadership positions were accessible to all, regardless of gender. This convention and the nominations that ensued were a bold statement in the 19th century, echoing the party's unwavering dedication to championing equal rights and setting a precedent for future generations to build upon.
The attorneys who facilitated the settlement allowing AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. to convert its APE preferred units into stocks will receive a fee of $5.7 million, a significant reduction from the initially proposed $20 million. This decision comes in the wake of a substantial decline in AMC's stock value post-conversion. The settlement had prevented AMC from going bankrupt during the pandemic, a victory largely attributed to the "meme stock" traders.
Delaware judge, Morgan T. Zurn, who presided over the case, approved the reduced attorney fees, marking the end of a contentious legal battle between AMC's leadership and its investors. The stock value of AMC plummeted by about 85% since the settlement approval on August 11. Following this, AMC announced the sale of a significant number of shares, aiming to raise billions.
The legal fee determination was a complex process, with Judge Zurn deciding to calculate it based on several factors including the completion of a 10-to-1 reverse stock split and the issuance of new class A shares. The fluctuating value of the additional shares distributed as part of the settlement also influenced the final fee amount. Initially, these shares were valued at nearly $130 million, but their worth decreased to around $48 million by the time of distribution.
The case saw significant involvement from meme stock investors, who actively opposed the settlement, raising concerns over dilution and market manipulation theories circulating online. Rose Izzo, a retail investor who played a crucial role in delaying the stock conversion, was represented separately and her counsel was awarded around $213,000. Izzo's involvement, according to Judge Zurn, brought a necessary adversarial perspective to the proceedings, helping to scrutinize the fairness of the settlement amidst the collaborative stance of the primary parties involved.
Alex Jones, a prominent right-wing conspiracy theorist and host of Infowars, is facing scrutiny over his lavish spending habits amidst bankruptcy proceedings. Jones defended his expenditure of over $93,000 in July, stating that his role in an "unconventional industry" necessitates higher costs. This defense comes as Jones is being pursued for nearly $1.4 billion in damages awarded to families of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victims, a tragedy Jones falsely claimed was a hoax.
Jones argued that the highlighted expenses are not extraordinary but are being used by creditors to manipulate public opinion and potentially remove him from the air. Since filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in December, he has reportedly spent over $740,000 on non-bankruptcy protected assets. The creditors assert that Jones continues to lead an "opulent" lifestyle, maintaining assets that should have been liquidated post his bankruptcy filing.
Jones maintains that his spending is necessary to fulfill his post-bankruptcy obligations and sustain his income as a celebrity talk show host. The families of the victims are considering requesting a court injunction to halt Jones' unnecessary expenditures or proposing the appointment of a trustee to manage his estate. Jones contends that these actions would infringe on his First Amendment rights, deeming them unconstitutional. The case is ongoing in the Southern District of Texas.
In a potentially precedent-setting case, Harold Wells, whose daughter died in the recent Hawaii wildfires, has initiated a lawsuit against three significant landowners, including the governments of Hawaii and Maui County, as well as Kamehameha Schools, a prominent private landowner. Despite the fire not starting on their lands, Wells argues that these entities should be held accountable for allowing invasive grass species to proliferate on their properties, thereby intensifying the fire's spread. These grasses, identified by scientists as a major factor in the fire's escalation, created a substantial amount of fuel that exacerbated the blaze, which claimed 97 lives. The lawsuit posits that the maintenance of large quantities of dry vegetation in areas prone to fires should be considered an "inherently dangerous activity," akin to storing explosives. This case, if successful, might establish a legal framework for imposing liability on property owners amidst increasing fire risks due to climate change and expanding residential areas near wilderness zones. The defendants have either refrained from commenting or noted minimal involvement in the incident.
Hunter Biden, the son of U.S. President Joe Biden, intends to plead not guilty to federal gun charges, as stated by his lawyer in a recent court filing. This development comes amidst an ongoing political storm, with House Republicans initiating an impeachment inquiry against President Biden, scrutinizing the alleged connections between Hunter's business activities and policies implemented during Biden's vice-presidential term (2009-2017). Hunter Biden, facing three criminal counts concerning gun possession, is the first child of a sitting U.S. president to be criminally indicted. These charges are expected to significantly influence the 2024 presidential campaign, potentially setting the stage for a rematch between Joe Biden and Donald Trump. Hunter, who has held various roles including lobbyist, lawyer, and investment banker, has been a continuous target of attacks from Trump and other Republican figures, accusing him of misconduct linked to Ukraine and China. This case follows a collapsed plea agreement between Hunter and prosecutors over previous tax and gun charges.
The U.S. law firm Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer announced the inauguration of its new office in Boston, emphasizing its focus on life sciences and healthcare sectors, including transactions, litigation, and government investigations. Hemmie Chang, previously the co-leader of the life sciences industry group at Foley Hoag, will spearhead the new branch. Chang has a notable history of representing prominent companies like Daewoong Pharmaceutical and Windgap Medical in various corporate transactions. The new office will also welcome trial lawyers Joshua Barlow and Fred Kelly, who transitioned from Haug Partners in June. This strategic move aims to integrate Arnold & Porter more deeply into Boston's thriving life sciences and healthcare industry, as stated by Dan Kracov, the co-chair of the firm's respective practice. This development follows a trend of law firms establishing a presence in Boston, with several other firms having opened offices there in the past two years.