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The battle is over legal fees. Neuborne is seeking $4.76 million for almost eight years of work representing Holocaust survivors in the distribution of the Swiss-bank settlement for plundering Jewish assets in World War II. Some of the survivors are furious. They thought he had been working for free. They had heard him say so several times, or so it seemed. They were already angry at Neuborne for backing the judge and opposing them--"betraying" them, in their view--in a crucial decision that diverted more than $100 million of that payout to needy survivors in Russia. Now here he is, staking a claim to settlement funds they regard as "holy."

Elan Steinberg, former executive director of the World Jewish Congress, calls Neuborne's $4.76 million bill a "moral disgrace," pointing out that in a similar class-action suit against German industry, Neuborne already made $4.4 million. Menachem Rosensaft, a lawyer and the founding chairman of the International Network of Children of Jewish Holocaust Survivors, says, "There is a point at which even greed becomes unseemly." Robert Swift, a Philadelphia human-rights lawyer who also worked on the case--and clashed with Neuborne--says flatly, "Burt did a lot of things here that we would not want to teach our kids in law school." Others disagree: "In my opinion, he has done a superb job, in the finest tradition of what lawyers should do," says Michael Bazyler, a Whittier Law School professor who has written about the case. And the dispute has split the Jewish community. Next week, the Anti-Defamation League will give Neuborne its annual American Heritage Award, recognizing his work on behalf of the survivors and others. Gary Rosenblatt, the editor and publisher of The Jewish Week, wrote in a column, "Whatever number ultimately is determined to be fair pay for Neuborne, he should be compensated with a sense of gratitude, not bitterness, and the focus should return to pressuring those governments and banks and other institutions to pay what they have long owed."

http://www.normanfinkelstein.com/article.php?pg=3&ar=68

by zoe on Sat Jul 14th, 2007 at 01:12:04 PM EST
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