He is a dead-ringer for those judges from central casting who would appear in those old-line afternoon soap operas.
Michael A. Silverstein is tall, has a thick mop of white hair, a deep voice, and New England patrician bearing.
Today, after 24 years serving as a judge in Rhode Island Superior Court, Silverstein is stepping down. He is 85 years old. Here are more details from the media.
He is known for overseeing many controversial trials.
It took place in his courtroom from November 1, 2005 until February 22, 2006. The day of opening arguments there was standing room only. Media came from all-over. This was the second trial for the defendants. The first had ended in a mistrial. The stakes were high.
Eventually, months later, after days and days of deliberation, the jury convicted three of the four defendants of creating a public nuisance. Arco, represented by local boy John Tarantino, got off.
The biggest name among the losing defendants and the deepest pocket was Sherwin-Williams. It was represented by BigLaw firm Jones Day. The day of the verdict, Sherwin-Williams's stock lost plenty of its value.
Several years later the RI Supreme Court tossed the case.
But, the Supreme Court in California hadn't. Actually, that Supreme Court even refused to review the conviction. The CA appeals court had upheld the conviction but reduced the remediation cost.
Therefore, Sherwin-Williams and two other defendants in the CA litigation are still on the hook for creating a public nuisance through lead paint.
Jones Day, which again represented Sherwin-Williams, requested the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) review the conviction. As many know, annually, Jones Day hires many former SCOTUS clerks. So, it might have unique insight on how SCOTUS accepts cases to review.
This time, though, it didn't help.
Recently, on September 20th, SCOTUS indicated it was putting the decision whether to review the case or not on the back burner. No definite date was given.
Meanwhile, Sherwin-Williams and other former lead paint manufacturers/marketers could be vulnerable to litigation throughout CA and other states to also be sued for allegedly creating a public nuisance.
It's possible to wonder if Sherwin-Williams, et al., will wind up negotiating an analogue of the infamous Master Tobacco Agreement. That could be necessary for those corporations to get from under all those legal fees to fight litigation in myriad courtrooms. Also, those trials could be a distraction and bring negative publicity.
The lead paint litigation in RI was a tide that lifted the boats of many careers.
Silverstein became a known name in legal circles as well as throughout the business/financial community. At the time, it was feared that lead paint would become "Another Tobacco" or "Another Asbestos." The stock market watched.
The state attorney general who originally filed the case - Sheldon Whitehouse - is now a U.S. Senator. Millions saw him on television Thursday questioning Brett Kavanaugh.
Motley Rice, which assisted the prosecution on contingency, went on to have that big win in CA. It's golden.
After blogging the trial, I have been able to become a recognized legal commentator and paid influencer.
Reflection: Lead paint could bring great career boosts to those who advocate on behalf of children's health. In New York City public housing, more than a 1,000 children tested positive for lead in their blood. Lead could indeed become the "Next Tobacco" or "Next Asbestos." The courtrooms could provide Grand Theatre.
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