Philanthropist Franci Neely was with the Susman Godfrey legislation agency from 1979 till she retired from her authorized profession. The agency, initially based mostly in Houston, now with workplaces in New York, Los Angeles, and Seattle, has been making headlines for the Dominion Voting Methods defamation lawsuit in opposition to Fox Information.
In April 2023, Fox Information and its mum or dad firm, Fox Company, reached a deal. Because of this, they averted a trial over allegations that the community repeatedly pushed false claims about Dominion’s involvement in defrauding the 2020 presidential election. “The lawyering was top-notch,” says Franci Neely. “I’m so pleased with my agency.”
Within the weeks following the 2020 presidential election, then-President Donald Trump and his associates vehemently challenged President-elect Joe Biden’s victory. Members of Trump’s authorized crew and Fox Information speaking heads made false and unsubstantiated claims in opposition to Dominion Voting System’s involvement within the election outcomes.
Delaware Superior Court docket Choose Eric Davis confirmed a settlement had been reached earlier than the trial began. “I’ve been on the bench since 2010,” stated Davis. “I feel that is the very best lawyering I’ve had, ever. I’d be proud to be your decide sooner or later.”
Franci Neely says, “Fox may pay attorneys endlessly, and I’m positive that they resisted all of Susman Godfrey’s efforts to get paperwork. So it was not a simple job, I’m assured. However because the decide had stated, the lawyering was good. I’m actually pleased with the agency and what they achieved.”
Specifics of the Settlement
Dominion initially filed a $1.6 billion lawsuit in opposition to Fox in March 2021. It alleged that the community’s stars, journalists, visitors, and executives defamed the corporate and thrust it into the middle of a conspiracy principle that it had switched votes filed for the Republican Trump to the Democratic challenger Biden.
Nevertheless, each events settled for $787.5 billion simply as a jury had been chosen and the trial was scheduled to start out. Justin Nelson, a lawyer for Dominion, stated the quantity “represents vindication and accountability” as a result of “lies have penalties.”
John Poulos, Dominion CEO, acknowledged, “Fox has admitted to telling lies about Dominion that precipitated monumental injury to my firm, our workers, and the shoppers that we serve. Nothing can ever make up for that. All through this course of, we’ve got sought accountability. Truthful reporting within the media is important to our democracy.”
An announcement launched by Fox Information learn, “We acknowledge the courtroom’s rulings discovering sure claims about Dominion to be false. This settlement displays Fox’s continued dedication to the very best journalistic requirements. We’re hopeful that our choice to resolve this dispute with Dominion amicably, as a substitute of the acrimony of a divisive trial, permits the nation to maneuver ahead from these points.”
By settling and avoiding a jury trial, Fox didn’t must make public probably damaging proof, comparable to redacted paperwork and statements. “By largely making an attempt its case within the courtroom of public opinion, Dominion has gone a great distance towards restoring its good title,” Tom Weiner, a retired Michigan company lawyer, instructed Nevada Public Radio. “Fox’s personal repute has been severely undermined.”
Franci Neely: Susman Godfrey Is the Better of the Finest
Steve Susman was a proficient litigator for the Fulbright & Jaworski agency earlier than deciding to department out and put his entrepreneurial abilities to the check by beginning his personal agency. So he shaped Susman Godfrey in Houston in 1980 with a imaginative and prescient: Rent the very best, reward success, and deal with each case with a relentless deal with profitable at trial. At the moment it’s famend for being the nation’s premier litigation agency, and Neely performed an element in establishing its credibility.
“I used to be the primary lady lawyer, and later accomplice, on the agency,” she says. “I used to be lucky to be recruited as one of many first six attorneys ever on the agency that will develop into Susman Godfrey.” She says she was “employed to symbolize our shoppers zealously.” And he or she did simply that all through her distinguished profession.
Neely understood the attorneys’ challenges as they ready for the Dominion case in opposition to Fox. “Massive legislation is demanding, and there’s no space of legislation extra demanding than litigation,” says Neely. Due to this fact, she advises, “Don’t enter the litigation occupation until you’ve got an understanding that you simply’ll want household and retailers to cut back stress, comparable to meditation, periodic holidays, or social events with colleagues.”
Franci Neely says she was “educated within the line of fireplace.” Within the early days of her tenure at Susman Godfrey, she was liable for taking depositions from key executives at main Houston firms, usually defended by the highest litigators in Houston.
And he or she’s proud to confess she was probably the most outspoken attorneys on the agency. She was by no means afraid to face up for what she believed in and thought was proper, even earlier than being made accomplice. “I had the braveness of my convictions,” she says.
Over the previous 4 many years, Franci Neely has watched the trade evolve for the betterment of girls. “I imagine that the majority well-respected corporations have performed a superb deal to respect their ladies colleagues,” she states.
She affords this recommendation to different ladies attorneys: “I imagine that the therapy of girls in corporations very a lot relies upon, then and now, on the persona of every agency. I hope sturdy ladies in these corporations assert their rights to equitable compensation and therapy relating to case and job assignments. Nevertheless, it in the end will depend on us, ladies, to face collectively for honest therapy and respect.
“Some issues don’t seem to vary for the higher in the best way ladies professionals are seen. I noticed once I practiced legislation, and in my retirement, that girls who communicate confidently and forcefully are too usually seen in pejorative phrases. Alternatively, male counterparts who communicate with the identical diploma of confidence and forcefulness are seen as sturdy, leaders, and admirable. That is baked into the system.”
The place would we be with out attorneys? “Thank goodness for attorneys and the individuals who uphold the rule of legal guidelines as finest they will. My former agency, Susman Godfrey, is the very best of the very best,” says Franci Neely. “There are many good attorneys, and I’m pleased with all of them.”