by Max Brantley
Dallas’ 5th Court of Appeals has vacated and remanded a $22 million arbitration award after finding the arbitrator failed to disclose that a lawyer representing a party in the dispute had given him a ticket to an NBA basketball game, a wine basket and paid for expensive meals, among other things.
The June 28 opinion in Robert C. Karlseng, et al. v. H. Jonathan Cooke focuses on a number of social contacts between JAMS arbitrator Robert Faulkner, a former U.S. magistrate judge, and Brett Johnson, a partner in the Dallas office of Fish & Richardson — contacts Faulkner did not disclose after Johnson appeared in front of him in an arbitration case on behalf of a client.
Old heads will remember Faulkner as a former aide to Gov. Winthrop Rockefeller who later served a stint as a U.S. magistrate in Little Rock and ran for Congress in 1986 (he lost to Keith Hamaker in the Republican primary). His listing at the arbitration firm where he now works here. The story does not quote Faulkner, but quotes others on the losing side as describing Faulkner's contacts with the lawyer as minimal.
UPDATE: The prevailing party in this case urges me and readers to opinionfaulkner.pdf">consider the full court opinion before accepting Faulkner's argument of minimal contacts with a lawyer involved in the litigation. He also sends a chart listing Faulkner's many contacts over a period of years with Johnson.