Jones Day partner Yaakov Roth recognized as a Litigation Trailblazer by The National Law Journal
The National Law Journal has named Yaakov Roth, a partner in Jones Day's Issues & Appeals Practice resident in Washington, to its list of Litigation Trailblazers for 2020. Through the various Trailblazers special supplements, the NLJ recognizes movers and shakers in the legal industry who have made an impact in their sector through new types of strategies or innovative court cases. Mr. Roth, a trailblazer in fighting prosecutorial overreach at the United States Supreme Court, has played a leading role in two recent precedent setting cases that were decided in favor of the Firm's clients.
In its unanimous decision in favor of Jones Day client Bridget Kelly, who appealed her convictions for federal property fraud in the "Bridgegate" case, the Supreme Court set a critical new precedent in white-collar prosecutions, and adopted novel positions developed by Mr. Roth.
Ms. Kelly, who served as Deputy Chief of Staff for former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, and her co-defendant William Baroni, the Port Authority Deputy Executive Director, were convicted of fraud for allegedly reducing a town’s special access lanes over the George Washington Bridge because the town's mayor refused to endorse Governor Christie. The defendants allegedly disguised the scheme by claiming the lane realignment was for a traffic study. Neither defendant received any money or property as part of the scheme.
The Court agreed with Jones Day's argument that a public official cannot commit property fraud under the federal statutes simply by abusing the state's regulatory choice – the object of the fraud must be to obtain money or property. The Court also held that when a victim's loss is the incidental cost of the regulation, rather than the object of the scheme, it is not sufficient to convict for property fraud. Federal prosecutors seeking convictions for property fraud must now prove that a defendant's object was to misappropriate government property.
Mr. Roth also played a lead role in persuading the Supreme Court to overturn political corruption charges against former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell. His persuasive legal theories presented in the bail application, certiorari petition, and merits briefs in McDonnell's case enabled success for both Ms. Kelly and others that followed.