Google's $8.5m class-action privacy payout goes to: Lawyers' alma maters, web giant's pals
Basically: Not you, just 'the usual suspects'
One of the three appeals court judges asked specifically about the "smell test" comments made by Judge Davila. In response, Kassra Nassiri (who went to Harvard Law School and then did a masters at Stanford) argued that the fact that the question had been raised at all indicated that it was not a rubber stamp process.
He noted that the six recipients had supplied over 100 pages of proposals walking through what they would do with the money and how it related to privacy issues. He argued: "I don't know that anything more could have been done, or that more has ever been done in a case like this, to determine that the selection of the recipients was on the merits." (Although we at The Reg would like to note that we would be happy to produce 200 pages of proposals in return for $1.1m in cold, hard cash.)
In the end, on Tuesday this week, the appeals court split 2‑1 with Judges Margaret McKeown and Jay Bybee approving the settlement and Judge Clifford Wallace dissenting.
Wallace was unhappy that nearly half of the settlement is going to the lawyers' former universities and said that he wanted to see sworn testimony that their inclusion has nothing to do with settlement negotiations.
The lawyers has previously promised in court that multi-million-dollar payoffs to their old schools had nothing to do with the deal, but Wallace noted that this was "nothing more than unsworn lawyer talk during an oral argument." He added: "My experience as a trial judge taught me to be skeptical of unsworn statements from lawyers, especially when it comes to conflict of interest issues."
However, Judge McKeown argued that the universities in question "have the kind of centers that are relevant here" and said she didn't see "enough of a connection" to decide it represented a conflict of interest.
Wallace noted that "the people whose millions of dollars are involved are not represented." ®