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Judge Altonaga conflict of interest in dismissed case against Citadel/Robinhood not true.

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TL;DR: Judge Altonaga is married to a partner at Holland & Knight, but his client wasn’t involved in a recent case she dismissed. Therefore, no direct conflict of interest.

After a recent court case brought by retail investors against Citadel and Robinhood (et al), claims of conflict of interest emerged from a series of posts claiming the Judge who dismissed the case, Cecilia Altonaga, was married to one of the defence lawyers, George Mencio, a partner at law firm Holland & Knight who was representing Two Sigma Securities.

On the surface this seems rather salacious and a clear conflict of interest. A deeper look into it however revealed the Twitter and Reddit Apes likely got it wrong, confusing the multiple cases which had been brought against Robinhood and Citadel Securities.

A look at the facts surrounding Judge Altonaga and the Conflict of Interest story

The original tweet and Reddit DD made a few true statements, but got one vital piece wrong.

Whilst it is true that Judge Altonaga is indeed married to George Mencio, and he is in fact a partner at law firm Holland & Knight, and yes, they were also tenants at the Citadel Center, alongside Ken Griffin’s Citadel, the fact is that the firm they were alleged to represent, Two Sigma Securities, were not on the docket as defendants in the case which was recently dismissed.

A look at the facts shows that the case which was dismissed is markedly different from the court case tweeted by Apparently Exempt. The court case linked by Apparently Exempt is 21-cv-61848 whereas the court case that was dismissed by Judge Altonaga is 21-2989-MDL-ALTONAGA/Torres. The case 21-2989-MDL-ALTONAGA/Torres does not include Two Sigma as a defendant.

The case which does mention Two Sigma is case number 21-cv6848 and is being presided over by Judge Marcia Cooke.

Twitter / Reddit got it wrong

The court case overseen by Judge Altonaga is a completely different case. So it would seem, that any question of conflict of interest is rather about Twitter and Reddit not properly fact checking information and going off, than factual information.

Of course, it does show that there is a rather close connection between law firms and family members. Given the attention in the media and courts, even the potential appearance of conflict of interest is significant. This is especially true when someone as high profile as Ken Griffin is involved, but in this case, it appears that the DD was incorrect. You can like us or hate us for pointing it out, but the fact remains, it just wasn’t accurate to say there was a conflict of interest involving Judge Altonaga in relation to her husband and his law firm in this case.

If we get different information, we will of course update this story.

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