The ABA and the ENABLERS Act: Is the trade group’s opposition to transparency in financial transactions warranted?

By Sara Corcoran, Publisher, the National Courts Monitor

H.R. 5525 of the 117th Congress is the ENABLERS Act—an acronym for Establishing New Authorities for Businesses Laundering and Enabling Risks to Security. It is an amendment of the National Defense Authorization Act, a bill that is currently under consideration by the U.S. Senate.

Although it is largely an appropriations bill dealing with budgetary matters for the intelligence community, the amendment calls for greater transparency of foreign capital inflows into the U.S., including proceeds from crime and corruption.

As had been initiated long ago by the Bank Secrecy Act of 1970—legislation aimed at preventing criminals using financial institutions to hide or launder money—the ENABLERS Act goes a step further by authorizing the US Treasury Department to designate lawyers who provide certain  financial services as financial institutions. This would subject lawyers to federal law & oversight when managing or investing money for foreign clients.

The American Bar Association (ABA) is a trade group that represents the interests of the legal community, and it is vehemently opposed to the ENABLERS Act.  It claims that the legislation “will jeopardize a lawyer’s ability to consult candidly with their clients, and thus weaken their ability to prevent money laundering”.

Moreover, the ABA believes that subjecting members of their trade association to federal law instead of state law violates their traditional ability to seek redress in the state courts.

Scott Greytak—a principal at Transparency International U.S.—argues that these arguments do not survive scrutiny: “Not a single one of the activities that are covered by the ENABLERS Act requires a law degree or legal training.” 

He also points out that the lawyers involved are simply the professionals retained for the setting up of a trust, company, or LLC. “There are thousands of other people who engage in these activities who are not lawyers,” says Greytak.  “ABA is trying to conflate the very strong heritage in the US about the sanctity of attorney/client privilege and the threat of additional regulation for a tiny but influential minority of lawyers who want to help criminals hide their dirty money in the United States.”

According to Debra LaPrevotte—former Supervisory Special Agent, International Corruption Unit at FBI Headquarters—passage of this legislation is a critical component for law enforcement to be able to do their job: “When you are going after billions of dollars from corrupt foreign leaders and their schemes, what you find is that there are enablers who are allowing this process to happen.” In her 20-year career at the FBI, LaPrevotte was alarmed to learn that American corporations and lawyers were the agents that shielded the illegal activity. She recounts how members of international law enforcement were frustrated at the United States’ inability to “clean up corruption” in our own backyard. “Most people are looking at corporate structure after a crime is being committed,” says LaPrevotte, who thinks that is too little, too late.

It is the removal of secrecy that would prove most useful in crime prevention.

The bill was passed with bipartisan support in the House, and the act was introduced as an amendment with bipartisan support in the Senate, by senators Roger Wicker (R- MS) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).

Momentum appears to be on the side of proponents for the ENABLERS Act. So why does the ABA continue its advocacy efforts even in the face of likely defeat?

It appears that the latter hopes to be able to weaken provisions in the bill so as to allow the very small group of ABA members to continue some of their activities with confidentiality; but I think their efforts will be in vain because the ENABLERS Act closes a gaping hole in the regulatory scheme.  We have the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act to regulate and prevent corruption abroad, but what good is it if we fail to enforce similar policies at home?

I think we should unite with law enforcement and national security professionals in supporting the passage of the ENABLERS Act. We need to join the rest of the Western International Community in preventing dirty money from flowing in and corrupting agents, both covert and overt within the United States.

Affordable Housing Getting Crunched

What we do hope to add is a unique voice to the nation’s hotly debated civil justice conversations. Our role is to curate coverage from the civil justice community and amplify that coverage, by posting here and sometimes across our informal networks. Sometimes we add our own reporting and commentary. Granted, from affordable housing to immigration to our old buddy tort lawsuits, the landscape seems fairly bleak — it seems that civil justice is certainly still being rationed, even if there are some bright spots here and there.

Sara Corcoran gets us started once again with this report, first posted at CityWatchLA on 4/28/22:
Affordable Housing Getting Crunched.

Photo Credit: CityWatch LA, as originally published on 4/28/22 in the report by Sara Corcoran: Affordable Housing Getting Crunched.

‘Breaking Barriers Guided By Passion’: An Interview with Ashley King

(Editor’s Note: Just in time for summer travel, NCM Publisher Sara Corcoran found some time to spend with an aviation icon who can really, really improve your flying experience.)
By Sara Corcoran, Courts Monitor Publisher

As she surveys the sea of planes at Montgomery County’s Fixed Base Operator, Ashley King knows she is a lucky woman:

“I’ve always found such beauty in private aircraft, physics of flight, and the opportunity to take customers to new heights.”

Her passion in aviation drove Ashley to create ADAX Aviation—an aviation company that specializes in aircraft sales, acquisitions, and aviation consulting in the private aircraft marketplace, uniting sellers and buyers of premium aircraft in the Washington, DC area. 

For Ashley, it is a passion long nurtured in her:

“I come from a family of generations of working women, and while I have affinity and respect for the many professionals in aviation, my mother-in-law first comes to mind. She started her career and spent several decades as a Captain on the 737 and the A320.”

Ashley put her passion to work after recognizing the opportunity for growth in the industry, and developed a strategic business plan for the ADAX endeavor.

“We know the customers, we know the aircraft, and can assist in the financing or leasing the aircraft.  We expect our industry to experience double digit growth as the pandemic dissipates, and are well positioned in the market to take advantage it.”

Along with expertise in the nuts & bolts of aircraft manufacturing, incomparable customer service is also obligatory for ADAX:

“Our customers are as flight obsessed as we are, and expect great service that comes with the territory. The company offers a unique ‘White Glove Service’, which, unlike other brokerage agencies, dispatches an employee to visit the customer’s aircraft (typically their hanger or local FBO) with a plan in toe designed to meet individual needs, goals, and requirements.  We aren’t just in the aviation business. We are in the people business, too. ADAX aims to exceed the expectations of every client that comes through our gateway.”

As the month of women’s history just reminded us, we pause to remember the many women who have made contributions to the art of flight, starting with Amelia Earhart; and those since; and who continue to do so.  

“While I think that it’s great to designate a month to celebrate the achievements of women, they should be celebrated every day, as women make history every day.” 

As a mother of two, Ashley is but one of millions of women who juggle careers and raise a family:

“It is important to me to show my children the value of hard work and how to maintain the tricky work/life balance and how to break barriers guided by passion.” 

She has backed up her beliefs with action and ADAX is a supporting member of Aviator Mentor, a woman-owned small business that provides mentorship for aspiring pilots. 

With the costs of obtaining a pilot’s license averaging $84,000 a year, Ashley knows that this cost keeps many students from realizing their potential:

“We sponsor scholarship programs in the greater Washington, DC area, provide free flights for those in need of medical care, aid kids in getting SIM time, and provide supplemental assistance in ground school.”

When it comes to employment in the ranks, Ashley is committed to empowering women in her own workforce: “I am pleased to announce that Morgan Moses Allen joined ADAX as Head of Customer Relations. We are honored to have her as part of our Senior Management Team. With decades of experience in Marketing in the Defense Industry, Miss Moses Allen is a master of her craft. She honed her skills with decades of experience in the defense contracting industry, and can often be found jetting off to exotic destinations in a King Air, or an A380, or spending time in the tower at Udvar Hazy.”

One thing is abundantly clear: The pioneering women of ADAX are taking the aviation business to new heights, one aircraft at a time.

You can learn more about ADAX AVIATION.

Clearview AI Inc. facing litigation for violating data privacy laws

Photo Credit: Fractal Pictures/ as covered in a report by

Clearview AI Inc., which uses facial recognition to provide photographic information, is facing litigation in Illinois and New York for violating data privacy laws.

According to, “Clearview AI Inc., which uses facial recognition to provide photographic information, primarily to law enforcement, lawyers have filed 11 class actions and Vermont Attorney General TJ Donovan and the ACLU, represented by Jay Edelson of Edelson PC, have also filed lawsuits… The lawsuits allege that Clearview AI scrapes internet sites for publicly available images without the knowledge or consent of the individuals in the photographs and, at times, in violation of the rules of some social media sites, then sells access to the information to not just law enforcement but to retailers.”

The article indicates that Clearview AI has stated that it will argue a First Amendment defense because the photos are publicly available. does a great job of outlining the issues around this case, and it is a good primer as we will likely continue to see an increasing number of cases around facial recognition technology.

California Civil Courts Backlogged

Stanley Mosk Courthouse, Los Angeles. Photo credit:

Civil courts in California were already backlogged before they basically shuttered in March. Now with COVID-19, Los Angeles County is not considering civil trials until at least January 2021 and Orange County’s civil trials are on hold through at least November. So, while we don’t know exactly when the courts will open again for trials, one lawyer has ideas about how to jumpstart the court system when it does open: consider less jurors for each trial.

Rob Shwarts, of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe in San Francisco, argues in a recent article in The Recorder, “We need to get over the idea that there must be 12 jurors in the box to conduct a state court civil trial. This number is not legally required, and while COVID-19 persists, it is simply not a practical or feasible count for the jury.”
For those who have suggested using video conferencing technology, such as Zoom, to jumpstart the process, Shwarts thinks it’s “impractical.”

“Indeed, there is no way to know what screen a juror is looking at so long as the video function of his or her computer is on, raising the specter of juror doing research in real time,” notes Shwarts. “In another twist, Alameda County Judge Brad Seligman had to address a motion for mistrial, because, while the attorneys were in a private Zoom room with the court, the plaintiff started a conversation with several jurors about the seemingly harmless topic of Zoom backgrounds. We all surely agree that litigants are not only entitled to an impartial jury, but to a jury paying attention to their case’s evidence and to the court’s admonitions.”