The new ownership of the Wall Street Journal is having an impact in the newspaper's legal department. Stuart Karle, vice president and general counsel of the Journal since 1992, was asked to leave on Thursday. Reached by phone this afternoon, Karle declined to comment on the reasons he was given, and would only say that "I've had a spectacularly good time" helping the Journal achieve and defend its high level of journalism. Future plans are uncertain, he said.
Karle is a former Journal reporter and lawyer at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, where he worked with the noted Robert Sack, a First Amendment expert who represented Dow Jones and now sits on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
Karle helped the Journal erase a $223 million libel verdict the largest in U.S. history awarded by a Houston jury in 1997 in the case of MMAR, a defunct brokerage house. The case and the judgment were dismissed in 2000. Karle also waged battle in foreign courts over articles in the Journal and other Dow Jones publications.
The Journal's parent company Dow Jones, now a subsidiary of the News Corporation, named Mark Jackson as its new general counsel in December, soon after the sale of Dow Jones to the company founded by Rupert Murdoch.