Tuesday, October 12, 2010

LAW.COM Newswire Highlights October 12, 2010

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Judge Defends Filming TV Show Audition in California Courtroom

The Recorder
A California judge under fire for filming a TV show audition without the knowledge of litigants in her courtroom has denied that she violated judicial canons. San Diego County Superior Court Judge DeAnn Salcido also responded to charges that she failed to promote public confidence in the integrity of the judiciary. She denied that dozens of remarks she made on-camera and off were improper, saying she used comedy in her courtroom to seize on "teachable moments" with defendants and people in the gallery.

Death of the Billable Hour or the Rise of Discounts?

Corporate Counsel
Are companies witnessing the death of the billable hour -- or the rise of discounted hourly rates? A recent ALM survey reports that 72.8 percent of fees paid to outside counsel in 2009 were based on billing arrangements other than standard hourly rates or the billable hour. The results seem to show an increased willingness by law firms to diverge from the traditional billable hour, but are firms really offering more fixed-fee arrangements, or just more discounted hourly rates?
In Guantanamo Opinion, 2 Versions of Reality

The National Law Journal
When a Washington, D.C., federal judge ordered the release of a Guantanamo Bay detainee last spring, the case appeared to be a routine setback for an Obama administration that has lost a string of such cases. But a day after the order was filed on the court's electronic docket, the opinion vanished, to be replaced weeks later by a new ruling. While it reached the same conclusion, eight pages of material had been removed, including key passages in which the judge dismantled the government's case against the detainee.

K&L Gates, Thompson & Knight Sued for Roles in 'Ponzi-Like' Scheme

The National Law Journal
A group of investors in a now-bankrupt entity that controls about 500 real estate companies has filed a class action against K&L Gates and Thompson & Knight for allegedly aiding in a "Ponzi-like" scheme. The purported class, which consists of investors in assisted living centers and other properties, alleges that the two law firms participated in misleading them into investing in the companies, which unlawfully commingled funds among underperforming entities.
As Bratz Case Heads for Retrial, RICO Claims Survive Motion to Dismiss

The American Lawyer
The latest ruling in the ferocious battle between Mattel and MGA Entertainment over who owns rights to the once-popular Bratz doll line won't do much to streamline the issues as the case heads to a January trial date after a remand from the 9th Circuit. A California federal judge struck some counterclaims by MGA but refused to dismiss others, including explosive allegations that Mattel and its lawyers at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan conspired to steal trade secrets from MGA and other Mattel competitors.

Reprimand Tossed for 'We Close at 5' Texas Judge

The Associated Press
A special court of review Monday dismissed a public reprimand of Texas' top criminal courts judge, who closed her court at 5 p.m., preventing attorneys from filing a last-minute appeal hours before their client was executed. The disciplinary case against Judge Sharon Keller came after she closed the court on Sept. 25, 2007, as attorneys for twice-convicted killer Michael Wayne Richard tried to submit their appeal. The state Commission on Judicial Conduct issued Keller a "public warning," but the judge appealed.
Judge Dismisses Millionaire's Malpractice Claim Against Schnader Harrison Over Trust Agreements

The Legal Intelligencer
A Pennsylvania judge has dismissed the legal malpractice claim brought by multimillionaire Raymond Perelman against Schnader Harrison because the statute of limitations bars the claim. Perelman sued the firm and former Schnader Harrison attorney Vickie Waitsman, alleging the firm committed malpractice in the creation of legal documents that transferred some of his business interests into a trust created on behalf of his son and granddaughter, allegedly contrary to his intentions.

Attorney Jailed for Not Reciting Pledge of Allegiance

The Associated Press
A Mississippi judge ordered an attorney to spend several hours in jail last week after the lawyer refused to recite the Pledge of Allegiance in court. After the judge told people in the courtroom to stand up and say the pledge, the attorney "failed and refused to do so" and was jailed for criminal contempt of court, according to the judge's order.

Wells Fargo Unit to Pay New Jersey $71 Million Over Deceptive Mortgage Claims

New Jersey Law Journal

Wells Fargo Home Mortgage has agreed to pay New Jersey $3.98 million and 900 residents $67 million in loan modifications over claims subsidiaries deceptively marketed adjustable-rate mortgages. The agreement ends a state investigation into whether "Pick-a-Payment" mortgages violated the Consumer Fraud Act by touting their low monthly payment options without warning borrowers that the minimum payment option often failed to cover the interest on the loan, resulting in an increase in the loan's principal balance.

Attorneys Say They Fear Retribution From Tenn. Judges

The Associated Press
Attorneys are hesitant to file complaints against some Tennessee judges because they fear retaliation, a state Senate judiciary subcommittee was told last week. The subcommittee held hearings to allow attorneys to voice their concerns about Tennessee's system for disciplining the state's judges. One attorney, who said lawyers were reluctant to file motions for recusal, told the panel: "We know who the honest judges are. We know who the dishonest judges are. We're deathly afraid of being retaliated against."

Modeling Agency Sanctioned Over Tough Tactics

New York Law Journal
A New York judge has ruled that City Model and Talent Development must pay a $10,000 civil penalty and reimburse customers for its false statements, tough sales tactics and expensive photo shoots made in the promise of helping aspiring models and actors break into the fashion and entertainment industries. The judge has barred the company from recruiting potential models and actors without first disclosing associated marketing costs and has prohibited it from charging customers' credit cards without their consent.

Lawyer's Suit Against Jamaican Prime Minister Raises More Questions About Manatt

The American Lawyer
The controversy over who hired Manatt, Phelps & Phillips for a controversial Jamaican lobbying assignment keeps getting murkier. The saga continued last week, as a prominent backer of the ruling Jamaica Labour Party, Kingston lawyer Harold Brady, sued the country's prime minister for libel. Brady has been a central character in Jamaican politics in recent months because of his purported role in retaining Manatt to lobby U.S. officials against the extradition of alleged drug lord Christopher Coke.

Visit International News

Ruling Proves to Be Primer on E-Discovery Enforcement

The Legal Intelligencer
Victor Stanley is worth the read if only for its review and distillation of e-discovery law. The court's focus on spoliation and its remedies is "spot on," according to attorney Leonard Deutchman, but the lessons drawn from the reality underlying the court's analysis are discouraging.

Visit Legal Technology

Top GCs Continue to Support Flextime for Outside Lawyers

Corporate Counsel
Last year, the Project for Attorney Retention got several GCs and law firm leaders to join a program encouraging work assignments for flextime lawyers, aimed at advancing women in the law. The program is still going strong, with Wal-Mart and Allstate Insurance taking their own extra steps.

Visit lawjobs.com News & View
The Careerist: Ladies Get Lucky in Washington

The Careerist
Check out some of the latest posts on the lawjobs.com blog, The Careerist. Ladies Get Lucky in Washington Plus Life Perfect After Law? Only if You Buy the Pitch Also Lawyers Gone Rogue: A roundup of misbehaving lawyers

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