Tuesday, October 05, 2010

LAW.COM Newswire Highlights October 5, 2010

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Prosecutorial Misconduct Is Rarely Punished, Says New Study
The National Law Journal

A report issued Monday by the Northern California Innocence Project at Santa Clara University School of Law found that of the 707 cases between 1997 and 2009 in which courts explicitly determined that prosecutors had committed misconduct, only six prosecutors -- 0.8 percent -- were disciplined by the State Bar of California. Sixty-seven prosecutors committed misconduct more than once and some as many as five times. The majority of those prosecutors were never publicly disciplined, the project said.

U.S. Supreme Court Begins New Era With 3 Women on Bench
The Associated Press

The U.S. Supreme Court began a new era Monday with three women serving together for the first time. Elena Kagan quickly joined in the give-and-take but, in a scene that will repeat itself in the coming months, she left the courtroom while the other justices remained to hear a case in which she will take no part due to her work as the Obama administration's chief lawyer prior to joining the Court. As the Court began its new term, it turned down hundreds of appeals, including one from relatives of victims of the Sept. 11 attacks.

Defense in Insider Trading Case Challenges Wiretap Application
New York Law Journal

Defense lawyers for a hedge fund billionaire charged with insider trading accused the government Monday of "gaming the system" by failing to advise the judge who approved the wiretaps that much of the evidence had been gathered in ways that made the electronic surveillance unnecessary. A lawyer for Galleon Group founder Raj Rajaratnam told a New York federal judge that during a yearlong joint investigation, the SEC and federal prosecutors had built a "conventional" insider trading case using "conventional" techniques.

Orrick, Akin Gump End Merger Talks
The American Lawyer

Just about one week since Orrick and Akin Gump publicly acknowledged being in early merger talks, the firms have announced in a joint statement that those talks are over. "Orrick and Akin Gump have mutually agreed to conclude preliminary discussions regarding the possibility of a merger," said the statement. "The firms appreciated the opportunity to have the discussions, which confirmed their mutual respect for one another. However, the firms have determined not to proceed."

Alleged Liaisons With Stripper Lead to Judge's Arrest on Drug, Gun Charges
Fulton County Daily Report

An FBI undercover investigation has led to the arrest of a federal senior judge on federal drug and gun charges stemming from alleged liaisons with an exotic dancer with a felony record, according to a complaint filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Atlanta. FBI agents arrested U.S. District Senior Judge Jack T. Camp after the judge and the exotic dancer -- who was working as a confidential informant with the FBI -- met with an undercover law enforcement agent to buy cocaine and Roxicodone, a prescription pain reliever.

In Fosamax Case, $8 Million Award Reduced and Attorney Sanctioned
New York Law Journal

A federal judge has sanctioned a plaintiffs lawyer and reduced the jury award in one of the bellwether cases in the MDL over the anti-osteoporosis drug Fosamax. The judge called the $8 million verdict returned by a jury in favor of plaintiff Shirley Boles "excessive" and gave Boles the option of either getting a retrial on damages or taking $1.5 million. Also, Boles' lawyer, Gary Douglas, was sanctioned $2,500 for conduct that included calling the conduct of the drug's maker, Merck, "reprehensible" and "disgusting."

Plaintiffs, Alleging Prudential Conspired With Their Lawyers, Try to Pierce Privilege
New Jersey Law Journal

Former Prudential Life Insurance employees who say the company bribed their lawyers to keep their bias claims out of court are seeking access to thousands of documents the company asserts are privileged. The plaintiffs claim that the documents fall under the crime-fraud exception, a statutory loophole in the attorney-client privilege for communications for legal services "sought or obtained in aid of the commission of a crime or fraud." The request was made in a motion by the attorney for 73 of the 234 plaintiffs.

Defendant's Story of 'Redemption' Sways Jury in DUI Case
Fulton County Daily Report

In a civil battle between a DUI driver who caused a car crash and the preacher who was the victim, a Georgia jury sided with the reformed drinker. The plaintiff asked for nearly $2 million in compensatory and punitive damages, but the jury came back with a verdict of about $20,000. Defense attorney Hilliard V. Castilla said jurors told him later they were moved by the "theme of redemption" in the story of Alexandrina Brown, a grieving woman who had turned to alcohol, then turned her life around after the crash.

Trial to Decide if Bank CEO Knowingly Made False Statements
Daily Business Review

When it comes to securities fraud litigation, the BankAtlantic Bancorp trial slated for jury selection Friday could be dramatic. If the trial moves ahead as scheduled, it will be only the 12th since Congress clamped down on shareholder lawsuits in 1995, attorneys in the case say. The jury will be asked to decide whether BankAtlantic Bancorp CEO Alan Levan's statements about nonperforming loans on the watch list at the bank with $4.6 billion in assets were intentionally false and deceiving.

Kilpatrick Stockton Merges With California's Bell Rosenberg
The Recorder

Fourteen-attorney Oakland, Calif., firm Bell Rosenberg has combined with Atlanta-based Kilpatrick Stockton, with all but four Bell lawyers joining Kilpatrick effective Oct. 1, the firms announced Monday. The move gives nearly 500-lawyer Kilpatrick its first California office. Bell Rosenberg has counted Kaiser Permanente, the University of California and the Port of Oakland among its clients. Kilpatrick's managing partner said the Oakland office is a "jumping-off point" to having a larger West Coast presence.

N.J. High Court Approves Class Action Suit Alleging Relacore Ad Fraud
New Jersey Law Journal

A class action suit is the best method for resolving multiple consumer fraud claims against a drug maker over allegedly deceptive product advertising, New Jersey's Supreme Court held unanimously on Thursday. The holding, allowing thousands of dissatisfied users of the dietary supplement Relacore to sue collectively, potentially unleashes the full fury of New Jersey's Consumer Fraud Act -- with its potent treble damages remedy -- against pharmaceutical companies on a classwide basis, foiling any divide-and-conquer strategy.

How Private Is Facebook Under the SCA?
New York Law Journal

As online messaging services become more prominent, it is important to understand the extent to which the Stored Communications Act protects private communications and data on social networking and webmail sites, say Gibbons attorneys Mark S. Sidoti, Philip J. Duffy and Paul E. Asfendis.
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LexisNexis Rolls Out Lexis Advance for Solos

LexisNexis opened the doors to Lexis Advance for Solos today. The new product is aimed at one- and two-attorney firms looking for predictable legal research costs with easy access to materials. It uses a Silverlight-enabled web browser to access content in XML markup language over a .NET architecture.
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Investigation Into Ted Stevens Case Takes Tragic Toll
The National Law Journal

Prosecutor Nicholas Marsh, under investigation for misconduct in the public corruption case against former Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens, killed himself on Sept. 26, and some current and former Justice Department attorneys blame the pace of the ongoing investigation for contributing to his death.
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The Careerist: Think Firms Care About Morale?
The Careerist

Check out some of the latest posts on the lawjobs.com blog, The Careerist. Think Firms Care About Morale? Also Time for a Lawyers' Tea Party? Plus Women Lawyers, Don't Let Your Wall Street Sisters Quit
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Commentary: Panel Discussion Provides Clues on Lawyer Dissatisfaction
The American Lawyer

Clues that explain the growing ranks of dissatisfied Big Law attorneys are everywhere, even on C-SPAN, notes Steven Harper, an adjunct professor at Northwestern University. He found some interesting ones during a panel discussion that included a law firm managing partner.

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