Friday, October 08, 2010

LAW.COM Newswire Highlights October 8, 2010

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Boies Schiller Sued by Former Client Over Fees

The American Lawyer
A disgruntled former client is suing Boies Schiller & Flexner, claiming the firm "shirked" its professional duties by breaching an agreement that David Boies would serve as lead counsel in a commercial dispute, which was instead given to less experienced counsel and more junior associates. The former client, G.K. Las Vegas Limited Partnership, is seeking to force Boies Schiller & Flexner to arbitrate a fee dispute before the American Arbitration Association and to place more than $5.04 million in disputed fees in escrow.

Government Oversight Chairman Seeks Nationwide Foreclosure Freeze

Corporate Counsel
Rep. Edolphus Towns, D-N.Y., chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, on Thursday called on top U.S. mortgage lenders and banks to voluntarily halt home foreclosures in all 50 states and the District of Columbia until the banks' legal departments review their companies' procedures. At least three major lenders so far have stopped foreclosures in 23 states while they review and repair any "robo-signed" documents -- paperwork without the proper authorities' signatures.

Justice Breyer on Originalism, the Media and the Court

The National Law Journal

On the opening day of the Supreme Court's term this week, Justice Stephen Breyer sat down for an interview in his chambers to discuss his new book "Making Our Democracy Work: A Judge's View." Breyer insists that the public needs to understand how the Supreme Court works, or eventually citizens will stop obeying its decisions. But he acknowledges that another reason he wrote the book is to counter the concept of originalism -- the approach to constitutional interpretation espoused most of all by Justice Antonin Scalia.

Foes of National Health Care Law Lose Key Court Ruling

The Associated Press
A Michigan federal judge on Thursday upheld the federal government's authority to require everyone to have health insurance, dealing a setback to groups seeking to block the new national health care plan. A Christian legal group and four individual plaintiffs had sued, claiming lawmakers exceeded their power under the Constitution's commerce clause. A Justice Department spokeswoman said the ruling "marks the first time a court has considered the merits of any challenge to this law."

Inside the Brief, Bizarre Courtship of Akin and Orrick

The National Law Journal
In all, it took just seven days for partners at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld and Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe to pressure their respective firm leaders to call off merger talks. Those seven days included a strange fake news story and frustration for partners on both sides of the discussion. Partners at both firms said there was not one single issue that killed the talks; it was more a feeling among partners that an Akin-Orrick combination wouldn't be worth the headache of trying to bring the two firms together.

Madoff Feeder Funds Must Face Securities Claims From Investors

The American Lawyer
Madoff feeder funds are looking vulnerable. For the second time in two months, a federal judge has green-lighted a securities suit against an investment manager that handed money over to Bernard Madoff. On Tuesday, Manhattan federal district court Judge Leonard Sand declined to dismiss securities law claims against the Beacon Associates investment fund and Ivy Asset Management, now owned by Bank of New York Mellon. He also allowed ERISA claims brought by union fund plaintiffs in the case to move forward.

Plaintiffs Firms Hit With Rule 11 Sanctions in Dismissed Securities Class Action

The American Lawyer
A federal judge in Connecticut has granted an unusual motion for Rule 11 sanctions against Labaton Sucharow and Barroway Topaz Kessler Meltzer & Check, lead plaintiffs counsel in a failed securities class action against Star Gas. The judge agreed with Star's counsel from Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom that the class's claims were almost entirely without merit, and that Labaton and Barroway knew as much early in the litigation. She ordered the plaintiffs firms to pay all of Star's attorney fees and costs.

Trump-Icahn Bankruptcy Pact OK'd but Bondholders' Legal Fees Unresolved

New Jersey Law Journal

A New Jersey judge has approved a global settlement that puts a halt to remaining litigation in the Trump Entertainment Resorts bankruptcy. But in signing off on the deal, the judge deferred deciding whether to approve a request for $19.5 million in fees and costs for professional advice to the bondholders, who obtained a controlling interest under the reorganization plan. The amount was mostly incurred for legal services from three law firms, plus a "success fee" to an investment bank that provided financial advice.

Lawyer Sentenced to 22 Years for Nigerian Oil Scam

New York Law Journal
A Florida securities lawyer has been sent to prison for 22 years for cheating victims out of millions of dollars in a fraudulent advance-fee scheme. Attorney Delmer C. Gowing and co-defendant Emil Scheringer were convicted in 2009 following a three-week trial before New York Judge George B. Daniels. On Wednesday, Daniels ordered Gowing to forfeit $8.9 million and pay restitution to his victims.

Nelson Mullins and Lahive & Cockfield to Merge

The National Law Journal
Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough of Columbia, S.C., is merging with Boston intellectual property boutique Lahive & Cockfield. The move will expand services for clients of both firms, increase the combined intellectual property team to more than 70 attorneys and technical specialists, and double the size of Nelson Mullins' Boston office. Nelson Mullins' managing partner characterized the combination as a way to continue the firm's "rapid growth in New England."

Court Upholds Conviction Despite 33-Year Delay

New York Law Journal
The 1974 rape and murder of Barbara Lloyd went unsolved for more than three decades, when Lloyd's brother-in-law, Leon Chatt, unwittingly provided a DNA sample -- by spitting on the sidewalk -- that matched DNA from the crime scene. Chatt, who was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison, challenged his murder conviction on several grounds, including that he was prejudiced by the 33-year gap between the crime and his indictment. A unanimous New York appeals court panel disagreed last week and rejected his appeal.

Former N.Y. State Comptroller Pleads Guilty to Taking Kickbacks in Pay-to-Play Scandal

New York Law Journal
Former New York state Comptroller Alan Hevesi admitted Thursday he had accepted trips to Israel and campaign contributions from a financier in exchange for investing in his benefactor's business millions of dollars from the state pension fund of which he was the sole trustee. Hevesi, who pleaded guilty to the felony of receiving a reward to official misconduct in the second degree, is the most prominent person to plead guilty in the state attorney general's pension probe, which has netted $138 million in recoveries.

Lawyer Who Pleaded Guilty to DWI and Left Accident Scene Is Admonished

New Jersey Law Journal
The New Jersey Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered an admonition for a lawyer who pleaded guilty to driving while intoxicated and to leaving the scene of an accident after his firm's holiday party. The court issued no formal opinion but followed the recommendation of the Disciplinary Review Board. A. Dennis Terrell, who retired from Drinker Biddle & Reath last year, was admitted into a pretrial intervention program, pursuant to an accusation charging him with fourth-degree assault by auto, the DRB said.

The Price of Discovery in New York Courts

New York Law Journal
Because New York litigants must finance their own suits, they have a strong incentive to formulate minimally burdensome discovery requests. However, Steptoe & Johnson's Michael Miller, Evan Glassman and Anthony Onorato note that cost allocation can also be used as leverage against one's opponents.

N.J. Law Firm Starts 1-Year Apprentice Program

New Jersey Law Journal
New Jersey firm Gibbons has launched a one-year "apprenticeship" program to allow newly admitted lawyers an opportunity to learn the ropes. The firm's first apprentice will make about $48,000 per year and could receive a full-time offer at the end of the program's one-year period.

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Setting Limits on Sarcasm in the Courtroom

The Connecticut Law Tribune
In a recent Connecticut Appellate Court challenge, Assistant Public Defender James Streeto argued that a prosecutor used too much sarcasm during a murder trial, thus depriving the defendant of a fair trial. The court did not agree, finding the remarks at issue "isolated and limited." Trial lawyer David W. Cooney says, overall, use of sarcasm is risky due to how it may be interpreted by the jurors. Other seasoned trial attorneys say if you're going to use sarcasm, just be selective about it.

Few lawyers — including the nine lawyers who wear robes to work — know the Supreme Court's docket as well as Roy Englert Jr. Englert sat down with Tony Mauro to answer questions about the upcoming high court term.® 120 Broadway, 5th Floor, New York, NY 10271-1101, Customer Service Phone: (877) 256-CIRC

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