Monday, October 04, 2010

LAW.COM Newswire Highlights September 4, 2010

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On the High Court's Fall Docket, Few Blockbusters -- but Plenty to Watch
The National Law Journal

The Supreme Court's fall term opens today with a historic first -- three women on the bench -- though as yet, few blockbuster challenges have appeared on the docket. But there's plenty to watch, including a high number of business-related cases, and challenges involving speech and religion, job discrimination, sentencing, prosecutorial immunity, right to counsel and privacy. And it's the second term in a row where Court watchers will be closely examining a new justice for clues on how she will approach cases.

Partner Compensation: The Downturn's New Touchy Subject
The Recorder

With the economic recovery still creeping along at a snail's pace, The Recorder checked in with Kristin Stark, a San Francisco-based consultant with Hildebrandt Baker Robbins, about the prevailing mood and themes of her current day-to-day dealings with Am Law 100 and 200 clients. In this Q&A, Stark describes the growing tension inside law firms over partner pay and suggests some actions that law firms can take to keep rainmakers from walking out the door.

Prior Suit May Signal Fate of Cases Against Ga. Megachurch Pastor
Fulton County Daily Report

Despite a flurry of news reports, the suits alleging that Georgia megachurch pastor Eddie Long coerced young men into sexual relationships are in the earliest stages of litigation. But some clues about how the cases may fare can be found in the matter of another megachurch pastor who was accused by a former congregant of sexual coercion. An opinion issued last year in that case -- which relied in part on a case about a lawyer who had an affair with his client -- shows how Georgia courts view such claims.

Toyota Moves to Dismiss Suit Over Va. Driver's Death
The National Law Journal

Two weeks after filing a separate motion to dismiss about 50 personal injury and wrongful death suits, Toyota has filed a motion to dismiss a suit brought on behalf of a woman who died after her Camry suddenly accelerated into a tree. Toyota contends the plaintiffs failed to state a claim because they cannot pinpoint a specific defect that caused the alleged acceleration and such claims aren't plausible under heightened pleading standards outlined in the U.S. Supreme Court's Twombly and Iqbal decisions.

Former Secretary Was Informant, Says Lawyer Accused in Drug Case

Fulton County Daily Report

The undercover informant who worked with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to secure the arrest of criminal defense attorney J. Mark Shelnutt on drug distribution charges is the lawyer's former secretary, who now works as the county district attorney's secretary, according to Shelnutt. Shelnutt's arrest occurred about 10 months after a federal jury acquitted him of money-laundering charges stemming from his acceptance of legal fees to defend a drug kingpin that prosecutors claimed were derived from illegal drug sales.

Lawyer Sues Brother, Former Partners After Ouster From 3 Firms
New York Law Journal

Joel S. Finkelstein filed suit in a New York court last week, claiming he had been duped into attending a "sham" meeting where he learned that his partners, including his brother, "without prior notice or warning and without any substantive basis" had removed him without cause as a partner from Finkelstein & Partners and two other firms, Jacoby & Meyers Law Offices and Fine, Olin & Anderman. Finkelstein's brother disputes that version of events, saying the firms' other partners voted unanimously to oust Joel for cause.

5th Circuit Reverses Novel Judicial Estoppel Remedy

Texas Lawyer

Reversing a federal district court's judgment that provided a "novel remedy" for judicial estoppel, the 5th Circuit has held that a man's failure to disclose a more than $1 million judgment in his bankruptcy filings bars the bankruptcy trustee for his estate from collecting the judgment. The panel concluded that Kim Lubke, who omitted mention of the judgment in his Chapter 7 bankruptcy case, and Diane G. Reed, the bankruptcy trustee, must be judicially estopped from pursuing the judgment.

Jailed Attorney Charged With Assaulting Guard in Dispute Over Copy Machine
New York Law Journal

A jailed New York attorney scheduled to go to trial today for allegedly stealing at least $300,000 from clients who had hired him to help them arrange adoptions was charged last week with assaulting a corrections officer after the officer told the lawyer to stop hogging the only copying machine in the law library. Kevin Cohen was charged Thursday with second-degree assault, a felony, and obstructing governmental administration, a misdemeanor -- charges for which he could be sentenced to up to seven years in prison.

Federal Circuit Leaves Chippendales Nearly Naked
The American Lawyer

The decadelong battle that Kilpatrick Stockton's Stephen Feingold has waged to help Chippendales -- the famous strip club that caters to women -- nail down the strongest possible trade dress protection for its dancers' "outfits" may have ended Friday, but not the way Feingold had hoped. The Federal Circuit upheld earlier decisions holding that Chippendales' "cuffs & collars" mark has "acquired distinctiveness," but is not "inherently distinctive," which Chippendales claims is stronger protection.

Police Dog's Leap Into Car Not a 4th Amendment Violation, Says 3rd Circuit
The Legal Intelligencer

Drug-detecting dogs have long been allowed to sniff around a car's exterior without a warrant, and a federal appeals court has now extended that rule by holding that evidence was properly seized when a dog jumped into a car on its own instincts. A 3rd Circuit panel upheld a ruling that denied a motion to suppress a kilogram of cocaine and $20,000 found in the glove compartment. Jimmy Lee Pierce was sentenced to 25 years after entering a conditional guilty plea that reserved the right to appeal the search's constitutionality.

EEOC Sues Nonprofit Over Firing of Obese Worker
The Associated Press

The federal government has accused a national nonprofit group that helps the disabled, homeless and those recovering from addictions of firing a New Orleans employee because she was obese. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said Thursday that its federal lawsuit against Resources for Human Development alleges that Lisa Harrison had a federally protected disability

The Truth Police
Special to

After the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals invalidated the Stolen Valor Act as being unconstitutional under the First Amendment, bloggers and pundits quickly whittled down the ruling as having upheld a so-called "constitutional right to lie." In fact, write columnists Joel Cohen and Katherine A. Helm, the pundits are not so far off. Cohen and Helm review the wisdom -- or lack thereof -- of criminalizing false statements of fact.

2nd Circuit Narrows Reach of RICO in Russian Oil Suit
New York Law Journal

The impact of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision this year limiting the extraterritorial application of U.S. securities laws in Morrison v. National Australian Bank has extended to another area of the law. The 2nd Circuit has ruled that the reach of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act was limited in a case alleging several foreign entities engaged in a widespread racketeering and money laundering scheme to try and seize control over most of the Russian oil industry.

Are Digital Copiers Targets for E-Discovery?
Special to

Responding to a CBS News story that suggested digital copiers are relative treasure troves for e-discovery of document images, Rich Melville, of Maynard, Cooper & Gale, conducted his own private investigation to see what free forensic software from the internet could dig up from copiers.

Government Lawyers Sought After as Law Firm Laterals
The Legal Intelligencer

In a lateral market where books of business typically reign supreme, some law firms have found hiring from the public sector can create business in other ways. Former appellate clerks -- particularly Supreme Court clerks -- and former Assistant U.S. Attorneys are a highly sought-after bunch.® 120 Broadway, 5th Floor, New York, NY 10271-1101 (877) 256-CIRC Customer Service Phone: (877) 256-CIRC

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