Thursday, October 07, 2010

LAW.COM Newswire Highlights October 7, 2010

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High Court Seems Reluctant to Overturn First Amendment Precedents in Funeral Protest Case

The National Law Journal
While expressing disdain for the virulent protests staged at military funerals by members of a Kansas church, some Supreme Court justices on Wednesday seemed reluctant to upset First Amendment precedents that protect even the most obnoxious speech from punishment. Protests by members of the church -- who demonstrate at funerals and other events to promote their message that God is punishing America for its acceptance of homosexuality -- have triggered lawsuits and legislation in 43 states to restrict funeral protests.

Federal Judge Denies Certification to Wellbutrin Class

The Legal Intelligencer
In a significant win for big pharmaceutical firms, a federal judge has refused to certify a consumer and indirect purchaser antitrust class action against GlaxoSmithKline on the grounds that the plaintiffs cannot prove each class member was affected by the alleged scheme to maintain higher prices. The plaintiffs allege that GSK set out to delay the market date for a generic version of Wellbutrin SR by using "sham" patent litigation to tie up generic manufacturers in court and patent board proceedings.

Internet Privacy Suits Filed Against Yahoo, Others

Fulton County Daily Report

A set of potential class actions filed recently in Georgia against three Internet powerhouses raises interesting questions about how law enforcement agencies get information about Internet users without their knowledge. The suits claim that Comcast, Yahoo and Windstream have violated federal wiretap and computer privacy laws by providing information in response to warrants or subpoenas issued by Georgia judges or magistrates, which are then relayed to the Internet companies' headquarters outside of Georgia.

Tax Panel Rejects Lawyer's Bid to Deduct Spending for Sex

New York Law Journal
A state tax appeals board has denied a retired New York lawyer's attempts to claim hundreds of thousands of dollars he spent on prostitutes, massages, pornography and other sex-related activities as deductions for "medical expenses." Among the disallowed deductions were $40,588 on his 2002 return for "therapeutic sex," $70,776 for "massage therapy to relieve osteoarthritis and enhance erectile function through frequent orgasms" and $2,173 for "pornography to enhance sexual performance in lieu of taking Viagra."

Justices Appear Ready to Hold New Orleans Prosecutors Liable for Misconduct

The National Law Journal
Supreme Court justices on Wednesday appeared ready to give the green light to efforts by a New Orleans man to win compensation for prosecutorial misconduct that put him behind bars for more than two decades for a murder he did not commit. The Court heard arguments in Connick v. Thompson, in which former New Orleans District Attorney Harry Connick maintains that his office should not be held liable for what he contends was a single incident of failing to hand over exculpatory evidence to the defense before trial.

Fla. Magistrate Resigns Amid Complaints About Race Remarks

Daily Business Review
A Florida magistrate abruptly ended his 22 years on the bench just weeks after a black female prosecutor accused him of making racially insensitive remarks in court. William E. Dellow Jr. is accused of referring to Assistant State Attorney Danelle Augustin as "pigmently enhanced" and making other questionable comments Aug. 12. Dellow submitted a resignation letter last month. The incident came two years after Dellow was disciplined for a sexual harassment claim brought by a female court staff member.

Airgas Claims Bylaw OK'd by Shareholders Violates Del. Law

Delaware Law Weekly
On the eve of this week's trial stemming from the takeover battle between Airgas and Air Products & Chemicals, Airgas filed a complaint asking the Delaware Court of Chancery to resolve a novel issue between the two companies concerning the terms of directors on a staggered board and what exactly is meant by an "annual" meeting. Sources agree that the situation -- seeking to accelerate a shareholders' meeting to remove directors by bringing up a vote on a staggered board in the context of a hostile deal -- is unique.

Dreier's Ex-Wife Suffers Setback in Bid for $7 Million in Support

New York Law Journa
The attempt of the ex-wife of jailed attorney Marc S. Dreier to collect $7 million in support from his bankruptcy estate suffered a setback this week. Refusing to lift an automatic stay in the case, a bankruptcy judge held that Elisa Dreier was not entitled to have a state judge decide whether Mr. Dreier's noncompliance with a separation agreement accelerated all of the pact's support obligations. That means Ms. Dreier's claim will be weighed against those of other creditors in bankruptcy court.

N.Y. Federal Judge Bars Key Testimony in Embassy Bombing Case

New York Law Journal

A critical government witness was knocked out of the case of accused embassy bomber Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani on Wednesday because a federal judge concluded allowing his testimony would violate the U.S. Constitution. Dealing a sharp blow to the prosecution, Judge Lewis Kaplan said Hussein Abebe, who allegedly sold Ghailani the dynamite used in the 1998 bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Tanzania, will not be allowed to take the witness stand because he was identified and located as a result of harsh CIA interrogation of Ghailani.

Judge Delays Hearing Into Execution of Father Convicted of Arson Deaths

The Associated Press
A Texas judge who has been asked to re-examine arson evidence used to convict a man executed for killing his three daughters in a 1991 fire postponed a hearing Wednesday, after prosecutors asked him to step aside. Attorneys for Cameron Todd Willingham's family, backed by the New York-based Innocence Project, are seeking to clear his name. If the judge clears Willingham, it will mark the first time an official in the nation's most active death penalty state has formally declared that someone was wrongly executed.

J&J Investors' Class Action Suit Filed in Wake of Company's 'Phantom Recall'

New Jersey Law Journal
A Johnson & Johnson investor has lodged a putative class action against the pharmaceutical giant, alleging it defrauded stockholders by attempting to cover up shoddy manufacturing and business practices -- including a covert recall of substandard products. According to the complaint, J&J and its subsidiary, McNeil Consumer Healthcare, secretly contracted other parties to do a quiet store-by-store buyback of Motrin products in which defects had been discovered, rather than contact the Food and Drug Administration.

Pittsburgh Firm Opens Second Ohio Office With Merger

The Legal Intelligencer
Pittsburgh-based Dickie McCamey has expanded its Ohio presence and bulked up its litigation capabilities through a merger with Columbus-based litigation boutique Golian McCaffrey. "We've targeted Columbus and central Ohio for years and we were just waiting for the right opportunity. This was it," said Dickie McCamey's managing director. He said the plan is to "expand that office pretty aggressively," and that Golian McCaffrey's "very strong" book of business complements Dickie McCamey's existing client base.

Hip-Joint Litigation Lawyers on Both Sides Disfavor Choice of N.J. Judge

New Jersey Law Journal
Lawyers jockeying over where to consolidate federal litigation against hip-replacement device maker DePuy Orthopaedics seem to agree on only one thing: District Judge Susan Wigenton in Newark, N.J., shouldn't handle it. Plaintiffs counsel, the Lanier Law Firm, had originally sought to consolidate the DePuy suits with Wigenton, who has been assigned a similar multidistrict litigation over Zimmer's Duram Cap hip implants. But the defense lawyers' opposition evidently persuaded the plaintiffs lawyers to change their minds.

Certifying to E-Discovery Completeness Is Certifiable

The National Law Journal
Jenner & Block attorneys Jerold S. Solovy and Robert L. Byman find something troubling in e-discovery: When lawyers certify production is complete, they use the word "complete," which is an unachievable goal in any complex litigation involving data spanning any significant time period.
Reality Check: Law Firm Cogs Aren't Special

Fulton County Daily Report

The Snark found pretty shocking some of the views expressed by associates in The American Lawyer's Midlevel Associates Survey. While it's not surprising that morale is low, The Snark thinks it's important for associates to realize: You are a Cog. Embrace it or move on already.
Students at Rutgers School of Law-Camden are helping federal inmates transition into post-prison life as part of a new pro bono effort. Rutgers' program is unique because it relies on student volunteers who don't receive academic credit, says Todd Berger, managing partner of the project.® 120 Broadway, 5th Floor, New York, NY 10271-1101, Customer Service Phone: (877) 256-CIRC

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