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To have your profile added to our social media network( Website, app, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Maryam’s list), select the site, appropriate for your profession from www.Iranian-Everything.com , fill out the sign up box on the right side of the screen, below the list of states, and click “submit”. Once we receive your information and approve it, your profile will appear on all our platform. The process usually takes about 24 hours.
Defense lawyers abuzz about judge who found a drug-case defendant more credible than a cop
Criminal defense lawyers in Pinellas County, Florida, are talking about an unusual ruling earlier this month by a judge in a drug case.
Perhaps even rarer than a "Perry Mason" moment in which a police officer's testimony is contradicted by video evidence, it resulted from a St. Petersburg police officer's testimony that he had searched a suspect's car, after a traffic stop, because he smelled a faint odor of marijuana. Circuit Judge Michael Andrews didn't believe him and ruled for the defense, calling the officer's testimony "incredible," the Tampa Bay Times reports.
The newspaper article doesn't explain the nature of the motion or the judge's specific ruling, but it appears that Andrews granted a defense motion to suppress evidence. After the judge's ruling, prosecutors dismissed the drug case against Emanuel Bell. The search of his vehicle hadn't turned up any marijuana, but police said they found cocaine behind a seat of his Ford Escape. He had refused consent when police asked to search it.
"I have never, in 5½ years of practice, seen a judge do this," attorney Jordan Tawil, who represented Bell, told the newspaper, adding: "When it comes to narcotics, some officers are willing to take that extra step. If that's a cowboy mentality, then I think that's what you have there."
The local criminal defense bar is abuzz over the unusual ruling.
"When something like this happens, word travels pretty fast," said attorney Jason Mayberry. Once he heard about the dismissal in Bell's case, Mayberry checked to see whether any of his clients had cases in which the same St. Petersburg police officer had conducted a search, the newspaper reports, but they didn't.
Lawyer is found guilty of sex assault; prosecutor argued lip balm was attempt to destroy evidence
A Chicago lawyer has been found guilty of sex assault and sex abuse in an attack on a woman who left her hotel room door propped open for a college classmate.
Jurors deliberated six hours before returning the guilty verdict against Anthony Bergamino Jr., the Chicago Tribune reports. The Chicago Sun-Times also has a story.
Bergamino, 51, had maintained the encounter was consensual. He testified he had spoken with the woman outside the hotel and she gave him her room number. He also explained that he had coated his hands with lip balm at the police station because there was no running water in the restroom. Bergamino said he was the “son of a germophobe” and the lip balm had anti-microbial properties.
In closing arguments, Assistant State’s Attorney Tracy Senica disputed that claim, the stories say. “He’s not the MacGyver of germophobes, folks. He’s a rapist destroying evidence,” Senica said.
Senica said Bergamino’s “baloney” account—that the rape victim had taken his hand and led him to the bed—sounded like a “poorly-written plot to an adult movie.”
What’s the future of Google Glass for law firms? Or a good app for handwritten notes on an iPad?
From the Droid Lawyer blog by Oklahoma City lawyer Jeffrey Taylor:
If you want to see the future of Google Glass for law firms, here's the possible answer. Ultimately, Google Glass will prove very effective for lawyers to accomplish their tasks. You might also see why I chose not to get Google Glass at this time. Still, the future looks bright.
Security for your Android tablet or smartphone is uber-important. Google released Android Device Manager to help remotely lock, wipe or locate your device. And it’s free.
From the iPhone J.D. blog by lawyer Jeff Richardson of New Orleans:
There are quite a few good apps that facilitate taking handwritten notes on an iPad using a stylus, but my favorite one is GoodNotes.
If you are in a mediation, Picture It Settled Lite is a free app that helps you visualize settlement negotiations and calculate your next offer.
Oklahoma abortion law that required ultrasound: Supreme Court turns away case
By Warren Richey, Staff writer
The US Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to take up a case examining the constitutionality of an Oklahoma law that required doctors to perform an ultrasound and verbally describe the condition of the fetus to the patient an hour before performing any abortion.
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The court turned aside the appeal without comment.
The action lets stand a December ruling by the Oklahoma Supreme Court striking down the statute as an undue burden on a woman’s right to decide whether to have an abortion.
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Oklahoma was one of four states to enact a law requiring that abortion providers conduct an ultrasound examination and explain to the patient the state of fetal development one hour prior to an abortion, even if the patient chose to avert her eyes from the screen.
Similar ultrasound-narration laws have been passed in Louisiana, Texas, and North Carolina.
Oklahoma’s law went one step further. In addition to the required narration, it mandated that the physician use a vaginally inserted transducer for the ultrasound – rather than the more common and less intrusive abdominal transducer – if the resulting image would “display the embryo or fetus more clearly.”
The requirements were imposed regardless of the wishes of the patient. Failure to comply by abortion providers was a state felony that could result in a range of punishments including the loss of a medical license.
The law was designed to ensure that women in Oklahoma were able to make an informed decision about whether to terminate their pregnancy. Critics of the measure viewed it as form of harassment – an attempt by antiabortion officials at the state level to impose onerous restrictions on abortions.
The Oklahoma Supreme Court struck down the law in a three-paragraph decision citing the US Supreme Court’s 1992 abortion precedent, Planned Parenthood v. Casey.
“The challenged measure is facially unconstitutional pursuant to Casey,” the court said. “The mandate of Casey remains binding on this Court until and unless the United States Supreme Court holds to the contrary. The judgment of the trial court holding the enactment unconstitutional is affirmed and the measure is stricken in its entirety.”
The action at the high court comes a week after the justices dismissed an appeal involving a different Oklahoma abortion law that sought to restrict the protocol and dosages used in chemically induced abortions in the state.
The Oklahoma Supreme Court also struck that law down.
In an unusual move, the US justices had asked the Oklahoma court to offer a more detailed version of its opinion striking down the chemical abortion restrictions. Once the court received Oklahoma’s more detailed opinion, it dismissed that case without comment.
In asking the high court to take up the Oklahoma fetal-development narration case, the Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office had said that ultrasound examinations are routinely performed prior to all abortions to determine the gestational age of the fetus.
“For many women actually seeing the ultrasound images has a necessary and critical impact in their decision-making process as to whether to terminate or continue their pregnancy to term,” wrote Special Assistant Attorney General Teresa Stanton Collett in her brief to the court.
A 2010 study of women intending to have an abortion showed that 66 percent changed their minds after viewing an ultrasound, she noted. The number of changed minds dropped to 43.5 percent for women who did not view an ultrasound.
“In the words of one 17-year-old who had planned to have an abortion, ‘While doing the ultrasound, I realized how real this baby already was. I saw the little arms and legs. I saw the heartbeat. It was a little person. At that point I knew I couldn’t have an abortion...,’ “ Ms. Collett wrote, quoting the teen.
The teen added: “I’m so glad I didn’t [have an abortion]. That would have been one thing I could never forgive myself for. Now I have two beautiful daughters.”
Stephanie Toti, a lawyer with the Center for Reproductive Rights, told the justices in her brief that the Oklahoma high court had ruled correctly and there was no need for further judicial review.
“This is no garden-variety ‘informed consent’ law,” Ms. Toti wrote in her brief. “It compels women to undergo an invasive medical examination and listen to a state-scripted narrative even if they object.”
“It is difficult to imagine a requirement more physically invasive than the state-mandated insertion of a medical device into one’s body even when the patient and the doctor think it unnecessary,” she said.
Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said the Supreme Court’s action was “another victory for women and reproductive health care providers, and another clear message to lawmakers across the US that attacks on women’s health, rights, and dignity are patently unconstitutional and will not be allowed to stand.”
“A woman’s personal, private medical decisions should be made in consultation with the health care professionals she trusts, without interference by politicians who presume to know better,” Ms. Northup said in a statement.
The case was Pruitt v. Nova Health Systems (12-1170).
Immigrant fights to become California lawyer
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Sergio Garcia arrived in the U.S. illegally 20 years ago to pick almonds in the field with his father. But that was not all he wanted for his life.
Working the fields and at a grocery store, he attended community college, studying to become a paralegal, and passed the California bar on the first try, a boast Gov. Jerry Brown, former Gov. Peter Wilson and nearly 50 percent of all first-time test takers can't make.
Now, still living in the U.S. illegally, he will ask the California Supreme Court on Wednesday to license him. He has the support of the state bar and California Attorney General Kamala Harris. The U.S. Department of Justice, however, is trying to block his request.
The DOJ argues in court filings that granting Garcia a law license card would violate a federal law barring people in the U.S. illegally from receiving government benefits. The agency argues the state Supreme Court and California bar officials use public money to license and regulate Garcia's practice.
The federal law was "plainly designed to preclude undocumented aliens from receiving commercial and professional licenses issued by states and the federal government," the DOJ said in court papers after the state's high court asked for the federal government's position.
"It was a real slap in the face," Garcia said.
The dispute is the latest high-profile immigration clash between state and federal laws. Usually, it's the Obama administration opposing state laws in Arizona and elsewhere thought to be anti-immigrant.
The Obama position surprised some, since it had recently adopted a program that shields people who were brought to the U.S. as children, graduated high school and have kept a clean criminal record from deportation and allows them to legally work in the country.
At 36, Garcia is too old to qualify for the Obama program. But he and the immigration groups supporting Garcia argue that he his is exactly the type of candidate the Obama administration had in mind when it adopted its program.
So the administration's flat-out opposition stunned Garcia, who self-financed his education at Cal Northern School of Law in Chico while working at a grocery store and publishing a self-help book in 2006.
"I was very upset by" the administration's position, he said. "I worked hard and have never been a burden to the state."
In this Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2013, photo, Sergio Garcia …
In this Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2013, photo, Sergio Garcia poses for photographs in San Francisco. Garcia …
But legal scholars and others say Garcia faces a number of obstacles even if he wins his law license.
Garcia will have to work for himself because no law firm or other employers could legally hire him. And he may be automatically disqualified from representing certain clients and taking on some types of cases because of his citizenship status.
"Garcia is not qualified to practice law because he continually violates federal law by his presence in the United States," former State Bar prosecutor Larry DeSha told the state Supreme Court in one of the few "friend of the court" briefs filed opposing Garcia's licensing.
A similar case is brewing in Florida. That state's Supreme Court has so far refused to certify a person living illegally in the U.S. as a lawyer, but has not issued a final ruling. The California Supreme Court has 90 days to rule after Wednesday's arguments.
Garcia and his numerous supporters argue that he is deserving of his law license on legal — and moral — grounds.
State Bar officials and California's attorney general argue citizenship status is not a requirement to receive a California law license. Garcia said he's deserving to practice law in the state for those legal reasons, plus the hard work and dedication he put into passing the bar examination.
Meanwhile, the immigration groups backing Garcia's bid in the Supreme Court say the man's narrative is exactly the type of immigrants the Obama administration had in mind when it adopted a policy last year to allow people who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children to work legally.
Garcia first came to the U.S. with his family from Mexico when he was 17 months old. He returned to Mexico with his mother when he was 9-years-old and returned eight years later and applied for citizenship in 1994, sponsored by his father who is now an American citizenship.
Garcia said there is nothing unusual about an application pending for so long and estimates it could take another five years to approve given the backlog of applications.
He said he doesn't fear deportation because of the national notoriety his case has received — and the fact that he has formally notified immigration officials of his prolonged presence in the U.S.
What he does worry about is being barred from practicing law in California. In the meantime, he has supported himself as a motivational speaker and paralegal when he can find the work.
"There have been some dark days," he said. "But I'm looking forward to finally presenting my case to the Supreme Court."
Donor pays $500K bond for teen jailed for months over ‘kidding’ Facebook post about school shooting
By Martha Neil
Bailed out by an anonymous donor, after spending months in jail in lieu of posting $500,000 bond over a comment he posted on Facebook about a school shooting, a Texas teenager says he has learned his lesson.
In an interview with CNN published Friday, Justin Carter, 19, said that he had not intended for anyone to take his sarcastic comment seriously and would be more careful in the future about what he says on the Internet.
Earlier this week, Carter's lawyer, Don Flanary, said his client's family is "ecstatic" about his release following an unexpected call Wednesday from the donor offering to provide bail, reported NPR.
Carter was arrested and jailed in March and indicted in April by a Comal County grand jury for allegedly making a terroristic threat. He refused an offered plea deal in the felony case that would have carried an eight-year prison term, his lawyer, Ivan Friedman, told the Wall Street Journal (sub. req.).
"I think I'ma [sic] shoot up a kindergarten and watch the blood of the innocent rain down and eat the beating heart of one of them," he wrote on Facebook, sparking multiple complaints by readers.
He's not the only thoughtless teen to face a criminal case over comments, which arguably can fall on either the right or the wrong side of the law, depending on the facts and circumstances and how those in charge of prosecuting such cases interpret the First Amendment. The district attorney in Carter's criminal case, which is still ongoing, declined to comment when contacted by the newspaper.
"When he was arrested, he said, 'Wow, I guess what you say on Facebook really does matter,' " Carter's mother, Jennifer, told the Wall Street Journal. "He had no comprehension, as most teens don't, that what they're saying on the Internet isn't just being viewed by them and the people who know them."
Part of the Facebook comment thread, she says, includes a clarifying "j/k" from Carter, shorthand for "just kidding."
Man ticketed for picking dandelions forced to pay $75 fine
By Molly McDonough
An elderly Chicago area man whose $75 ticket for picking dandelions for food drew international attention was left angry and embarrassed this week after he was forced to pay the fine.
John Taris, who lives with his wife on a fixed income, said the fine for foraging in a Cook County Forest Preserve will eat up half of his bank account. But Taris reluctantly paid the fine and let the matter rest after experiencing a less-than-satisfying administrative hearing to contest the ticket.
Represented pro bono by a Chicago-area lawyer and bolstered by support from those who’d heard about his case, Taris thought he had a good chance of getting his ticket tossed. Yet despite his lawyer’s presence and argument that he didn’t have funds to pay, Taris was told he’d need to pay the fine, plus $200 in court costs.
Taris was dumbfounded. Still stewing after his attorney left the hearing, Taris approached the hearing officer and pleaded for mercy, explaining again that he couldn’t afford the ticket, let alone court costs. The hearing officer then re-opened the matter, called back Taris’ lawyer and issued a new order waiving court costs, yet leaving the fine intact.
“I’ve never seen anything like that,” says Pete Garbis, who took on the Taris case pro bono and generally handles more serious criminal defense matters in Cook County.
Garbis was even more incredulous when one of the hearing officers pointed out that Taris could have been charged with a misdemeanor.
“You have a person who cites somebody for taking weeds, that person is given a court date,” Garbis said. “It just seems like a frivolous thing.”
Garbis, who described as "bizarre" his having to drive to the "middle of the woods" to the Cook County Forest Preserve administrative offices at 1 Aloha Lane in Hinsdale, said there was no negotiating for this strict liability ticket. Ignorance of the ordinance, which prohibits picking any herbs, isn't a defense, he said. "There's no way a criminal court judge would enforce a law that frivolous," Garbis said.
Same-sex marriage — protecting equality under the law
Opponents of equality for lesbian and gay people have understood one thing: how quickly their support would evaporate if the freedom to marry arrived and survived anywhere. The speed with which their support collapsed and made way for equality has astonished even most us who worked for it.
In just under a decade since the pioneering Massachusetts breakthrough for equality in 2004, the freedom to marry for lesbian and gay couples has gone from something unimagined, by most people, to growing a reality — some might say even commonplace. Nine states plus the District of Columbia have legalized it, Rhode Island recognizes marriages performed elsewhere, and this trend shows no signs of stopping.
No wonder opponents rushed legislation like the 1996 federal “Defense of Marriage Act,” along with dozens of similar laws and antigay constitutional amendments in states across the country. Deep down, they probably knew how weak their hand was, so they did everything they could to rig the game in their favor while they still could.
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Same-sex marriage debate goes to high court tomorrow
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For a while, I thought they had succeeded. When my home state, Wisconsin, passed an antigay amendment in 2006, my husband and I thought, “It’s over. This is probably going to be in place for the rest of our lives.” During the three-year campaign to stop it, I remember knocking on door after door as part of a massive effort to persuade voters to support equality, often encountering people who just didn’t care, or who even seemed to relish the idea of denying to others the rights that they enjoy.
That’s why we moved Massachusetts. Simply put, we didn’t want to live in a state that considered us second-class citizens.
Since then, dire warnings about someone’s wedding triggering the fall of straight marriages, civilization, and the sky, never came true. Once people see the freedom to marry become real for people who love each other, their hearts sometimes grow a size. They start letting go of fear and misgivings. Polls now consistently show a slight but growing majority of support for equal marriage rights across the nation.
Last fall, voters in four states also decisively broke the opponents’ winning streak. Voters explicitly said yes to the freedom to marry in Washington, Maryland and Maine, while voting to prohibit discrimination in Minnesota.
The main question at this point seems to be how long we will have to live with opponents’ attempt to stop time, and to sweep away the obstacles they placed in freedom’s way. That question is now before the US Supreme Court.
On Tuesday, the Court will hear arguments in a case challenging Prop 8, which amended California’s constitution to restrict marriage to opposite-sex couples. The next day, the Court will consider the challenge to DOMA brought by Edie Windsor, a widow represented by the ACLU and the firm Paul Weiss. Edie, age 83, had to pay more than $360,000 in federal estate taxes after her spouse Thea Spyer died in 2009. The couple spent 44 years together and legally married in New York. If Edie had been married to a man, she would not have had to pay any estate taxes after Thea’s death.
No matter what answer the Supreme Court gives, it will be historic. Nearly as important as the ruling itself will be the question of how the country will react to the Court’s decisions, now and especially in the future.
I think we already know the answer. Most Americans seem ready to understand and appreciate rulings that protect equality under the law. And as they have over the past remarkable decade, pockets of resistance to equal justice will likely shrink and fade away.
By Christopher Ott
Some Native Americans defy U.S. law on eagle feathers
Angelica Chavis, a third-year law student in North Carolina, received her prized eagle feather from a tribal elder at age 7, when she was crowned Little Miss Lumbee.
And she’s planning to keep it, even if it’s against federal law.
“It’s something I’ve earned, and it was given to me as an honor,” said Chavis, 23.
She and other members of the Lumbee Tribe, the largest in North Carolina, say they’re feeling like second-class citizens these days because of a new Obama administration policy.
The Justice Department said in October that it would allow Native Americans to possess or use eagle feathers for religious or cultural purposes. But there was a catch: The new rule applies only to members of federally recognized tribes, and the Lumbee Tribe is not among them.
Consequently, the Lumbees and members of other non-federally recognized tribes who own feathers are violating the Bald Eagle Protection Act, which makes it a crime to possess a feather without a federal permit. It’s another example of the growing disparities among the nation’s tribes.
The Lumbees want the feather policy changed to include all Indians.
In the meantime, they’re trying to decide what to do with their feathers.
Rob Jacobs, who served two years as a nuclear weapons specialist with the Air Force and is a gambling company executive in Philadelphia, has no plans to stop wearing his feathers in public. He owned 150 feathers but gave most of them away, keeping one for his car and two that he puts on his head when he attends powwows.
“They can arrest me all they want,” said Jacobs, 37, a former youth coordinator for the tribe. “I don’t mind standing up for what’s right.”
He said that while federal authorities could make arrests at Lumbee powwows, he doubts it will happen.
“The publicity and the sacrilege that it would portray would be more bad press than they would like and put other Indians on notice,” he said. “I would compare it to the killing of ghost dancers in the middle of prayer.”
April Locklear, 38, said she gave away many eagle feathers during her reign as Miss Indian World in 1998. She gave one to her husband when they married, and her family still has 15 feathers. She’s less certain about wearing them in public now, saying she’d just as soon avoid having federal officers knock on her door with a search warrant.
“If it gets that bad, then I just won’t wear them,” Locklear said, but she added that it makes little sense to have federal officials worry “about feathers sitting quietly in my closet” with school shootings and other big issues to address.
“With respect, this law kind of reminds me of cutting tags off of mattresses,” she said. “I mean, really? It doesn’t harm anybody, I don’t think. . . . I’m not out shooting eagles or hawks.”
The federal government’s division of Indians into two camps has long been a source of frustration for the Lumbees, who have lobbied Congress hard to join the ranks of the federally recognized.
So far, it has been a losing battle. The local congressman, Democratic Rep. Mike McIntyre of Lumberton, N.C., has promoted bills in recent years to recognize the Lumbee Tribe, getting nowhere.
Critics have complained that the system of granting federal recognition has been corrupted by money.
Many smaller unrecognized tribes, such as the Duwamish in Washington state, say they’ve been denied recognition because they can’t match campaign contributions from neighboring tribes that want to limit gambling competition. Under the federal government’s rules, only federally recognized tribes can open casinos.
“They’re worried about their money being taken — I’ll call it like it is,” Locklear said.
Cheryl Schmit, founder and director of Stand Up For California, a statewide organization that has been leading the fight against more casinos in the Golden State, said it would be wrong to allow members of non-recognized tribes to own feathers because it would open the door for them to receive other federal benefits.
“Today, it’s eagle feathers. What will it be tomorrow, a request for racial preference for a casino?” she asked.
Federally recognized tribes are allowed to have feathers only because they have special status as sovereign governments, she said. Allowing “unacknowledged tribal groups” to have the same rights would violate both state and federal discrimination laws dealing with race, religion and ethnicity, she said.
Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. took note of the distinction when he announced the new policy nearly four months ago, saying the Justice Department wanted to respect the cultural and religious practices “of federally recognized Indian tribes with whom the United States shares a unique government-to-government relationship.”
The Justice Department said the new policy, the first formal statement on the issue, sought to clarify and expand the long-standing practice of not prosecuting tribal members who possess or use eagle feathers. But the department said it would continue to prosecute tribal members and non-members alike if they violate federal laws by killing eagles or buying or selling feathers.
Legal ads could be pulled from Md. newspapers
By JENNIFER SHUTT
The Daily Times of Salisbury
SALISBURY, Md. (AP) - This year, legal ads could be pulled from newspapers and placed on municipal government websites.
After polling the 157 local governments, the Maryland Municipal League received one suggestion to move legal advertising from newspapers to online, which led the proponent of local government to name removing the state mandate one of its priorities for the 2013.
The past two years, the organization, dedicated to organizing and promoting municipal government, failed to get the bill out of committee. But, this year, the MML hopes to at least get a floor vote, even though the Maryland-Delaware-D.C. Press Association plans to oppose the legislation.
"It's a really terrible idea for the people of the state of Maryland, because Internet access is widespread in Maryland, but it is far from universal and it is not widespread at all among senior citizens, and it is not widespread among the poor and minorities," said Jack Murphy, MDDC executive director. "The readership of a government website is miniscule compared to newspapers."
When legal notices are printed in a newspaper, Murphy said, it ensures citizens that their local government printed the correct information, on time, where it was supposed to. If they're only posted online, governments could amend, correct or remove certain information in them after the fact, he said.
While no legislation has been prefiled for the 2013 session, Jim Peck, spokesman for the MML, said he expects Sen. Ronald Young, D-3-Frederick, to introduce legislation in the Senate and Del. Doyle Niemann, D-47-Prince George's, to introduce a similar bill in the house.
"Statewide, we estimated hundreds of thousands of dollars saved for municipalities," Peck said. "The bill is drafted for counties, too, and I'm sure that would give into the millions of dollars."
While the potential changes would not amount to the millions throughout the Lower Shore, they would save local and county governments a few thousand dollars each year.
According to spokespersons, during fiscal year 2012, Ocean City spent $7,860 for mandatory newspaper advertising, Salisbury spent $29,500, Wicomico County spent 100,000 _ $14,000 of which was paid for by the county _ and Worcester County spent $62,000.
The 2012 version of the bill, which this year's legislation will likely mirror, would still require municipalities to put advertisements in newspapers for annexation, charter amendments, a constant yield tax rate hearing and a handful of other changes, but the ads would be much smaller and direct newspaper readers to the government's website.
A report produced by the Department of Legislative Services last year stated several counties reported the cost of setting up a website or webpage for legal ads may cancel out any savings they get from not posting in a newspaper.
Because the bill also requires counties that post legal notices online to offer a free subscription service, Baltimore and Montgomery County officials said that costs could increase depending on how many residents signed up for subscription services. Charles County said expenses could increase by more than $500,000 depending on how many residents enrolled in subscription services.
Locally, Salisbury City Council member Laura Mitchell said she would like to see the legislation passed to reduce the city's spending.
"I think there is a contingent of people who still don't use the Internet as much and rely on having printed versions of the newspaper, but that's a shrinking segment of our population," Mitchell said.
Mitchell also suggested printing out and posting the legal notices on a bulletin board outside the City Council's offices on the third floor of the Government Office building.
Murphy mentioned a similar scenario to explain how ineffective he believes posting legal ads to a municipal website would be.
"It's about as effective as posting on the bulletin board outside the mayor's office; maybe they'll see it, maybe they won't, but not many people will go to the mayor's office to check," Murphy said.
Law firm mergers kept up pace in 2012
CHRIS MONDICS, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
POSTED: Tuesday, January 8, 2013, 3:01 AM
Law firm mergers in the Philadelphia region and around the nation continued at a robust pace in 2012, as firms sought to offset tepid business development by acquiring existing practices and clients.
A survey released Monday by Altman Weil, the Newtown Square-based legal-consulting firm, said there were 60 mergers involving U.S. firms last year, including several in Philadelphia. That equaled the pace of mergers and acquisitions of the year before.
The most prominent merger of a Philadelphia firm involved Center City's Pepper Hamilton L.L.P. and the Wilmington-based firm of former FBI Director Louis J. Freeh in August. Freeh, whose firm had an extensive white-collar defense and compliance practice, brought 12 lawyers to Pepper, a 500-plus-lawyer firm.
"We've now seen nine straight quarters of steady deal-making since the legal industry shook off the worst effects of the recession," said Ward Bower, an analyst at Altman Weil.
On its face, the merger market suggests some level of recovery in the legal industry, Bower said. But it also illustrates ongoing economic pressures that are likely to intensify.
Some firms merge for strategic reasons, acquiring or merging with a firm in another city where the acquiring firm already has clients. Others are simply looking to grow, and in an anemic economy, there simply isn't enough new business for that, absent a merger or an acquisition.
This is all reflective of a larger-scale retrenchment, Bower said. He said he expects smaller law school classes, a trend already well under way, and the likely disappearance of some law schools as firms continue to grapple with an oversupply of lawyers.
Yet, within that overall shrinkage, some firms are growing through mergers because it represents good economic sense.
Such was the case with the Center City construction firm of Cohen Seglias Pallas Greenhall & Furman P.C., which merged with a six-lawyer construction firm in Manhattan, effective Jan. 1.
Partner Edward Seglias said the merger opportunity resulted from a call from a recruiter. The senior partner of the New York firm, Georgoulis & Associates P.L.L.C., had been hoping that a merger with a larger firm would relieve him of his firm's administrative and managerial burdens.
Cohen Seglias, for its part, wanted an office in New York, where many of its lawyers practiced and where some of its Philadelphia-region clients did business. The firms' practices matched each other well, Seglias said, and the merger was pulled off in a matter of months.
But, he said, the legal marketplace remains relatively weak.
"People will do projects as they need to do them," Seglias said. "I don't know that anyone is sticking their neck out."
The Altman Weil survey included a handful of mega mergers, including the acquisition by Pittsburgh-based K&L Gates L.L.C. of Middletons, a 300-lawyer firm headquartered in Australia. The merger pushes the number of lawyers at K&L Gates to more than 2,000.
The majority of the mergers and acquisitions in 2012 involved firms with 20 or fewer lawyers, Altman Weil said. Nearly a third of the mergers took place in the fourth quarter.
With health-care law set, now come the new rules
By Jordan Rau
Kaiser Health News
With the national health law's political future now entrenched, a deluge of new rules is expected in the coming days and weeks as the Obama administration fleshes out the law's complex components.
Most of the anticipation has been focused on rules that determine how the new state-based insurance marketplaces, or "exchanges," will operate. Also closely awaited are decisions about how the government will tax medical devices, allot the shrinking pool of money for hospitals that treat the uninsured, and determine how birth-control insurance coverage can be guaranteed for employees of religious institutions.
"We knew right after the election, this is all coming out," said Blair Childs, an executive at the Premier health alliance, which advises hospitals.
Some of the rules have been in the works for nearly a year.
Other key decisions will be determined outside the rulemaking process, as the Obama administration selects participants in several experimental programs, including a new payment method for doctors, hospitals and other providers.
Here are summaries of some of the significant decisions on the health law that the administration is expected to announce shortly:
Medical device excise tax
In February, the Internal Revenue Service proposed a rule on how to apply this 2.3 percent tax, which kicks in at the start of January. The major unresolved issues concern which devices will be included and how the tax is applied and collected.
Among the questions: Should the tax apply to devices commonly used by veterinarians if the device is also used in human medicine? What about items sold in retail settings but also used in medical procedures, such as dental instruments and latex gloves? Does the tax apply to kits — two or more medical tools packaged and sold together — even if the manufacturer of each component had already collected the tax when it was sold to the kit maker?
Brendan Benner, a spokesman for the Medical Device Manufacturers Association, said companies are making marketing and sales decisions based on what they expect to happen, but that presents problems. "When you don't know what the answer to the question is, it's hard to make a decision," he said.
Between 2014 and 2019, the government will cut $36 billion from the money that goes to hospitals that treat large numbers of poor patients. The cuts were included under the rationale that many currently uninsured patients would be covered either through the Medicaid expansion or through subsidized insurance.
The administration has to figure out how it will allocate those cuts among hospitals — a task made more complicated by the Supreme Court ruling that allows states to opt out of expanding Medicaid. On the one hand, hospitals in states that don't expand Medicaid will continue to serve a crush of uninsured patients, so they will want more federal support. On the other hand, experts note, the government doesn't want its policy to reward those states by ponying up more money to soften the blow.
"It's a paradoxical situation," said Chip Kahn, president and chief executive of the Federation of American Hospitals. "In states that choose not to do the Medicaid expansion, they're going to still have the uncompensated care, and those people are still going to go to hospitals."
For the administration, some of the trickiest decisions concern how insurance policies must be designed, priced and sold starting next October, when open enrollment begins for the new online exchanges that will offer plans to individuals and small businesses. For instance, the law allowed insurers to alter their prices for people based on age, family size, where they live and tobacco use. The Department of Health and Human Services has to determine how insurers can go about setting those prices.
"The big one that everyone's watching is more definition around the exchanges," said Chas Roades, chief research officer at the Advisory Board, a Washington consultancy.
The government also has to specify how cost-sharing rules for consumers will work and what types of medical services must be covered in health plans sold in the exchanges. Twenty-six states have already chosen an existing health plan as a benchmark identifying what "essential benefits" their state's insurers must provide. In those states that don't establish a benchmark, the administration is empowered to choose one. Until the government does, insurers say they are hampered in devising what kind of insurance policies to offer.
"Unless such guidance is forthcoming, it will be difficult for health plans to complete product development, fulfill network adequacy requirements, obtain necessary state approvals and reviews, and ensure that their operations, materials, training and customer service teams are fully prepared," Daniel Durham, a vice president for America's Health Insurance Plans, testified before a House subcommittee in September.
Debra Ness, president of the National Partnership for Women and Families, said consumer advocates are concerned that the rules may give insurers too much leeway in deciding how skimpy or rich benefits are within the 10 broad categories of coverage the health law requires. "You can end up with places that have fine prescription drug treatment and really lousy maternity care," she said.
Other insurance regulations are also expected. The government has to clarify new standards for companies that insure their own workers, including what level of coverage is sufficient, how a new tax on premiums included in the health law will be assessed and how wellness programs designed to encourage employees to adopt health behaviors will operate.
Several of these insurance rules appear to be far along in the pipeline and are pending before the White House Office of Management and Budget, the final stage before issuance. The office's Web site shows that three rules — on exchanges, the health insurance market and wellness programs_ were submitted by HHS to the OMB days after the election.
Dan Mendelson, chief executive of the consulting firm Avalere Health, said: "It's a breakneck time frame, because there's really only eight months left before open season, and they have to get these products up."
Mendelson said a lot is at stake for the government to make sure its rules lead to a marketplace that doesn't founder. He pointed to Medicare officials' efforts to get the prescription drug plan, Part D, ready to roll out in 2006. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services needs "to work collaboratively with the health insurance industry to bring to market a new set of products," Mendelson said. "It's always a challenge for CMS. They did it beautifully under Medicare Part D and that resulted in a market that is quite robust and functioning."
The administration has already gotten off the ground two major changes to the way the government pays hospitals and doctors. One designates accountable-care organizations that reward hospitals and doctors for working together to provide more efficient care. The other begins to pay hospitals on the quality of the care they provide through the value-based purchasing program. By January, the law calls for the government to launch another major initiative: bundled payments.
The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation is in the final stages of selecting which providers will be included in the program. Under the plans, the government would pay a lump sum to cover all the medical needs of patients going into the hospital, a nursing home or getting home health services for a specific ailment.
Applicants have tailored their proposals to specify whether it covers just one part of the patients' medical treatment, such as post-hospital care, or all the services in the episode. The applicants have also selected specific diagnoses that they will use to test this new payment method. The goal is the same as the other ongoing experiments: to move providers away from being paid piecemeal for each service — a method that encourages excess treatments and drives up Medicare's expenses.
"People in our community are looking at it as a way to dip their toes in the water," said Atul Grover, chief public policy officer at the Association of American Medical Colleges.
Berezovsky to pay $56 mln for Abramovich fees after lost case
Oct 12 (Reuters) - Russian businessman Boris Berezovsky will pay 35 million pounds ($56 million) towards the legal fees of Chelsea Football Club owner Roman Abramovich after failing in a $6 billion London court battle with his former protege, lawyers said.
Abramovich, the world's 68th richest man with a $12.1 billion fortune, emerged victorious in August from a legal battle after Berezovsky had accused him of using the threat of Kremlin intervention to make him sell prized assets at a knockdown price.
Berezovsky, who was a Moscow powerbroker under President Boris Yeltsin only to fall foul of his successor Vladimir Putin, said Abramovich used the threat of retribution to force him into selling too cheaply out of Sibneft, Russia's fourth biggest oil company.
He had claimed $6 billion in damages, largely over Sibneft, but London's High Court rejected his bid, with presiding judge Elizabeth Gloster calling him an "unimpressive and inherently unreliable witness" who gave sometimes dishonest evidence.
On Friday, lawyers told Gloster at the High Court that Berezovsky had agreed to pay 35 million pounds towards Abramovich's legal costs, the Press Association reported.
The court was given no detail about the total fees run up by Berezovsky, and Gloster was told all outstanding issues had been settled and the litigation was at an end.
The legal action laid bare the intrigue behind the post-Soviet carve-up of Russia's vast natural resources and provided insights into the murky world of Russian business.
Abramovich, who bought Chelsea in 2003, had denied Berezovsky owned the assets he claimed and said that he had merely paid his former mentor for political cover and protection. ($1 = 0.6234 British pounds) (Reporting by Michael Holden; Editing by Anthony Barker)
Appeals court blocks Minnesota law on corporate political spending
(Reuters) - A Minnesota law that requires companies to track and disclose the amount of money they spend on political campaigns likely violates the U.S. Constitution, a federal appeals court ruled on Wednesday.
In a 6-5 ruling, the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis temporarily blocked the law, saying it burdens companies' free speech, in violation of the U.S. Supreme Court's 2010 decision Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. That case removed limits on what companies and unions can spend to support or oppose political candidates.
"After Citizens United, it is clear Minnesota may not suppress political speech on the basis of the speaker's corporate identity," Judge William Riley wrote for the majority.
The Minnesota law requires companies and other organizations to establish a political fund if they spend more than $100 a year on political speech. The fund must have a treasurer who segregates political funds, keeps detailed records and files reports with the state. Failure to comply can result in fines and imprisonment up to five years.
Two nonprofit organizations, Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life Inc and The Taxpayers League of Minnesota, and a for-profit travel company, Coastal Travel Enterprises, challenged the law in July 2010. The groups claimed that the burdensome reporting requirements deterred them from making any political expenditures and chilled their political speech.
A federal court in Minnesota rejected the groups' request to temporarily block the law, and a divided three-judge panel of the 8th Circuit affirmed that decision in May 2011. But a larger 8th Circuit panel agreed to review the case, and on Wednesday issued a preliminary injunction and sent the case back to the lower court for further proceedings.
Wednesday's decision found that Minnesota's law effectively treats companies that make political expenditures the same as political action committees, in violation of the Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United.
The court refused to block another part of the law, which bans companies from donating directly to political candidates.
Five judges dissented, accusing the majority of disregarding the voting public's right to know where political money is coming from.
A spokesman for the Minnesota Attorney General said the office was reviewing the ruling.
James Bopp, a lawyer for the plaintiffs who also brought the Citizens United case, said the ruling was a significant one in the fight over whether states and federal regulators can impose the requirements for political action committees on companies and other associations.
Courts disagree over whether such requirements are constitutional, Bopp said. Six courts that have ruled on the issue are evenly split, he said.
Among them, a three-judge panel of the 4th Circuit in June rejected a suit brought by the nonprofit group The Real Truth About Abortion that challenged Federal Election Commission disclosure requirements. Bopp, who also brought that case, said he will appeal that decision to the Supreme Court in coming weeks.
The 8th Circuit case is Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life Inc et al v. Swanson et al, No. 10-3126.
(Reporting By Terry Baynes; Editing by Eddie Evans and Cynthia Osterman)
Lawyer Took Cyanide After Arson Verdict, Then Collapsed and Died, Medical Examiner Says
By Martha Neil
A 53-year-old lawyer whose finances apparently took a nosedive in recent years committed suicide in an Arizona court last month by swallowing a cyanide pill, immediately after a Maricopa County jury convicted him of burning down his own upscale home in the Phoenix area.
Michael James Marin collapsed within minutes after a video of his June 28 arson conviction shows him seemingly putting something in his mouth and then swallowing. Medical examiner Kevin Horn announced Friday that his death was a suicide, reports Reuters.
The swift-acting poison has been known since ancient times as a cause of sudden death. After sheriff's investigators were contacted by an adult son of Marin, who had received an email from his father explaining that his will was ready in case "things don't go well in court," a sodium cyanide powder canister was found inside the elder Marin's car.
Marin, who told authorities he had escaped from the second story of his blazing home in 2009 by donning scuba gear and descending a rope ladder, fell under suspicion when fire investigators reportedly found multiple points of ignition and determined that the blaze was set intentionally.
At trial, prosecutors said Marin had $50 in his bank account at the time of the fire, compared to $900,000 a year earlier, and substantial debts, according to the Associated Press and a 2009 Phoenix New Times article.
However, it doesn't appear that any insurance payoff would have benefited Marin, since he had a hefty mortgage.
Marin was a Yale University law graduate and the New Times profile says he had described working in the 1980s and 1990s in Asia for Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch and Salomon Brothers.
In more recent years, however, it is unclear from the article how Marin brought in the bucks to support a lifestyle that included the purchase of the multimillion-dollar home and Pablo Picasso etchings, for which he said he paid an amount in seven figures.
Let go by Lehman Brothers in 1997, "I was in good shape money-wise at that time," he told the New Times. Additional articles linked to a New Times page about Marin provide additional details.
Although Marin was not in custody during his trial, he likely expected to be sentenced to prison time after his conviction. Sheriff Joe Arpaio said investigators determined Marin had bought the cyanide about a year ago. That was around the same time that Marin reportedly told family members "he could not go back to jail and would do something drastic if found guilty," the AP article recounts
Lawyer Says He Didn’t Trade Smokes, Drugs for Sex at Jail, Calls Contraband Claim ‘Just Plain False’
By Martha Neil
A Georgia lawyer facing criminal charges after authorities said he traded contraband cigarettes and painkillers for sex with female inmates at the Cobb County jail says there is no factual basis for the case.
In an interview with WSBT, Michael Winner said "Sex isn't going to buy me dinner. I mean, I basically work for money." He said he believes his reputation for pursuing police corruption matters is behind the charges and called the claim that he gave inmates contraband "just plain false."
Winner admitted that he might flirt with female inmates on occasion, but pointed out that he is single and that flirting is not illegal
Calif. AG Supports Illegal Immigrant’s Quest for Law License
By Martha Neil
California's attorney general is supporting the state bar-admission quest of a man who was brought to the United States illegally as a toddler.
Although Sergio Garcia, 35, applied for legal residency in 1995, his application is still pending, reports the Associated Press. His father is already a U.S. citizen and his mother is a permanent resident.
"Admitting Garcia to the bar would be consistent with state and federal policy that encourages immigrants, both documented and undocumented, to contribute to society," wrote AG Kamala Harris in a brief she filed Wednesday.
The California Supreme Court is also seeking input on Garcia's bar application from the U.S. Department of Justice.
Opponents question how an individual who is supposed to follow legal requirements could do so while himself in the country illegally. Garcia, who disclosed his immigration status as "pending" on his bar application, says he has done the best he can in a difficult situation.
"It's a difficult position. It's like being in limbo. I don't belong anywhere," he told the AP in a Thursday interview.
Garcia's lawyer, Jerome Fishkin, says Garcia could work as an independent contractor, even though he could not be legally employed as a lawyer given his current immigration status.
More Trouble for Angry Judge in YouTube Video; Threatened with Contempt, He Rules In Another Case
By Martha Neil
A West Virginia judge whose angry comments to a pastor litigating a divorce case gained widespread publicity after a YouTube video of the hearing went viral last month has complied with a state supreme court order to issue a ruling in an unrelated divorce case or be held in contempt.
After three writs of mandamus were filed by John J. Black concerning various delays, the supreme court, with which the third was filed, ordered Putnam County Judge William M. "Chip" Watkins III to respond by June 28. When he didn't, the court had a clerk confirm with the judge's case coordinator that he still hadn't made the divorce ruling in question, and then issued an order telling Watkins to rule by July 10 or be held in contempt, the West Virginia Record reports.
In the July 5 order, the court said Watkins had violated the state constitution, judicial ethics provisions and trial court rules by waiting almost two years to rule on a property division petition. (The divorce was granted in November 2008.)
"Respondent has shown no just cause for his failure to comply with orders of the court," states the July 5 order. "In fact, he has failed to provide any response. It is abundantly clear that the petitioner is entitled to the relief requested in this matter."
Watkins issued the required property ruling last week, immediately after the July 5 order, a court clerk told the Record.
Meanwhile, in addition to judicial ethics complaints pastor Arthur D. Hage says he filed against Watkins in the other divorce matter, one of Hage's parishioners, Paul Bentley, says he has filed a complaint, too. Bentley says he was ordered by Watkins, for no apparent reason, to leave the Putnam County Judicial Building when he attended a hearing with Hage, according to the Record.
Watkins is shown on a court video both ordering a bailiff to eject Bentley and telling the bailiff that "if he smiles" he should be brought into the courtroom "to answer what's so damn funny," the article recounts.
The news report doesn't include any comment from the judge.
Romney and Obama Benefit from Lawyer and Law Firm Contributions
Lawyers and law firms are among the top contributors by industry to the presidential campaigns of Mitt Romney and Barack Obama.
Lawyers and law firms have contributed $12.4 million to Obama’s campaign and $5.2 million to Romney’s campaign, the Washington Post reports, citing information from the Center for Responsive Politics. Lawyers and law firms are ranked second, by industry, for donations to Obama and ranked third for donations to Romney.
One law firm—Kirkland & Ellis—is among the top 20 contributors by organization for Romney. It is also one of six law firms that are among the top 20 organizational contributors to Obama. Besides Kirkland, they are DLA Piper, Sidley Austin, Skadden Arps, Morgan & Morgan, and WilmerHale.
The legal industry also tops the list for bundling contributions from other individuals on behalf of Obama, the Post says. Lawyers and law firms have bundled $22.4 million for the president’s campaign.
Get Out of Jail–But Not Free: Courts Scramble to Fill Their Coffers by Billing Ex-Cons
By John Gibeaut
In Monopoly, a roll of the dice can get you a chance to draw a “get out of jail free” card to keep your piece moving around the board. But in the game of life, it takes real money to get out and stay out of real jails.
The lesson is not lost on Ameen Muqtadir. When he walked out of a Pennsylvania prison in 2002 after serving a stretch for robbery, he says, he was determined to put down the heroin and cocaine that he blames for keeping him behind bars on and off since his teens.
“I was able to walk away from the system entirely,” recalls Muqtadir, 54. Or so he thought.
Years after he returned to his hometown of Philadelphia, Muqtadir found the system hadn’t let him go. He learned the Philadelphia courts had him on the hook for nearly $41,000 in forfeited bail and costs for failure to appear in 1991 and again in 1997 in two earlier robbery cases.
The problem: Muqtadir couldn’t come to court because he was locked up in prison, and the underlying charges in the other cases had been dismissed in the meantime.
“There was never any notice,” says Muqtadir, who today works as program director for Art House, a re-entry service for ex-offenders. “No letters for money. Nothing ever happened.”
Muqtadir learned about the forfeitures when he was caught up in a sweep launched last year to collect up to $1.5 billion in unpaid criminal fines and costs, including $1 billion in bail the courts say is forfeited. The sweep covers an estimated 320,000 people—nearly a quarter of the city’s population. Some delinquent accounts date to the 1970s.
Since the 1990s, state and local governments across the nation increasingly have turned to fees imposed on criminal defendants to keep their justice systems afloat in economically tough times. Besides fines, deemed punishment, and restitution, which repays victims, states have imposed thousands of other revenue-raising schemes on offenders. Many have faint ties to crime and punishment or individual offenses, such as an attempt by a Massachusetts sheriff to increase charges for county jail inmates’ haircuts above the $1.50 limit set by state prisons.
Usually, though, much of the money is uncollectible. Ex-offenders typically move often, making it difficult if not impossible to serve them with delinquency notices or arrest warrants. Others, such as Muqtadir, hide in plain sight: in prison. But advocates say most are just too poor to pay.
Threats of more jail time for nonpayment also constantly loom. Some critics worry heavy-handed tactics used to collect from ex-offenders signal a return, in effect, to debtors’ prisons, which were abolished in the United States in the 1830s.
“I’ve never been in a courtroom where people are so angry as when it’s one of our cases,” says Muqtadir’s lawyer, Sharon M. Dietrich of Philadelphia’s Community Legal Services, which provides free representation to poor people.
Though she’s an employment lawyer, Dietrich says she’s amazed she spends so much time lately in criminal court.
“I even had one guy with paperwork from the ’90s that said ‘final payment’ and was signed by a court officer,” Dietrich says. “I’ve seen grandmothers paying for their grandsons, thinking [they themselves are] going to jail.”
Another of Dietrich’s clients, Hakim Waliyyudin, has bail problems too. After Waliyyudin was arrested on two domestic violence charges in late 2010, his bail was set at $10,000. Philadelphia has no private bail-bond services, so Waliyyudin had to post a $1,000 bond with the court to secure his release. He languished in jail for 12 days until he raised the money.
The charges ultimately were dropped, so the 35-year-old truck driver trotted down to court to get his money back. He understood he was going to have to pony up perhaps a 10 percent fee the courts planned to take from the $1,000. It turned out that wasn’t all because Waliyyudin had missed a court date.
“That’s the strange part about it,” Waliyyudin recalls. First, the clerk nonchalantly told him the courts weren’t going to be content just to keep his measly $1,000. “Then the lady told me I owed about nine grand. I didn’t understand that. They’ve added a collection fee of $750 for each count. That’s another $1,500. They basically just took my money.”
Pamela P. Dembe, chief common pleas judge, initially said showing up in court is a condition of bail, which put officials on solid ground. Dembe is one of the prime architects of the collection effort. Waliyyudin’s court file, however, didn’t show the required bail forfeiture order or notice. A hearing officer cited that lack of notice in late March and recommended a waiver of the $9,000 in judgments and the $1,500 in collection charges against Waliyyudin, meaning he also should get his bail deposit back after a judge signs off on it, considered a formality. In December, Dietrich had also persuaded Dembe to vacate Muqtadir’s bail judgments.
“We win most cases,” Dietrich says.
Civil Rights Lawyer Reflects on Former Client Rodney King, Who Died Sunday at 47
By Debra Cassens Weiss
Oakland, Calif., civil rights lawyer John Burris represented Rodney King when he won a $3.8 million judgment against the Los Angeles police department, a victory for the man whose taped beating in 1991 led to riots the next year.
Burris remembered his client in an interview with San Jose Mercury News. King, 47, was found dead on Sunday in the bottom of his pool in Rialto, Calif., the victim of an apparent accidental drowning, report the Los Angeles Times and the New York Times. His fiancee, a juror in the civil trial, found the body.
"He became the face of police brutality that everyone could see and no one could deny," Burris told the Mercury News. "King is a symbolic figure because the images of his beating were really the first opportunity for the general white population to see this kind of brutality against an African American by the police.”
Three officers accused in King’s beating were acquitted in their first trial by a jury that included no blacks. A mistrial was declared for the fourth. Riots followed. King pleaded for calm, asking, “Can we all get along?” Two officers were later convicted on federal civil rights charges.
The New York Times says King’s life “was a roller coaster of drug and alcohol abuse, multiple arrests and unwanted celebrity.” The newspaper says he spent much of the civil award on legal fees, though he also bought cars and houses.
Roxana Amiri, voted the best Iranian-American attorney in CA
Roxana Amiri,the Immigration attorney, was voted the best Iranian-American attorney in CA by majority of respondants, in a toll taken by Iranian-Lawyers.com
Meet Judge Judy’s Longtime Bailiff, Byrd, the ‘Kato to her Green Hornet’
By Martha Neil
A bailiff on the hugely popular Judge Judy reality courtroom television show was actually, years ago, just like "Judge Judy" Scheindlin herself, the real thing.
Both she and Petri Hawkins Byrd worked in Manhattan Family Court in New York when she was a supervising judge, reports the Los Angeles Times in a lengthy article reprinted in the San Francisco Chronicle. Both are also from Brooklyn initially, another shared experience that helps them relate to each other.
Byrd, now 54, recalls doing an impression of Scheindlin one day in her actual court in New York, wearing her robe and her glasses, that had nearby attorneys and court reporters chucking. Then the laughter stopped and all eyes turned to Scheindlin, who had just come back in. Fortunately, she had a sense of humor, he recounts.
Their longtime history has helped Byrd and Scheindlin form a winning team in their televised courtroom. Their chemistry is akin to that of a long-married couple, the judge says, and, although they don't socialize much off-camera, the 6-foot-4, 240-pound Byrd doesn't hesitate to inject his own personality in the proceedings at times, in addition to serving as a quelling presence for those who might be tempted to get out of line.
"I'm the Robin to her Batman, the Kato to her Green Hornet," he told the newspaper.
Were Law Profs Lying or Just Mistaken When They Said the Health Law Was Slam-Dunk Constitutional?
By Debra Cassens Weiss
Oral arguments on the constitutionality of the health care law left some journalists with the impression that the U.S. Supreme Court’s liberal justices will have a difficult time getting a fifth vote.
The possibility is at odds with the views of many liberal law professors who appeared to “grossly miscalculate” the chances for challenges to the insurance requirement, George Mason University law professor Ilya Somin writes at the Volokh Conspiracy. Many professors deemed the suits silly and frivolous, even after four lower courts had struck down the mandate.
In a separate post, Somin discounts one possible reason offered at Concurring Opinions for the miscalculation: The commentators were trying to shape the narrative by displaying more confidence than they felt. According to Somin, “I believe that they meant what they said and said what they meant.”
Others aren’t so sure. One blogger even questioned the ethics of “strategic blogging” by legal academics. Writing at PrawfsBlawg, University of Alabama law professor Paul Horwitz says blogging professors should not sacrifice their reputations to influence debate. “Someone who writes that current law clearly means X should mean what he or she says; ‘shaping the narrative’ is no defense to asserting with confidence a view that one doesn't really believe, or doesn't believe with that degree of confidence,” Horwitz writes.
Vote for the "Best Iranian Lawyers in California"
This week we asked Iranian-American attorneys(in CA), via e-mail, to vote for the top 5 Iranian attorneys in California, whose personality and work, they most respect.
The response has been great. We are counting the votes. If you are an Iranian attorney in CA, and have not voted yet, feel free to do so by March 31st, by sending an e-mail to: Star@IranianEverything.com
Ariz. Supreme Court Affirms Decision Keeping Candidate Off Ballot Because of Poor English Skills
By Debra Cassens Weiss
The Arizona Supreme Court has affirmed a lower court ruling keeping a local candidate off the ballot because her English language skills are lacking.
The two-page order by the Arizona Supreme Court didn’t detail reasons for the decision, report the Associated Press, the Los Angeles Times, the Yuma Sun and Reuters. The order was issued on an expedited basis; a written decision will be released later.
A Yuma County judge had banned Alejandrina Cabrera from the March 13 primary ballot for the San Luis city council in a Jan. 27 ruling. Cabrera had maintained her English ability was sufficient to meet state law requirements that elected officials know how to speak English. A linguist disagreed. He had submitted a report finding that Cabrera had only a “survival” level of English and did not have the language skills to be a city council member.
Cabrera’s lawyer, John Minore, criticized the decision in an interview with the Yuma Sun. “This is a fine example of judicial activism,” he said. “Arizona now has a English standard to be on a ballot but doesn't tell you what that standard is.”
Minore told AP his office is looking for ways to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. But he told Reuters that financial hurdles make an appeal unlikely. "We'd love to but we can't fund it. We're just small little rural law firms. We can't afford to go forward," Minore said. "We have mortgages to pay and families to feed. We can't donate any more time."
Dentist Gets 1 Year for Using Paper Clips in Root Canals and Other Medical Fraud
A Massachusetts dentist who allegedly used paper clips in place of standard steel posts, in order to save money, while performing root canals was sentenced today to one year in state prison after pleading guilty in a medical fraud case brought by the state attorney general, the Associated Press reports.
Michael Clair, 53, whose medical license is suspended, now lives in Maryland. He pleaded guilty last week to charges including assault and battery and filing false Medicaid claims, according to the Boston Globe and Reuters.
He also pleaded guilty to prescribing powerful painkillers to staff members who then gave some or all of the medication back to him.
Clair could have faced decades in prison in the Bristol County case and prosecutors sought a five- to seven-year term. However, Judge Richard Moses cited the defendant's lack of a prior record, cooperation and "certain mental health issues" he is addressing when sentencing Clair.
Moses gave him a 2½-year term in the Bristol County House of Correction, with all except one year suspended, followed by five years of probation.
Hats off to Los Angeles' newest hero Shervin Lalezary
Harry Burkhart, a 24-year old German national was arrested for 53 Los Angeles area arsons that began on Friday, December 30, 2011. The arsons, however, abruptly came to an end the day of his arrest, Monday, January 2, 2012, by reserve deputy Shervin Lalezary. Lalezary, as a reserve deputy, works for just $1 a year.
By day, reserve deputy Shervin Lalezary is a Beverly Hills real estate attorney having graduated from UCLA for undergraduate studies and receiving his juris doctorate from USC School of Law. He has been licensed with the State Bar of California since 2008 and practices law at his own firm in Beverly Hills.
By night, reserve deputy Lalezary patrols the Hollywood area streets. He had just qualified to ride solo in December according to police officials. The night Lalezary arrested Burkhart he was working beyond his 8-hour shift.
Hats off to Los Angeles' newest hero Shervin Lalezary: for his dedication to community safety, his dedication to Los Angeles, and for his bravery.
Ex-BigLaw Partner Collapses in Court as Judge Warns of Likely Jail Time for Drunk-Driving Case Lies
Things went from bad to worse for a solicitor in a major London law firm after he apparently had a few too many alcoholic drinks and crashed his Range Rover last year.
Found later at home by police, where he tested over the limit, Francis Bridgeman said he had been kidnapped at knifepoint and taken away by the carjackers in another vehicle, reports the Daily Mail.
However, closed-circuit television footage showed his own luxury ride weaving as if the driver had been drinking heavily before the crash. And testing revealed Bridgeman's DNA on the airbag, indicating he had been behind the wheel when it crashed into a telegraph pole.
Now 43, the former Allen and Overy partner resigned in December from his subsequent job at Macfarlanes. He was found guilty by a 12-member Brighton Crown Court jury of perverting justice. Warned by the judge that he faces a likely jail term when he is sentenced next month, Bridgeman collapsed in the dock and paramedics were called, the newspaper recounts.
The jury deliberated only two hours after a five-day trial, apparently finding the government's version of the case persuasive.
"The sad truth is, you started lying in order to get out of a possible drink driving offense," contended prosecutor Richard Barton during Bridgeman's trial. "‘You thought that with your experience as a lawyer you would be able to talk your way out of trouble.
"That lie got bigger and bigger as you went on," Barton continued. "Like jumping into a bramble bush, it got harder to get out of it the more you struggled."
The article doesn't include any comment from Bridgeman or his counsel.