Cravath’s Bob Joffe is Dead at 66
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Last Post Jan 29th, 2010 01:20 PM
, by WSJ Law Blog
Some sad news to report today, from the halls of Cravath, Swaine & Moore.
Robert Joffe, the former presiding partner of Cravath, has died of cancer, according to a firm spokesperson. He was 66 years old.
Since 1978, Joffe was the primary outside lawyer for Time Warner and led the merger of Time Inc. and Warner Communications Inc. through the FTC review. He was the principal litigator for Time Inc. in successfully rebutting Paramount’s 1989 attempted takeover, when he argued and won Paramount v. Time in the Delaware Chancery Court and Delaware Supreme Court.
From October 2007 through its acquisition by Bank of America in January 2009, Joffe represented the independent directors of Merrill Lynch. Joffe was also counsel to the independent directors of Citigroup, General Electric and General Motors, among many others.
WSJ Law Blog
Scott Roeder Killed George Tiller. But is it Murder or Manslaughter?
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Last Post Jan 29th, 2010 11:20 AM
, by WSJ Law Blog
So what’s left to decide?
It’s a question that many are likely asking in regard to the Scott Roeder situation. Roeder, on trial for allegedly murdering doctor George Tiller, on Thursday essentially obviated our need to use the word “allegedly” when he said in court that, yes, he approached Tiller in church last May and shot him in the forehead.
The WSJ’s Stephanie Simon describes it
Speaking in a measured voice, Mr. Roeder told the jury he considered abortion to be murder. “It is not man’s job to take life,” he said. A moment later, Mr. Roeder amended that slightly: “It is never up to man to take life. Only in the case of defense of self or defense of others.”
Fascinating, eh? Roeder’s lawyers are seeking to prove Tiller out of an honest, even if unreasonable, belief that he had no other option but to use deadly force to protect others—in this case, fetuses—from an imminent threat.
Under Kansas law, that could fit the definition of “voluntary manslaughter,” a less serious charge than first-degree murder. Click here
for a recent story on the manslaughter/murder issue by Emily Bazelon, writing in Slate.
Will it fly? It’s far from a slam dunk. Judge Warren Wilbert ruled Thursday evening he would not let the jury consider lesser charges because Tiller posed no imminent danger to anyone as he stood in church that Sunday morning. The judge also pointed out that abortion was legal, and said there was no evidence that Tiller was in any way breaking the law in his practice.
In any event, it sounded like a pretty riveting day in the courtroom. On cross-examination, Roeder acknowledged he had made up his mind as early as 1993 to kill Tiller. Roeder said he considered various plans, including hiding on a roof opposite Tiller’s clinic to pick him off with a sniper rifle, crashing his car into Tiller’s, or trying to get close enough to the physician to chop off his hands with a sword.
He said he settled on shooting Tiller at close range in his church. He visited the church several times, first to scope it out and then to find Tiller, bringing along both his Bible and his handgun.
WSJ Law Blog
Texas DA Sued Over Alleged Phony Arrest Scheme Left ‘High and Dry’
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Last Post Jan 28th, 2010 05:50 PM
, by WSJ Law Blog
Last March, we blogged
a story from the Chicago Tribune about a small town in Texas — called Tenaha — a “dusty fleck of a town” near the Texas-Louisiana border.
According to the Trib story
, police officers in Tenaha had long made a practice of stripping motorists, many of whom are African-American and just passing through, of their property without ever charging them with a crime.
Now comes a recent story in the Dallas Morning News gets us up to speed
on an interesting development down Tenaha way. The Shelby County District Attorney, Lynda K. Russell, has reportedly been left to fend for herself in her defense.
Here’s the backstory, according to the Morning-News:
James Morrow was driving to Houston to visit his cousin when he was pulled over in the East Texas town of Tenaha for “driving too close to the white line.”
The officer, Barry Washington, searched the vehicle and asked Morrow if he had any money, according to court records. Morrow, who is black, had $3,900. He said the officer took the cash and drove him to the Shelby County Jail.
That’s where authorities threatened to prosecute him for money laundering unless he agreed to forfeit the money, Morrow said. He was never charged with a crime in the 2007 incident, and when he pursued legal action, he got the money back.
The lawsuit accuses Russell, Washington, and other Tenaha law enforcement officials of running a “stop and seize” practice. Last week, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott released an opinion saying Russell couldn’t use money from the forfeiture fund to defend herself against the suit. Russell sought the opinion after Shelby County and the state rejected her requests for legal representation.
Russell has been left “high and dry,” says her attorney, Tom Henson. “She’ll have to pay for her defense out of her own resources, which are limited.”
But Henson says that Russell feels she’s done nothing wrong. “She feels very strongly that she has done nothing wrong and she’s not liable, and neither are the other defendants. They had good cause for whatever they did,” Henson added.
Russell and Tenaha officials have defended their practices, saying they have used Texas’ asset forfeiture law to combat drug trafficking and other crimes. Officials have not responded to the allegation that minorities were targeted under the program.
WSJ Law Blog
Bloomberg Changes Tune, Looks to Move KSM Trial Out of Big Apple
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Last Post Jan 27th, 2010 05:30 PM
, by WSJ Law Blog
On Tuesday, we blogged
an NYT story tracking a suggestion to move the upcoming trial of alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed out of the lower part of the Big Apple* and onto Governors Island, the largely deserted (at least by NYC standards) little drop of land in New York Harbor.
We thought the story was interesting, but didn’t really give much mind to the prospect that the trial might actually get moved. After all, the plan had the backing of President Obama and AG Eric Holder, and hadn’t really been objected to by anyone with the real power to effect change.
Until now. Big Apple Mayor Michael Bloomberg has spoken out against plans to hold at the federal courthouse in Lower Manhattan. Bloomberg’s main objection: cost.
“It would be great if the federal government could find a site that didn’t cost a billion dollars, which using downtown will,” he told reporters on Wednesday. Click here
for the story, from the NYT’s City Room blog.
Bloomberg reportedly said this:
It’s going to cost an awful lot of money and disturb an awful lot of people. Can we provide security? Yes. Could you provide security elsewhere? Yeah, and I mean — the suggestion of a military base is probably a reasonably good one. Relatively easy to supply — to provide security. They tend to be outside of cities so that they don’t disrupt other people.
City Room points out that the shift was a marked change from Bloomberg’s initial reaction to the news, just two months ago, that the trial would be held in the Big Apple. ”It is fitting that 9/11 suspects face justice near the World Trade Center site where so many New Yorkers were murdered,” he said at the time.
*Why the insistence on calling New York the “Big Apple” in this post. No real reason
. Just trying something different. We’ve re-read the post and made sure we didn’t misspell “apple” “aapl,” which makes us very relieved.
WSJ Law Blog
Former Davis Polk Associate Dreams of Making U.S. Political History
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Last Post Jan 27th, 2010 11:20 AM
, by WSJ Law Blog
Since when did Davis Polk become the training ground for young, female New York politicians? Kirsten Gillibrand, the state’s junior senator currently in a war-of-words
with Harold Ford, toiled for a while at Davis Polk.
Now comes word that Reshma Saujani, a 34-year-old former Davis Polker, is throwing her hat in the ring in what could be an equally entertaining congressional race. Saujani, according to this story
in the NYT, “has won the backing of some prominent Democratic donors for her bid to topple Representative Carolyn B. Maloney, a challenge that is turning heads on the Upper East Side of Manhattan and antagonizing some of New York’s best-known feminists.” Were to she win, Saujani would be the first Indian-American woman to serve in Congress.
The story is fascinating, partly because Saujani, who currently works as a hedge-fund lawyer, doesn’t seem inclined to exploit the populist notion spreading countrywide that Wall Street is part of the problem, not part of the solution.
In an interview with the NYT, Saujani accused Maloney and the entire New York Congressional delegation of failing to do enough to aid business. She slammed Maloney for bashing banks and calling for a 100 percent tax on some bonuses.
“Instead of browbeating Wall Street, I want to invite them to help create jobs,” Saujani said, talking up an idea to connect investment houses with technology start-ups.
“If you go to Texas, you’ll never hear a Congressional member speak poorly of the oil industry,” she added. “In Michigan, you’ll never hear a Congressional member speak poorly of the auto industry. This is our bread and butter.”
Saujani, (Illinois/Yale Law), may have come from Davis Polk, but she’s more recently been steeped in the hedge fund world. In 2005, she helped start an investment fund for a company partly owned by Hassan Nemazee, a Democratic fund-raiser who was charged with bank fraud last year. (Saujani said she left before the alleged crimes.) She went to another fund started by the Carlyle Group, then shifted to Fortress Investment Partners. All of the funds were hammered in the credit crisis.
Like Gillibrand in the face of Ford’s yet-to-be-made announcement that he’s running for Senate, Maloney’s fighting back. A spokesman for Maloney asked: “What’s her record? What’s her accomplishments? What’s her connection to the district? There is none.”
According to the NYT story, Saujani’s campaign has annoyed some feminists, whose loyalty Maloney won decades ago for her work on women’s health issues and equal pay.
Marilyn Fitterman, a former state president of the National Organization for Women, appealed to Saujani in an e-mail message not to challenge Maloney “if you care anything about women’s rights.”
Saujani, undeterred, said that for paying her dues and waiting, she said, “Last time I read the Constitution, getting in line wasn’t in it.”
WSJ Law Blog
The Dream of Every Recent College Grad: To Go to Cornell Law
Replies: 1, Views: 574
Last Post Jan 27th, 2010 11:00 AM
, by annjd
Some things just can’t be explained. Stonehenge. Davos. What really happened to Oceanic Flight 815. The hype over indie-rock darlings Animal Collective.
And there’s this: that applications to Cornell Law have jumped 52% over the number of applications filed last year.
Of course, experts can explain why applications to law school are up generally. Unemployment is through the roof. The American economy is riven with uncertainty. What better place to bide your time for a few years than an Ivy League law school?
But why 52%? At Cornell? We have no idea. Nor does the school’s dean, Richard Geiger, who told the University’s paper
he was as mystified as anyone. “The increase is probably the result of a number of things working together,” Geiger told the Cornell Daily Sun. “What I can’t explain is why it’s 50 percent and not 20 percent.”
Twenty percent isn’t just a number Geiger plucked from the Ithaca air. Nationally, the number of people who took the LSAT climbed 20 percent in 2009. Other schools have reported large gain in applicants, but nothing approaching Cornell’s.
The numbers may bode ill for any applicants who’ve yet to hear on the state of their applications. Since the University accepts law students on a rolling basis, many have already received their acceptance letters.
“The increase in applications will make us scrutinize things a little more carefully since we don’t fully understand what this is all about,” Geiger said. “We’ll be a little more cautious in making decisions.”
Of course, as the Cornell Daily Sun points out, the prospects for employment after law school remain dismal. Said Christine Lee, the editor-in-chief of the Cornell Law Review: “It’s an interesting time to apply [to law school] since the legal market has changed. I wonder what will happen to all these people trying to go to law school.”
WSJ Law Blog
Witness says marriage threatened if gays can wed (AP)
Replies: 1, Views: 502
Last Post Jan 27th, 2010 12:14 AM
, by Unregistered
AP - The head of a family values group testified Tuesday that marriage developed to provide children with clear ties to their biological parents but is in such a weakened state in the United States that extending the institution to same-sex couples could be its death blow.
File photo shows supporters of same-sex marriage marching in Hollywood, California. The influence of homosexuals in US politics is significant and growing, an expert testified, as opponents of same-sex marriage opened their case in a federal trial challenging California's gay marriage ban. (AFP/Getty Images/File/David Mcnew)
Tamper With Phones: Conservative Filmmaker Charged With Messing With Senator’s Phone
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Last Post Jan 26th, 2010 07:40 PM
, by WSJ Law Blog
James O’Keefe is an investigative journalist and filmmaker. He filmed and produced a 2009 investigative report that helped expose corruption within ACORN, including ACORN employees providing individuals they believed to be involved in an international under-age prostitution scheme with advice on how to break the law. Congress voted to defund ACORN shortly after the videos were released.
James began his career as a journalist as the founder and editor-in-chief of The Centurion at Rutgers University. He has helped start over a dozen campus newspapers nationwide. His past projects include an investigation of Planned Parenthood, where his reporting exposed the organization’s willingness to ignore apparent instances of statutory rape and eugenics-based racism. . . .
From Andrew Breitbart’s Big Government Web site, which first aired the footage taken by O’Keefe that led to the shakeup of ACORN.
Well, O’Keefe, 25 (pictured), on Monday earned himself another line on his rapidly evolving biography. The provocateur guerrilla filmmaker got arrested by the FBI for allegedly leading a plot to tamper with Sen. Mary Landrieu’s (D-La.) telephones inside the Hale Boggs Federal Building in downtown New Orleans. Click here
for the New Orleans Times-Picayune story.
Three others were arrested. Among them: Robert Flanagan, the son of William Flanagan, who is the acting U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Louisiana, the office confirmed. All four were charged with entering federal property under false pretenses with the intent of committing a felony.
Landrieu spokesman Aaron Saunders told the Times-Picayune that the senator could not comment.
O’Keefe on Thursday gave a speech to the Pelican Institute for Public Policy, a libertarian group in New Orleans. The New Orleans event was promoted with this glowing statement about O’Keefe by the Pelican Institute: “James has been a pioneer in the use of new media to drive these kinds of important stories. He will discuss the role of new media and show examples of effective investigative reporting.”
The four men appeared in federal magistrate court this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Louis Moore wearing red inmate jumpstuits from St. Bernard Parish Prison, where they are being held. Moore is allowing the men to be released on $10,000 bond.
Robert Flanagan’s attorney, J. Garrison Jordan, said he believes his client works for the Pelican Institute. Asked the motivation for the alleged wiretap plot, he said: “I think it was poor judgment. I don’t think there was any intent or motive to commit a crime.”
WSJ Law Blog
Should the KSM Trial Move Be Moved? To Governors Island?
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Last Post Jan 26th, 2010 11:10 AM
, by WSJ Law Blog
Governors Island — the little teardrop of land dropped between Manhattan to the north and Staten Island to the south — is a strange place. Since it was sold from the federal government to the city of New York back in 2003, no one’s really known what to do with it. It’s now the city’s blank canvas — taking on whatever determined city residents think it should. There are art shows, polo matches, miniature golf tournaments. There’s been talk of gondolas and restoration projects and a sprawling park. The island’s odd little history is well-drawn in this New Yorker piece
from last August by Nick Paumgarten.
On Tuesday comes news, however, that at least one prominent NYC voice is pushing the city to hold the upcoming trial of alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed on Governors Island. Click here
for the story, from the NYT’s Clyde Haberman.
According to Haberman, Julie Menin, the chairwoman of Community Board 1, whose primary concern is Lower Manhattan but whose jurisdiction includes Governors Island, is unhappy with the DOJ’s current plan: to host the trials in the federal courthouse at Foley Square. Writes Haberman:
Security arrangements will be fierce. So will the cost, estimated at $200 million a year. Lower Manhattan will be turned into an armed camp. Normal life will be an oxymoron, possibly for several years, for people in a part of town still feeling the effects of 9/11. Many there will live in fear of new attacks.
In Menin’s mind, Governors Island makes more sense. A resolution urging the Justice Department to consider that possibility was passed unanimously last week by the community board’s executive committee and is expected to be approved by the full board on Tuesday.
“Governors Island, with its 200-year military history, presents an interesting compromise between those Republicans who want to have this in a military tribunal and those Democrats who want to see it in a federal courthouse,” Menin said.
Will it happen. So far, the betting money’s against it. Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly sounded interested at first, but then backed away, citing practical concerns raised by federal officials. City Hall has not embraced it, either.
O.K., Ms. Menin said, if not Governors Island, how about other potentially secure sites that lie within range? Among possibilities that she mentioned were Stewart Air National Guard Base in Newburgh, and the United States Military Academy at West Point.
Her real goal, she said, is to encourage “out-of-the-box thinking” about what to do with those we intend to put in the box. “Why don’t we open the door to looking at a whole range of sites?” she said.
Where, she added, is it written that a trial must take place in a traditional courtroom setting? “What creates a federal courthouse is where the sitting judge presides,” she said.
WSJ Law Blog
Massey Coal Revisited: When Should a Judge Have to Recuse Himself?
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Last Post Jan 26th, 2010 09:10 AM
, by WSJ Law Blog
Let’s stay on the campaign-finance-and-the-law topic for a moment, and examine it not through the Citizens United lens, but through the lens of the Supreme Court’s second most recent ruling on financing campaigns: its Massey Coal decision
from last June.
In Massey Coal, the Supreme Court ruled that a justice on the West Virginia Supreme Court, Brent Benjamin (pictured), shouldn’t have participated in decisions overturning a $50 million judgment against Massey Coal, whose chief executive had been a major financial supporter of the justice’s campaign for office. At the time, wrote the WSJ’s Nathan Koppel in this post
, “the decision effectively creates a new constitutional recusal standard for judges who take contributions to fund their election campaigns.”
So how have states fared in crafting rules that comply with the Massey Coal decision? It’s the topic of a Koppel-authored article
in the Journal today. States are responding to Massey Coal, Koppel writes. But are they going far enough? Recent examples from Wisconsin and Nevada show that some states are reluctant to force judges to disqualify themselves from cases solely because they have received large contributions.
About 10 states, including California and Texas, have proposed new judicial-disqualification rules in the wake of Massey Coal. But overhaul efforts have met resistance from judges and businesses who oppose restraints on judges’ ability to raise campaign funds and on voters’ rights to financially support favored candidates. Critics say an array of people would be less likely to donate to campaigns should these types of laws be put on the books.
Last Thursday, Wisconsin, for instance, rebuffed calls for recusal when contributions exceed a certain amount. The state’s Supreme Court amended the state’s Code of Judicial Conduct to specify that judges were not required to step aside in cases based solely on the fact that they have received lawful campaign contributions or expenditures from parties involved in the case. The court rejected competing proposals that would have required disqualification if judges had received contributions of $1,000 or $10,000 from parties.
In written comments supporting the state’s new disqualification standards, Supreme Court Justice David Prosser Jr. said it would be improper to “deprive citizens who lawfully contribute to judicial campaigns…of access to the judges they help elect.”
Andrea Kaminski, executive director of the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin, says the state court’s decision not to require recusals will “further erode the public’s confidence in the courts.” As it stands, she says, “contributions are not automatically grounds for recusal, no matter how much is spent.”
WSJ Law Blog
More on 'Catch 22′ — Plot Thickens in Huge FCPA Shakedown
Replies: 0, Views: 445
Last Post Jan 25th, 2010 07:30 PM
, by WSJ Law Blog
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Last week’s big decision — Citizens United — was undeniably huge. But it’s probably fair to say that of equal or greater importance, certainly to white-collar practitioners, was news of the indictments and arrests of 22 individuals in Las Vegas and Miami, alleging violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, the Comeback Statute of the 2000s.
What to make of this development? We’ve got a bit to say about it. For now, we’d just like to catch you up on the news from last Tuesday, as well as later last week, which saw a fascinating development in the case. Tuesday, we’ll deliver a Part II, in which we’ll give a little broader context on what this means for all those who practice in this area and, well, for all those doing business abroad.
For now, a recap: Back in May, according to indictments unveiled last week, federal authorities carried out a huge sting operation involving three undercover operators.
The operation unfolded over two days at the Mandarin Hotel in Miami and then a few days later in Washington. A parade of executives of small and mid-sized arms companies sat down with the undercover team, which was made up of one agent posing as a representative of the defense minister of an unidentified African nation and a second agent posing as a procurement officer who reported directly to the defense minister. The third person, identified in the indictments as “Individual 1,” was a former executive in the law enforcement and military equipment industry who, it seems, was used partly to lend credibility to the operation. Click here
for the NYT story on the unveiling of the indictments. Refer to this post
on the FCPA blog to get copies of the indictments.
In any event, over and over again, the executives who sat down with the undercover team allegedly agreed to pay bribes to the defense minister in order to win munitions contracts with the African nation.
The DOJ’s press release on the bust puts it this way:
The indictments allege that the defendants engaged in a scheme to pay bribes to the minister of defense for a country in Africa. In fact, the scheme was part of the undercover operation, with no actual involvement from any minister of defense. As part of the undercover operation, the defendants allegedly agreed to pay a 20 percent “commission” to a sales agent who the defendants believed represented the minister of defense for a country in Africa in order to win a portion of a $15 million deal to outfit the country’s presidential guard. In reality, the “sales agent” was an undercover FBI agent.
Now, on Friday, the DOJ (led by Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer (pictured)) filed a separate document up in Washington that moved the story forward. A criminal information named Richard Bistrong, a former vice president for international sales at Armor Holdings, a Jacksonville manufacturer that BAE purchased back in 2007, of paying bribes to secure contracts from 2001 to 2006.
In its charges against Bistrong, the DOJ has alleged that from 2001 through 2006, he and others concealed about $4.4 million in payments to agents and other intermediaries who helped Armor Products obtain business from “foreign government customers” in Nigeria and the Netherlands.
According to this NYT story
, people briefed on the broader investigation confirmed that Bistrong was also the key intermediary identified as “Individual 1″ in the sting operation made public last Tuesday. It doesn’t a genius to put together that Bistrong’s extensive cooperation with the government was likely undertaken in order to get himself some sort of favorable plea deal. As the NYT’s Diana Henriques writes, criminal informations are often filed when a defendant has waived indictment and is homing in on a plea deal.
John Suttle, senior vice president for corporate communications at the American unit of BAE, confirmed to Henriques that Bistrong had been employed at Armor and said he was fired before BAE acquired the company in 2007. Armor had “disclosed this to the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission,” he added.
So what to make of the case against the 22 individuals? Well, reading over just the indictment gives the impression that the government has a good case.
That said, lawyers tell us that for an FCPA case, the operation is unusual both in its complexity and scope. And the fact that it’s uncommon could benefit the defendants, says Wendy Wysong
, a partner at Clifford Chance in Washington not involved in the case.
Wysong says the government here is taking on quite a bit, perhaps more than it can chew. She foresees many separate trials, trials that won’t necessarily be easy for the government to win, partly because of the defenses that naturally get raised in cases like these.
“Because this is all the result of undercover work, the entrapment defense will invariably come into play,” she says. “The government is going to have to show that these individuals were predisposed to this [criminal behavior]. It’s going to be hard given such a complex set of facts.”
WSJ Law Blog
IP Rights: Conan Walks Away With $32.5 Million, but There’s No Triumph
Replies: 0, Views: 458
Last Post Jan 25th, 2010 01:10 PM
, by WSJ Law Blog
Unless you’re just awakening form a cryogenic deep freeze
, you know that Conan O’Brien is leaving NBC and the Tonight Show. You also likely know that O’Brien is taking a lot with him: namely, some $32.5 million.
But you might know a bit less about what O’Brien isn’t taking with him: namely, a whole bunch of potentially valuable intellectual property that will stay with NBC.
Gone, for now, are the IP rights to several characters created during his 17-year run with the network. Some of the beloved characters include Triumph the Insult Comic Dog (pictured), Pimpbot 5000, and that bear who, well, is not the master of his own domain. Click here
for the story, from the American Lawyer.
According to AmLaw, lawyers for NBC aren’t talking. Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher partner Scott Edelman, who advised NBC on the O’Brien negotiations, declined to comment on the agreement. AmLaw didn’t hear from either of Conan’s lawyers, Leigh Brecheen at Bloom Hergott Diemer Rosenthal LaViolette Feldman & Goodman or Patricia Glaser, from Glaser, Weil, Fink, Jacobs, Howard & Shapiro.
But are Triumph et. al actually properties that NBC could possibly do something with? Not necessarily. “It’s not a good deal for NBC because those characters are so tied to Conan, they really don’t fit with anybody else,” says Bassam “Sam” Ibrahim, an IP partner at Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney. “The only goal [NBC] can hope to achieve is to somehow hinder Conan’s ability to compete with Leno at another station.”
Ibrahim, however, told AmLaw that Conan might have som wiggle-room. “Conan will tweak his characters so they are clearly distinguishable, although the underlying concept is the same, because NBC can’t prevent him from going out and making a living by creating competing characters,” Ibrahim says.
Some possibilities, such as the self-pleasuring peacock, have already been bandied about, reports AmLaw. Ibrahim says that any court will give the comedian wide latitude because of First Amendment rights to expression.
WSJ Law Blog
Wall Street Moving Cash Into NY Attorney General’s Race
Replies: 0, Views: 408
Last Post Jan 25th, 2010 11:10 AM
, by WSJ Law Blog
Is it too soon to talk about who might follow Andrew Cuomo as New York’s attorney general?
We think not. Nor does the WSJ’s Kate Kelly, who took a look over the weekend
at three leading candidates, and sheds some light on where they fall vis-a-vis Wall Street. The answer: they’re not pointing fingers. Kelly writes that “some of the likeliest contenders are taking a surprisingly conciliatory tone toward Wall Street, blaming its messes more on a broken system than a culture of greed.”
Is it a smart move? Well, yes, it seems, given that Wall Street is playing a leading role in filling the candidates’ war chests. One candidate, Eric Dinallo (pictured), who resigned as New York insurance commissioner last year and now teaches ethics at New York University’s business school, raised nearly $1.8 million in the period ended Jan. 11. Hundreds of thousands of dollars came from contributors connected to Wall Street, including hedge-fund manager David Einhorn, J.P. Morgan Chase Vice Chairman James Lee, and U.S. pay czar Kenneth Feinberg.
But Dinallo (Vassar, NYU Law) is by no means running away with the fundraising contest. Plaintiff’s lawyer Sean Coffey (Navy, Georgetown) got about $1.7 million in contributions, while Nassau County, N.Y., District Attorney Kathleen Rice (Catholic U, Touro Law) collected about $1.4 million. Both Coffey and Rice received much smaller percentages of their money from Wall Street than did Dinallo, reports Kelly.
According to Kelly, the race is wide open, with at least a dozen potential candidates, the top three of which are Democrats. Wall Street, reports Kelly, is taking notice, even if it isn’t taking much heat from current or potential candidates to succeed Cuomo, who hasn’t formally announced plans to run for New York governor, but is widely expected to.
Coffey, a former Navy pilot who won $6 billion for investors in the failed telecommunications company WorldCom while a member of the Bernstien Litowitz firm, was described in a magazine article that followed his victory as “Wall Street’s New Nemesis.” He said in an interview that his reputation “is not going to be an albatross around my neck in this election.”
Not long ago, Dinallo’s words struck fear and anger into the hearts of Wall Street. As bureau chief of Spitzer’s investor-protection division in the early 2000s, he pushed for using a New York law called the Martin Act to expose fraud. The move cleared the way for aggressive cases that helped rid the industry of disingenuous stock research and the practice of “spinning,” or directing hot-stock shares in exchange for financing business, on Wall Street.
In 2003, Mr. Dinallo became a lawyer at Morgan Stanley, then had a post in the insurance industry before taking over as New York’s top insurance regulator in 2007.
And what to make of Dinallo’s Wall Street fundraising efforts so far? Eric Pan, a corporate- and securities-law professor at Cardozo, said even Spitzer “would be uncomfortable if [he] got a lot of money from Wall Street in the current environment.” Still, given Dinallo’s record as insurance commissioner, he “should not be perceived to be in the back pocket of Wall Street.”
WSJ Law Blog
Backlash! Gearing Up for the Response to Citizens United
Replies: 0, Views: 458
Last Post Jan 25th, 2010 09:10 AM
, by WSJ Law Blog
It’s been more than a few hours since our last post. Still, we just can’t seem to shake this Citizens United decision, which will certainly find its way into the next editions of casebooks around the country and could go down as one of the most significant of the Roberts era and. For background, click here
The latest: Perhaps spurred by President Obama’s rather angry words last week
concerning the decision, Democrats on Capitol Hill are exploring ways to counter the ruling’s potential impact. Writing in Monday’s WSJ, Jess Bravin and Brody Mullins say the case could hand congressional Democrats
a populist issue to stem a Republican tide rising on public anger.
To recap: The court last week ruled 5-4 that corporations may spend freely to support or oppose candidates for president and Congress. The ruling eases decades-old limits on their participation in federal campaigns.
What might possible legislation look like? It could, write Bravin and Mullins, include requiring corporations to obtain shareholder approval before funding political advertisements and blocking companies from deducting election spending as a business expense on their taxes.
Another proposal, borrowed from existing rules for political candidates, is requiring “the CEO of the corporation to make a declaration at the end of an ad saying, ‘I’m the CEO of X Corp. and I approved this ad,’ ” said Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D., Md.), who heads the House Democrats’ campaign committee.
Democrats hope to paint the Republican position as favoring “even more big money and corporate special interests influencing the outcome of elections,” Van Hollen said. “That should be a wake-up call to many in the Tea Party movement,” who, as in last week’s Senate election in Massachusetts, have flocked to Republican candidates, he said.
Brian Walsh, a spokesman for the Senate Republican campaign arm, said Democrats are putting their partisan interests ahead of the “constitutional right to free speech and fair elections.”
And what about John McCain, who co-authored co-authored the bipartisan 2002 McCain-Feingold act cracking down on corporate electioneering? He’s not looking to mount anothe rcharge. He said Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation” that little could be done. “The Supreme Court has spoken,” he said, predicting “an inundation of special-interest money into political campaigns.”
Both Senate and House committees plan hearings next month on the decision, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.
WSJ Law Blog
IQPC: European Legal Technology Forum (January 2010, London)
Replies: 0, Views: 471
Last Post Jan 25th, 2010 03:14 AM
, by forum_admin
UPDATE: CANCELLED EVENT
Start Date 25-Jan-2010
End Date 28-Jan-2010
Venue: Grand Connaught Rooms
Country: United Kingdom
Category: Information Technology, Law
European Legal Technology Forum is the leading event that will gather Europe’s top law firm and corporate legal department stakeholders together, at a single platform, to discuss the latest technologies and techniques, thereby sharpening and streamlining the law firm or legal department in a downturn. It will be an opportunity to network with industry leaders, to share experience and understand how to effectively store, manage and disclose information, to avoid unnecessary litigation and ensure compliance. The conference, featuring expert minds in legal technology from across Europe, will enable the delegates to hear the most up-to-date tips for managing information and learning how to maximise control and efficiency in a global legal environment. It would also provide effective ideas on managing documents in multiple languages, time zones, currencies and characters.
European Legal Technology Forum 2010 will spotlight on numerous crucial topics, like:
- Information Governance and Compliance: multinational records management at UBS
- Implementing a successful electronic archiving policy and system
- Conducting international investigations: managing cross border e-disclosure and data transfers
- E-disclosure litigation readiness planning
- Controlling legal costs by understanding legal spend: increasing transparency through e-billing
- Managing, controlling and discovering information across the enterprise
- Maximising the business value of knowledge management
The targeted visitors at European Legal Technology Forum 2010 conference are senior professionals from the following sectors:
- Legal Technology
- Legal Administration
- Legal Operations
- Legal Business Services
- Electronic Discovery
- Legal Expense Control
- Information and Records
- Case/Matter Management
- Information Systems
- Knowledge Management
What the Smart-erotti Are Saying About Citizens United
Replies: 0, Views: 654
Last Post Jan 22nd, 2010 06:10 PM
, by WSJ Law Blog
The legal story of the week, if not the month or year so far, concerns Thursday’s Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United. In fact, we’d say that there’s a better than average chance that once you’re finished talking Colts/Jets with folks this weekend, conversation will turn to the ruling that may have fundamentally changed American politics forever (or unless and until the court revisits the issue).
With that in mind, below are a handful of talking points you might refer to, if needed, from around the blogosphere. For background, click here
for our recap of the decision.
The WSJ’s editorial board
Freedom has had its best week in many years. On Tuesday, Massachusetts put a Senate check on a reckless Congress, and yesterday the Supreme Court issued a landmark decision supporting free political speech by overturning some of Congress’s more intrusive limits on election spending. In a season of marauding government, the Constitution rides to the rescue one more time.
The NYT’s editorial board:
With a single, disastrous 5-to-4 ruling, the Supreme Court has thrust politics back to the robber-baron era of the 19th century. Disingenuously waving the flag of the First Amendment, the court’s conservative majority has paved the way for corporations to use their vast treasuries to overwhelm elections and intimidate elected officials into doing their bidding.
Congress must act immediately to limit the damage of this radical decision, which strikes at the heart of democracy.
Harvard’s Lawrence Lessig
, at the Huffington Post
Whatever else one believes about the Supreme Court’s decision striking down limits on corporate speech in the context of political campaigns, there’s one thing no credible commentator could assert: That money bought this result. We can disagree with the Court’s view of the Framers (and I do); we can criticize its application of stare decisis (as any honest lawyer should); and we can stand dumbfounded by its tone-deaf understanding of the nature of corruption (as anyone living in the real world of politics must). But we cannot say that somehow, the influence of money has produced this extraordinary result. The Court jealously guards its own institutional integrity. . . . Thursday’s decision by the Supreme Court denies to Congress the same institutional integrity enjoyed by the Court. The vast majority of Americans already believe that money buys results in Congress. This Court’s decision will only make that worse.Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick
[Justice] Kennedy’s visceral terror of speech bans (the word “ban” appears 29 times in his 57-page opinion) and “censorship” seems to override any sort of temperate assessment of either the facts of the case before him, the lack of substantial record in the lower courts, the significance of the cases he is overruling, or the consequences of today’s opinion. Perhaps because this is the same Anthony Kennedy who was so exquisitely sensitive to the corrupting influence of money on public confidence in judicial elections in the Caperton case about judicial corruption, it’s hard to comprehend what it is about unlimited corporate contributions that so moves him.
Slate’s Glenn Greenwald:
Critics emphasize that the Court’s ruling will produce very bad outcomes: primarily that it will severely exacerbate the problem of corporate influence in our democracy. Even if this is true, it’s not really relevant. Either the First Amendment allows these speech restrictions or it doesn’t. In general, a law that violates the Constitution can’t be upheld because the law produces good outcomes (or because its invalidation would produce bad outcomes).
One of the central lessons of the Bush era should have been that illegal or unconstitutional actions — warrantless eavesdropping, torture, unilateral Presidential programs — can’t be justified because of the allegedly good results they produce (Protecting us from the Terrorists). The “rule of law” means we faithfully apply it in ways that produce outcomes we like and outcomes we don’t like.
Rick Hasen, author of the Election Law Blog, writing at Huffington Post
Today’s Supreme Court opinion marks a very bad day for American democracy, and one that was totally avoidable. Make no mistake: the Supreme Court had ample ways (I count at least six) to have avoided deciding the issues in the case. The case will affect not just Congress, but also state and local races, including judicial elections. In no elections will corporate or labor union spending limits be constitutional.
Institute for Justice’s Paul Sherman, writing at the National Review’s Bench Memos
The ruling represents a tremendous victory for free speech and a serious blow to proponents of campaign-finance “reform,” who have roundly denounced the ruling and have all but predicted the downfall of the Republic as a result. But the reformers’ rhetoric is just that; the Court’s ruling will simply result in a more diverse mix of political speech, and that is a good thing for American democracy.
The ruling in Citizens United is a straightforward application of basic First Amendment principles: “When Government seeks to use its full power . . . to command where a person may get his or her information or what distrusted source he or she may not hear, it uses censorship to control thought. This is unlawful. The First Amendment confirms the freedom to think for ourselves.”
That’s it, LBers. Have a good weekend. Go Colts, Geaux Saints!
WSJ Law Blog
Are Obama’s Bank Reform Proposals Good News for Lawyers?
Replies: 0, Views: 476
Last Post Jan 22nd, 2010 03:20 PM
, by WSJ Law Blog
The stock market sure didn’t respond well to President Obama’s calls on Thursday to regulate the size and activities of the nation’s largest banks. (The Dow Jones was down over 213 points).
But how did lawyers respond? From what we’ve seen so far, it was a mixed bag. Allen & Overy’s Doug Landy
, the head of the firms’ U.S. bank regulatory practice, isn’t a fan.
In an email to the Law Blog, Landy wrote:
The Obama proposal on limiting bank size and principal activities is a troubling concept that is neither supported by the evidence of the causes of the credit crisis nor well designed to prevent future systemic risk issues. If either being a large bank, or engaging in agency and principal activities in the same entity, were so inherently risky as to require banishment, every European bank would be collapsing as we speak.
Fair enough. But will the move bring work for lawyers? It seems likely. After all, regulatory overhauls send industry brass running for legal advice. And that, of course, helps lawyers. According to this story
out Friday in Lawyer, Obama’s plans have banking and regulatory lawyers gearing up for a flood of work.
According to the Lawyer, potential changes include placing a limit on the size of banks and preventing deposit-taking banks from “owning, investing in or sponsoring” hedge funds or private equity groups.
Clifford Chance banking regulation partner Chris Bates
said the news could re-shape the banking landscape.
“Banks in five years’ time will not look like they do now,” he said. “What’s clear is that they won’t be structured as they used to be, and if they do have to restructure it’ll mean a large amount of work for lawyers.”
As far as what the work will look like, Bates was circumspect. For now. “The striking thing is how little detail there is around the proposal. A liability cap is interesting, but the thing is what level they set the cap at.”
Another London lawyer with experience advising on banking restructuring agreed that the final terms of any legislation might not be as wide ranging or as harsh as the initial proposals suggest.
“If I was a betting man I would go out and buy bank shares,” he said. “The proposals could be read in a number of different ways and some are quite narrow.”
WSJ Law Blog
Going Hostile: Boies & Co. Attack Motivations of Prop. 8 Backers
Replies: 0, Views: 429
Last Post Jan 22nd, 2010 09:10 AM
, by WSJ Law Blog
With everything that’s gone on the past two weeks — Citizens United, Haiti, an election in Massachusetts — it’s perhaps easy to forget that a little trial out in San Francisco involving prominent lawyers and the hottest of hot-button cultural issues is well underway.
But the trial over the constitutionality of California’s Proposition 8 is wrapping up its second week of testimony. How’s it gone? The Journal’s Geoffrey Fowler on Friday weighs in
with a snapshot of Thursday’s proceedings, in which opponents of same-sex marriage argued that a California ban on gay marriage was motivated by hostility toward gays and lesbians, rendering the law unconstitutional. The defense is expected to begin its portion of the case on Friday. Click here
for previous LB coverage of the Prop. 8 trial.
In support of their argument, the plaintiffs on Thursday called to the stand a hostile witness
who had asked to be dismissed as a defendant in the case because he feared for his safety.
During the campaign for Proposition 8, Hak-Shing William Tam had likened gay marriage to legalizing prostitution and sex with children. On the stand, Tam said he wasn’t hostile to gays, but believed they are more likely to molest children.
The maneuver was part of the plaintiffs’ strategy: to argue that the law not only harms gays and lesbians, but was driven by a hatred of them. “We are putting discrimination against gays and lesbians on trial. We are showing what the human costs of that discrimination are,” said David Boies, one of the lawyers representing the pro-gay-marriage side. “Every citizen has the right to decide for themselves what is moral, but no group of citizens has the right to discriminate against a minority.”
The plaintiffs hope that, plus the personal testimonies, could help make their case that the ban is unconstitutional, in part, because the law singles out a particular group of people.
The defense has labeled much of the plaintiffs’ testimony so far as irrelevant. “Most of what we have heard belongs in the public debate over a campaign,” he added, “but should not be used in a courtroom to interpret constitutional rights.”
When the defense begins its portion of the trial as soon as Friday, said Andrew Pugno, the lawyer for ProtectMarriage.com, it will likely put on the stand experts who will testify that traditional definitions of marriage have special benefit for children that can’t be duplicated by relationships between same-sex couples.
“We do not have to show that same-sex marriage would harm traditional marriage—but just that traditional marriage is a reasonable tool to promote the public’s interest,” said Pugno.
WSJ Law Blog
Long Island proposed law would slam drug dealers in fatal overdoses
Replies: 0, Views: 523
Last Post Jan 22nd, 2010 06:39 AM
, by forum_admin
A dealer who sells drugs that contribute to a fatal overdose could face a far more severe legal penalty under a bill proposed Thursday in response to the scourge of heroin on Long Island.
The measure would allow prosecutors to level a sterner second-degree manslaughter charge against any adult with a previous drug conviction who gives or sells drugs to someone who dies after using them.