Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Wrongly arrested activist awarded $249K in fees

Lawyers who took up the case of a political activist who claimed wrongful arrest have been awarded $249,000 in fees and costs.

A U.S. District Court judge in Tacoma made the award last week in the case of Philip Chinn. Washington State Patrol troopers arrested Chinn for driving under the influence in 2007 as he was on his way to Aberdeen for an antiwar protest, but he passed a field sobriety test and a blood screen later came back negative.

Chinn sued, saying that his arrest was part of a plan to keep activists away from the protest, and his lawyers obtained records showing that an "attempt to locate" bulletin went out because his car carried "three identified anarchists."

The state patrol, city of Aberdeen and Grays Harbor County are paying $169,000 to Chinn as part of a settlement. Chinn's attorneys - including the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington and other lawyers who worked on the case - will receive the legal fees and costs.


SEC Agrees to Pay Aguirre $755,000 Over His Firing

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission will pay $755,000 to a former enforcement attorney who said the agency unjustly fired him after he tried to investigate insider-trading allegations involving former Morgan Stanley Chief Executive Officer John Mack.

Gary Aguirre will be paid $649,100 plus attorneys’ fees totaling $105,900 to resolve allegations he was a victim of whistleblower retaliation, according to a Merit Systems Protection Board settlement released today. The total covers more than four years of salary Aguirre would have received if he hadn’t been fired by the SEC in September 2005.

Aguirre complained during congressional testimony in 2006 that supervisors blocked his investigation of Mack because of the executive’s stature in the financial industry. The accord with Aguirre concludes an embarrassing period for the SEC in which Senators Charles Grassley and Arlen Specter ordered senior officials to testify and accused the agency of showing deference to Wall Street, former SEC attorney Jacob Frenkel said.

“This is the agency putting a difficult chapter behind it,” said Frenkel, who’s now at law firm Shulman Rogers Gandal Pordy & Ecker in Potomac, Maryland.
Aguirre, 70, said he suspected that Pequot Capital Management Inc. illegally profited from trading on information Mack provided before joining Morgan Stanley in June 2005. Mack denied wrongdoing when he was questioned by the SEC in August 2006. The agency closed its probe of the CEO three months later.

Pequot Probe

The SEC later opened a second investigation of Pequot that focused on whether the hedge fund illegally profited in 2001 by obtaining market-moving tips about Microsoft Corp.

Pequot and its founder, Arthur Samberg, agreed in May to pay almost $28 million to settle claims they received inside information about expected Microsoft earnings from an employee at the software company who was about to join Pequot.
The resolution of the Pequot case made it possible for Aguirre to reach an accord with the SEC, he said today in a telephone interview.

“I wanted to demonstrate one way or another that the SEC had made a huge mistake in closing down this investigation,” he said. “Getting them to come clean, that was the victory.”

Mack, who remains chairman of Morgan Stanley after stepping down as CEO in December, repeatedly denied wrongdoing. Samberg and Pequot didn’t admit or deny wrongdoing in settling the case.


Aguirre didn’t “work effectively with other staff members” and was unwilling “to operate within the SEC process,” then-SEC Enforcement Director Linda Thomsen said in his 2005 termination notice. He was fired six days before his one-year anniversary at the SEC, when he was a probationary employee and thus easier to terminate.

Thomsen submitted the termination notice less than two weeks after Aguirre got a raise increasing his salary by $3,853 to $134,110. Aguirre also received a performance evaluation in June 2005 that said his work was acceptable.

SEC enforcement attorney Mark Kreitman, who was Aguirre’s supervisor, said he signed off on the pay increase because “his staff was underpaid and wanted them to get what money was available,” according to a 2008 report by SEC Inspector General H. David Kotz. Kreitman said he had “serious reservations” about Aguirre, according to Kotz’s report.

“The settlement with Mr. Aguirre shows that the SEC is finally acknowledging its mistake,” Specter, a Pennsylvania Democrat, said in a statement.

‘Global’ Accord

The accord is “global,” meaning it resolves all current disputes between Aguirre and the agency, and any future grievances that may arise. Aguirre agreed to never apply for another job at the agency.

The agreement isn’t an admission by the SEC that Aguirre’s claims had merit, according to the settlement filing. The resolution “reflects the agency’s determination to focus on its core mission of protecting investors,” SEC spokesman John Nester said.

Kotz concluded the SEC mishandled Aguirre’s firing. Aguirre’s supervisors didn’t provide timely feedback when they had concerns about his conduct, denying him the chance to change his behavior, said Kotz, who conducted his review of the termination at the request of Grassley, an Iowa Republican.

Specter and Grassley released a report in August 2007 that concluded the main reason the SEC didn’t question Mack earlier was because of his “prominent position on Wall Street” and connections his lawyers had with senior SEC officials. Aguirre’s pursuit of his testimony was “reasonable,” it said.

“The stated reasons for his termination simply do not hold up under close scrutiny, leaving the Mack dispute as the more persuasive explanation,” the report said.

--Editors: Gregory Mott, David Scheer

To contact the reporter on this story: Jesse Westbrook in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Lawrence Roberts at

By Jesse Westbrook

Source: BusinessWeek

Monday, June 28, 2010

Frank McCourt adds to his team -- of lawyers

Houston-based Stephen Susman, considered one of the best in the country, will be on Frank McCourt's side for the case that will determine ownership of the Dodgers.

Frank McCourt has added a star trial lawyer to his legal team, ensuring that a nationally prominent attorney will lead each side in the battle for ownership of the Dodgers.

Stephen Susman, a Houston-based attorney ranked by several legal publications as one of the premier trial lawyers in the country, is the latest addition to the all-star teams representing McCourt and his estranged wife, Jamie, in divorce proceedings.

"It's like having your best athletes take the field," said Loyola Law School professor and legal commentator Laurie Levenson. "You'll see the best fight possible."

In January, the Business Insider website listed Susman and David Boies, who would argue against him at trial on behalf of Jamie McCourt, as two of the 11 American attorneys "you definitely don't want to see across the aisle."

Neither Susman nor Boies, the New York-based attorney perhaps best known for beating Microsoft in an antitrust suit and representing Al Gore in the aftermath of the 2000 election, practices family law.

"This isn't just another family law case," Levenson said. "In its own way, it's the family law case of the century."

Lynn Soodik, a Santa Monica lawyer who represented Meg Ryan in her divorce, said attorneys outside the family law field "almost never" work on a divorce. Each of the McCourts has retained one of the most renowned family law attorneys in Los Angeles — Sorrell Trope on behalf of Frank, Dennis Wasser on behalf of Jamie.

"Neither of these attorneys would ever say, 'I need to hire someone else,' " Soodik said. "It's definitely client-driven."

The core of the McCourt case revolves around the validity of an agreement that specifies the Dodgers belong solely to Frank McCourt, rather than to the couple jointly. The Dodgers represent more than half of what would be the couple's net worth, according to court documents.

The win-at-all-costs approach on both sides is reflected in attorney fees. In March, The Times reported that total fees for the case could approach $19 million, which would make the divorce one of the costliest in California history. That figure was based on court filings that did not yet reflect the involvement of Boies or Susman, who charges $1,100 an hour, according to a 2008 story in the American Bar Assn. Journal. The story noted that Susman does not bill all of his clients by the hour.

Marc Seltzer, a partner in Susman's Los Angeles office, has worked with Trope in representing Frank McCourt.

"It was always understood that, if the case got close to trial, I would be the lead counsel," Susman said. "It was time for me to get involved."

The trial is set to start Aug. 30. Susman said "everyone" hopes a settlement can be reached.

"I would not think they're going to settle," Soodik said. "When you hire someone of that caliber, it's because you're going to trial."

Susman said he has teamed with Boies on occasion, including a current case in which the two are representing commercial fishermen harmed by the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Susman said he could recall facing Boies in two trials, with each lawyer winning one.

"This is the tiebreaker," Susman said.

By Bill Shaikin,

Source: Los Angeles Times

States Weigh Big Claims Against BP

Gulf Coast states are gearing up to follow shrimpers and hotel owners in seeking payouts from BP PLC for lost revenue and other damages stemming from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

The demands could far exceed the $305 million BP has already given the states of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida to help pay cleanup costs, promote tourism and begin building sand berms off the coast of Louisiana, state officials say. Lawyers advising the states said they would eventually seek multi-billion dollar payouts, but it was still too early to give a tally.

BP declined to comment on the states' legal strategies. The British oil company agreed nearly two weeks ago to honor claims for damages and lost business revenue from individuals and businesses through a $20 billion, independent compensation fund administered by Kenneth Feinberg, the Washington, D.C.,-based lawyer and arbitration expert.

The fund is also meant to cover payments for states and localities to defray cleanup costs, but not necessarily claims for the larger economic damages that Florida and the other states plan to present directly to BP, the state's representatives said.

"We don't want to in anyway diminish that fund," said Steve Yerrid, an attorney picked by Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, a Republican, as a special counsel for the oil spill. Mr. Yerrid met Friday with Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum to discuss the state's strategy. "We are looking at much more global and larger losses to the state, which would be covered separately," he said.

Mr Yerrid is assembling a team of private attorneys to prepare for what he predicts will be "a very large reparations request." The other Gulf states have similar efforts underway—and have held talks with each other—although the legal strategies among them differ.

Florida intends to seek payments from BP to cover lost tax revenue, unemployed workers and other damages to the state's coastal economy, Mr. Yerrid said.

He and Mr. McCollum said the state hopes to avoid costly and time-consuming litigation and plans to seek periodic payments, like those that some businesses are already receiving, starting sometime this summer. "We think the state's losses are going to be very large, and that we shouldn't have to wait for final payment," Mr. McCollum said.

Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood has sought advice from state university researchers, economists and lawyers to assess the environmental and economic damage the spill has caused to the state.

Mr. Hood said the process could take three or more years before he could present BP with the final bill because the issues aren't straightforward. For instance, hotel capacity along the coast may be similar to last year's but rooms now are occupied by clean-up workers instead of money-spending tourists.

Mississippi has already received $25 million from BP to pay for costs from the spill and another $25 million for its local governments that are grappling with an array of economic issues brought on by the slick that has washed ashore.

"We're first going to ask BP to pay what we can come up with and hopefully we can negotiate with them," Mr. Hood said. "But I'm losing faith quickly."

His advance planning includes strategies for a lawsuit against BP in state court. "I certainly don't want to be thrown into the mix with thousands of other claims" in federal courts, Mr. Hood said.

Louisiana's attorney general's office has hired plaintiff attorney Brad Marten of Seattle, who represented Alaska in the Exxon Valdez oil-spill litigation. Mr. Marten did not return calls for comment.

Texas, which has not been hit by any oil from the spill, is nonetheless "considering any and all possible legal avenues regarding the oil spill," said Jerry Strickland, a spokesman for Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott.

Mr. Abbott sued BP after a deadly 2005 explosion at BP's Texas City refinery. "Much like our legal challenge there, Texas in this case won't hire private lawyers but will handle possible future litigation in house with lawyers from our office," Mr. Strickland said.

BP faces exposure far from the Gulf itself. Eleven Atlantic Coast states, hundreds of miles away from the spill, have sent letters to BP and the other companies involved with the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, asking them to preserve documents tied to the spill and appoint a liaison with between the companies and the attorneys general.

The attorneys general are arguing that their states' migratory birds and marine animals that spend part of their lives in Gulf waters affected by the spill will have major consequences for all shoreline states. "Even without oil actually reaching the Connecticut shoreline, this massive oil spill could still impose damage and destruction to the entire Atlantic coastline," Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said in a statement.

By Neil King Jr,; Dionne Searcey,; Vanessa O'Connell, vanessa.o'


Sunday, June 27, 2010

How to File a Wisconsin Personal Injury Claim

Bringing a personal injury claim for injuries sustained in a Wisconsin car accident can be a long and frustrating process. An experienced Wisconsin injury attorney can assist the injury victim in obtaining the highest possible recovery for their injuries.

This article provides individuals that have been injured in an accident in Wisconsin with an outline of the 7 general phases of a Wisconsin car accident personal injury claim.

1. Investigation and Documentation of Claim

Once a case is discussed and signed up by a Wisconsin personal injury lawyer, he/she will dive further into the case to determine who is at fault, whether or not there were any new injuries caused by the accident, and if there is insurance (uninsured and under insured coverage is now mandatory in Wisconsin) or other funds available for recovery.

The attorney may hire an accident investigator to examine the vehicles involved, document any evidence at the scene of the accident, take photos of the evidence and interview any witnesses to the collision. The attorney will also gather any relevant medical records from before the accident and subsequent to the accident. Pre-existing conditions are also researched in order to determine if the accident-related injuries are aggravations of pre-existing conditions.

The attorney will also request and examine all relevant insurance coverage documentation for the at-fault parties including the owner of the vehicle, driver, and employer in order to determine all possible coverages that may be available to the injured party such as Wisconsin required liability polices, umbrella policies, uninsured motorist coverage and under insured motorist coverage (which are now required in Wisconsin), health insurance policies, and medical payments coverage.

2. Demand Phase

Once the attorney has determined there is a valid claim and the injured party has reached maximum medical improvement, a demand package is then prepared by the attorney on behalf of the injury victim. The package can consist of the following documents: accident report, photos of the vehicle/accident scene, property damage report, EMS report, ER records, doctor reports, diagnostic tests, medical bills, prior medical records, final medical evaluation, expert witness reports, witness statements, evaluation of future medical expenses, and an evaluation of loss of future earning capacity.

The demand package begins with a letter from the injury victim's lawyer summarizing the case for the insurance company. The demand will usually state an amount the injured party is willing to accept in order to avoid a lawsuit against the at-fault party.

3. Negotiation Phase

Once the insurance company receives, and has had a chance to review, the demand package, the company will usually make an initial offer to settle the case. In the event the offer is the maximum coverage available, often the client and attorney will decide to accept it. After the initial offer, the attorney begins negotiating. Offers can go back and forth until either the offer is accepted by the client or a lawsuit is filed.

It is important to understand that there are advantages to settling a claim before filing a lawsuit in Wisconsin. Some basic advantages include less attorney fees, less case costs, quick availability of cash, less stress, and a guaranteed outcome.

4. Litigation Phase

If the highest offer made by the insurance company is rejected by the client, the next phase in the personal injury claim process is to file a lawsuit in the Wisconsin court system. The attorney will file the complaint and have it served upon the parties responsible for the accident and injuries.

After the lawsuit is filed and served upon all responsible parties, the attorney proceeds with the discovery phase, which can include written interrogatories, depositions, subpoenas, and motions with the court.

5. Mediation Phase

Mediation is typically ordered by the judge presiding over the case. Mediation is an informal dispute resolution process, where both sides come together with a mediator (typically a retired judge) to attempt to settle the case without going to trial.

Each side gets time to explain their understanding of the case and present exhibits to the mediator. Shortly after, the defendant and their attorney go into one room and the plaintiff and their attorney go into another room. The mediator will go between the rooms in an attempt to settle the claim. If a settlement is reached, the insurance company will usually send the monetary recovery within 2-3 weeks and the Wisconsin lawsuit is ended.

6. Trial Phase

If a settlement is not reached during mediation, then the attorneys inform the judge and a trial date is typically assigned. A jury will be assembled and given the task of determining who was at fault in causing the collision and how much money will make the injured party whole for all of their harms and losses caused by the collision.

Trials can last a few days to a few weeks based on how many witnesses must testify. The injury victims has the burden of proving liability and damages.

7. Appeal Stage

Both parties maintain the right to appeal the verdict or trial court rulings. The Wisconsin appeals process usually takes years and oftentimes leads to a new trial, at which time the process begins anew.

Wisconsin Car Accident Attorney Randy Rozek is an author of various Consumer Guides providing free information to Wisconsin injury victims. Wisconsin car accident victims can order their free copy of the Guide to Wisconsin Car Accidents by visiting the firm's website,

by Randall Rozek


With the help of A Public Records Check You can Find All The Information You'll Need

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Occasionally it can be alarming to take into account what a particular person may well locate out about you in merely a couple of minutes for the web. For the other hand typically you can find numerous benefits to figuring out what is going to display. Typically, the capacity to do a public records verify has made it a whole lot simpler for any particular person to uncover dirt on anybody.

For more information and guidance to help you check public records safely and effectively we recommend visiting public records check web sites in order to get some assistance.

by Andres A Golden


Thursday, June 24, 2010

Attorneys: Producer will surrender to US court

A reality television producer accused of killing his wife in Mexico will surrender to a U.S. court if necessary, his lawyers said Thursday.

Attorneys Richard Hirsch and Vicki Podberesky statement blasted Mexican investigators and again professed that their client, Bruce Beresford-Redman, is innocent.

"He is prepared to surrender himself to the United States Federal Court should extradition proceedings be initiated, and his counsel have contacted the appropriate federal authorities to apprise them of this," the statement read.

The comments came a day after a Mexican official told The Associated Press the country had formally asked the United States to extradite Beresford-Redman. A Mexican judge has issued an arrest warrant for the former "Survivor" producer in the killing of his wife, Monica, whose body was found in a sewer at an upscale Cancun resort in April.

"The news, if true, is troubling and confirms our belief that the investigation into Monica's death has not been conducted in an objective, reasonable and exhaustive manner," the attorneys' statement said.

Mexican authorities asked Beresford-Redman to remain in the country until they concluded their investigation, but the producer returned to the Los Angeles area. Hirsch has said his client was not required to remain in Mexico.

He has also said Beresford-Redman will fight extradition.

The family of Monica Beresford-Redman has said the couple went to Cancun to try to save their marriage. They claim Bruce Beresford-Redman, who is also the co-creator of the series "Pimp My Ride," was having a long-term affair.

By The Associated Press

Source: Google News

Jackson MD lawyers: Vegas deal makes license safe

The Nevada medical license of Michael Jackson's former physician is safe under an agreement struck with prosecutors on a back child support case, the doctor's lawyers said Thursday,

Attorneys Kristine Brewer and Robert Blau said they reached an accord with the Clark County district attorney's office to settle the child support issue, and Dr. Conrad Murray won't have to appear for a Friday hearing before a Clark County Family Court officer in Las Vegas.

"A payment has been made and the license suspension has been withdrawn," Blau said.

Brewer and Blau declined to disclose the amount paid and other terms of the deal until they appear before a hearing officer on Murray's behalf to finalize the deal. The hearing comes on the one-year anniversary of Jackson's death in Los Angeles.

Chief Deputy Clark County District Attorney Gerard Costantian, the Family Court prosecutor handling Murray's case, declined comment until after the hearing.

Murray, 57, had faced the loss of his license to practice medicine in Nevada under a state law that provides for suspension of professional licenses for nonpayment of child support. He has cardiology practices in Las Vegas and Houston.

Murray's medical license is restricted in California, Nevada and Texas by orders prohibiting him from administering the anesthetic drug blamed in Jackson's death. He told Los Angeles police he administered the anesthetic propofol to Jackson to help the pop star sleep.

Murray has remained free on $75,000 bail pending trial on a felony involuntary manslaughter charge in Los Angeles in Jackson's death.

His attorneys have argued that Murray needs to be able to work to pay his child support obligation and his legal fees.

Murray reached an agreement last November with the mother of his 12-year-old son in California to begin paying $1,003 per month in child support. But Costantin said in May that Murray still owed about $16,000 in back child support, and Nevada was obligated to ensure he made good on the debt.

Murray's license to practice in his home state of Nevada remained clouded after he lost a bid last month to get a judge in California's Santa Clara County to sign off on the agreement with the woman.

By The Associated Press

Source: Google News

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Lawyers feud over $2m

Lawyers are fighting over legal settlements and fees involving the fatal Big Dig tunnel collapse and the Clark Rockefeller kidnapping case.

High-profile lawyer Jeffrey Denner has been sued by a former colleague who claims he’s owed at least $1.75 million for rounding up a number of clients for their Boston firm.

Timothy J. Bradl, who worked as an attorney at Denner’s firm for nearly four years, said in his lawsuilt, filed in Suffolk Superior Court, that Denner and other partners failed to pay him as stipulated in his contract with Denner Pellegrino LLP.

A former Suffolk County assistant district attorney, Bradl claims in his suit that it was his contacts that brought the 2006 Big Dig tragedy to the high-profile firm, after Milena Del Valle was killed by a ceiling collapse within a tunnel.

“Despite his origination of the ceiling collapse case for the firm, which was specifically acknowledged by attorney Denner on various occasions, attorney Bradl was frozen out of the handling of this case and was not provided information about its status,” the lawsuit says.

The wrongful-death case was settled for $28.1 million, split among a number of plaintiffs and attorneys. Denner represented Angel Del Valle, the victim’s husband.

Bradl, who could not be reached for comment, also claimed in the lawsuit that he helped to lure the 2008 Clark Rockefeller case to the firm - which represented the mysterious German father and aristocrat imposter who briefly kidnapped his own daughter.

In an interview, Denner denied his firm owes any money to Bradl - and, if anything, Bradl owes the firm funds due to “advanced money” allegedly paid to him.

“This is a frivolous lawsuit,” said Denner.

He said that it’s “absolutely untrue” Bradl brought the Big Dig case to his firm. Denner said Bradl was properly paid for all of his work.

By Jay Fitzgerald


Felon: Burge accuser tried to recruit me

A convicted felon testified today that one of former Chicago Police Cmdr. Jon Burge's accusers told him that he was never abused and asked him to recruit others to falsely say they were tortured at Area 2.

Ricky Shaw, who is at the tail end of a 50-year sentence for armed robbery, said Melvin Jones made the admission when they were both housed at Cook County Jail in the late 1980s.

Shaw, his shackled hands and feet hidden from jurors, said Jones had asked him if he was arrested at Area 2. When Shaw said he wasn't, Jones told him he could have had a "case" if he had been arrested there.

"He [Jones] said he was never abused. He never got electroshocked, but that were other people who had already made the claim. He said he had lawyers and everybody dying to get on the case, that there were movie deals and book deals," Shaw said, dressed in an orange jumpsuit.

Shaw said Jones asked him and Aaron Patterson, another eventual Burge accuser, to screen new arrivals at the jail and get them to say they were abused at Area 2.

In 1992, Shaw said he talked to assistant cook county state's attorneys to tell them about about false police abuse claims by Patterson but admitted he never mentioned what Jones had told him because investigators "never asked."

Patterson was eventually freed from Death Row in 2003 because of his claims against Burge.

During cross examination, Assistant U.S. Attorney David Weisman pointed out that Shaw has been disciplined for lying at the various prisons he has been incarcerated in across the United States. In 2000, he was reprimanded for giving false information to an employee, telling officers about a hit that never panned out, Weisman said.

Two other times, he lied about staff smuggling in contraband into the jail, Weisman said.

Burge's attorney, William Gamboney, said there were at least two instances in which Shaw told prison officials about infractions that led to convictions.

Last month, Jones testified that Burge had placed a cocked gun to his head, hit him with a stapler and electroshocked him when questioning him about a murder.

Jones was charged with unlawful use of a weapon related to the 1982 arrest but was never charged with murder. The late 50s man is homeless and said he never profited from his claims.

Earlier today, Burge -- who is facing trial on federal perjury and obstruction of justice charges tied to the abuse allegations from Jones' and four others -- finished testifying in his own defense.

Weisman spent most of an hour going over Burge's interrogation techniques and questioning him about how much he lied to suspects to obtain confessions.

Burge had testified that detectives lie to suspects all the time, but, under Weisman's cross-examination today, he said he would lie "occasionally" to suspects -- and asked Weisman why he was making a big deal over a common legal practice.

"Are you proud of your reputation of taking the law into your own hands?" Weisman asked Burge.

"That's like asking when you stopped beating your wife," Burge replied. "I'm proud of my reputation -- but not for taking the law into my own hands, counselor."

Weisman then asked Burge if that was true, why did he name his boat "Vigilante."

Burge -- who said his first two boats were named "Seaspray" and "Sealove" -- said he got the name "Vigilante" from a computer generated list of names that hadn't been used for boats.

As he did last week, Burge denied ever beating criminal suspects repeatedly this morning.

By Rummana Hussain, Staff Reporter


Monday, June 21, 2010

Rwanda frees US lawyer 'on health grounds': attorney

A Rwandan court Thursday freed on health grounds Peter Erlinder, a US lawyer detained on charges of denying the 1994 Tutsi genocide, one of his attorneys said.

"Professor Peter Erlinder has just been freed on health grounds. We produced reports and medical certificates proving that he is really ill," Jean-Bosco Kazungu, one of Erlinder's four-man legal team told AFP.

"The only condition that the court set was that he should leave an address in Rwanda where the prosecution can reach him if they need him," Kazungu said.

"He will be able to return to the US tomorrow (Friday) once he has left that address."

Erlinder, who is defending a suspected genocide mastermind at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), was arrested on May 28, after travelling to Rwanda on a different assignment to defend opposition figure Victoire Ingabire, also accused of denying the genocide.

The ICTR in Arusha had on Wednesday urged Kigali to immediately release Erlinder.

Rwanda's attorney general Martin Ngoga had said Rwanda was prosecuting Erlinder, who is a professor at William Mitchell College of Law, in St. Paul, Minnesota, for "denying the genocide, in what he writes and what he says".

Known for his hostility to the current Rwandan government, Erlinder frequently accuses the ICTR prosecution of covering up crimes committed in 1994 by the Rwandan Patriotic Front of President Paul Kagame.

In April, Erlinder, with another US attorney Kurt P. Kerns, filed a civil lawsuit against Kagame alleging the Rwandan president was responsible for triggering the genocide in which 800,000 people died, mainly Tutsis.

Source: Google News

Pillsbury Winthrop Hires Lawyers From Nixon Peabody

Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP, a San Francisco-based law firm, said it plans to hire as many as 20 corporate attorneys from law firm Nixon Peabody LLP, at least the third group to leave that firm since May 1.

The attorneys, who are joining Pillsbury Winthrop’s New York office, include Mats G. Carlston, former head of the global finance practice at Boston-based Nixon Peabody. Carlston will lead the leveraged-finance group at his new firm.

Others in the group specialize in private-equity, municipal-finance and distressed-investing law. Seven have agreed to move, and others are negotiating, according to Pillsbury’s chairman.

“This is significant for us because it’s very strategic,” James M. Rishwain Jr., the chairman, said yesterday in a telephone interview. “The financial-institutions practice is one of Pillsbury’s core strengths. This group enhances our capabilities in that area.”

DLA Piper LLP announced in May that four partners from Nixon Peabody were joining the 3,500-lawyer firm to direct a sports transactional practice. DLA hired three more partners from the firm two weeks later.

The group joining Pillsbury, a 700-lawyer firm with 14 offices, currently includes five partners and two counsel, and the number probably will reach 15 to 20 including associates, Rishwain said. Counsel and associates are salaried attorneys.

Shared Culture

“You do not see too many opportunities where practice groups move from firm to firm,” he said. “They share our values, our culture and our approach.”

The group also has common clients with Pillsbury, including BNP Paribas SA, Wells Fargo & Co. and Bank of America Corp., Rishwain said.

“These departures will have a net positive impact on Nixon Peabody’s 2010 financial results,” said Allison McClain, a Nixon Peabody spokeswoman. The firm recently hired several “lateral” attorneys, including finance partners. She said 14 lawyers are leaving.

Rishwain said he canceled a flight from New York to Los Angeles several months ago so he and Carlston could talk the next morning. The recruiting effort started over breakfast at the W hotel in Midtown Manhattan.

Nixon Peabody has 800 attorneys in 17 cities, according to the firm’s website.

By Carlyn Kolker,

Source: BusinessWeek

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

House committee approves hiring lawyers for Gulf oil spill cases

he debate over whether to allow Attorney General Buddy Caldwell to hire private attorneys on contingency for Gulf oil spill lawsuits is far from resolved. But the idea, which has resurrected the rivalry between the plaintiffs bar and the business lobby, passed muster Monday in a House committee, which forwarded a significantly altered version of Senate Bill 731 to the full House.

Though more amendments are likely, the House is expected to approve the Civil Law and Procedure Committee's concept, which limits the contingency authority to cases stemming directly from the Deepwater Horizon oil leak and includes lower caps on attorneys fees than the Senate version approved last week. Perhaps even more financially significant, the House version excludes from any contingency calculations natural resource damage claims that could be covered under existing federal environmental laws.

Caldwell and Senate President Joel Chaisson II, meanwhile, prefer the Senate version, arguing that Louisiana should not limit its ability to attract top lawyers in the current or future disasters. Though details vary among states, Wisconsin is the only other state that does not allow its attorney general any latitude in hiring lawyers on contingency.

"It's like we've got a sling shot trying to take down a big ol' giant," Caldwell said.

Chaisson said settling natural resource claims -- the anchor of any harm the state would ascribe to BP and other corporate defendants -- under the federal Oil Pollution Act would mean "we are just going to trust BP and the federal government ... after what they've done to this state."

The divide between the two chambers virtually assures a showdown in a compromise committee of senators and representatives that will likely include Chaisson, D-Destrehan, and House Speaker Jim Tucker, R-Algiers, who has been involved behind the scenes in reshaping the bill as it moves through the lower chamber. Despite his opposition to the committee changes, Chaisson made it clear he wanted the bill to move forward, ensuring that he will get a conference committee before the session's June 21 end.

Stephen Waguespack, legal adviser to Gov. Bobby Jindal, said the his boss would not support "carte blanche authority to hire lawyers on contingency" but wants to allow Caldwell that power in Deepwater Horizon litigation. Waguespack indicated that the governor, who would typically align with the business lobby in any tort law discussion, will not wade into debate on the bill's finer provisions.

The significance of the debate was clear in the hearing's four-hour duration -- spread over a morning and evening session -- and in the procession of business lobbyists who opposed the bill, calling it a prelude to predatory lawsuits. "Contingency fee contracts send a cold chill up and down the spine of Louisiana businesses," said Chuck McMains, a former legislator representing the U.S. Chamber.

BP is a member of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry.

McMains and his colleagues argued the state should hire attorneys on an hourly basis, as do defendants in most civil cases.

Chaisson, a lawyer, mocked that assertion given the impending state budget cuts and estimates that the government's oil spill litigation could run up a $100 million tab. Caldwell has already hired a handful of firms on an hourly basis for an initial discovery request, but said he cannot afford to sustain those agreements long-term.

Chaisson and other lawyer-legislators who represent plaintiffs in civil cases added passionate defenses of their roles in the marketplace and the tort system.

Rep. John Bel Edwards, D-Amite, noted that most of his clients are suing businesses or individuals "in a vastly superior financial position," meaning they cannot afford the up-front costs of expensive court cases. Edwards said, "I see no difference in (those cases and) the state's relationship to BP."

McMains angered some lawmakers when he alluded to "pay-to-play schemes" in other states and distributed copies of campaign finance documents that show Caldwell has received tens of thousands of dollars in contributions and loans from lawyers and firms he has hired on an hourly basis to represent the state. McMains argued unsuccessfully for an amendment that would bar contingency fee contract winners from donating to an attorney general.

Edwards called it "offensive" for McMains to suggest "that plaintiffs attorneys are more susceptible to corruption" than any other state contractors who give to political campaigns.

Chaisson said, "It's ridiculous that we have to sit here and beg because of some amorphous claims of corruption."

By Bill Barrow,


Federal judge declines to stay Ronnie Lee Gardner's execution

Condemned killer Ronnie Lee Gardner moved one day closer to the firing squad after losing another round in court.

A federal judge denied Gardner's latest request for a stay of execution Tuesday evening, saying his lawyers offered no new evidence that his commutation hearing last week was conducted unfairly.

Attorney Andrew Parnes argued the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole did not comply with fundamental principles of due process in holding the two-day hearing in which it deemed Gardner's death sentence is "not inappropriate."

Parnes contends the role of lawyers in the Utah Attorney General's Office as both criminal prosecutors and advisers to the board is an inherent conflict of interest. He made the same argument last week in seeking to postpone the execution date.

Gardner is scheduled to die shortly after midnight Thursday (early Friday).

In denying the stay, Judge Tena Campbell, as she did before, said she did not see the likelihood of Gardner winning should she call for a full hearing on the issues Parnes raised.

"There simply is nothing new that I did not have before me last week," Campbell said.

Outside the courthouse, Parnes said he will now take his arguments to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. The Utah Supreme Court on Monday also denied Gardner's request for a stay.

"No court yet has given him that full and fair adjudication that he is entitled to," Parnes said.

During Tuesday's hearing, assistant attorney general David Wolf said there is no conflict of interest between attorneys in the criminal appeals division and those who work for the board of pardons. The attorney general's office sent out a memo advising them to not discuss the case and cited affidavits from those attorneys saying they did not talk about anything "substantive."

"That could be accurate," Parnes said. "I don't know."

The only way to know, he said, would be to postpone Gardner's execution to allow time for a hearing.

Parnes noted that the "ethical screen" wasn't put in place until two months after the state filed for Gardner's execution warrant, leaving attorneys free to talk to each other during that time. He argued that Gardner is entitled to know the nature of any discussions.

Gardner's application contends no screen can ensure the state's lawyers don't have divided loyalties. "They all work for the same agency that prosecutes crimes and 'battles killers' in order to 'push executions to conclusion.' "

On his website, Attorney General Mark Shurtleff says his job is to "battle killers such as Ronnie Lee Gardner" and touts having pushed through two previous executions.

Gardner was sentenced to death in November 1985 for shooting and killing defense attorney Michael Burdell in April of that year. Gardner was in court on charges stemming from the murder of bartender Melvyn Otterstrom when he attempted to escape from guards and, with a gun slipped to him by an accomplice, killed Burdell and wounded court bailiff George "Nick" Kirk.

Asked after the hearing how Gardner is doing, Parnes said he is in good spirits.

"He is handling this as well as could be expected," he said. "He's basically dealing with it."

By Dennis Romboy

Source: Deseret News

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Rule would bar lawyers' 'false statements' about the system

A commercial for a law firm alleging that divorce courts are unfairly stacked against fathers has prompted a proposal that many lawyers say would violate their free speech rights.

The proposal would prohibit lawyers from knowingly making false statements about the judicial system.

The attorneys say the proposed amendment to the Utah State Court Rules of Professional Conduct is overly broad and too vague. They question who would decide if a statement is false when a lawyer directs criticism at the judicial branch in general, rather than at an individual judge.

"By discouraging criticism of an imperfect system (no system is perfect), the judicial system stands to lose critical information that can help it improve," wrote lawyers with the Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel, who were speaking for themselves, not the Legislature.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Utah said it would be difficult for a lawyer to determine the truth or falsity made about a "system."

At the close of the comment period on Monday, the proposal to change Rule 8.2 -- posted at -- had no online defenders. Several lawyers who commented on the rule change online said they were not told about the reasons behind it.

Lawyer Michael Coombs said the change has "enormous potential to be used for great mischief and harm." Attorney R. Clayton Huntsman said attempting to regulate comment "smacks of totalitarianism and repression."

And attorney Charles Schultz asked: "Before they are permitted to enter a court building, will lawyers be required to kneel, and give thanks for being permitted to associate with such a holy and venerated institution as the judicial system?"

Rick Schwermer, assistant administrator of the Administrative Office of the Courts, said the amendment was drafted by a subcommittee of the Supreme Court's Advisory Committee on the Rules of Professional Conduct.

The Supreme Court has not seen the proposal, Schwermer said, and taking comments is just the first step in the process. The amended rule will go to the advisory committee, which could forward it to the high court as written, rewrite it or drop it.

The amendment also encourages attorneys to defend the judicial system when it is unjustly criticized.

Utah State Bar President Stephen Owens said the group's leadership has not taken a stand on the issue yet.

"I have been contacted by several members of the bar concerned about the potentially overly broad language of the rule change," Owens said.

He also said, "In general, as officers of the court, lawyers are expected to respect our judicial system and its judges."

Proposed rule amendment

A proposal has been made to amend a professional conduct rule governing attorney behavior. The proposed additions to Rule 8.2 are in italics.

Rule 8.2. Judicial Officials.

(a) A lawyer shall not make a public statement that the lawyer knows to be false or with reckless disregard as to its truth or falsity concerning the judicial system, or the qualifications or integrity of a judge, an adjudicatory officer or a candidate for election or appointment to judicial office.

(b) A lawyer who is a candidate for judicial office shall comply with the applicable provisions of the Code of Judicial Conduct.


[1] Assessments by lawyers are relied on in evaluating the professional or personal fitness of persons being considered for election or appointment to judicial office. Expressing honest and candid opinions on such matters contributes to improving the administration of justice. Conversely, false statements by a lawyer can unfairly undermine public confidence in the administration of justice.

[2] When a lawyer seeks judicial office, the lawyer should be bound by applicable limitations on political activity.

[3] To maintain the fair and independent administration of justice, lawyers are encouraged to continue traditional efforts to defend judges, and courts, and the judicial system whenever they are unjustly criticized.

[3a] Utah has not adopted ABA Model Rule 8.2 because the Utah Rule 8.2 provides appropriate protection to the judiciary.

By Pamela Manson, The Salt Lake Tribune

Source: Salt Lake Tribune

Fla. Attorney Clashes With Prison Guards Over Bra Ban

When it came to wearing her bra into a Miami detention center, one dedicated lawyer was banned if she did and banned if she didn't.

Attorney Brittney Horstman was attempting to meet with a client at the Miami Federal Detention Center on June 4 when her underwire bra triggered the dreaded beeping of a metal detector. Though she reminded security guards of a memo from the Florida Public Defender's Office that allowed female attorneys to enter with underwire, Horstman was still turned away.

Instead of leaving defeated, the former public defender decided to take matters into her own hands, shedding her bra in the restroom and returning to the security checkpoint in her blouse and suit. This time she was barred for her bralessness, which guards said violated the dress code's mandate that visitors not dress in a way that is "provocative [or] enticing."

"Simply because I was a woman who wore a specific bra, my client was denied access to his attorney today,'' Horstman wrote in an e-mail to fellow lawyers after the incident, according to The Miami Herald. "This is completely unacceptable.''

Horstman won praise from a colleague, Carmen Vizcaino, who wrote back: "You are a true defense attorney taking your bra off to try to see your client in jail!''

"Betcha none of the guys have done that for their clients," she added.

Horstman's bra battle also caught the attention of the legal blog Above the Law, which today named her its "Lawyer of the Day."

But Horstman won't likely have to shop for elusive nonunderwire undergarments anytime soon, as the issue was apparently resolved between the warden and the Federal Public Defender's Office.

"The incident, while regrettable and unfortunate, appears to be an aberration,'' Michael Caruso, the public defender's chief assistant, told the Herald, adding that the warden "conducted her own inquiry ... [and] resolved the situation to our satisfaction, and she said it won't happen again."

Despite the steamy Florida weather, Horstman would be advised to refrain from shorts, sundresses or wraparound skirts this summer -- they are all strictly prohibited by the detention center's dress code.

By Michelle Ruiz


Monday, June 14, 2010

Life insurance for a small business

If you are the holder or the shareholder of a small business life insurance can become very much efficiency duty. Life insurance will help your small business to avoid undesirable losses from the unforseen causes.

The majority of people considers that life insurance is necessary only for their family and them. They wish to ensure financial safety of the future. They do not suspect that their small business too requires life insurance.

Some persons in common possess and operate one, two, three or more small businesses. For example, there was a tragical circumstance -- one of holders has suddenly deceased. Its successors can not want to take their share fraction in board. The reasons happen different: there is not enough formation, a problem with health, absence of interest to the given business etc.

The situation is possible also when the large part of the capital of the holder is connected with the company. In this case even if successors will express desire to have share fraction of the company it rather possibly is necessary to sell shares. For example, to divide the inheritance with other successors or to pay death duties.

Probably, other holders of business will not want to divide management of the company with successors.

Exit can become -- Buy-Sell Agreements. This agreement is reached between all holders of a small business. The agreement provides that if one of holders dies, other holders have the guaranteed right to take shares of the died holder under the set price.

Probably, also to acquire -- Whole Life insurance policies on a life of each holder. Other holders will be considered in this case as beneficiaries. When one of them dies, other holders collect insurance policy incomes. Usually, insurance premiums beneficiaries they are paid it is fast. As a rule, within 60 days after registration of their statement. The cash bonus can be used for purchase at successors of their share fractions. In case of resignation of one of holders or leading employees the insurance policy is transmitted to it as a resignation bonus. This fine decision of a problem with control preservation over the company.

The small business companies can have one or some persons which are key figures in operation of the company. If one of such partners dies or becomes invalid, its life policy ensures stability of the company and business. The cash bonus will help business to work successfully while to the place of the died partner will not find worthy replacement.

Key-person insurance reliably protects company funds, its solvency and solvency if the key employee (one of holders, the main shareholder, the lead manager etc.) dies or to become invalid. Key-person insurance ensures reliability of functioning of your business. Besides, very often potential creditors and investors require Key-person insurance for vip persons of the company. It partially guarantees return of their credits and investments.

That it is necessary to make before purchase Key-person insurance the policy:

1. To conduct an estimation of key persons of the company.

2. To advance cost Key-person insurance the policy.

3. To create business-continuation plan (this plan contains possible actions of the company, in case of loss of insured employees).

Whole Life insurance the policy is the good warranty of stability of business. Term Life insurance unlike Whole Life insurance the policy can expire the policy ahead of time necessary for restoration of stable work of business.

If you wish to be assured of reliable functioning of your small business and to guarantee its stability and prosperity use -- Life insurance. Now in the Internet without the big work it is possible to find the necessary information on life insurance. To find reliable social insurance agents or brokers offering optimum alternatives of life insurance for a small business.

Learn more about problems of insurance in the USA. How correctly to choose the insurer and how to receive the best insurance policy. How to save money on insurance --


Saturday, June 12, 2010

Life insurance for charity

Many Americanness endow money for the charitable purposes. In our company many unsolved problems. Serious illnesses, bad formation, consequences of acts of nature and accidents, environmental pollution, defect of food, a victim of wars etc. We see round ourselves a lot of injustice and we are afflicted, if not we can help and the decision of these problems. The majority of people considers that rich people can render to welfare institutions considerable aid only. But it not so.

Life insurance an effective method to render charity. Even people with the low income can essentially help welfare institutions. This method is favourable both that who accepts charity, and that who carries out it.

The first that you should make -- to purchase an insurance policy and to do insurance premiums.

You should not establish the direct trust with all costs which are connected with if it not something that you like to make. Insurance Gifting does not require the same constant attention which some other forms of investments do. There are some methods with which you can establish charitable instalments at life insurance use.

When you become the invalid or die, life insurance could become self-completing gift.

It is possible to give the inheritance on your death. Life insurance incomes will be paid to your mercy without any federal tax of a condition to which due, whether you have the policy, or mercy does.

Otherwise should have the life policy and to name your favourite mercy as the beneficiary on the policy. If you are interested that circumstances in your family could be changed, you can name also your mercy as the casual or revocable beneficiary. It still gives you management and flexibility. Incomes of the policy will pass free from gift taxes just as conditions.

You can give also to your favourite mercy an existing insurance policy which you already have. Probably you have some life policies of distinction. Each, probably, has been purchased during the various periods in your life to satisfy certain requirements at that time, type for your childrens formation or the deposit. Some of your requirements could not be pertinent more. You can give the policy to your favourite mercy. You be able take charitable subtraction of the donation on your profitable taxes in number of a fair commercial value of an insurance policy when you have transmitted the policy to mercy. Any insurance premiums which you pay, can -- also the franchise.

Other method to offer to mercy consists in offering your dividends of an insurance policy if you receive them in cash. It is economic and very effective method to make the charitable donation and to receive subtraction on your profitable taxes.

There are many reasons why use of insurance for charitable granting is useful.

While insurance premiums are paid, deadly benefit is guaranteed, guaranteeing that your favourite mercy will be paid. The quantity mercy will be received, -- motionless quantity.

Using life insurance for gifting also means that you can give большее quantity than, differently would be possible through instalment payments. The person can pay bonus cost which is rather inexpensive annual cost and to give to their mercy much more the big benefit in exchange. It is possible to give a bolshy gift, without diluting or compromising the control of investments or family business. Also assets which are advanced for benefit of a family, can remain intact.

Gifting the life policy -- also self-completing gift. That it means, -- if you become invalids or die, the gift can still remain in a place. Some insurance policies will refuse the bonus equestrian when the person becomes invalids. Also on your death even if there was only one bonus made payment, the welfare institution will still receive a complete gift. Deadly incomes of benefit which mercy receives also, are not subordinated to transmit expenses, a brokerage fee of the broker, administrative and probate expenses. They also are not subordinated to a condition or federal incomes to taxes.

Giving mercy to the big gift through life insurance, because of its contractual character, it is impossible to throw down effectively a challenge any unfortunate successors. There is no restriction of charters or probing the gifts made through life insurance even when is made within a short time of death of the donator.

The essential gifts made by means of life insurance can be saved also private and confidential if you so choose. They not a probate part of your fortune thus are not present any public report.

Receive useful and a trustworthy information about insurance in the USA. With its help you do not make errors at insurance policy purchase. Visit on a site --


Thursday, June 10, 2010

You Can Start a Law Firm Right Out of School


Use this time wisely. Sit and write out a business plan, outlining budgets and goals for the foreseeable future. Start networking: Establish a network of lawyers and judges to serve as mentors and advisors. Attend as many recent law school graduate events as you can find.

Interview for attorney positions at other firms. Going on interviews will give you a chance to meet with more experienced lawyers face to face and ask questions about how their successful firm is run. The information gathered on these interviews can prove vital in the development stages of your own firm. It will also keep your mind sharp as you engage in legal debate, and will help you stay updated on the latest legal trends. Additionally, it gives you an opportunity to make an impression on the experienced lawyers so that the next time you see each other at a networking event, or need to place a phone call to each other, they are likely to remember you and take a meeting or a phone call.


Most bar associations, such as the New York City Bar, New York State Bar Association, New York County Lawyers' Association and the American Bar Association are free or heavily discounted for the first year after being admitted to practice.

A newly admitted lawyer should become a member of as many of these groups as possible and take advantage of all the benefits of membership. Most bar associations offer the chance to network with other lawyers, access to their extensive legal libraries, including subscriptions to Westlaw and LexisNexis, and even a place to meet with clients in a professional setting.


The most difficult obstacle to overcome when starting a firm soon after completing law school is learning new practice skills.

In a typical law firm setting, senior associates and partners would train newer and junior associates on the proper methods and standard practices. If you start a firm right out of school, however, you need to be more proactive.

For example, if you want to focus your firm around litigation, spend a few days at the local courthouse. Befriend the employees who work behind the counters along with other courthouse staff; they are usually glad to show a respectful young attorney how to properly fill out and file paperwork. In a few minutes they may show you more about how the court system works than you learned in your entire law school career.

Also observe other lawyers in court, and watch closely as they interact with their clients, judges and opposing counsel. Try to accompany a veteran lawyer to court for an afternoon; there are many seasoned attorneys who welcome the chance to help a young motivated esquire.

If you would like to focus your new practice on transactional work, consider volunteering at a local bar association, which may train volunteer attorneys on certain matters in exchange for taking on a certain number of cases pro bono.

As a recent student you are more likely to be comfortable asking for help from a mentor. Contact your law school's alumni department and local bar associations to inquire about mentorship programs. There is no reason for you to repeat other attorneys' mistakes, so seek out other lawyers who have also started their own firms and don't be afraid to ask for their advice. Having an established attorney mentor can be invaluable.


Once you, a new attorney, take the steps and open the doors to a law firm, you must not let established attorneys intimidate you. There are lawyers with over 20 years of experience who still get things wrong on a regular basis.

When speaking to opposing counsel, do not feel intimidated by the other lawyer's experience. If something feels out of place and the opposing counsel may be wrong, you must double check and say something.

Newly admitted attorneys are no longer just lowly law students; they are members of the bar and need to act like it. Clients will not see your monthly bills piling up, nor do they care about school debt. By having your own law firm, a client will view you as a successful professional and entrepreneur who has achieved a certain status.

It is your name on the door; you should not feel like a lesser attorney.


For a new law firm to succeed in New York City it must do more than just good legal work: The partners will need to generate business. They must draw attention to themselves and their name.

Become a member of your law school's alumni association. Have an announcement printed about the new firm in the most recent alumni newsletter.

Use all available technologies to establish the firm's presence on the Internet. Consider taking time and starting a blog about an up-and-coming legal subject, offering elementary advice while giving readers contact information to follow up with questions.

Explore all marketing options through social networks such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. These are cost effective ways to establish a brand.

Older attorneys and more established law firms tend to be slow to adopt the newest trends and use them to their benefit. While these tools may not land a Fortune 500 company as a client, it's a great place to start to build a client base.

Do not limit clients to one geographical area. Many established firms are slow to expand beyond their city limits. By traveling to meet a client outside of the immediate area, a firm shows a commitment to that client. As a result, the client will be more likely to recommend the firm to friends and colleagues.

Use all available resources in order to achieve the goal. A young lawyer should not hesitate to call an older family friend for a favor or press a friend for a referral.

Many established attorneys and larger firms routinely turn away clients that cannot afford their fees or matters that to them are small. You can call and befriend established practitioners and see if they can refer the smaller cases and potential clients that cannot afford their fees to you. As a new law firm, you will not have the overhead costs of larger firms and as a result can handle the matter for a smaller fee and still make a profit.

Opening a law firm is more than a job; it is a lifestyle. While you may not always be sitting at your desk or in court, you are always working. Every person you meet should be seen as a potential referral or future client.


If you are a recent law school graduate and certain that you want to open your own law firm right now, then going to work for a different law firm only postpones your dreams.

Most attorneys never achieve their goal of opening their own firm, and as the years go by their careers take on a different path. When they are finally ready to leave positions at larger firms and establish their own, they have families and mortgages and are unable to take the risk.

When considering whether this is the right choice for you, remember the words of hockey legend Wayne Gretzky: "You miss 100 percent of the shots you don't take."

If you, as a newly minted law school graduate, have the right attitude, confidence and skills, and put in the amount of work necessary to succeed, you can achieve your goal of opening a law firm directly from law school.

By Adam Seth Turkis, a founding partner of the Manhattan law firm Turk & Davidoff.


Lawyers: Accused Somali pirates didn't rob US ship

Piracy charges against six Somali nationals should be dismissed because the defendants did not take over or rob the U.S. Navy ship they are accused of attacking, lawyers for the men argue.

The defendants are being held for trial in Norfolk on piracy and other charges related to an April 10 attack on the USS Ashland in the Gulf of Aden off Somalia's pirate-infested coast. Their skiff was destroyed during the encounter.

"The parties dispute what prompted the USS Ashland to destroy the small vessel," the attorneys argued in a motion filed in U.S. District Court in Norfolk. "But there is absolutely no dispute that the defendants did not take control of the USS Ashland, did not board her, and did not successfully obtain anything of value from her."

The motion cites an 1820 court case that defines piracy as the seizing and robbing of a vessel at sea. The attorneys said there is no evidence the six men took control of or robbed the ship.

The government said Thursday it would respond to the motion in court.

The six defendants accused in the attack on the amphibious dock landing ship are among 11 Somali men captured by the Navy off the coast of Africa. Five were caught March 31 after the frigate USS Nicholas exchanged fire with a suspected pirate vessel west of the Seychelles.

Each man is charged with piracy, attacks to plunder a vessel, assault with a dangerous weapon and other weapons counts. Piracy carries a mandatory life sentence. All 11 have pleaded not guilty.

The Ashland and Nicholas, both based in Virginia within 20 miles of the courthouse, were part of an international flotilla protecting shipping in the region.

The 11 had been held on U.S. ships for weeks as officials decided whether and where they could be prosecuted. They settled on Norfolk.

The motion to dismiss was among several filed by a Wednesday deadline. One attorney also asked to move the trial, saying a fair jury couldn't be seated in the Navy town of Norfolk. Another states the men who were in the skiff destroyed by the Ashland were ferrying refugees and were not engaged in piracy.

In a separate filing posted electronically Thursday, lawyers for the Ashland defendants seek dismissal based on destruction of evidence: crew members destroyed the skiff that carried the accused with 25mm rounds.

Attorneys for the six said the skiff, which sank, contained "serious exculpatory value." That evidence was not detailed in the filing.

The six accused in the Ashland attack are scheduled to be tried Oct. 19. The trial of the accused Nicholas pirates is scheduled to begin Sept. 8, also in Norfolk.

The defendants are being held in a regional jail outside Norfolk.

By Steve Szkotak (AP)

Source: Google News

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Insurance companies of the USA

What insurance company to choose? In article the brief review of the insurance companies which are present in the insurance market of the United States of America is presented.

During a life you, your family and your property are exposed to various risks. Illnesses, traumas, fires, hurricanes, thefts etc. The best way to secure, the family and the property -- insurance.

You have decided to buy an insurance policy. One of the first questions: "What insurance company to choose?" We shall try to help you.

The companies are subdivided into 2 groups:

• LIFE insurance companies, which sell life insurance, annuities and pensions products.
• NON-LIFE, General, or Property/Casualty insurance companies, which sell other types of insurance.

The main reason for the distinction between the two types of company is that life, annuity, and pension business is very long-term in nature coverage for life insurance or a pension can cover risks over many decades.

NON-LIFE insurance companies can be further divided into these sub categories:

• Standard Lines
• Excess Lines.

In the USA, Standard Line insurance companies are "main stream" insurers. These are the companies that typically insure autos, homes or businesses. They use pattern or "cookie-cutter" policies without variation from one person to the next. They usually have lower premiums than excess lines and can sell directly to individuals. They are regulated by state laws that can restrict the amount they can charge for insurance policies.

Excess Line insurance companies (aka Excess and Surplus) typically insure risks not covered by the standard lines market. They are broadly referred as being all insurance placed with non-admitted insurers. Non-admitted insurers are not licensed in the states where the risks are located. These companies have more flexibility and can react faster than standard insurance companies because they are not required to file rates and forms as the "admitted" carriers do. However, they still have substantial regulatory requirements placed upon them. State laws generally require insurance placed with surplus line agents and brokers not to be available through standard licensed insurers.

Insurance companies are generally classified as either mutual or stock companies. Mutual companies are owned by the policyholders, while stockholders (who may or may not own policies) own stock insurance companies.

Are available also Reinsurance companies and Captive insurance companies.

Reinsurance companies are insurance companies that sell policies to other insurance companies, allowing them to reduce their risks and protect themselves from very large losses.

Captive insurance companies may be defined as limited-purpose insurance companies established with the specific objective of financing risks emanating from their parent group or groups.

Legally, the insurance companies can be divided into 9 categories:

1. Domestic. This type of insurance company is incorporated and formed under the laws of the state in which it is domiciled.
2. Foreign. This type of insurance company is also domestic company as it is domiciled in one state but it is licensed to do business in another state.
3. Alien. This type of insurance company is often confused with a Foreign insurance company.
4. Authorized (Admitted) and Unauthorized (Unadmitted). Upon applying for approval to do business in a state, the insurance company receives a certification of authority from the state Insurance Department (Division).
5. Stock Company. As the name implies, a stock company is an insurance company that is owned by the shareholders.
6. Mutual Company. This type of company is owned by the people and/or businesses the company insures.
7. Reciprocal (Assessment) Company. Nonincorporated associations of individuals or business, called subscribers, engage in cooperative insurance programs.
8. Fraternal Benefit Society. This type of social organization has bylaws allowing it to sell insurance to its members.
9. Lloyd's Insurer. It is a number of people organized into syndicates or groups for the purpose of underwriting risks. Lloyd's operate on many of the same principles as a stock exchange.

Insurance companies are rated by various agencies such as A. M. Best. The ratings include the company's financial strength, which measures its ability to pay claims.


Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Cuccinelli tells federal judge Virginia has standing, merit on its side in heatlh-care suit

Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli told a federal judge Monday that he should deny a request by the Obama administration to dismiss Cuccinelli's suit challenging the constitutionality of the federal health-care law.

In a 41-page memorandum filed with the Eastern District of Virginia, attorneys for the Virginia attorney general argue that federal lawyers acting on behalf of Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius were off base when they argued that Virginia has no standing to sue over the law, and that Congress had the right to mandate that individuals purchase health insurance under its constitutional right to regulate interstate trade.

At turns, the brief delves deeply into intricate legal arguments and then offers plain-spoken and harsh critiques of the political process that led to Congress' adoption of the health-care law. Of the health-care law, Virginia's lawyers write, "Cobbled together in secret, [it] was passed by the Senate, largely or totally unread, on a party line vote, literally in the dead of night on Christmas Eve, against the will of the people as measured by most polls; a product of such florid deal-making as to generate scornful popular terms such as 'the Louisiana Purchase' and 'the Cornhusker Kickback.' "

They argue that Virginia does have standing to sue because of a law passed by the General Assembly (they note approvingly with more bipartisan support in Richmond than the health-care bill held in Washington) that makes it illegal to require individuals to buy health insurance. Virginia's law need not be supplanted by the federal law, as Obama's lawyers had argued, if the federal law is deemed unconstitutional, they write.

To imply otherwise, the brief opens, would be to suggest "federalism is so withered and near death that States lack the power and right to go to federal court to test the validity of their own enactments when they conflict with federal law. The Supreme Court has never said this but has often said the opposite."

As for the constitutional arguments, Cuccinelli explains at great length what the Founders understood the word "commerce" to mean when they drafted a constitution that gave the Congress the right to regulate interstate commerce. He concludes that they would not have deemed failure to purchase health insurance as economic activity.

"If commerce comprehends a decision not to engage in economic activity, and the command to purchase health insurance or pay a penalty is valid, Congress has a power under the Commerce Clause indistinguishable from a national police power," Virginia's lawyers write. "Even in the modern regulatory state, a citizen should have a right to escape commercial regulation by not acting commercially."

Judge Henry Hudson has scheduled oral arguments on the government's motion to dismiss the case for July 1.

Source: The Washington Post

Senate votes to let Attorney General Buddy Caldwell hire private lawyers on contingency

The Louisiana Senate voted 21-16 today to allow Attorney General Buddy Caldwell the power to hire private attorneys with contingency contracts, with the Gulf oil spill giving momentum to a measure that has been dead on arrival in previous years.

Senate Bill 731 by Senate President Joel Chaisson II, D-Destrehan, still faces an uphill battle in the more conservative House of Representatives, where Speaker Jim Tucker has already expressed reservations on a bill that has stirred the traditional legislative rivalry between the plaintiffs bar and the business lobby.

Chaisson, an attorney, called the proposal a "no-brainer," telling members that the state of Louisiana "will have both hands tied behind our back" in impending litigation against BP and other corporate defendants if Caldwell cannot sign contingency contracts. And the Senate president scolded the business community for its opposition. "For them to stand in the way ... is just wrong," Chaisson said.

He detailed several provisions in the proposal intended to prevent abuse: The attorney general would have to certify in writing why his staff could not handle a matter internally. Then he must solicit proposals from multiple firms, with the contracts being subject to approval by legislative oversight committees. The attorney general would retain all control over the litigation. The bill also includes caps on the percentages of damages that outside attorneys could collect.

"There are plenty of safeguards in this bill," Chaisson said.

Forty-eight states -- including Texas, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida -- allow their attorneys general to hire lawyers on contingency, the most common manner of payment for plaintiffs lawyers in civil lawsuits. Civil defense attorneys, like those that work for BP, are paid by the hour.

Caldwell is seeking both the contingency fee power and direct appropriations as he builds a legal team. Gov. Bobby Jindal directed $5 million to Caldwell's office an initial $25 million grant from BP to help cover the state's response effort. The attorney general has not yet filed a lawsuit, though he has asked a state court to order BP to produce information about the spill as the state contemplates its options.

Jindal, whose traditional political alignment is at odds with the plaintiffs bar, has not taken a public position on Chaisson's bill. His aides have indicated that the governor could attempt to have the bill altered to give Caldwell contingency contracting authority only for spill-related litigation. Chaisson said that is unnecessarily limiting.

By Bill Barrow, The Times-Picayune


Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Best Divorce Lawyers in New York

A marriage is not just a bond between two individuals, but also between their families. Hence when a marriage fails, it can be a devastating experience for all involved, especially if there are children to be considered. A divorce can be either by mutual consent or else it could be that one partner has decided to sever the bonds of marriage while the other partner still hopes to carry on or give the relationship another try. It is always advisable to hire the best divorce lawyer to sort out all divorce proceedings, in case, you and your spouse have decided to go on your separate ways. The emotional setback of undergoing a divorce can already be shattering; hence it is best to leave the legal aspects to a qualified and experienced divorce lawyer. The legal nitty gritties and issues can be best handled by a competent lawyer who is used to dealing with the unpleasant aspects of a divorce.

When love goes out of a relationship, matters can turn quite ugly, with the spouses blaming each other for all their miseries. In such circumstance, it would not be possible for any partner to make rational decisions for the divorce. The best Staten Island divorce lawyer is used to such aspects of a divorce and can act as the rational advisor for the individual, guiding the person through all legal loopholes that may weaken the case for his client. If the custody of a child is involved, it can be a delicate and sensitive issue that needs to be handled with extreme care and caution. The best divorce lawyer will be well prepared to deal with such a situation and convince the judge to take a decision in favor of his client. Another important reason for hiring the best divorce lawyer to represent you in a divorce case is dealing effectively with financial settlement between the spouses.

Family law attorney, , is located on Staten Island, New York, and represents men and women with divorce, child support and family law throughout the New York City area, including Staten Island, Annadale, Arden Heights, Bay Terrace, Dongan Hills, Eltingville, Emerson Hill, Fort Wadsworth, Graniteville, Grant City, Grasmere, Great Kills, Greenridge, Grymes Hill, Heartland Village, Huguenot, Lighthouse Hill, Midland Beach, New Dorp, New Springville, Oakwood, Old Town NY, Pleasant Plains, Prince's Bay, Randall Manor, Richmond Valley Richmondtown, Rosebank, Rossville, Shore Acres, Silver Lake, South Beach, St. George, Tottenville Beach, Ward Hill, Westerleigh, Willowbrook, Woodrow, other areas of Staten Island, New York City, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, Bronx, Long Island, Suffolk County, Nassau County, Westchester County, and Rockland County.

By Marilyn Taylor


Divorce Lawyers Are Not Therapists/Counselors

The overall cost of your divorce can be impacted by several behaviors you may be able to control. When a marriage dissolves there are several important topics that need to be addressed and sorted out such as child custody and visitation, division of property, and support. Recognizing the following 4 behaviors and how to manage them ahead of time may be able to help your divorce lawyer properly gather the information he/she needs to put your case together and can reduce your divorce costs at the same time.

Using your Staten Island divorce lawyer as a therapist
Due to the high emotions that typically go along with divorce, it is not uncommon for spouses to begin venting or discussing problems they had in their marriage or how they feel about the other spouse with their Staten Island divorce lawyer. Many times, these types of discussions are strictly emotionally based, add no value to the client's case, and are discussion better suited for a therapist, not a divorce lawyer. Divorce lawyers are typically concerned with facts, not feelings. Additionally, the time a spouse spends in these types of emotional communications with his/her divorce lawyer can add up in costs very quickly. Before initiating communication with your divorce lawyer, decide if the communication is strictly to vent or to pass on worthwhile information on to him/her.

Family law attorney, , is located on Staten Island, New York, and represents men and women with divorce, child support and family law throughout the New York City area, including Staten Island, Annadale, Arden Heights, Bay Terrace, Dongan Hills, Eltingville, Emerson Hill, Fort Wadsworth, Graniteville, Grant City, Grasmere, Great Kills, Greenridge, Grymes Hill, Heartland Village, Huguenot, Lighthouse Hill, Midland Beach, New Dorp, New Springville, Oakwood, Old Town NY, Pleasant Plains, Prince's Bay, Randall Manor, Richmond Valley Richmondtown, Rosebank, Rossville, Shore Acres, Silver Lake, South Beach, St. George, Tottenville Beach, Ward Hill, Westerleigh, Willowbrook, Woodrow, other areas of Staten Island, New York City, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, Bronx, Long Island, Suffolk County, Nassau County, Westchester County, and Rockland County.

By Marilyn Taylor


Wednesday, June 2, 2010

What is Probate Law?

"Death, the one appointment we all must keep, and for which no time is set."

Losing a loved one is hard enough; the process of dealing with the departed persons estate can add more pressure to an already stressful situation . But with comprehensive probate laws, this experience can be made comparatively easier and less time-consuming.

Probate is defined as "the legal process of administering the estate of a deceased person by resolving all claims and distributing the deceased persons property under the valid will". Before execution , the probate court must be convinced that the said will is the actual last will or testament. Unless it is contested or shown to contain obvious anomalies, a document purporting to be a will requires little authenticating proof for certification.

In the US, laws as laid down in the in the Uniform Probate Code, approved in 1969 and amended in 1975, 1982, 1987, 1989, 1990-91, and 1997 by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws and the American Bar Association, are followed, although different states may also have their own legislation.

A will or testament is a legal declaration by which a person names one or more persons to manage his estate and provides for the transfer of his property at death. Earlier, a will referred only to real property while testament referred to personal property. This gave rise to the phrase "last will and testament" to cover all assets. Nowadays, there is no distinction between the two.

The probate court appoints either an executor named in the will (or an administrator if there is no will) to administer the process. The executor inventories and collects the decedents property . Next, he pays any debts and taxes, including estate tax in the US, if the estate is taxable at the federal or state level. After these formalities are completed, he distributes the remaining property to the beneficiaries, either as instructed in the will, or under the intestacy laws of the state. All these steps come under the ambit of Probate Law.

The history of the word "probate" can be traced back to Latin, old French, and old English words with somewhat different meanings. The earliest definition, dated to 1463, means the "official proving of a will," and originates from the Classical Latin word probatus, meaning "a thing proved". The word also traces its origins to the old French word prouwe (prover), dated circa 1175, and to the English and Welsh words prove and profi (to test) respectively.

On account of the costs of court involvement and the consultation of lawyers in the probate process, many people try to minimize costs associated with the probate process . There are considerable legal and tax complexities involved in the probate process ; hence, it is advisable to have a will and speak with a lawyer and financial professional to ensure that the individuals heirs are not left with the complicated and often messy task of distribution of the estate upon his demise.

Some of the methods employed to avoid probate are:

Living trust of assets. P.O.D (paid on death) designations on bank accounts. T.O.D (transfer on death) on brokerage accounts, 401ks and IRAs Life insurance, savings accounts, and joint tenancies with the right of survivorship. Segregated fund in a life insurance company.

For more information on divorce attorney, visit our website

By Jim Knight


What Is a Word Index from Court Reporters?

A word index is a list of terms used in a legal transcript. It is a form of litigation support to help attorneys find particular testimony in the transcription of deposition or court proceedings. The words are listed in alphabetical order in columns with a page and line number citation for easy reference. They are made using a special software program and the electronic format of transcribed proceedings. Word indexes are usually provided by court reporting services at the back of a certified transcript as a convenience to the reader.

Efficiency Some deposition or court testimony is very lengthy. When a court reporter is present and takes down the testimony, the attorney may later wonder exactly what it was the witness said. They may have a foggy recollection of a few of the words that were used, but do not wish to read an entire transcript to find that one small portion. While computerized versions may involve a simple search in a typical word processing program, the paper transcript is more of a challenge. When the word index is attached to the back of the transcript, it is simple to flip to the back pages and find a word with its reference. If the word is used more than once, the citations appear in numerical order. For example, if the lawyer knows the witness used the words "fuzzy dice" to describe a car's interior and is looking for that section of testimony, they could either look for the words fuzzy or dice to find the correct page and line number.

Court Reference Finding a portion of testimony while in court before a judge can be nerve wracking without the reference of a word index. An attorney may be attempting to make an impromptu argument when the judge asks when and where it occurred. If it happened in a deposition which was produced in transcript form, the attorney can find it quickly and easily. They can even hand the transcript up to the judge, if needed, with the page open and available for examination.

Exclusions Not every word in the dictionary is referenced in a word index. There are certain words that are normally excluded because they are used quite frequently in the English language. Using them as a reference point would be impractical. The word "the" for example, would do nothing but clog up the word list with multiple references on every page of the transcript. Most articles, pronouns and prepositions are excluded.

Special Features Depending on the type of software used for litigation support services, multiple transcripts can be combined to produce one giant word index. This may be helpful in a large case with many witnesses. To find what each one says about "fuzzy dice," for example, would take a long time when searching each transcript individually. To look at a combined index would only take a few moments. Special phrases can also be programmed into the word index software by request. This would likely come from an attorney working on a difficult case. There may be a deposition witness that repeatedly says, "I do not recall." By indexing the phrase, the lawyer may be able to use this as a statistic while making an argument in court later.

Author is a freelance writer. For more information on Court reporting service please visit

by Christine Harrell