Supreme Court to Release Same-Day Tapes

Court News 2008/03/05 12:29   Bookmark and Share

The Supreme Court announced yesterday that it will take the special step of releasing audiotapes of oral arguments on the same day that it hears a case challenging the District's gun law.

Every argument before the justices is recorded, but the tapes normally are not available until well after the court's term has ended. But beginning in 2000, with the arguments in Bush v. Gore, the court has released same-day audiotapes in high-profile cases when there is substantial media interest.

Because the court is not open to cameras, the audiotapes are the only recordings of the proceedings.

The case of District of Columbia v. Heller, to be heard March 18, will be the court's first consideration of the meaning of the Second Amendment in nearly 70 years. Last year, a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled 2 to 1 that the District's ban on private handgun possession violated the amendment.

The Supreme Court is being asked to decide whether the amendment protects an individual's right to own a firearm, and if so, what restrictions government may place on that right. It is one of the most prominent cases of the court's term. More than 60 organizations and individuals have filed amicus briefs to support the city or those challenging what is acknowledged as the nation's strictest gun control law.

This term, the court released same-day audiotapes in two other important cases, one involving the rights of detainees at the Guantanamo Bay military prison and the other involving the constitutionality of lethal injections.

The arguments in the gun control case are scheduled for 10 a.m. March 18. Each side will receive 30 minutes to present its case, and U.S. Solicitor General Paul D. Clement has been granted 15 minutes for the federal government's views. The tapes will be released soon after the proceedings.

Clement's brief agrees with the law's challengers that the Second Amendment protects an individual's right to bear arms, but it argues that the appeals court too broadly decided the case against the District. It recommends that the case be returned to lower courts.

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US Court Denies Injunction Sought by Verigy

Court Watch 2008/03/05 12:28   Bookmark and Share
Chip testing equipment maker Verigy Ltd. said Wednesday that a U.S. district court has granted a preliminary injunction preventing Silicon Test Systems Inc. from selling its integrated circuit product for the next five months.

The U.S. District Court for the Northern California District of California, San Jose Division, issued its ruling on Friday. The preliminary injunction prevents the defendants from selling, licensing, distributing, transferring or marketing Flash Enhancer and any product based on Flash Enhancer.

According to Verigy, the court found that Flash Enhancer "is substantially based upon Verigy's trade secrets."

Verigy said defendant Romi Mayder was employed by the company until September 2006 and began developing an integrated circuit product for a new business venture while still employed by Verigy. Mayder's brother, Wesley Mayder, is also named as a defendant.

In a phone interview, Romi Mayder noted that the judge denied the absolute injunction that Verigy sought. Mayder said the information used to develop his product was publicly available and that his use of it amounted to a "five-month head start."

Verigy sued the defendants in August 2007 for breach of contract, trade secret misappropriation, statutory and common law unfair competition and other charges.

The court issued a temporary restraining order against the defendants on Aug. 24, which was still in effect when the preliminary injunction was issued.

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EPA Head Unaware of Pressures on States

Headline Legal News 2008/03/05 12:26   Bookmark and Share

The head of the Environmental Protection Agency said Tuesday he didn't know of behind-the-scenes efforts by EPA officials to blunt state attempts to reduce mercury emissions from power plants.

Those efforts occurred even as the Bush administration argued in court that states are free to enact tougher mercury controls from power plants, The Associated Press reported last month, based on internal EPA documents.

Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., questioned EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson about the report at a hearing of the Senate Appropriations environment subcommittee.

"Has anyone with EPA ever pressured any state against instituting any more restrictive mercury regulation?" asked Leahy, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee.

"I don't recall having any firsthand knowledge of that," said Johnson. "I don't know if they have, no I don't," he added.

Leahy cautioned Johnson that such pressure on states was inappropriate, and if it did occur, "then the EPA gave misleading information to the courts, which is an extremely serious matter."

A federal appeals court last month struck down the Bush administration's industry-friendly approach for mercury reduction that allowed plants with excessive smokestack emissions to buy pollution rights from other plants that foul the air less.

Internal EPA documents obtained by the advocacy group Environmental Defense show attempts over the past two years to bar state efforts to make their plants drastically cut mercury pollution instead of trading for credits that would let them continue it.

Many states did not want their power plants to be able to buy their way out of having to reduce mercury pollution.

The push to rein in uncooperative states continued until the eve of the Feb. 8 decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit that struck down the EPA's program. A day before that ruling, the White House Office of Management and Budget approved a draft regulation to impose a "federal implementation plan" for mercury reduction in states whose mercury control measures did not meet EPA approval.

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Teen Appealing Web Blog Free Speech Decision

Headline Legal News 2008/03/05 12:22   Bookmark and Share
A high school senior who used vulgar language in reference to her school administrators is appealing the decision of a lower federal court and fighting for her right to serve as class secretary and to speak at her graduation in the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York.

Avery Doninger, 17, was barred from running for class secretary by Lewis S. Mills High School in Burlington, Conn. because administrators she had written in her personal blog that officials were “douchebags” because she thought they cancelling an event she had helped plan. She also called for others to take action against Superintendent Paula Schwartz and to “piss her off more” by writing and calling Schwartz. Officials discovered the blog two weeks after she had written and the teen was told to apologize to Schwartz, show her mother the blog and was told she could not run again for re-election as class secretary. Doninger won the position by write-in votes, but was not permitted to serve.

U.S. District Judge Mark Kravitz had said that because Doninger’s blog was addressing school issues and because it was read by other students, she could be punished by the school. However, in the appeal, Doninger’s attorney argued that schools should not be able to regulate what is done on the internet if it does not create a risk of disruption and because it did not take place on school grounds or during a school activity.

"It's just a bigger soapbox," her attorney, Jon L. Schoenhorn, told the Hartford Courant.

According to the Hartford Courant, Thomas R. Gerarde, the school’s attorney, said that the Internet has increased the impact of their words by how many people they can reach and that if student leaders make offensive comments about the school on the Internet, the school should be able to punish them.

"We shouldn't be required to just swallow it," he said.

He also contended that the blog did cause school officials to receive numerous phone calls and emails and that some students had considered staging a sit-in.

However, the Harford Courant reported, Judge Sonia Sotomayor said that "pedagogical rights can't supersede the rights of students off campus to have First Amendment rights."
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Helms Mulliss, McGuireWoods to merge law firms

Legal Marketing 2008/03/05 12:18   Bookmark and Share

One of North Carolina's largest law firms is merging with a national giant, the firms announced Wednesday.

Helms Mulliss & Wicker, which has more than 145 lawyers in Charlotte, Raleigh and Wilmington, is combining with McGuireWoods, a Richmond, Va.-based firm with 750 attorneys worldwide that opened in Charlotte in 1998.

When the merger takes effect March 31, the combined firm will be known as McGuireWoods and will have about 160 lawyers in Charlotte.

The merger is a result of clients' changing needs, McGuireWoods Chairman Richard Cullen said in a press release.

"We need to match our capabilities and geographic reach to meet those needs," he said.

Helms Mulliss' chairman, Peter J. Covington, will become vice chairman of McGuireWoods. Scott Vaughn, Helms Mulliss' finance group leader, will become managing partner of McGuireWoods' Charlotte office.

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Civil Rights & the Hawthorne Police Dept & The LAPD

Legal Interview 2008/03/05 12:16   Bookmark and Share

Civil Rights Litigation. Gary discusses alleged police brutality and alleged misconduct by the Hawthorne, California, and Manhattan Beach, California, police. Joining Gary is Scott Tierney, who alleges he suffered serious personal injuries during a booking process with the Hawthorne police. In this powerful interview, Gary and Scott provide riveting testimony about a series of allegedly grave actions by the police and the need to educate the public about these shocking details. Gary further addresses the broader problem of police misconduct and its threat to public safety and community trust. Police misconduct also includes accepting bribes, improper search and seizure, harassment and racism in law enforcement. Police misconduct violates the oath of peace officers and their responsibilities as public servants. Victims of police misconduct can be wrongfully convicted of crimes, lose property and freedom, and face social stigmatization. Police misconduct also creates distrust between police and the public they are meant to protect. Police misconduct often goes uncorrected because people do not understand their rights as citizens. Prevention of police misconduct by an informed public can avert violence, wrongful convictions, and abuse of authority. In general, police misconduct is the exception - most police officers are law-abiding citizens, but when police misconduct does occur, police departments can fail to address the problem in the appropriate manner.

Gary S. Casselman is a superb trial attorney with extensive experience in the fields of criminal defense, personal injury and police misconduct. He has authored and lectured about police misconduct litigation and is a court qualified expert in matters such as legal malpractice and enjoys membership in the Million Dollar Advocates Forum. Gary is also a member of the Consumer Attorneys of Los Angeles and Police Watch. He holds an undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan and a law degree from Southwestern University School of Law.

You can contact Gary at 310-390-4406

http://www.lawyers.com/garycasselman

or email gary.casselman2@verizon.net

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