Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Casey Anthony's civil attorney deposes Zenaida Gonzalez

Lawyers finished questioning Zenaida Gonzalez 12 hours later in a deposition for the civil suit filed against Casey Anthony.

The woman claiming Casey Anthony ruined her life remains was in the hot seat, answering questions under oath.

A judge ordered the deposition finish the same night. It ended 12 hours later.

Casey Anthony's attorneys said the lengthy questioning was to find out the truth.

For the first time in years, a tired and worn down Zenaida Gonzalez stood in front of microphones and the media just after finishing the deposition.

"I'm looking for closure, I want to clear my name. I'm looking forward to the next step," said Gonzalez.

Attorneys for Gonzalez and Anthony showed up at the Morgan and Morgan law firm in the Wells Fargo building downtown just before 9 a.m. Tuesday.

After the depostion, they called it pointless and just an attempt to wear her down.

During an afternoon break, Anthony's attorney pulled us aside to tell us how the day of questioning was going.

Greene said there wasn't any bombshells or big break throughs in the questioning.

Despite a few breaks, the woman who is suing Anthony for defamation has spent all day answering questions.

Greene said there were some answers he liked and some he didn't.

When asked if he asked Gonzalez if she was being paid to sue Anthony, he wouldn't get into specifics.

Earlier in the day, attorneys on both sides said things were civil and there hadn't been any arguments.

In the middle of questioning, we were able to ask Greene if the deposition was a success.

"The goal is to win this case and we are well on the way," Greene said.

Gonzalez brought a lawsuit against Anthony in September 2008.

She claims Anthony ruined her reputation when Anthony told police a woman by the same name had kidnapped her 2-year-old daughter Caylee.

Anthony sat for her deposition already, though she didn't say anything except to invoke her 5th amendment right.

“I'm sick of Casey Anthony getting special treatment. Not having to face civil justice,” said Keith Mitnik.

Mitnik, a Morgan and Morgan attorney, lost a court battle to delay Gonzalez's deposition until after Anthony actually answers the questions.

“Why won't she answer the questions? She's the plaintiff. She has a burden of proof. Just sit down Ms. Gonzalez. Stop running. What are you hiding from?” asked Greene.

Greene went on the offensive against Gonzalez for trying to delay the case.

In recent court filings, Greene laid out that he wants to know:
If Zenaida is being paid by the Morgan law firm
If she's seen a psychiatrist
How much money she actually wants as damages in this case

There is a hearing scheduled next month where both sides will argue about whether or not Casey should be required to answer the questions from last month’s deposition or whether she has the right to take the 5th amendment.

The case is scheduled to go to trial next April.

By Adam Longo and Jaqueline Fell, Team Coverage

Source: Central Florida News

Guilty plea planned in Palin lawyer harassment

A 20-year-old Pennsylvania man has agreed to plead guilty to a federal charge of making harassing phone calls in a case involving Sarah Palin's lawyers.

Shawn Christy filed notice Monday in U.S. District Court that he intends to plead guilty in an expected plea agreement with federal prosecutors.

Christy plans to plead guilty and be sentenced Dec. 1, according to the document filed by Mary Geddes, assistant federal defender.

Federal prosecutors were not immediately reachable by phone late Monday. Earlier, Assistant U.S. Attorney Retta-Rae Randall said the harassing telephone calls charge carries a maximum penalty of two years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Christy and his father, Craig Christy, both of McAdoo, Pa., face accusations of placing harassing interstate phone calls to the former Alaska governor's lawyers in early August. Palin, the 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee, had been granted state restraining orders against them.

Both men pleaded not guilty in the case in September.

In a motion filed Nov. 10, Geddes requested a one-week delay in the men's scheduled Nov. 21 trial date and added, "the parties are not anticipating that this matter will actually proceed to trial on Nov. 28. The parties anticipate this case will be resolved by agreement."

The Christys were accused of making hundreds of phone calls to the offices of Palin's attorney, John Tiemessen. Some of the calls involved threats against Palin and others, according to an indictment by a federal grand jury in Alaska.

The indictment did not elaborate on the nature of threats against Palin.

The document said the calls included obscenity-laden phone messages, including a death threat to Tiemessen from Craig Christy. In another message, Shawn Christy said he was going to Alaska and would rape one of the attorneys, according to the indictment.

The Christys were arrested in August.

According to the indictment, Craig and Shawn Christy were upset about the restraining orders against them. The six-month orders were issued in May by a state magistrate in Alaska on behalf of Palin, her family and friends.

The restraining order against Shawn Christy - accused of stalking Palin - was extended for six months. The restraining order issued against Craig Christy followed accusations he was barraging Palin's parents with antagonizing telephone messages.

By The Associated Press

Source: The Boston Globe

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Hilliard named to Super Lawyer 100 list

Russell Hilliard, a partner at Upton & Hatfield, LLP based out of the law firm's Portsmouth office, is one of only four from New Hampshire named by Super Lawyers to its 2011 list of Top 100 New England Attorneys.

Lawyers are selected for Super Lawyers distinction following an extensive balloting, research and screening process that involves the state's lawyers nominating the best attorneys they've personally observed in action. This is the third year in a row that Hilliard has been named to the top 100 in New England list, which also includes attorneys from Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Vermont, and Maine.

A highly respected attorney among his peers, he is ranked by Chambers USA's America's Leading Lawyers for Business in the area of commercial litigation, which recognized him in 2010 as "as good a litigator as you could hope to find." He is also included in The Best Lawyers in America for alternative dispute resolution.

Hilliard focuses his practice in the areas of commercial and insurance litigation, professional discipline, defense and alternative dispute resolution, representing businesses, municipalities and individual professionals. He currently serves as Vice President of the New England Bar Association and is a past president of the New Hampshire Bar Association and past chair of the New Hampshire Bar Foundation.

By Foster's Daily Democrat

Source: Foster's Daily Democrat

Lawyer Mike Stefani cited for ethics breach in text-message case

Already facing a 30-day suspension for one professional violation, whistle-blower lawyer Mike Stefani has been cited by a state Attorney Discipline panel for another ethical breach related to the text-message scandal that toppled ex-Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.

The three-member panel said in a decision released Thursday that Stefani misled Kwame Kilpatrick's lawyer Samuel McCargo during negotiations to settle a 2007 police whistle-blower case by not revealing he had shared the text messages with a Free Press reporter.

Stefani, a former FBI agent and suburban police chief, was cleared of three other charges of misleading or false statements about his handling of the text messages.

The panel said Stefani misled McCargo, who was bargaining on the basis that the messages - showing that Kilpatrick perjured himself by denying an affair with top aide Christine Beatty - would remain secret. When McCargo wanted to know of the messages' whereabouts, Stefani kept quiet about sharing them with the newspaper.

Kilpatrick was forced from office and jailed in 2008 after the Free Press published excerpts of the messages. The newspaper has never said how it obtained the text messages.

Robert Edick, deputy administrator of the Attorney Grievance Commission who prosecuted the charges, said that Stefani could be seen as "setting a trap for other attorneys to fall into."

"He wanted the information out, but he didn't want it coming back to him," Edick said. "He wanted to have it both ways."

Stefani's lawyer Kenneth Mogill said he appreciated the panel's hard work, "but I respectfully disagree with their decision. I expect we will be appealing it."

In his hearing, Stefani said that neither McCargo, nor any of the other lawyers representing the city and the mayor ever asked whether he had shared messages or what happened to any copies he had made.

"They never asked that," he testified, adding that he felt morally conflicted, but decided it was fair to let McCargo make that mistaken assumption.

The panel disagreed that Stefani was able to walk a fine line.

It was "not a close question," the panel said.

"Mr. Stefani's concealment is not excused by a purported failure to ask the right question," the panel said.

No date has been set for a penalty hearing. Potential penalties range from reprimand to loss of his license.

An earlier panel ordered Stefani's license suspended for 30 days for violating a judge's orders in obtaining the messages.

By Joe Swickard, 313-222-8769,

Source: Detroit Free Press

Saturday, November 19, 2011

PUD lawyers disqualified in Crescent Bar lawsuit

he attorneys representing the Grant County PUD have been disqualified in a lawsuit brought by Crescent Bar Island residents.

Jeffers Danielson Sonn and Aylward Law Firm, of Wenatchee, began representing the utility when the lawsuit began at the start of the year.

A federal judge agreed with the residents finding the attorneys had a conflict of interest.

Senior United States District Judge Justin L. Quackenbush, for the Eastern District of the State of Washington, signed the "order granting motion to disqualify defense counsel for Grant County PUD" on Wednesday.

"The law firm of Jeffers Danielson shall be disqualified from participation in defense of the claims of the (Crescent Bar Condominium Master Association) or (other island residents) aligned therewith," Quackenbush wrote in his order.

Quackenbush ordered Jeffers Danielson to "diligently assist" the PUD in finding new counsel. He allowed until Dec. 15 to complete a substitution of counsel.

Dale Foreman, attorney for the Crescent Bar Condominium Master Association, submitted the motion for disqualification on July 12. Quackenbush held a telephone hearing on the matter on Sept. 9. He directed the attorneys involved to file supplemental briefs arguing the motion.

Foreman became counsel for the Crescent Bar Condominium Master Association and discovered the group's representative Heather Trautmann initiated a series of contacts about representation with attorney Patrick Aylward, of Jeffers Danielson, on July 28, 2008. It was the basis for Foreman's claim of conflict of interest.

Foreman discovered Trautmann spoke with Aylward on the phone discussing "the scope of work" and "any potential conflicts" on July 31, 2008.

A conflict arose when Aylward told Trautmann that one of his partners had performed legal work for the PUD.

In his argument, Foreman wrote Trautmann documented her conversation with Aylward in an email to Crescent Bar Lease Committee members on Aug. 5, 2008. She wrote how they "spoke this morning at length about the issues we are facing."

Trautmann detailed her conversations with Aylward in emails. In one dated Aug. 10, 2008, she noted Aylward suggested the condo residents should separate themselves from the north park and south park residents.

On Aug. 19, 2008, Foreman noted the Crescent Bar Condominium Master Association board voted to hire Aylward, but it fell through when Aylward failed to get a waiver of conflict of interest from PUD general counsel Ray Foianini.

On Oct. 7, 2008, Trautmann wrote in another email saying he had come to the conclusion she would probably be "better served" with other counsel. Aylward lamented the decision and offered to help find new counsel.

"This will confirm you will not see me on the other side of the table. Now that we have spoken multiple times about the issue, we would be conflicted out of representing the PUD in this matter," Aylward wrote.

Aylward later wrote to Trautmann telling her the PUD hired one of his partners, Don Dimmit, and an associate, Michelle Green, in February of 2010 to work on Crescent Bar issues, according to Foreman.

Foreman argued that all Jeffers Danielson attorneys should be disqualified because they were "tainted" through their association with Aylward. Quackenbush agreed.

"The contacts Mr. Aylward had over the course of three months with Ms. Trautmann on behalf of the (Crescent Bar Condominium Master Association) on matters related to Crescent Bar Island and the promise Mr. Aylward gave the (Crescent Bar Condominium Master Association) they would not be found on 'other side of the table' require disqualification," Quackenbush wrote.

The Crescent Bar islanders' suit against the PUD was filed on Jan. 19, 2011. Their leases expire in the spring of 2012, and the PUD board of commissioners want the residents to leave.

The residents are asking for an injunction against any eviction action by the PUD.

Quackenbush reportedly said he believes more time, possibly until 2023, would be appropriate for resolution of this matter.

The next step in this proceeding is determining the PUD's new attorneys.

In another matter relevant to Crescent Bar residents, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is backing away from an order to remove homes on properties within its Lake of the Ozarks project in Missouri.

In reaction to the FERC order, the Missouri congressional delegation introduced legislation in Congress and the Senate to curb the FERC's authority.

FERC officials are saying their July 26 order was misinterpreted. They are saying property rights were never in jeopardy.

"Property rights owners have in lands within the boundaries, whether conferred by deed, lease, easement or other conveyance, have not been and will not be altered by FERC's actions," the FERC wrote.

By Ted Escobar, Crescent Bar Chronicle

Source: Columbia Basin Herald

Top court names lawyers to argue healthcare case

The Supreme Court on Friday named an attorney to argue that challenges to President Barack Obama's healthcare insurance requirements must wait until after that part of the law has taken effect in 2014

The high court also appointed a second attorney to argue that all other parts of the law can stand if the centerpiece provision - the requirement that all Americans buy insurance by 2014 or pay a penalty - is struck down.

The Supreme Court on Monday announced that it would hear arguments in March over Obama's sweeping healthcare overhaul law, with a ruling likely by July in the election year on the fate of his signature domestic achievement.

The court agreed to hear an Obama administration appeal defending the law and urging it be upheld and two separate appeals by 26 states and an independent business group challenging the law and urging it be struck down.

The court brought in two veteran Washington, D.C., attorneys, H. Bartow Farr III and Robert Long, to argue positions that none of the other parties were advocating.

Long, a partner at Covington & Burling, will argue that lawsuits challenging the insurance purchase requirement, a provision known as the individual mandate, are barred because the penalty has yet to be imposed.

At issue is a federal law called the Anti-Injunction Act and whether the challenges must wait until taxpayers actually begin paying the penalty for not purchasing insurance.

That position was adopted by a U.S. appeals court in Virginia and a dissenting U.S. appeals court judge in Washington.

Farr, a partner at Farr & Taranto, will argue that if government cannot require people to buy health insurance, all other provisions of the law can go into effect.

The Obama administration argued that it would be wrong to strike down all other provisions of the law, especially those unrelated to the mandate, such as the requirement that insurers provide coverage for young adults.

But it said two key provisions could not be separated from the mandate and would have to fall if it were struck down.

The two provisions bar insurers from refusing to issue coverage to a person because of a pre-existing medical condition, and bar insurers from charging higher premiums based on a person's medical history.

The states and the business group argued the rest of the law cannot survive if the insurance mandate is struck down.

Other issues to be argued will be whether Congress exceeded its powers in adopting the individual mandate and whether Congress improperly coerced the states to expand the Medicaid program that provides healthcare to the poor.

The Supreme Court cases are National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius, No. 11-393; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services v. Florida, No. 11-398; and Florida v. Department of Health and Human Services, No. 11-400.

By James Vicini

Source: Reuters

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

MCSO hires consultant for employee discipline

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio has hired an outside consultant as part of a plan to revamp the office's employee discipline policy.

Arpaio announced Mike Branham's hiring Tuesday. Branham will review the department's current policies and develop a uniformed disciplinary practice to include mitigating and aggravated circumstances.

Arpaio says the intent of the discipline policy is to ensure adherence to reasonable standards of performance and conduct to help employees understand the consequence of violations of policy and the ramifications of continued violations.

Arpaio says Branham has an extensive background in law enforcement. He was formerly Youngtown's police chief, director of the Arizona Criminal Justice Commission and director of Juvenile Corrections for the State of Arizona.

Branham is a graduate of the FBI National Academy.

By The Associated Press

Source: Arizona Capitol Times

Lawyers pin fraud victims at 29

Hearing comes ahead of LaSaracina sentencing

Former Norwich accountant F. Robert LaSaracina defrauded 29 victims, prosecutors and defense attorneys agreed on Tuesday.

The agreement came as part of an ongoing series of hearings in advance of LaSaracina’s sentencing in federal court in Hartford. U.S. District Judge Christopher Droney has asked for concrete numbers on which to base the sentence and order for restitution.

LaSaracina pleaded guilty in July to charges of federal wire fraud and failure to pay employment taxes. Prosecutors said from 2001 to 2010, LaSaracina defrauded investors by telling them he had a “sure thing” and investments that would pay as high as 8 percent interest. Instead of investing the money, however, he used the funds for his own benefit, prosecutors said.

LaSaracina blames the crimes on a gambling addiction.

The total amount that LaSaracina stole from investors, a family trust fund and the government continues to be debated.

But Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael McGarry said Tuesday that 26 investors lost a total of $1,848,768. The Internal Revenue Service has determined it lost $734,359 in employment taxes LaSaracina never paid for his employees.

Topping the list of victims is the Kauppinen family trust, whose losses continue to be a source of argument and investigation. The Norwich Probate Court ordered LaSaracina to pay more than $4 million for his fraudulent use of the trust properties and funds. McGarry said the government estimates a $2.2 million loss to three victims, while defense attorneys Jessica Santos and Hubert Santos argue the loss is much less.

Despite the differences, Droney said Tuesday the total losses remain in the range of $2.5 million to $7 million, which, according to federal sentencing guidelines, places the proposed sentence in the range of 63 to 78 months in prison. Droney can impose a sentence of more or less than that number.

Sentencing has not been scheduled yet.

Both sides are expected to meet again during the next several weeks to discuss the trust fund losses further. Droney said he also will also accept further argument from defense on the effect that a gambling addiction might have on sentencing.

By Greg Smith, The Bulletin

Source: The Bulletin

Monday, November 14, 2011

Trial looms for liability case in Gulf oil spill

Each day, a team of 70 lawyers gathers in a New Orleans office suite to pore over a mountain of documents, study depositions and formulate arguments

The attorneys, representing condominium owners, oyster fishermen, hoteliers, beach towns and others who claim to have been hurt by last year's BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, are gearing up for one of the biggest legal showdowns in U.S. history.

More than 120,000 claimants have signed on to the federal lawsuit against BP and other energy firms, claiming financial and personal loss after the Deepwater Horizon rig explosion. The explosion on April 20, 2010, killed 11 workers and gushed more than 155 million gallons of crude into the Gulf, making it the worst oil spill in U.S. history.

The legal proceedings, which begin in February, are expected to eventually reach the U.S. Supreme Court.

"There hasn't been a case quite as immediately large and as complex with so many moving parts," says James Roy, a Lafayette, La., attorney and one of the lead plaintiff attorneys.

U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier, the New Orleans federal judge overseeing the case, has set Feb. 27 as the date of the first issue to be tried: Who was most responsible for the explosion aboard the rig? BP, which leased the rig, will be a defendant along with Transocean, the rig's owner; Halliburton, responsible for the casing cement; and other companies.

The number of claimants joining the lawsuit is nearly as many as those who have chosen to take final claims payments through a $20 billion compensation fund set up by BP.

Last Monday, more than 150 protesters marched in front of the Washington offices of the Gulf Coast Claims Facility, which is distributing the fund, calling on the group to pay all outstanding claims.

Many claimants applied for a payout rather than risk a drawn-out legal battle. Despite early concerns that lawyers for BP and other companies would drag out litigation for years, legal action for the spill is speeding through courts at an unprecedented pace, Roy says.

"This case is moving like a rocket ship," he says. "It's hard to imagine anything anyone can do to upset that trial date."

At the February trial, Barbier will hear expert witnesses to determine the varying degrees of fault, Roy says. Other trials will follow, including ones to determine the environmental impact of the spill and how much companies should pay in damages.

BP officials so far have shouldered much of the blame for the spill but have repeatedly pointed to others' involvement in the disaster. In a statement, BP said, "We are preparing to try the case scheduled to begin in February, where we will present evidence, consistent with all official investigations, that the Deepwater Horizon accident was the result of multiple causes, involving multiple parties."

Transocean hopes to show that BP is responsible. Lou Colasuonno, a spokesman, calls the upcoming trial the "mother of all litigation" but says officials at the company are comfortable with their legal position. Halliburton declined to comment for this article.

A key question Barbier faces is whether any of the companies were "grossly negligent," a label that could expose the companies to tens of billions of dollars in damages, says Blaine LeCesne, an associate professor at Loyola University New Orleans College of Law. Damages could potentially eclipse last decade's massive tobacco settlements, which totaled more than $200 billion, LeCesne says.

"It's not about whether BP is negligent. They know they're negligent," LeCesne says. "They're desperately trying to avoid that 'gross negligence' label."

The case is so big and includes so many parties that Barbier appointed an executive committee — led by Roy and New Orleans attorney Stephen Herman — and a steering committee of 15 lawyers to coordinate the plaintiffs' efforts. Those attorneys, along with another 200 across the Gulf Coast, have amassed more than 226 depositions, 70 expert reports and 25 million pages of documents, he says. The more than 400 lawsuits filed against the companies after the spill have been merged into one "master suit," Herman says.

The proceedings are moving much more quickly than those after the Exxon Valdez oil spill off Alaska in 1989, LeCesne says.

That legal wrangling stretched for nearly a decade and ended in a U.S. Supreme Court ruling slashing damages against the oil giant from $2.5 billion to $500 million, he says.

The trials also could set an important precedent for how companies compensate victims in future spills, says Robert Wiygul, a Mississippi environmental attorney representing about 1,000 claimants in the proceedings. "In 10 or 15 years, we're going to look back at this and say, 'Did this really work? Did we compensate people fairly?' " he says. "This is a real-life laboratory."

By Rick Jervis, USA Today

Source: USA Today

Bar association president: It's best to have a lawyer

Jill M. Scheidt says forms cannot replace the knowledge attorneys bring to the table

The president of the Berks County Bar Association recommends that everyone have an attorney rather than filling out self-representation forms available in the county law library.

"Practicing law and litigating cases are much more than filling out forms," attorney Jill M. Scheidt said. "Over 40 percent of the people in custody actions do not have lawyers. There is an expectation that people do not have to hire lawyers because they can fill out forms."

Scheidt acknowledged that the forms do warn people not to represent themselves.

"We have horror stories of people losing assets because they don't know what they are doing," Scheidt said. "Lawyers provide advocacy and counseling. They know the substantive and procedural laws involved as well as the rules of evidence.

"All litigants, represented or unrepresented, are bound by the laws and rules, and the judges expect that they will know them."

Scheidt recommend that people contact MidPenn Legal Services, which offers services for people with limited incomes.

"If we visit the ER and cannot afford medical services we aren't told to read a form and treat ourselves," Scheidt said. "Non-lawyers don't know what they don't know."

Scheidt said the bar is against a movement afoot that anyone can practice law.

Valerie West, managing attorney of MidPenn Legal Services, said she agreed with Scheidt that it's better to have a lawyer.

However, West said, the demand for free legal service outstrips the agency's resources.

"Poverty has gone up and our funding has gone down," she said. "There are a lot more eligible people with resources than we have the capability to represent. I am very pleased the president judge organized a task force to address this issue."

West said that the agency also depends on volunteer attorneys from the bar association. In 2010, bar members represented 199 people pro bono for MidPenn and provided over $80,000 to the agency for operating expenses, Scheidt said.

Scheidt said the non-represented people are spending too much time asking court staffers for help when the staffers are not allowed to give help.

"Routinely, county employees are asked to provide legal advice, which is not only a legal and ethical dilemma, it is a distraction from the employees doing their jobs," Scheidt said.

By Holly Herman, Reading Eagle, 610-478-6291,

Source: Reading Eagle

Sunday, November 13, 2011

MF Global executives hire lawyers as inquiry grows

The federal investigation into the collapse of MF Global is ramping up with several more executives, including a long-time colleague of former CEO Jon Corzine, hiring criminal defense attorneys.

Executives at the failed futures brokerage house are in the process of hiring lawyers as a federal grand jury in New York recently began issuing subpoenas seeking information and records, say people familiar with the inquiries.

One of those retaining an attorney is Bradley Abelow, MF Global's president and chief operating officer, who served as chief of staff to Corzine during his tenure as New Jersey governor, say two people familiar with the situation.

Corzine, a former head of Goldman Sachs, resigned as MF Global's chairman and chief executive officer on November 4 - four days after the brokerage filed for bankruptcy.

Trustee James Giddens said in a letter to commodities clients of MF Global on Thursday that the Department of Justice, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the Securities and Exchange Commission were investigating "complex cash movements" at MF. A big question for investigators will be how some $600 million in customer money has gone missing.

One of the issues regulators and federal authorities are trying to determine is whether the $600 million was inappropriately diverted from a segregated account maintained by MF Global at Chicago-based Harris Bank, a division of the Bank of Montreal.

In the futures trading business, customer money deposited in a segregated account is not meant to be used by a broker as collateral for proprietary trades made by the firm itself. But futures firms do have broad authority to reinvest excess cash in a segregated customer account to generate additional revenue.

David Leibowitz, one of the federal prosecutors in Manhattan who is leading the investigation, was not immediately available for comment.

Abelow, who did not return a phone call seeking comment, joined MF Global a little over year ago, after being wooed by Corzine. The two people familiar with the situation said Abelow is being represented by Gary Naftalis, a New York lawyer who is currently representing former Goldman Sachs Group board member Rajat Gupta in a major insider trading investigation.

Abelow is a close confidant of Corzine, who already has retained his own high-powered defense attorney, Andrew Levander, a partner with Dechert LLP.

Corzine took over the job at MF Global in March 2010, a few months after he lost his bid to win a second term as governor. Soon after he joined MF Global, the former Democratic Senator for New Jersey went on a firing and hiring spree with the intent of transforming MF Global into a mini-Goldman Sachs.

Abelow and Corzine worked together at Goldman some two decades ago. During the time Corzine was the firm's chief executive, Abelow was head of operations for the Wall Street investment house.

Other MF Global executives and employees are also in the process of retaining attorneys to represent themselves in various investigations, say sources.

MF Global itself has hired Mark Kasowitz, a partner with Kasowitz Benson Torres & Friedman, to represent the brokerage's interest in regulatory and criminal investigations, a person familiar with the matter confirmed.

In the bankruptcy proceeding, MF Global is being represented by Skadden.

MF Global filed for bankruptcy after traders, customers, lenders and a rating agency became concerned about the firm's exposure to $6.3 billion in European sovereign debt issued by Italy, Spain, Ireland and Portugal.

Critics have charged that in a bid to generate revenue, Corzine pushed MF Global to use too much borrowed money to invest in risky assets.

By Matthew Goldstein and Jennifer Ablan, Reuters

Source: Baltimore Sun

Defense lawyers: NYC temple plot case misuses state terror law, should be tossed out

Police manipulated a man they knew was mentally unstable to concoct a terrorism case out of a staged weapons buy and ambiguous remarks about blowing up synagogues, his lawyers said Wednesday as they asked a judge to toss out the charges against him.

Ahmed Ferhani's lawyers said hate crime charges and a rarely used state terrorism law have been misapplied to what they have called a case of police entrapment.

"There is nothing in the indictment to show that Mr. Ferhani's alleged unfortunate statements were anything other than hyperbole and speculation," lawyer Elizabeth M. Fink and others wrote in seeking to get the case dismissed.

Prosecutors, who've said Ferhani and co-defendant Mohamed Mamdouh told an undercover detective they wanted to strike a synagogue, declined to comment Wednesday. A hearing is set for Feb. 15. Mamdouh's lawyer is expected to file papers Nov. 30 asking for his case to be tossed, too.

To prosecutors and police, terror charges certainly fit the case against Ferhani and Mamdouh. The two were arrested in May after telling an undercover detective about their yen to attack synagogues and taking a step toward violence, authorities said - Ferhani bought guns, ammunition and an inert hand grenade in a sting, with Mamdouh a few blocks away.

A grand jury declined this spring to indict the two on the most serious charge initially brought against them - a high-level terror conspiracy count that carried the potential for life in prison without parole. Still, the men, in their 20s, were indicted on lesser state terror and hate crime charges, including one punishable by up to 32 years behind bars.

Ferhani, an Algerian immigrant, and Mamdouh, an American citizen of Moroccan descent, slurred Jews and aimed to bomb synagogues to avenge what they saw as mistreatment of Muslims around the world, authorities said. Ferhani suggested posing as a worshipping Jew so he could infiltrate a synagogue and leave a bomb inside, prosecutors have said in court documents.

Police and prosecutors said the two posed a real threat to the Jewish community. But Mamdouh's lawyers said the combination of the remarks alleged by police and the staged gun sale don't add up to "the intent to intimidate or coerce a civilian population" required for a conviction under the state terror law, passed shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Ferhani has been institutionalized for psychiatric problems as many as 30 times - at least five of them after his family called police, his lawyers said. They argue that authorities therefore knew they were dealing with a mentally troubled person.

"It's predatory policing," one of the lawyers, Gideon O. Oliver, said outside court.

The attorneys said they were awaiting a diagnosis of Ferhani's problems and couldn't say whether they might pursue an insanity defense if the charges are sustained.

Ferhani and Mamdouh are being held without bail.

By Associated Press

Source: The Washington Post

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Handing up the client in self-defense

Way too often, a lawyer gives the client the best advice he can, perhaps the advice that every other skilled lawyer would impart under the circumstances, only to be met with the client's foolish rejection of it. Nonetheless, such a result is altogether fair - the client, not the lawyer, will ultimately pay the price for his decision, and so he should indeed be the one to decide. Lawyers can only impart advice, not insist that it be taken.

Still, when the client rejects the advice and the outcome is bad, the lawyer must keep silent, even if the lawyer may look bad when all conclude that the client acted on the lawyer's advice. It would be indefensibly wrong and unethical to publicly or even privately say, for example, "I told my client to plead guilty [or settle the case civilly] and cut his losses, but he foolishly overruled me, and the result is this debacle" - thus revealing a privileged conversation. If lawyers can't keep their mouths shut in trying times, they don't deserve to be lawyers (as we have often said in this column)!

But what about when the client, and basically also the lawyer as his representative, are under court order, perhaps to produce discovery, and the client who actually maintains the records proposes to resist the court order by simply not producing, or allowing counsel to produce the material required by the formal document demand? What is the lawyer to do then?

Yes, of course, he should - indeed, he must - remonstrate with the client, maybe in writing to avoid any mistake about it, boldly telling the client that having lost the battle to quash or gain a protective order, "We are simply obliged to produce these records, and anything short of full production will be viewed by the court as contemptuous. There is no further lawful road for us but to produce, and produce now!" Still, however, the attorney fails: The client won't respond to the lawyer's calls or emails or, more directly, simply won't give him the records. And maybe the client even instructs the lawyer to disobey the court order.

The lawyer who, above all, wants to protect himself may just withdraw or, if necessary, seek court leave to do so, citing knee-jerk, time-honored "irreconcilable differences" - obviously without identifying for the court those "differences."

Perhaps, however, he hasn't been paid, and the withdrawal, whether unilateral or even consented to by the client, will result in a large, never-to-be-paid receivable. Or, maybe the case is frankly too big to forefeit the representation - the "big case" syndrome. Accordingly, the attorney seeks to tough it out. So, when his adversary initiates a contempt or sanctions motion against the client - but, more poignantly, against the lawyer himself - for failing to produce discovery, the attorney might find it necessary to defend himself in court, by essentially pointing a finger at the client to justify the non-compliance. To do so - that is, to basically assert a quasi-Nuremberg defense that "I was following [my client's] orders" - would likely not constitute a legal defense. More important here, though, it might also constitute an ethics violation.

This is basically what occurred in Ceglia v. Zuckerberg and Facebook, a class action lawsuit in the Western District of New York. There, plaintiff Paul Ceglia's lawyers actually accused their client, in affidavits that opposed sanctions against them, of "instructing" them to defy the discovery order of the district court which had directed Ceglia to consent to a webmail search. Specifically, Ceglia's lawyers swore under oath that, when the district judge denied a stay motion and they told Ceglia that he was still obliged to produce the relevant email account information, "Mr. Ceglia continued to refuse to comply with the August 18 Order." Pretty raw indeed, even for a New York lawyer!

Zuckerberg's attorneys met this "defense" by Ceglia's attorneys, citing case law that a lawyer can't immunize his own responsibility for a discovery violation by hiding behind his client's actions, arguing that they were just following orders. Specifically, "[W]hen an attorney advises a client in discovery matters, he assumes a responsibility for the professional disposition of that portion of a lawsuit and may be held accountable for positions taken or responses filed during that process." (Devaney v. Continental American Ins. Co., 989 F. 2d 1154, 1162 11th Cir. 1993). Further, "Even if [the clients] requested that their attorneys not fully respond to discovery, attorneys have an obligation to the Court and other attorneys," and may be sanctioned for unjustifiable discovery positions (Thompson v. Fajerstein, 2010 WL 4628515, at *5-6 N.D. Ill. Nov. 8, 2010).

More pertinent, here, though, Zuckerberg's attorneys raised ethical bars in support of their sanctions motion, claiming Ceglia's lawyers transgressed Rule 1.6 of the New York Rules of Professional Conduct: "A lawyer shall not knowingly reveal confidential information, as defined in this Rule, or use such information to the disadvantage of a client for the advantage of the lawyer or a third person." Further, claiming that Rule 1.8 was also violated, Zuckerberg argued that Ceglia's attorneys used "information relating to the representation to the disadvantage of the client [in violation of] the lawyer's duty of loyalty."

Clearly, Ceglia's attorneys were in a tight spot, confronted with a client who, as they basically articulated it, is bent on defying a court order. And yes, it may well be that Zuckerberg's lawyers have no standing to complain that Ceglia's lawyers acted unethically in trying to shift blame to him or off themselves. After all, Facebook was certainly not harmed by the ethical lapses allegedly committed by Ceglia's lawyers. Actually, they may have been aided by Ceglia's lawyers directly confronting him.

Still, one wonders if attorneys may properly conduct themselves as did Ceglia's lawyers when facing their predicament. Should they have tried to go ex parte with the judge with the goal of self-protection, without incriminating the client? Hardly. How can you tell the judge who holds your client's fate in his hands that your client intended to defy him? Moreover, the alternative of simply taking one's medicine for sanctionable conduct and taking the blame for the client's own conduct would also have been unacceptable. Perhaps a better tack could have been to request an ex parte appearance before a magistrate or a different district judge to explain the problem, thereby "covering themselves" without having to air the problem before the judge with ultimate responsibility for the case.

While the latter course may have been preferable, it would clearly have been better for the issue not to have gotten that far. Put simply, the lawyers could and probably should have withdrawn when they first saw the handwriting on the wall. Yes, it is uncommonly easy to armchair quarterback and pontificate that no fee or representation is worth the bad publicity or the sanction that may now fall on Ceglia's attorneys. Lawyers are officers of the court. Clients must be allowed to make the ultimate decision, but only with full knowledge that if, in the attorneys' view, their proposed strategic decisions may violate court orders, the lawyers may find themselves to be answerable to a "higher authority."

As a postscript, an attorney should indeed be a client's special-purpose friend. Nonetheless, given that these lawyers chose to directly and under oath accuse their client of wrongdoing (when their choices were sharply limited in the means available to avoid sanctions or even worse), they surely won't be "friending" their client real soon on Facebook or, for that matter, anywhere else. In fact, on Oct. 17, Ceglia's third team of lawyers withdrew from the case, and that may say something too.

By Joel Cohen


Cellini's lawyer cites juror's felony record in seeking mistrial

Woman allegedly concealed 2 convictions during jury selection

Lawyers for Springfield power broker William Cellini say they will file for a mistrial as soon as Monday based on a report in the Tribune that a juror apparently concealed two felony convictions from court officials during jury selection.

One issue could turn on whether the juror was eligible to serve on the panel that convicted Cellini last week in light of her own criminal history.

The Tribune reported Friday that Cook County court records show that a woman with the same name, age and address as the juror pleaded guilty to a felony charge of crack-cocaine possession in 2000 and was sentenced to 1 1/2 years probation. In 2008, she pleaded guilty to aggravated driving under the influence without a driver's license, also a felony, and was sentenced to probation and time served - 44 days in jail, according to the records.

The juror, who lives on Chicago's South Side, was unavailable for comment Friday for a second consecutive day.

Federal statutes call for the exclusion of jurors who have felony convictions - unless their civil rights have been restored. What that means in this case could be a contentious issue between the prosecution and defense.

In a statement released Friday, the U.S. attorney's office said that in Illinois a convicted felon's civil rights are restored after the individual has served the sentence imposed by a court.

"Thus, a person who has completed his or her sentence on a felony conviction is not disqualified from serving on a federal jury," the statement said.

However, it appears from court records that the woman at issue did not successfully complete her sentence for her narcotics conviction because she allegedly violated her probation by not properly reporting to a probation officer.

Cellini's attorney, Dan Webb, said he will argue in his mistrial motion that the woman's criminal background means Cellini's conviction must be tossed out.

"It's not Bill Cellini's fault that (there was) a juror on there that shouldn't be," he said.

Cellini's attorneys will likely argue that the woman never disclosed she had a conviction on a questionnaire filled out by jurors or under questioning by the judge in the courtroom during jury selection last month.

She told U.S. District Judge James Zagel in court that the DUI she had marked on her questionnaire referred to a relative, not herself, according to a statement issued Thursday night by the clerk of the federal court.

The federal jury convicted Cellini in connection with the attempted extortion of a Hollywood producer in 2004. Prosecutors said Cellini, a longtime Republican fundraiser, conspired to squeeze a campaign contribution for then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich in order to protect his insider access in Springfield. The producer operated a firm that invested tens of millions of dollars for a state pension fund.

Several attorneys contacted by the Tribune on Friday said that undoing a jury verdict would be no easy task for Cellini's lawyers.

"Federal law appropriately provides great respect for a jury's verdict and holds that it should not be lightly disturbed," the U.S. attorney's office noted in its statement.

By Annie Sweeney, Chicago Tribune reporter

Source: Chicago Tribune

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

US denies retaliation in prosecution of defense lawyer

Federal investigators began targeting prominent attorney Robert A. George only after they were approached by an informant in February 2009, who said George had offered to help him launder money, according to court records filed yesterday in US District Court in Boston.

The records also deny that a high-ranking member of the US attorney's office had any involvement in the investigation, countering George's contention that his case is retaliation by the government for his representation of a client who allegedly proposed killing a prosecutor a decade ago.

The prosecutor, Jack W. Pirozzolo, was named acting first assistant United States attorney only in November 2009, after the investigation began, and he had no role in it, the US attorney's office said in court records.

The records stated that Pirozzolo's only involvement in George's case was that he was made aware of another supervisor's approval to indict George, and that he and another member of his office raised questions with a judge about George's potential conflict of interest in the representation of other defendants in the courthouse.

"Thus, it was almost 16 months following commencement of the instant investigation that . . . Pirozzolo had any involvement with the case, and this peripheral involvement did not affect any investigative or prosecutive decisions,'' prosecutors said in court documents.

"There is no evidence to demonstrate any animus by the government toward the defendant.''

The records were filed by prosecutors in opposition to George's request for an evidentiary hearing in his case, in which he accused the government of a vindictive prosecution against him.

The well-known defense lawyer has represented a wide variety of clients, including members of the New England Mafia and the trash collector convicted of the notorious Cape Cod murder of fashion writer Christa Worthington. George is charged with conspiring to launder money and money laundering in allegedly conspiring to "clean'' a former client's drug profits. The former client, according to court records, was working as a confidential informant for federal investigators.

George is also charged with structuring transactions to evade reporting requirements after he received $25,000 from another individual, a prospective client, and allegedly made two bank deposits of less than $10,000 to avoid documentation of the money. The prospective client was in fact a Drug Enforcement Administration agent pretending to be a drug dealer from the Dominican Republic.

Lawyers for George argue that the information they expect to find in an evidentiary hearing will show an abuse of power by prosecutors in targeting George.

The lawyers argue that Pirozzolo was involved in the decision to target George and that his office was retaliating against him for his representation of a client who proposed killing the prosecutor. The client was found guilty of plotting the murders of witnesses in his initial fraud case more than a decade ago, but he was never charged with plotting the death of Pirozzolo.

George's lawyers, prominent attorneys Robert Goldstein and Kevin Reddington, also challenged the government's use of the confidential informant in the money-laundering case.

They say that the witness, identified in court records as Ronald Dardinski, may have entrapped George in the investigation to curry favor with investigations. The lawyers argue that Dardinski's credibility has been tainted by his alleged attempts to launder money while under supervision by investigators.

But prosecutors said in court records yesterday that George's request is "completely devoid of merit.''

The records include an affidavit by Joseph Tamuleviz, a special agent with the DEA, which states that he was first approached by Dardinski in February 2009 and that Dardinski reported "he had recently seen the defendant and the defendant had offered to launder his money.'' Tamuleviz does not identify Dardinski by name.

Also, assistant US attorney Laura J. Kaplan filed an affidavit stating that Pirozzolo had no involvement in the case and that "I have been the lead prosecutor on this case throughout the investigation and prosecution.''

By Milton J. Valencia, Globe staff,, Twitter - @miltonvalencia

Source: The Boston Globe

Former assistant DA deflects blame in Morton case

In a deposition made public Tuesday, Mike Davis, a former assistant district attorney in Williamson County, pointed the finger for any alleged wrongdoing that led to the prosecution of Michael Morton directly at his former boss, Ken Anderson.

Davis provided testimony Oct. 29 as part of an ongoing investigation by defense lawyers into whether Williamson County officials intentionally withheld information that could have prevented Morton's 1987 murder conviction and life sentence in the killing of his wife, Christine Morton. According to the transcript, a representative of the State Bar of Texas also attended the Davis deposition. That agency is also investigating allegations of prosecutorial misconduct in the Morton case.

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals exonerated Morton last month. DNA evidence revealed that another man was likely responsible for his wife's 1986 murder. Morton was released after spending nearly 25 years in prison.

Morton's attorneys - John Raley of the Houston law firm Raley & Bowick and lawyers at the New York-based Innocence Project - allege that the Williamson County district attorney's office intentionally withheld a transcript in which Christine Morton’s mother told the lead investigator in the murder that the couple’s 3-year-old son, Eric, saw a "monster" who was not his father brutally attack his mother. They also contend that prosecutors withheld information about Christine Morton's credit card being used and a check being cashed with her forged signature days after her death.

During the investigation and trial, Davis worked for Anderson, who was then the district attorney. Anderson, who was also deposed last week, is now a Williamson County district judge. In his testimony, made public on Tuesday, Davis said he recalled few details of the proceedings two decades ago and that Anderson would have been in control of the case, deciding which information to give Morton's attorneys and what documents to provide to the judge.

"Any murder case was Ken Anderson's baby," Davis said in his deposition.

In court documents, the former prosecutors - Davis and Anderson - have denied wrongdoing.

In 1987, the trial judge ordered Anderson provide him reports from the Williamson County Sheriff's Office lead investigator that might help exonerate Morton. Lawyers for Morton became suspicious that prosecutors had withheld information from the judge when jurors reported to them that Davis said after the trial that there was an inch-thick stack of police reports that jurors never saw that could have raised more doubt about Morton's guilt. Morton's lawyers asked for a new trial, but the request was denied.

This year, Morton's lawyers learned that the transcript, the credit card, check cashing reports and information about witnesses who saw a suspicious van scouting the neighborhood were not provided to the judge. The file contained only a few pages of initial police reports.

In his deposition, Davis told Morton's lawyers that he was surprised during the trial that Anderson was fighting not to turn over information to defense lawyers. He said he was "shocked to hear about this kid transcript or story or whatever it was." And he said he didn't know about the credit card and check transactions that happened after Christine Morton's death.

Davis said he did not recall telling the jury after Morton's conviction that there was a thick file of police reports that might have swayed their decision. "I can't dispute it, sir," he said, adding, "I do not remember the file, but I would think any major murder investigation was going to be more than an inch thick."

Davis, who left the district attorney's office just days after the Morton case ended, said Anderson had a close working relationship with then-Sheriff Jim Boutwell. And he said Anderson prided himself on knowing all the details of cases that he tried, describing him as "a control guy" when it came to his investigations.

The transcript and other information, Davis said, should have been turned over to the judge and to Morton's attorneys. When he learned about the DNA evidence that exonerated Morton, Davis said he went to Anderson's office and confronted him about whether he had concealed the transcript outlining details of the attack young Eric Morton witnessed. "And he says, 'We turned it over,'" Davis said.

Davis also described a scene that unfolded in the Williamson County courthouse on the day that the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals exonerated Morton. Davis was in Anderson's courtroom, and he said current District Attorney John Bradley arrived and insisted on a meeting with Davis and Anderson in a back room. Anderson wanted to meet with Bradley alone, Davis said, and the two went into a separate room. "And Judge Anderson and Mr. Bradley had a discussion which was pretty loud," Davis said. "I could hear raised voices, but I couldn't tell what they were saying."

Davis contended he had no knowledge that anything was withheld from Morton's lawyers, and that he was disturbed to learn that information was allegedly supressed. "It troubles me greatly," Davis said.

The transcript of Anderson's deposition, which was conducted last week, is expected to be released soon.

By John Bradley, Texas Court of Criminal Appeals

Source: The Texas Tribune

Monday, November 7, 2011

Plea bargains, through a glass darkly

The U.S. Supreme Court is historically averse to opening up a can of worms, so it comes as no surprise the justices looked darkly last week at cases asking them to consider whether defendants are constitutionally harmed when they pass up plea bargains through the actions of "ineffective" -- read incompetent -- lawyers.

If the high court were to turn the constitutional spotlight on plea bargains and lawyers it could have a tsunami effect: The "vast majority" of U.S. criminal cases are resolved by plea bargains, FindLaw tells us, and most legal analysts put the number around 95 percent.

Just the possibility of such a spotlight is enough to set off alarm bells in prosecutors' offices across the country -- tens of thousands of convicted inmates suddenly discovering they'd agreed to plea bargains through the advice of "ineffective counsel."

In one of the cases before the court, Missouri vs. Frye, Connecticut was joined by 28 other states to defend the finality of plea bargains -- the states said they have a "compelling interest ... in the finality of convictions" produced by plea bargains.

In the Missouri case, a defense attorney apparently didn't tell his client about a plea bargain offer from the prosecutor. But Connecticut and the other states argued in their brief the failure to tell a defendant of a plea offer, "though 'professionally objectionable,' does not constitute 'a breakdown in the adversarial process" required by the Constitution.

The defendants in each of the two linked cases heard by the Supreme Court last week are not the kind that rouse sympathy in the general public. In absolutely the most charitable terms, each could be described as "hapless."

On Aug. 14, 2007, Gailin Frye was charged in Missouri for driving without a license. Since it was his fourth similar offense, the charge was bumped to a class D felony.

The prosecutor offered Frye two options: three years in prison, with a substitute probation left up to the judge, and 10 days "shock" incarceration the with probation; or reduction of the charge to a misdemeanor and 90 days in jail.

Frye's attorney didn't tell him about the options. Meanwhile, he was arrested in another county on the same charge. He ended up pleading guilty to the original charge and received no probation and three years in prison.

A state appeals court threw out his guilty plea and said he should be given another chance at a plea deal.

In the second case, Anthony Cooper shot Kali Mundy four times in Wayne County, Mich., as she was running away from him, court records said. The rounds hit her twice in the right buttock, once in the hip and once in the right side of the abdomen.

Mundy was hospitalized for three weeks and survived.

Cooper was charged with three crimes: assault with intent to murder, possession of a firearm by a felon and using a firearm during the course of a felony. Conviction on the lead charge of assault with intent to murder carries a possible sentence of life in prison under Michigan law.

At a pretrial hearing, Cooper was offered a chance to plead guilty to that lead charge with the understanding his sentence would be at the lower end of 51 to 85 months -- in other words, he could be imprisoned for four years and a few months.

Cooper's lawyer said on the record that his client was rejecting the offer because the medical records -- Mundy was shot below the waist -- did not support assault with intent to murder and Cooper would wait for a better offer.

Cooper was then convicted as originally charged, and was sentenced to 185 to 360 months -- meaning a minimum of 15 years.

State appellate courts refused to reverse the conviction, but a federal judge and a U.S. appeals court ruled he should be re-offered the plea bargain.

Prosecutors in both cases asked the U.S. Supreme Court for review.

In its own brief to the high court in the Missouri case, the Obama administration argued: "The purpose of the Sixth Amendment right to effective assistance of counsel is to ensure the defendant receives a fair trial that reliably determines his guilt or innocence. That purpose is central to this [Supreme] court's cases defining the elements of an ineffective assistance claim."

Reporting on last Monday's argument was generally similar to that of David Savage, the Los Angeles Times' veteran Supreme Court correspondent. Savage wrote the justices "showed little enthusiasm ... for reopening the cases of criminal defendants who lost out on good plea deals based on bad advice or bungling by their lawyers."

Despite the unappealing aspects of the two defendants, their lawyers argued that they deserved justice -- or least "fundamental fairness" -- in a U.S. court.

"This man [Cooper] deserved to get the sentence he got, didn't he? He had a full and fair trial," Justice Antonin Scalia asked rhetorically from the bench. "A jury of 12 people, finding him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, determined that he deserved that sentence. How could it be unfair to give him the sentence that he deserved?"

Scalia told Michigan Solicitor General John Bursch: "I don't think our legal process is ... a bargaining game. It shouldn't be."

"Well, we could agree with that," Bursch said. "Bargaining is not what this is about, and that's why this court has held in [1977's] Weatherford [vs. Bursey] and other cases that there is no right to the plea bargain itself."

The difficulty of the Supreme Court argument for the defendants' attorneys is demonstrated by this exchange between Cooper's lawyer, Valerie Newman, and members of the bench.

Justice Anthony Kennedy: "We can think about adjudication as having a constitutional violation, injury and remedy. Are you saying that there was a violation in the abstract here but no injury, or was there a violation and an injury but just no remedy?"

Newman: "There wasn't -- there was no defense presented. There was no real defense presented at trial because --"

Justice Sonia Sotomayor: "Did he deny having committed the act of the shooting?"

Newman: "Never."

Sotomayor: "At trial?"

Newman: "No."

Then later.

Sotomayor: "I thought of this case, and you can correct me if I am wrong, that your client told the attorney from the beginning: 'I did it; I want to plea.'"

Newman: "That is correct. ... There was no question in this case at any step, at any stage of the proceedings and there was ... never anything from the trial attorney other than incompetent advice. He never went to trial for an acquittal. He went to trial because he believed legally his client would be convicted of a lesser offense that would put him in a better position than if he had accepted the plea. That's the only reason."

And later.

Newman: "I'm not saying literally no defense, and I apologize if that's what came across, but no cognizable defense. It was not 'mistaken identification' or 'we didn't intend to hit her.' I mean, he never contested the basic facts of that case."

Chief Justice John Roberts: "Something the jury could have accepted, right? Even if it's not legally true that if you shoot ... the person below the waist, that's not a defense, but I can see a reasonable juror saying he probably didn't intend to kill her. He shot her below the waist. Maybe that is not such a bad strategy."

The New York Times had its own take on the Missouri case in a Sunday editorial. "The Constitution's guarantee of effective counsel requires that a defendant be informed of important developments," the newspaper said. "That protection means little if it does not include a right to know about plea offers."

The justices should hand down a decision in the next few months.

By Michael Kirkland


Mo. AG campaign gets $182K from lawyers

Several groups of lawyers from around the country, including some who have given thousands of dollars to Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster's re-election campaign, are vying to represent Missouri in a lawsuit against pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline.

Koster's campaign reports show he's received at least $182,000 from firms seeking to work on the case involving the drug Avandia, which has been linked to increased risk of heart disease, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Sunday (

Koster said he was investigating the company before he received a donation, and that he won't ultimately select which firm gets the job. He also said it's not unusual for him to get campaign donations from out-of-state lawyers and that he was already investigating the drug company before he received the donation from New Mexico.

Since the late 1990s, Missouri has avoided lawsuits where private attorneys, not state lawyers, handle the case. That was when lawyers reaped tens of millions in legal fees after just a few months of work on tobacco litigation. But Koster says Missouri is losing out by not engaging in lawsuits that offer the possibility of significant sums of money for lawyers and the state.

"The other choice is to stay in the cave and to settle these cases for nuisance value," Koster said. "I think the state of Missouri, in a time of fiscal despair, is leaving tens of millions of dollars on the table."

GlaxoSmithKline announced last week that it had reached a $3 billion settlement with the U.S. Justice Department to end a long-running federal probe into company practices that included the marketing of Avandia. The drug has been the source of thousands of lawsuits since a 2007 New England Journal of Medicine article associated Avandia with an increased risk of heart attack.

Attorneys filing a pharmaceutical lawsuit on behalf of an entire state can seek compensation for Medicaid funds spent on prescriptions, plus additional penalties related to the sale of the drug _ creating the possibility of settlements worth tens of millions of dollars, if not more.

For states, hiring outside lawyers allows them to take on complex cases their staff might not have the expertise to handle.

The cases are taken on a contingency basis, meaning the lawyers working for the state get nothing if they lose, but are entitled to a percentage of the payout if they win or settle.

The decision to pursue a contingency case is typically made by state attorneys general _ some of whom, like Koster, accept campaign contributions from law firms seeking a piece of the settlement.

The law firms "want to get paid. They want to maximize their profits and their share of the contingency fee," said Darren McKinney, a spokesman for the American Tort Reform Association. "Are they going to seek justice and a fair settlement for everyone?"

For Missouri, Koster said the potential settlement in an Avandia suit could be much larger. Through Medicaid, the state has had $43 million in direct Avandia-related expenses. The state would also pursue, Koster said, a $1,000 fraud penalty for each of the 350,000 Avandia prescriptions issued in Missouri.

"Back of a napkin calculation," Koster said, "let's call it a $400 million case."

The private attorneys assigned to the case would be entitled to up to 25 percent of the net settlement, which would not include a share of the Medicaid recovery returned to the federal government.

The Missouri attorney general's office has two more contingency lawsuits in the works. One attempts to prove that the state, again through Medicaid, was overcharged for prescription drugs; the other involves the state's fund for underground petroleum tank storage. Proposals from lawyers seeking to handle those two cases are due Nov. 14.

Koster says he supports requirements for selecting outside lawyers to litigate cases on behalf of the state. He said he even pushed for a cap on attorney fees that was defeated amid lobbying by the Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys.

The selection process "is more than an arm's length transaction _ it doesn't involve me," Koster said.

By Associated Pres


Sunday, November 6, 2011

Lawyers for Las Vegas attorney, ex-cop challenging indictment in arson-suicide-murder scheme

Attorneys for a Las Vegas lawyer and her former police officer boyfriend want a judge to throw out an indictment alleging the couple conspired in a botched arson-murder-suicide scheme that unraveled after the lawyer was found unconscious in her burning home.

In a document filed this week in Clark County District Court, defense attorneys Tom Pitaro and John Momot accuse prosecutors of improperly taking allegations against Nancy Quon and William Ronald Webb Jr. to separate grand juries until one handed up an indictment.

"The state conducted six grand jury sessions in front of two separate grand jury panels with no notice ... as to the nature of the investigation," the lawyers wrote. "All anyone was told was that they were called to give testimony in 'the investigation pertaining to the investigation.'"

Pitaro and Momot also allege that a judge improperly let prosecutors resubmit the case.

In a separate document also filed Wednesday, Pitaro bluntly challenges prosecutors to provide evidence that information about a sweeping federal investigation of Las Vegas-area homeowners associations was leaked to Quon and Webb, and that Quon had support from U.S. Senate Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid.

"If this evidence exists, disclose it," Pitaro wrote. "If it does not exist, say so."

Deputy Clark County District Attorney Sandra DiGiacomo made the assertions during an Aug. 18 bail hearing, telling Clark County District Judge Michelle Leavitt that Quon decided to set fire to her home Oct. 28, 2010, because she feared she was about to be indicted in a sweeping federal investigation of homeowners association fraud.

Quon, who handled construction defect cases for homeowners associations, believed Reid was going to lose his seat in the November election, and Quon feared she would no longer have access to information about the investigation, DiGiacomo said.

U.S. Attorney Daniel Bogden in Las Vegas denied leaks from his office to Quon. In a strongly worded letter to Clark County District Attorney David Roger, Bogden called the allegation "false and slanderous."

Reid aides were reviewing the court record Friday and did not immediately comment on the assertion that Quon was linked with the senator.

The district attorney is due to file a written response to the Pitaro and Momot motions by Dec. 1. Clark County District Judge Douglas Herndon has scheduled a hearing Jan. 5.

Quon, 51, and Webb, 43, were indicted Aug. 17 on felony charges including arson, conspiracy and insurance fraud. Webb also is accused of conspiring to kill Quon. Both have pleaded not guilty.

Webb, who retired as a Las Vegas police officer in August 2008, was in San Diego when his brother found Quon unconscious on a couch in her burning home. Prosecutors allege the two planned to kill Quon with a lethal dose of a hard-to-detect illegal drug, gamma hydroxybutyrate or GHB, and have Webb collect insurance money, administer their affairs and then commit suicide later.

Police and prosecutors allege that Quon was a target in the homeowners association fraud probe that local and federal agents launched in November 2007. She has not been charged, but eight people have taken plea deals since August, including a southern Nevada political consultant, several homeowners association agents and a Las Vegas criminal defense lawyer.

The defendants in that case are accused of conspiring to rig homeowners association elections and using so-called "straw buyers" to buy properties in about a dozen Las Vegas-area communities from about August 2003 through February 2009. Prosecutors allege that co-conspirators won homeowners association board seats and controlled decisions about how homeowners association fees were spent.

The indictment against Quon and Webb alleges that Webb talked after the fire with an unindicted co-conspirator, Robert Justice, 45, and an unnamed undercover Las Vegas police officer about obtaining GHB. It wasn't clear if the drug was to be used for a suicide or in a slaying.

Webb was recorded and videotaped buying the drug Nov. 9 in a parking lot at a Las Vegas-area casino. Police arrested Quon in a room inside the hotel.

By Ken Ritter, Associated Press

Source: The Republic

Lawyers want water for Pa. town's tainted wells

A law firm has demanded that Pennsylvania environmental regulators force a natural-gas driller to continue delivering replacement water to residents of a town whose drinking water wells were tainted with methane and possibly hazardous chemicals.

Cabot Oil & Gas Corp. has been delivering water to homes in the northeastern Pennsylvania village of Dimock since January 2009. The Houston-based energy company asserts Dimock's water is safe to drink and won regulatory permission last month to stop the water deliveries by the end of November.

Attorneys for 11 Dimock families who are suing Cabot in federal court said that test results show their well water is still contaminated. The law firm sent a letter to the state Department of Environmental Protection on Thursday, accusing regulators of colluding with the gas company and demanding they order Cabot to continue paying for bulk and bottled water. The Associated Press obtained the letter Friday.

"PADEP's arbitrary decision will deprive these deserving people and future generations, of their constitutional right to pure, clean, potable water," wrote Tate Kunkle of the New York City law firm of Napoli Bern Ripka Shkolnik & Associates.

Regulators previously found that Cabot drilled faulty gas wells that allowed methane to escape into Dimock's aquifer. The company denied responsibility, but has been banned from drilling in a 9-square-mile area of Dimock since April 2010.

Along with its request to stop paying for water deliveries, Cabot asked the department for permission to resume drilling in Dimock, a rural community about 20 miles south of the New York state line where 18 residential water wells were found to be polluted with methane. The state agency has yet to rule on that request.

"By coddling the oil and gas company, PADEP has made clear where its priorities lie," Kunkle wrote.

In an email, a Cabot spokesman said the company "continues to fully cooperate with the DEP regarding our operations."

DEP spokeswoman Katy Gresh had no immediate comment. She referred to a letter to the editor by Environmental Secretary Michael Krancer in which Krancer defended his agency's handling of the Dimock situation.

A December 2010 agreement between DEP and Cabot required the company to offer residential treatment systems that remove methane from the residents' water, and to pay them twice the assessed tax value of their homes. A half-dozen treatment systems have been installed, and Cabot said they are effective at removing the gas. The agreement does not make the company liable for any chemicals or metals that have turned up in the residents' water, nor does it require the company to treat the water for anything other than methane.

Residents who are suing Cabot have appealed the settlement. They favor an earlier, scuttled DEP plan that would have forced Cabot to pay nearly $12 million to connect their homes to a municipal water line.

In his letter, written this week in response to an editorial in the (Chambersburg) Public Opinion, Krancer said that Cabot had satisfied the requirements of the settlement agreement.

"The real issue here is not safety; it's about a very vocal minority of Dimock residents who continue to demand that taxpayers should foot the bill for a nearly $12 million public water line along Route 29 to serve about a dozen homes," Krancer wrote. "This issue has, and continues to, pit neighbor against neighbor in Dimock."

Krancer, who serves under pro-drilling Republican Gov. Tom Corbett, has made no secret of his enthusiasm for Pennsylvania's burgeoning natural-gas drilling industry. Speaking before the Rotary Club of Erie on Wednesday, he called the Marcellus Shale "a blessing under our feet if do it right" and vouched for the safety of hydraulic fracturing, the drilling technique that's allowed energy companies to exploit deep shale formations like the Marcellus. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is studying whether the technique is contaminating drinking-water supplies.

Krancer's comments in Erie were reported by the Erie Times-News.

Kunkle, the residents' attorney, contended that state officials have concluded Cabot's profits "are more important than the constitutional right to pure water of the Commonwealth's residents." He said the Cabot treatment systems are ineffective and that his clients should not be forced to choose between drinking questionable "treated water" and paying $100 per day for delivery of potable water.

"Cabot and its representatives behave as if they are doing these undeserving people a favor with offers of a whole-house treatment system and nominal monetary payments," Kunkle wrote to the agency. "Cabot has not provided a 'permanent solution' to the problem they created and the only losers here are the residents of the Dimock/Carter Road Area and the community."

He said that tests have detected elevated levels of aluminum, iron, manganese and toluene in some of his clients' wells. The first three can affect the taste, smell and color of water but do not generally pose a health hazard. Toluene is a chemical found in drilling fluids, but Cabot has said it does not use it.

Several other worrisome substances were found at lower levels, the attorney said, including two chemicals associated with natural gas drilling: Bis (2-Ethylhexyl) adipate and Bis (2-Ehylhexyl) phthalate.

Dimock's aquifer is also still laced with methane, he wrote.

Methane is an odorless, colorless, tasteless gas commonly found in Pennsylvania groundwater. Sources include swamps, landfills, coal mines and gas wells. Methane is not known to be harmful to ingest, but at high concentrations it's flammable and can lead to asphyxiation.

Cabot has said many of the substances detected in the residents' water are naturally occurring. Kunkle said that is misleading because those substances were safely ensconced thousands of feet below Dimock's aquifer before they were brought to the surface by Cabot's drilling activities.

It's not clear whether the attorneys will take formal legal action if DEP refuses to reverse its decision. Kunkle declined Friday to comment on the letter, which was sent to Scott Perry, chief of DEP's oil and gas program.

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson and Shawn Garvin, chief of EPA's regional office in Philadelphia, also received copies.

By Michael Rubinkam, Associated Press

Source: Google News

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Not all Indiana stage collapse claims will be paid

STORY: Ind. relief fund raises questions, concerns
STORY: Sugarland plans Indiana benefit concert

"This is still a very fluid process," Corbin said. But attorneys say some people who submitted claims will inevitably walk away empty-handed.

The deadline to submit the claims was Tuesday, and the attorney general's office had received 90 by the end of the day. It could receive more via mail, and it will accept them as long as they were postmarked by Tuesday.

The 90 claims cite everything from death of loved ones and serious injuries to emotional distress. The attorney general's office says that families of people who died and those who were seriously injured will get priority.

By law, the state can't pay more than $5 million total for one tragedy, and it can't pay a single victim more than $700,000.

If the state pays the maximum to the families of the seven people who died, that will take up $4.9 million of the $5 million pot, said Kenneth Allen, an attorney for the families of three people who died.

"How do you then compensate someone who says he was emotionally distressed when you've got to compare it to a claim from someone who lost her spouse?" Allen said.

However, victims have other ways to get money. A charitable relief fund has already given more than $500,000 to some victims and still has a little less than $500,000 left. The deadline to submit claims to that fund is Nov. 14.

Attorneys also are looking at the liability of others involved in the concert, including the band and the company that provided the stage.

"There's not just one pocket here," said Karen Celestino-Horseman, who represents a stagehand who sustained back and head injuries in the collapse.

In fact, she said, victims should pay close attention to the conditions that go along with money the state doles out because the state could ask victims not to pursue further legal action.

Celestino-Horseman said she's trying to do everything she can to get money for her client, 62-year-old Tony Mancuso, who was denied money from the charitable relief fund.

Mancuso's medical bills were covered by workman's compensation. But Mancuso said, he wasn't able to work for about 21/2months. And when he doesn't work, he said, he doesn't get paid.

"I'm not really looking for much," Mancuso said. "Six months from now, if my back hurts, I'd like to take a day off from work without worrying about it."

By Carrie Ritchie, The Indianapolis Star

Source: USA Today

Lawmaker in attorney fee cap debate has lawyer bill pending

Opponents decry Vos' legislation as anti-consumer

The lawmaker who introduced a bill to cap attorney fees in consumer litigation never mentioned that he, as a landlord, faces a pending claim of $20,000 in such fees from a case over a student house in Whitewater.

Rep. Robin Vos (R-Rochester) said he wrote the bill capping fees at three times a plaintiff's monetary damages after a car dealer in his district had to pay $150,000 in attorney fees over a $5,000 repair a customer said he never authorized. The Burlington dealer agreed to settle the case with the customer.

The new law would presume that reasonable fees are no more than three times any monetary damage award but would allow judges to exceed that if plaintiffs' attorneys could prove the limit was unreasonable.

Vos says the limits would provide certainty for businesses; consumer advocates contend they would decimate the state's consumer protection laws because lawyers wouldn't agree to take complex cases over relatively small amounts.

The Senate voted last week to approve the bill, and the Assembly is set to take it up Thursday. If it passes, the bill would be sent to Gov. Scott Walker, who supports it, for his signature.

During neither a Senate committee hearing on the bill nor in interviews with reporters, did Vos ever disclose his own personal interest in the issue.

Vos, co-chairman of the Legislature's Joint Finance Committee, said Wednesday that he didn't want it to be about him, and besides, the law would only affect future cases, not the one he has pending.

He called it sad that opponents of the bill were resorting to questioning his motives.

"They know this bill is going to pass and they know the gravy train is going to end," he said.

Consumer lawyers and Democrats say Vos should have brought up his own case. They said the new law could still provide a basis for Vos' attorney to argue that the judge should now consider what fees are reasonable in the pending matter.

"It would have been more appropriate if he had disclosed," said Rep. Gary Hebl (D-Sun Prairie). "There's just a distaste to it," otherwise.

"Certainly if you're the author of a bill, you have to be extra careful," he said.

According to court records, Vos is the sole shareholder of Ladwig & Vos, which owns a rental house at 122 S. Franklin St. in Whitewater. Last year, the company sued five college students who had leased the house for the 2010-'11 year but had moved out after just three months.

The company sought about $17,000 in unpaid rent, said Brian Schuk, an attorney for one of the students.

Instead, Schuk countersued, claiming breach of contract, security deposit violation and rent overpayment. According to records, his client paid one-fifth of the $1,500 security deposit, one-fifth of the summer rent and in early August 2010, one-fifth of the fall rent.

But on Aug. 31, all five tenants moved out because the power had gone out in the house 25 times since June 2, according to the counter claim, which also cites a dangerous stairway that made the house unsafe for habitation.

On Oct. 3, the parties agreed to a settlement in which Ladwig & Vos would pay Schuk's client $2,175 for deposit return and unearned rent, as well as reasonable attorney fees and costs. The settlement states that Ladwig & Vos disputes the merits of the tenants' claims but recognized the risk of going to trial.

Last week, Schuk filed a detailed accounting of his fees and costs that totals a little more than $20,000. A judge will decide whether the amount is reasonable. No date has been set for a hearing, but Schuk said he expects it would occur by the end of the year.

Under the bill, Schuk's fees would be presumed to be capped at $6,525.

Vince Megna, an attorney who won the fees against the Burlington car dealer and testified at the Senate hearing on the fees bill, said Vos will probably never return a contested deposit if the bill passes.

"No one will ever sue a landlord again for an $800 to $1,000 deposit," Megna said.

By Bruce Vielmetti, Journal Sentinel

Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Attorneys argue over medication of Jared Lee Loughner

A lawyer for Jared Lee Loughner tells an appeals court panel that forcing antipsychotic drugs on the Tucson shooting suspect violates his rights. A prosecutor says doctors are authorized to cure him.

Attorneys for the government and Jared Lee Loughner battled before a federal appeals court panel Tuesday over whether forcing antipsychotic drugs on the Tucson shooting defendant is legally justified and likely to restore his mental competency to stand trial on capital charges.

In a complex debate citing the mere handful of similar cases in federal court archives, Assistant U.S. Atty. Christina M. Cabanillas told a three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals that prison doctors, not judges and lawyers, were in the best position to decide what medications are needed to make Loughner fit for trial.

In July, Loughner's attorneys persuaded another 9th Circuit panel to temporarily halt the forced drugging, arguing that as a pretrial prisoner who had yet to be convicted of any offense, Loughner retained the right to refuse medications he feared could harm or kill him.

But little more than two weeks after doctors at a federal prison mental hospital in Missouri ceased the schizophrenia medication, Loughner began behaving erratically, throwing chairs and threatening suicide, prison authorities told the courts when they resumed the involuntary medication.

Ellis M. Johnston III, representing Loughner, argued that the government had violated the defendant's rights by allowing the prison to draft a treatment plan without court oversight or the involvement of an advocate for Loughner. He also challenged a federal District Court judge's decision to allow Loughner to be sent for a second four-month term at the Missouri facility.

Loughner is being treated with antidepressants to calm him and prevent his being a danger to himself or others, a medical intervention that has been justified in previous cases on safety grounds.

But his attorneys argued before the San Francisco court and in court papers that the drugs being forced on Loughner to treat his schizophrenia were worsening his depression and could interfere with his ability to aid in his defense if he was deemed mentally competent.

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled in prior competency cases that a defendant has the right to be able to react to the proceedings and engage with his lawyers, not just meet the trial competency standard of knowing right from wrong. Loughner's defenders warned that the drugs could make him appear lethargic or slow his comprehension of the proceedings, violating his right to a fair trial.

Loughner faces 49 felony counts in the Jan. 8 shooting rampage in Tucson, which killed six bystanders at a public event staged by Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.). Giffords was among 13 others wounded. Prosecutors are expected to seek the death penalty.

U.S. District Judge Larry A. Burns sent Loughner to the Missouri hospital for evaluation in the spring, which produced a diagnosis of schizophrenia. In May, Burns deemed Loughner incompetent to stand trial but committed him to a four-month term at the facility in an attempt to restore his mental capacity.

All three judges on the 9th Circuit panel - Marsha S. Berzon, Jay S. Bybee and J. Clifford Wallace - struggled Tuesday to pin the attorneys down on the constitutional questions, noting that there was little legal precedent defining the courts' role in restoring a mentally ill defendant to trial competency.

Johnston, Loughner's attorney, asked the court to order an evidentiary hearing at which prison doctors would be asked to explain the grounds for their medication regimen, and the potential side effects of the drugs being used to cure Loughner's schizophrenia and sedate him.

Cabanillas, the prosecutor, insisted that the prison was authorized by Burns' commitment orders to treat Loughner as the medical professionals determined to be appropriate and effective. She said that Loughner's mental health improved markedly under treatment with the antipsychotics, and that prison doctors expected the second course of treatment to make him fully competent to stand trial.

The judges didn't indicate when they would rule. Loughner's appeal of his involuntary commitment and medication was fast-tracked by the court, but its rulings have nonetheless usually taken at least a week or two after arguments.

By Carol J. Williams, Los Angeles Times,

Source: Los Angeles Times

Guantanamo authorities reading attorney-client mail, lawyers say

Lawyers representing detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, say authorities at the military base have begun reading privileged attorney-client communication - in a sharp break with past practice.

Legal mail is the principal means of communication between detainees charged in military commissions and their military defense attorneys,who are based in the Washington area.

In a letter Tuesday, nine of the attorneys wrote to William K. Lietzau, deputy assistant secretary of defense for rule of law and detainee policy, to object to authorities reading their mail to clients at the detention center. They asked that the commander at Guantanamo Bay be ordered to "cease and desist the seizure, opening, translating, reading and reviewing of attorney-client privileged communications."

A military official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the issue publicly, said that privileged mail between attorneys and their clients has always been clearly marked as such.

Previously, military personnel at Guantanamo Bay opened the mail in the presence of detainees - thus ensuring there was no contraband in the envelopes - and handed it to them without reading the contents.

Last month, the official said, Rear Adm. David B. Woods, the new commander at the prison, changed the policy and insisted on checking that the communication was relevant to commission cases.

A Pentagon spokesman declined to comment, saying the matter is the subject of ongoing litigation.

The nine military defense attorneys who signed the letter Tuesday - including the lawyer for Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the self-proclaimed mastermind of the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 - argue that military commission rules of evidence specifically protect attorney-client-privileged material.

They have threatened to litigate the issue to "the fullest extent," and said that doing so will stall proceedings at Guantanamo Bay.

"Violations of the attorney-client privilege are acutely egregious in the context of death penalty litigation where the Supreme Court has long held that heightened due process applies," stated the letter, a copy of which was provided to The Washington Post. "It is important to note that the legal materials discussed are not classified."

The attorneys, who all have security clearances, said they "are aware of the responsibilities involved in handling classified information."

The issue first surfaced in a motion filed in the case of Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, a Saudi who is scheduled to be arraigned next week on charges of murder and terrorism for his alleged role in the October 2000 al-Qaeda attack on the USS Cole in Yemen.

The subject of the Oct. 26 motion, however, could be learned only from its title, which asked a military judge "to bar" the Joint Task Force at Guantanamo Bay "from violating the attorney-client privilege by reading attorney-client information."

The motion cannot be read in full yet because it is undergoing a security review.

By Peter Finn

Source: The Washington Post