Wednesday, April 23, 2008
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Convicted terrorism plotter Jose Padilla will serve his term at a Colorado federal prison known as “Supermax” for its strict, isolated conditions and roster of infamous inmates, prison officials said Friday.
Padilla, 37, was sent from a Miami prison to the high-security facility in Florence, Colo., on Thursday, said Bureau of Prisons spokeswoman Felicia Pounce. Padilla was sentenced in January to about 17 years, but counting time already served and good behavior deductions his projected release date is Feb. 9, 2021 — or about 13 years.
At Florence, Padilla joins such well-known inmates as “Unabomber” Theodore Kaczynski, Sept. 11 attacks plotter Zacarias Moussaoui and Eric Rudolph, convicted of the 1996 Olympics bombing. Other neighbors among the 485 inmates are attempted shoe-bomber Richard Reid, FBI turncoat Robert Hanssen and Oklahoma City bombing conspirator Terry Nichols.
Padilla attorney Michael Caruso said in an e-mail Friday that Supermax is “a living hell” where inmates spend most days in 7-foot-by-12-foot cells and have little contact with the outside world. Caruso noted that others convicted of supporting terrorism, such as the “Lackawanna Six” group in upstate New York, were not sent to the nation’s toughest prison.
Caruso called the decision “yet another example of Jose being treated differently and in a more punitive fashion than others who have been accused of similar crimes. I genuinely fear that Jose’s mental health will erode to an even greater degree.”
Padilla and two co-defendants were convicted in August of three terrorism-related charges after a three-month trial in Miami federal court. The other two men, 45-year-old Adham Amin Hassoun and Kifah Wael Jayyousi, 46, remained in custody Friday at Miami’s downtown detention center.
The three were part of a support cell that sent money, recruits and supplies to Islamic extremist groups around the world, prosecutors said at trial. They had faced possible life sentences, but each was given lesser terms by U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke.
All three are appealing their convictions and sentences, and federal prosecutors are also appealing the sentences as too lenient.
Padilla was arrested in May 2002 at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport on suspicion of plotting with al-Qaida to detonate a radioactive “dirty bomb” in the U.S., although those allegations were not made at his trial. Testimony showed that Hassoun recruited Padilla at a Florida mosque to attend an al-Qaida terrorist training camp in Afghanistan.
Padilla, a U.S. citizen, was held in military custody for 3 1/2 years and was the subject of numerous legal challenges to his continued detention. He also claimed he was mistreated and tortured at a Navy brig, but Bush administration officials denied that.
The court ruled 2-1 that John Fogarty may proceed with a lawsuit accusing the officers of targeting him without probable cause and using excessive force to arrest him during a March 2003 demonstration against the U.S. war in Iraq.
The protest began on the UNM campus and spread to city sidewalks and streets, with between 500 and 1,000 demonstrators voicing their opposition to the war.
Fogarty and a friend joined a drum circle that was "play(ing) a really nice samba," Fogarty claimed. But police accused the drummers of inciting the crowd and making it more difficult to clear the streets.
Capt. John Gonzales told officers to "remove the drums," a statement some interpreted as a direct order to arrest the drummers, Fogarty included. The plaintiff said he was already off the street when officers pelted him with an unknown projectile and arrested him.
Officers allegedly took the handcuffed Fogarty near an area with lingering tear gas, causing Fogarty to suffer an acute asthma attack. He also claimed to have torn a tendon in his wrist during the ordeal.
The majority refused to dismiss Fogarty's claims, ruling that he had provided enough evidence to survive summary judgment at this stage.
"The Fourth Amendment plainly requires probable cause to arrest Fogarty as an individual, not a member of a large basket containing a few bad eggs," Judge Lucero wrote. "In other words, that Fogarty was a participant in an antiwar protest where some individuals may have broken the law is not enough to justify his arrest."
Friday, April 18, 2008
However, officials at Stanford Medical Center, which put the world-renowned reproductive science expert on unpaid leave after charges surfaced, did not return calls for comment on whether she would also be reinstated in her job.The Medical Board of California suspended Walker’s license in May 2002, several months after she and her mother, Janice Walker, were indicted in what prosecutors said was a scheme to loot the estate of family matriarch Mary Lee Koleber, 95, and hasten her death with a “lethal cocktail” of drugs.
Prosecutors dropped charges against Cheryl Walker and cut a deal with her mother last month after a key witness against the pair admitted forging documents, shattering his credibility.
The medical board had 30 days after the charges were dropped –which was Thursday – to file papers to keep the suspension in place, said David Carr, deputy attorney general representing the medical board. Though the suspension expired, the board has up to three years after the arrest to investigate and take further action.
Friday, Walker paid the renewal fee for her medical license, which expired during the suspension, her Medicare defense attorney Mike Khouri said. Khouri said he did not know the status of his client’s discussions with Stanford.
“I would hope that since the criminal charges have been dismissed, and since her license has been reinstated, that Stanford would do the right thing and reinstate her to her position,” he said. Khouri also said Walker was weighing various academic and clinical opportunities elsewhere.
In her statement last week to the judge, before hoer mother was sentenced, Cheryl Walker said that her career had suffered irreparable harm and that she would have to move to start over.
Her mother, a 74-year-old retired nurse, pleaded no contest earlier this month to elder abuse and embezzlement and received a two-year sentence. She is expected to be releases on parole after no more than eight months in a minimum security prison. Walker, 45, has two young children.
Thursday, April 17, 2008
The survey asked attorneys about compensation, promotions, the complexity and importance of work assignments and client contact opportunities based on diversity.
Based on the results of the survey, CABA was to recognize Bilzin Sumberg Baena Price & Axelrod among firms with 50 of more attorneys and Kenny Nachwalter among firms with 20 to 49 attorneys at a reception this past Thursday night.
The goal of the survey was to identify which firms have greater success in making diversity a priority, said Coral Gables, Fla., attorney Nelson Bellido. He is chair of CABA's diversity committee and a partner with Concepcion, Sexton & Martinez.
"This is going to allow the firms to identify and prioritize certain diversity goals," he said. "What CABA is doing is [asking law firms], 'Are you walking the walk, or are you just talking?'"
Respondents overall were highly positive about diversity prospects and achievements at their firms. Attorneys who expressed no opinion generally outscored attorneys expressing negative sentiments about their firms.
Overall, attorneys at large firms appeared to be more satisfied than attorneys at smaller firms with the state of diversity at their firms.
A bigger percentage of attorneys from large firms, 17 percent, felt they were treated differently because of race, gender or sexual orientation than the 12 percent at medium-size firms.
When it came to the issue of pay equity, lawyers from larger firms seemed more satisfied with minority lawyer compensation than those at smaller firms. About 67 percent of large firm lawyers agreed that minority lawyers were as likely to receive raises as nonminority lawyers compared with 63 percent at smaller firms.
The question generating some of the highest negatives in the survey asked if minority and nonminority attorneys have an equal chance at leadership roles. About 11 percent of respondents at large firms and 10 percent at smaller firms did not see a level playing field.
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
“There is no question,” said Gerald H. Silk, of Bernstein Litowitz Berger & Grossmann, that the subprime market has led to an increase in litigation. His New York firm has class actions pending against the subprime lenders Fremont General, Accredited Home Lenders and American Home Mortgage Investment.
Stuart M. Grant of Grant & Eisenhofer, a firm in Wilmington, Del., said, “All you are seeing now is the low-hanging fruit.” His firm has a shareholders’ derivative lawsuit pending against Countrywide Financial, the mortgage giant.
Class-action filings, excluding subprime cases and those stemming from the backdating of stock options, have increased almost 40 percent from 2006. Average settlements have also jumped, to $33.2 million from $22.7 million.
Monday, April 14, 2008
Rosenthal & Levy filed the suit in Palm Beach Circuit Court against former associate Andrew Frisch and the Orlando, Fla.-based firm Morgan & Morgan, which Frisch joined in November. Frisch works in Morgan's Davie, Fla., office.
West Palm Beach attorney G. Michael Keenan, who is representing Rosenthal & Levy, said Dec. 26 that the other side has initiated settlement discussions, and he said the case may be settled out of court.
The suit seeks an injunction to prohibit Frisch from soliciting clients from Rosenthal & Levy, which specializes in personal injury, workers compensation and other employment-related cases.
The eight-count complaint filed Dec. 14 seeks damages for lost profits and asks for punitive damages. The suit alleges breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, unfair competition, misappropriation of trade secrets, civil conspiracy and other counts.
Reached by telephone Dec. 17, Frisch denied doing anything wrong. He said he "followed in every way" the Florida Bar's packet of ethical guidelines for attorneys who switch firms "to a T" when he left in November.
Frisch said he had not heard about the Rosenthal & Levy suit against him until he received the call seeking comment.
Frisch was a Rosenthal & Levy employee from April 21, 2006, to Nov. 21, 2007, according to the suit. Before leaving, the suit claimed, "Frisch contacted clients of Rosenthal and began the process of soliciting Rosenthal's clients to follow him to his new place of employment."
Frisch sent letters notifying Rosenthal & Levy clients he was changing firms and solicited them to switch their business to his new firm -- all without the knowledge of Rosenthal & Levy and in violation of Bar rules, the suit claimed.
The Florida Bar rules for lawyers switching firms state, "Absent a specific agreement otherwise, a lawyer who is leaving a law firm shall not unilaterally contact those clients of the law firm for purposes of notifying them about the anticipated departure or to solicit representation of the clients unless the lawyer has approached an authorized representative of the law firm and attempted to negotiate a joint communication to the clients concerning the lawyer leaving the firm and bona fide negotiations have been successful."
The suit claimed Frisch did not draft a joint letter with Rosenthal & Levy, and Rosenthal & Levy was not aware Frisch was contacting clients in hopes of luring their business to his new firm.
The alleged solicitation continued after Frisch joined Morgan & Morgan, targeting cases "in which either liability could be easily proven and/or damages were significant," the complaint said.
Frisch went after "the most desirous of Rosenthal's employment and labor clients in an attempt to have those clients transfer their cases to Frisch and Morgan," the suit said.
The suit said Frisch's "illegal" and "unethical" actions "confused Rosenthal's clients and left them with the impression that Rosenthal either did not wish to continue representing the clients or that Rosenthal did not have the expertise to continue said representation."
Solicitation letters sent by Frisch on his new firm's letterhead "caused Rosenthal's clients confusion, anxiety and frustration" as well as "fear that their cases will be abandoned, that Rosenthal had closed its offices and that it would cost the clients more money to have their cases prosecuted," the suit said.
Frisch's primary motivation "was for financial profit and gain," the suit said.
Morgan & Morgan had no prior business dealings with the clients of Rosenthal & Levy prior to Frisch's mailing, the suit said.
"We are in the process" of determining if Frisch's letters got any clients to switch their business to Morgan & Morgan, Keenan said. He claimed the client list and their addresses were proprietary information of Rosenthal & Levy.
Thursday, April 10, 2008
He concentrates his practice on the defense of licensed professionals, mostly health care providers, charged with criminal offenses. Mike has also defended numerous Medi-Care and Medi-Cal fraud matters, sexual assault cases and narcotics and other substance abuse matters.
Tuesday, April 8, 2008
However, in Michigan, there is an infrastructure in place that allows attorneys to insulate themselves from the consequences of accounting errors - both accidental and otherwise.
Specifically, Michigan Rule of Professional Conduct (MRPC) 1.15 provides guidelines for the two types of client accounts: Interest on Lawyers Trust Accounts (IOLTAs) and non-IOLTAs.
The rule defines an IOLTA as "an interest or dividend bearing account" that "shall include only client or third person funds that cannot earn income for the client or third person in excess of the costs incurred to secure such income while the funds are held."
Though interest is earned on this type of account, the client does not receive those proceeds. Instead, the interest is paid to the Michigan Bar Foundation.
Conversely, a non-IOLTA under MRPC 1.15 also earns interests or dividends, however, that "net interest or dividend will be paid to the client."
MRPC 1.15 applies to both pooled and individual client trust accounts. But, because "it is common for a lawyer only to maintain one pooled client trust account," said Professor Lawrence A. Dubin - who teaches Professional Responsibility at the University of Detroit School of Law - IOLTAs, rather
than non-IOLTAs, may be easier for attorneys to work with.
However, that doesn't mean that IOLTA administration is without its own pitfalls.
In fact, with penalties ranging from a slap on the wrist to a permanent loss of license, learning the ins and outs of proper client trust management is fast becoming an integral part of effective practice management.
Monday, April 7, 2008
Now, they say that 2004 law "created a monster" and want the state Legislature to undo it. The law led to a confusing system that discourages the free flow of commerce between state lines, the state accounting board says.
The board and an association representing the profession want to return to a system of allowing out-of-state accountants to provide many services without notifying the state or paying a fee.
Not so fast, says a consumer advocacy group that closely monitors the accounting board.
Considering recent accounting scandals, California consumers need the protections created by the 2004 bill more than ever, the Center for Public Interest Law says.
The center sees the attempt to reverse the law as part of a nationwide push by the accounting profession to loosen oversight that increased after the Enron scandal, which brought down accounting powerhouse Arthur Andersen.
"They want to dismantle the entire ability of the state of California to license CPAs and prevent harm before it happens," said Julianne D'Angelo Fellmeth, administrative director of the Center for Public Interest Law, part of the University of San Diego School of Law.
The language overturning the 2004 law is contained in Assembly Bill 2473, co-written by Assemblyman Roger Niello, R-Fair Oaks, and Assemblywoman Fiona Ma, D-San Francisco. The bill would allow out-of-state accountants to practice in California without paying the current fee of $50 or $100 or filling out a four-page application.
The state Board of Accountancy, which oversees California's 76,000 licensees, is sponsoring the bill. All 15 members of the board, including eight who are not accountants, voted to support AB 2473. The bill also is backed by the California Society of Certified Public Accountants, national professional associations and other business groups.
Senate President Don Perata, D-Oakland, wrote a letter to the state accounting board in January raising a host of questions. He wrote that an earlier bill to discontinue out-of-state notification "caused much confusing and conflicting debate."
Perata sent the board four pages of questions. Board President Donald Driftmier says the board has answered some and is working on the others.
The director of the Department of Consumer Affairs, which oversees the accounting board, opposes AB 2473.
"The Department fears that this policy could encourage unqualified individuals to practice as CPAs in California and lead to a decline in consumer protections," Director Carrie Lopez wrote in a Feb. 6 letter to Driftmier.
The Center for Public Interest Law laid out its opposition in a 12-page letter to Niello, the bill's author.
The center says that the bill puts the state in a passive stance, waiting for problems to occur rather blocking bad accountants from working in California before they do harm.
"There will be no way for the board to check first to make sure those requirements are met before someone from out-of-state provides services that could devastate the financial lives of families or small businesses," the center wrote.
The accountants are fighting back. With the help of Roseville political consultant Goddard & Claussen, they argue that cross-state practice has become the way of the global economy.
Sacramento accountant Michael Ueltzen, a past chairman of the statewide accountants' association, offers the cases of a trucking company that does business in 37 of the 50 states.
Using the model contained in the 2004 California law, he said, an accountant working on the company's books would have to register 37 different times.
The law hinders accountants from quickly addressing financial emergencies by placing a call across the California state line, they say.
Accountants say that they all operate under the same rules and guidelines, regardless of their home states. They liken cross-border practice to using a driver's license to travel across states.
Many states have reacted to the "chaos" created by notification laws such as California's by passing laws that allow cross-border practice -- at least a dozen so far.
The current system, Ueltzen and others say, creates a false sense of security by listing out-of-state accountants who have registered on the state board's Web site.
Consumers may think these accountants have been screened, said board Chairman Driftmier.
"We really don't look at them now," he said. "Are we doing a great investigation on these people? No."
Niello's bill, by contrast, would give the state the power to fine out-of-state miscreants, bar them from practice and report them to their home state boards, supporters say.
But Fellmeth says that, under the 2004 law, the board can and should be screening out-of-state accountants who want to work in California.
"If they don't have sufficient staff, that's the board's fault and the profession's fault for not insisting on that," she said. The center maintains that the forms are simple enough that accountants, of all people, should be able to fill them out in very little time.
It disputes the contention that all states have the same rules when it comes to accountants - in fact, California has some that are stricter, which could be undermined if Niello's bill passes.
Accountants who have to deal with a financial emergency are free under current law to do so, the center says. They just have to notify the state board by e-mail, and send in the fee later.
Friday, April 4, 2008
"Kevin has a genuine desire to serve the people of our great state and his distinguished previous experience proves he will carry on the admirable service of Judge Gordon Low," Huntsman said in a statement announcing the appointment Monday. Allen also has been a partner with Barrett and Daines in Logan and was a lieutenant commander in the U.S. Navys Judge Advocate General Corps.
Tuesday, April 1, 2008
The State Bar licenses lawyers in North Carolina and punishes them when it finds they have breached their code of ethics. Britt’s reprimand was issued Nov. 19 by the Bar’s Grievance Committee and announced this month by the Bar in a list of lawyers who have been punished recently.
In the reprimand, Grievance Committee Chairman James Fox told Britt that after the deputies in Tarnished Badge were indicted in 2006, “you made numerous statements and comments containing details about the matters which were not in the public realm at that point, or expressing your opinion regarding guilt of the accused men, to representatives of a least one media outlet and/or to the public.”
These statements violated two rules, Fox said. One rule bars a lawyer who took part in an investigation or lawsuit from making public statements that could prejudice a trial. The other rule says a prosecutor may not make statements publicly that “have a substantial likelihood of heightening public condemnation of the accused.” The reprimand includes a $50 fine.
Samuel A. Fishman, a mergers and acquisition specialist in Latham's New York office from 1993 to 2005, was designated billing partner for a number of firm clients. According to prosecutors at the Southern District of New York U.S. Attorney's Office, Fishman, 51, used his position to carry out a fraudulent scheme over the course of several years.
Responsible for supervising and approving invoices sent to clients, Fishman added to the bills a number of inappropriate items, mischaracterizing them as charges for photocopying or express mail. He also fraudulently sought reimbursement from his firm for a number of personal expenses he claimed were for business.
The U.S. Attorney's Office did not identify Latham as Fishman's firm in a criminal information filed with the guilty plea, nor was the firm's name mentioned in court Friday afternoon when Fishman entered his plea to one count of mail fraud. But in a statement Friday, the firm acknowledged Fishman as a former partner and said his misconduct had come to light in 2005.
Latham "immediately acted to protect our clients fully, and disclosed the matter to appropriate law enforcement authorities," said David Gordon, Latham's New York managing partner. "Mr. Fishman resigned from the firm at the time the issues were discovered. Since that time, we have cooperated fully with the investigation."
In announcing Fishman's guilty plea, prosecutors noted that the firm had reimbursed its clients hundreds of thousands of dollars that had been fraudulently charged. A firm spokesman Friday declined to identify the clients defrauded by Fishman.
The criminal information said Fishman's clients were in the banking, utilities, telecommunications and entertainment industries. He has previously acted as lead counsel for companies including movie theater chain AMC Entertainment Inc. and JPMorgan Partners, the private equity arm of JPMorgan Chase & Co.
Accompanied at Friday's hearing by defense lawyer Jack Litman of Litman, Asche & Goiella, Fishman expressed remorse to Southern District Judge Victor Marrero.
"I am very sorry for what I did," he told the judge.
Fishman's sentencing is scheduled for June 27. The mail fraud charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. Fishman also has agreed to forfeit $350,000 in ill-gotten wealth. He also faces likely disbarment.
A number of major firms have had to deal in recent years with fraud by partners, though most instances have resulted in disbarment or other disciplinary sanction as opposed to criminal prosecution.
In 2006, former WilmerHale intellectual property partner William P. DiSalvatore resigned from the bar after admitting to a litany of misconduct, including falsifying expense reports and assigning associates to perform "pro bono" work for friends and family. He claimed more than $109,000 in false personal expense.
Willkie Farr & Gallagher and the former Kronish Lieb Weiner & Hellman are two other firms that have also terminated partners for fraudulently seeking reimbursement for personal expenses.
In most such cases, including that of Fishman, the defrauded amounts have been small compared to what the perpetrators earn as partners. Last month, Latham said it had profits per partner of $2.3 million in 2007.
Steven Lubet, a legal ethics professor at Northwestern University School of Law, said he always found it "incredible" that highly paid partners would resort to fraud. He said he could only imagine that such people were overspending trying to emulate the lifestyles of those they represented.
"The clients have that kind of money, the lawyers don't," said Lubet. "Sometimes, lawyers decide they want to live like their clients and that extra money has to come from somewhere."
Perhaps the most well-known case of a lawyer bilking his clients and firm was Webster Hubbell, the former associate attorney general under President Bill Clinton.
Hubbell was forced to resign his position in 1994 after his former partners at Arkansas' Rose Law Firm discovered billing irregularities. He later pleaded guilty to fraudulently charging almost $500,000 for personal expenses and legal work never actually performed. He served 16 months in prison.
Thursday, March 27, 2008
Stephanie L. Seidman, a life science attorney with a doctorate in molecular biology and biochemistry, heads the group office along with attorney David A. Fisher. Associate attorneys in the office are Frank J. Miskiel, Cheryl A. Allaire, Gregory F. Brucia and Alidad Vakili. The office can be contacted at 858-509-7400.
The 151,000-square-foot Miller Canfield Building at 277 S. Rose St. is being called the first Class A office building to be built in downtown in more than 20 years.
Catalyst Development Co., part of building owner The Greenleaf Cos., has placed the building cost at $32 million. Construction redeveloped a space that had held an older office building and parking lot.
"We're pleased to be a part of Kalamazoo's renaissance," Miller Canfield Resident Director John R. Cook said in a press release. "This new building represents our commitment to the community, while the state-of-the-art facility will allow us to expand and provide services to clients around the block and around the world."
The office's 40 lawyers and staff of 36 relocated from 444 W. Michigan Ave. They are part of an 800-attorney law firm established in Detroit in 1852 that has offices in Michigan, Illinois, Massachusetts, Florida, New York, Canada and Poland.
According to information provided by the firm, it has grown from 18 lawyers in 1984, when Brown, Colman & DeMent merged with Miller Canfield.
Its legal practices include business law, securities, mergers and acquisitions, real estate, banking, intellectual property law, bankruptcy, litigation, labor, tax, health law and corporate-discovery-management services.
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Sloan will reside in Skadden's D.C. office at 1440 New York Ave. NW. He will advise clients on intellectual property, new media and litigation matters, including appellate issues, according to a statement from the law firm. He will also focus on First Amendment matters.
Since 2000, Sloan has served as general counsel at Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive, the online media unit of the D.C.-based Washington Post Co. (NYSE: WPO). He is also publisher of Slate, a daily online magazine.
Prior to coming on board at Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive, Sloan was a partner in the Internet practice at Wiley, Rein & Fielding LLP, known today as Wiley Rein LLP.
He has also held a handful of government posts, including Associate Counsel to the President from 1993 to 1995 and Assistant to the U.S. Solicitor General at the Department of Justice from 1989 to 1991. In addition, Sloan served as a law clerk to Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens.
Sloan also has been an adjunct professor at three local law schools: American University, Georgetown University and George Washington University.
Skadden is one of the world's largest law firms, with more than 2,000 attorneys in 23 offices around the globe. Its Washington office, established in 1976, has more than 300 attorneys and is the firm's second-largest location.