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Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Informant v Defendant

Posted by pbsweeney on May 22, 2007

Say you’re a criminal defense lawyer with a client facing charges as a result of information provided by an informant who has agreed to work with law enforcement as part of his own plea arrangement in a criminal case. Naturally, you want to know something about this informant in preparing a defense for your client. Armed with the informant’s name and criminal record, you start researching the disposition of his previous arrests. With the ready availability of court records online, wading through files is made somewhat easier. But imagine for a minute, if details of the informant’s plea arrangements were sealed or unavailable – where does that leave you?

The New York Times reports today that “…the Justice Department has begun urging the federal courts to make fundamental changes in public access to electronic court files by removing all plea agreements from them — whether involving cooperating witnesses or not.

“We are witnessing the rise of a new cottage industry engaged in republishing court filings about cooperators on Web sites such as www.whosarat.com for the clear purpose of witness intimidation, retaliation and harassment,” a Justice Department official wrote in a December letter to the Judicial Conference of the United States, the administrative and policy-making body of the federal court system.”

Could we please solve this problem in a manner that does not trample the civil rights of the entire citizenry by denying access to public record? And by the way, we really wish the Justice Department was as interested in protecting the privacy of the rest of us.

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Posted in Ethics, Federal Spotlight, Law, News, Practice Management, Research | Leave a Comment »

Does the 2nd Amendment Prevent Gun Control?

Posted by pbsweeney on April 18, 2007

Thought provoking discussion on the challenges faced in our collective response and urgency to act, in the aftermath of this week’s nightmare at Virginia Tech, on the excellent legal/political blog Balkinization.

Posted in blogging, Federal Spotlight, Law, News | Leave a Comment »

Concern that the LAPD is for Hire & a Note on NYC

Posted by pbsweeney on April 16, 2007

“Corporations and business groups donated more than $417,000 in cash and equipment in the last year to the Los Angeles Police Department to help pay for investigations and services that directly benefited them, records show.

The film industry helped fund a crackdown on pirated movies. Shopping malls paid for extra traffic control, security and a tracking system able to recover cars stolen from their parking lots.

And next week, the City Council will consider accepting $50,000 from Philip Morris USA to aid an investigation into the sale and counterfeiting of the company’s cigarettes.

Supporters of the practice say it helps a cash-strapped department fight crime. But some skeptics are concerned about the appearance of pay-to-play law enforcement in which the rich can afford to buy better protection than the poor.” Read the full story in the LA Times here…

The NYC Police Department has its own Police Foundation through which all such donations are channeled, totalling some 5.5 million through the fiscal year ending July 2005. And the latest available list of Major Donors makes for interesting reading, such as the Four Star (big bucks) status designation of the Permanent Mission of the State of Qatar to the UN, for example. And nearly every bank in the city is represented plus a good share of the fashion industry. The NYC Police Dept has a division devoted exclusively to fashion trademark infringement too, interestingly enough. But unlike LA, NYC does not as a matter of policy solicit donations from corporations for contemplated enforcement projects in specific industries, which is part of the LA worry.

Posted in blogging, Ethics, Law, News | 1 Comment »

$11,000 an Hour? I’m Worth It

Posted by pbsweeney on April 12, 2007

“Willie Gary, a Florida attorney whose personal Boeing 737 has an 18-carat gold bathroom sink, claims Motorola owes him at least $11,000 an hour for work on a lawsuit against the company.

But he’s pushing for more — twice as much — because Motorola violated a court order in defending the suit. And today a Fort Lauderdale judge will decide whether he gets his wish. ”

Gary petitioned Circuit Judge Leroy Moe to approve the fees that will total some 24.3 million dollars. To read the Bloomberg story in full, click here. We’ll keep you posted on this one!  And the next time a client complains about the bill, we can say, “Just be glad you didn’t hire Willie Gary.”

Posted in Business, Ethics, Law, News | Leave a Comment »

Spitzer Bags a Big Gun for Medicaid Fraud

Posted by pbsweeney on April 9, 2007

sheehan.jpgGovernor Eliot Spitzer announced the nomination of James G. Sheehan to serve as New York State Medicaid Inspector General, overseeing the fraud and abuse enforcement activities of New York’s $50 billion Medicaid program.

“As a career prosecutor specializing in complex health care enforcement and recovery matters, Mr. Sheehan has experience rooting out fraud that dramatically drives up costs and severely threatens the efficiency and delivery of health care services,” said Governor Spitzer.

While serving in the U.S. Department of Justice’s Philadelphia office, Mr. Sheehan personally handled over 500 health care fraud matters, including the Medco Health Solutions case, which resulted in a $155 million recovery, and the SmithKline Beecham Clinical Labs case, which resulted in a $332 million recovery.

Welcome to New York, Mr. Sheehan.

Posted in Ethics, Featured Attorney, Law, News | Leave a Comment »

The 100 Million Dollar Screw Up

Posted by pbsweeney on March 28, 2007

So you think you screw up sometimes? I bet you never screwed up to the tune of 100 million dollars by citing the wrong statute. And I bet it was not during the biggest federal tax prosecution EVER. This one goes under the dual categories of “I’m glad that wasn’t me,” and “damn it!”

Here it is from AP & MSNBC: WASHINGTON – Poorly written Justice Department documents cost the federal government more than $100 million in what was supposed to have been the crowning moment of the biggest tax prosecution ever.

Walter Anderson, the telecommunications entrepreneur who admitted hiding hundreds of millions of dollars from the IRS and District of Columbia tax collectors, was sentenced Tuesday to nine years in prison and ordered to repay about $23 million to the city.

But U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman said he couldn’t order Anderson to repay the federal government $100 million to $175 million because the Justice Department’s binding plea agreement with Anderson listed the wrong statute. Read more…

Posted in Federal Spotlight, Law, News | Leave a Comment »

Bong Hits for Jesus Case Oral Arguments

Posted by pbsweeney on March 14, 2007

We can’t wait for Monday, March 19, when Morse v. Frederick oral arguments will be heard in Supreme Court, starring pro bono attorney for the plaintiff Ken Starr. (Glad you’ve found something to occupy yourself with, Ken.) In case you haven’t heard of this case, the following digest from Cornell is required reading:

Morse v. Frederick (06-278)
Oral argument: March 19, 2007

“Joseph Frederick, an 18-year-old high school student,
displayed a banner with the message “Bong Hits 4 Jesus”
across the street from his school, during the Olympic torch
relay in Juneau, Alaska. School administrators had released
students to watch the Olympic torch, and Frederick’s banner
was in plain view of the students. Deborah Morse, the high
school principal, suspended him for violating the school’s
policy against displaying offensive materials promoting
illegal drug use. Frederick and Morse disagree on the
issues of whether Frederick had First Amendment protection
(because he was not on school premises) and whether, if he
did, Morse’s judgment to the contrary was reasonable and
should thereby entitle her to qualified immunity from
liability.”

For the entire digest and discussion, click here…

Posted in Federal Spotlight, Humor, Law, Life, News | Leave a Comment »

Supreme Lit Clinics Hungry for Cases

Posted by pbsweeney on March 6, 2007

Here’s an interesting bit of information gleaned from the popular Legal Times column “Courtside” that sometimes reads like a Supreme court gossip column but most often provides interesting sidebars on all things Supreme. Three years ago Stanford Law opened the first Supreme Court Litigation Clinic and the idea was so hot that Harvard, Yale, Northwestern, and others are quickly following suit. Last week alone saw three cases before the court with clinic participation, and the list is growing. Already the very popular litigation clinics have to fight harder to find cert-worthy cases, and have been filing more amicus briefs as a result.

The clinics are an amazing resource! To read more click here…

Links to a few of the clinics are as follows: Stanford, Harvard Supreme & Appellate clinics scheduled to open in the fall of 2007, and Yale which openly invites representation inquiries on the site.

Posted in Federal Spotlight, Law, News, Practice Management | Leave a Comment »

Pioneer of Class Action Litigation Passes

Posted by pbsweeney on February 26, 2007

Sorry to read of the passing of David Berger, 94, the “people’s attorney” as he put it himself, who pioneered the concept of class-action lawsuits for a multitude of “little guys.” His more famous cases include Three Mile Harbor & the Exxon Valdez action. Read his full obituary in the Philedelphia Inquirer here..  What a life!

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08 Candidates Still Milking the Money Cow Behind the Barn Door

Posted by pbsweeney on February 2, 2007

Fascinating post on The Politico blog by Ken Vogel on how early candidates for the ’08 election are bypassing federal campaign law with state based committees. So you thought the McCain Feingold law was actually gonna work, huh? Apparently, if a candidate is officially undeclared, his soft money PACS can rake in the dough, in some states without individual or corporate limits. So who is availing themselves of this strategy? Among others, our own former Governor Pataki. Read the whole story – it’s clear that there’s work to be done on campaign finance reform on the state level.

Posted in Ethics, Law, News, Politics | Leave a Comment »

AOL Fraud Trial Finale

Posted by pbsweeney on January 31, 2007

The vastly under-reported AOL fraud trial in federal court is finally drawing to an end, with closing arguments begining yesterday, and arguments for the defendants set for today.

As the dot-com economy collapsed in 2001, executives at America Online allegedly conspired with a now-defunct technology firm in Las Vegas to inflate revenue, using secret side deals and backdated contracts to deceive investors, prosecutors said.

The government made its closing argument Tuesday at the trial of two midlevel AOL executives and a senior officer at Las Vegas-based PurchasePro. The trial has stretched more than three months, one of the longest trials in the history of the federal courthouse in Alexandria, known as the “rocket docket” for its dispatch in handling cases. For a great trial notebook 101 story filed by Matthe Barakat, click here… A fascinating tale of the mind boggling mechanics of corporate fraud.

Posted in blogging, Business, Ethics, Federal Spotlight, internet, Law, News | 1 Comment »

Will the Supremes Go Live?

Posted by pbsweeney on January 30, 2007

Washington, D.C. – Today, Senator Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, introduced legislation that will require the Supreme Court to permit television coverage of open Supreme Court proceedings, unless a majority of the Justices determine that the due process rights of one or more litigant would be violated.

The legislation is cosponsored by Senators Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Russell Feingold (D-Wiss.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas).

This is Spector’s third attempt at getting this legislation through. In 2005 his bill never made it to the floor for a vote. At the time he was quoted as saying: “In the context where the Supreme Court decides, really, the cutting-edge questions of our day, it’s very much, in my view, in our interest to have the Supreme Court televised.” In 2000 the Senator co-sponsored a bill with Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Del.) that went nowhere as well.

With more than half the Justices on the record opposing the idea, it should be interesting to see how the debate unfolds, particularly surrounding questions on the separation of power between the the Legislative & Judicial branches of government.

Posted in blogging, Ethics, Federal Spotlight, Law, News, Politics | Leave a Comment »

Cats Are Paroled

Posted by pbsweeney on January 29, 2007

Well, I’m not sure paroled is the right word. Maybe evicted is the proper legal term. All we know is, we didn’t serve the papers.  A new wardon has decided that these useful prison farm cats must get the boot. Is that a howl of protest we’re hearing? The following is a quote from the AP story via CNN.

WINDSOR, Vermont (AP) — At the Southeast State Correctional Facility, inmates are subjected to head counts several times a day. But not Ziggy, Marmalade, Smokey and Shane — they come and go as they please. They’re prison cats — but only for now. They are being involuntarily paroled by the new superintendent of Vermont’s largest women’s prison, to the chagrin of inmates who feed them, pay for their care and cherish them.

“It is not a physical plant that is conducive to a pet program,” said Superintendent Anita Carbonell. “I know a lot of the inmates consider them pets, but they aren’t really.”

View the complete story today on CNN here…

Posted in blogging, Ethics, Law, Local Cases of Interest, News | Leave a Comment »

Who is Where in Riverhead’s New Supreme Court

Posted by pbsweeney on January 17, 2007

riverhead.jpg Hampton’s Legal had reason to be up at the new Supreme Court in Riverhead today. It’s a spectacular addition with additional parking contiguous to the building on Court Street. The three-story, 95,000 square-foot courthouse was erected behind the existing 70 year old buildings and is connected to them by two enclosed bridges. The new courthouse has an atrium lobby, nine courtrooms and chambers, a jury assembly room, jury impaneling rooms, a children’s center, a public cafeteria and conference space. It’s a beautiful space and a welcome addition.

Signage is a little dicey yet, but court personnel are very helpful. Hamptons Legal has obtained a current directory of the offices for individual judges. If you are headed up there, email us and we will let you know who is where.

Posted in Law, Local Cases of Interest, News, Practice Management, Suffolk Courts | 1 Comment »

Best New Year Tip Contest – Win a $20.00 Starbucks Gift Certificate

Posted by pbsweeney on January 8, 2007

Some of us relish the turning of the year; the end of holiday and associated obligations and the end of “wait till after the holidays” laments and delays. Some of us dread returning to the problems that are still sitting around from last year.

So what’s the best way to start the year off? Take a running jump into the work and let everything sort itself out? What about a little review and revise? With the end of the old year fresh in our minds, why don’t we address some of our old or chronic complaints and see if this year might find us in a different place when the year runs out again.

Hamptons Legal says, what’s your best tip on starting off the work year fresh? What have you instituted in your practice that has solved a chronic problem or annoyance? Or what are you trying right now to make the year better? Win a $20.00 Starbucks gift certificate for sharing your tip with the rest of us! Post your tip in the comment section and Hamptons Legal Staff will select one winner to receive a $20.00 Starbucks gift certificate and three winners who will receive a $5.00 certificate for honorable mention. Be sure to provide an email address so we can get the prize to you! Contest closes January 18th, so enter now folks.

Posted in blogging, Business, Humor, Immigration, internet, Law, Life, News, Politics, Practice Management, Real Estate, Research, work | 3 Comments »