Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Virginia Faces Lawsuit Over Election

The Washington Post is reporting that the Virginia NAACP is suing "Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) and Virginia's top election officials . . . accusing them of failing to provide enough resources to accommodate expected record turnout during next week's election."
The lawsuit claims that the state is violating the U.S. and Virginia constitutions by not allocating enough voting machines, poll workers and polling places -- particularly in precincts with high minority populations -- which could result in long lines and lost votes.

The Advancement Project, a national voter protection group, filed the lawsuit late Monday in U.S. District Court in Richmond on the NAACP's behalf. It asks the state to move voting machines to precincts most likely to have long waiting lines; keep polls open for an extra two hours; and use paper ballots in some cases.

The Commonwealth of Virginia is denying the allegations:
In a lengthy statement released late Monday night, the State Board of Elections maintained that all localities are complying with the minimum number of voting machines and voting booths in each precinct as required by state code. Since 2004, the number of voting machines, polling places and workers has increased, according to the statement. For example, the number of voting machines has increased from about 5,700 in 2004 to about 10,600 in 2008.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Court: Flagged Voters May Vote

This just in from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

The state of Georgia must allow persons whose citizenship has been questioned in a new voter verification system the opportunity to cast a ballot in the Nov. 4 elections, a three-judge court ruled Monday.

The court also ordered Secretary of State Karen Handel to “make diligent and immediate efforts to notify, in a uniform manner, every person whose voter registration presently remains flagged.” Those voters must be told that they can vote by a “challenged ballot,” if necessary, and that there is a discrepancy in the voters’ registration information, the court said.

The ruling was issued by Judge Stanley Birch of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and U.S. District Court judges Jack Camp and Bill Duffey.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Congress Expands Protections for Disabled

In an effort to undo recent Supreme Court decisions involving Americans with disabilities, Congress as approved legislation that expands protections for the disabled.

The New York Times reports:

The bill expands the definition of disability and makes it easier for workers to prove discrimination. It explicitly rejects the strict standards used by the Supreme Court to determine who is disabled.

The bill declares that the court went wrong by “eliminating protection for many individuals whom Congress intended to protect” under the 1990 law.

“The Supreme Court misconstrued our intent,” said Representative Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, the House Democratic leader. “Our intent was to be inclusive.”

In an effort to clarify the intent of Congress, the bill says, “The definition of disability in this act shall be construed in favor of broad coverage.”

Representative F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. of Wisconsin, the principal Republican sponsor in the House, said, “Courts have focused too heavily on whether individuals are covered by the law, rather than on whether discrimination occurred.”

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Palin Avoids Subpoena, For Now

Alaska governor and Republican candidate for vice president Sarah Palin will not be subpoenaed by a bi-partisan legislative committee investigating the so-called Trooper-Gate Scandal - just yet that is.

The bipartisan committee overseeing the investigation announced today in a press release that they're moving up the date that they release the results of their investigation by three weeks, meaning it should come out in early October. The commitee, led by Sen. Hollis French, an Anchorage Democrat also announced that it would meet on September 12 to issue subpoenas in the case.

But according to the release, Palin herself will not be subpoenaed. The committee still holds out hope that she will talk to indepedendent investigator Steven Branchflower voluntarily.

The committee's decision was based on Palin's avowal that she will cooperate fully with the investigation.

French had initially indicated that subpoenas likely wouldn't be necessary, since Palin had pledged her full cooperation. But earlier this week, Palin's lawyer warned that unless the case were handed over to the state personnel board -- whose three members are appointed by the governor -- Palin would not be made available to testify. And according to the release: This week, seven key witnesses informed Mr. Branchflower through their attorneys that they would not provide depositions. Their depositions, which had been agreed to and scheduled earlier with Mr. Branchflower, were cancelled within the last 72 hours."

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Sharpton Escapes IRS Criminal Probe

By paying one million dollars toward back taxes, a criminal investigation against Rev. Al Sharpton has been dropped by the Internal Revenue Service. IRS officials have decided to proceed instead with civil proceedings.

The IRS and New York state and city tax agencies claim that Sharpton and his organization, the National Action Network, collectively owe millions of dollars in back taxes and penalties.

The exact amount Sharpton owes has not been revealed by either the government or Sharpton's lawyers, but there is evidence the debt is sizable.

The IRS obtained a $931,397 lien against Sharpton. City and state officials said he owned them another $933,577. Separately, the National Action Network said in its most recent tax filing that it owed at least $1.9 million in payroll taxes and related interest.

Sharpton, who was defiant when the probe became public in December, claiming it was part of a government smear campaign, sounded more contrite Tuesday.

He said both he and the civil rights group would clean up their books and complete a reorganization intended to ensure the group's long-term fiscal stability.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Study calls for repeal of 'don't ask, don't tell'

From the Chicago Sun-Times, via the Associated Press:

WASHINGTON — Congress should repeal the ‘‘don’t ask, don’t tell’’ policy because the presence of gays in the military is unlikely to undermine the ability to fight and win, according to a new study released by a California-based research center.
Four retired military officers conducted the study, but it is not clear if any of them are gay. The AP didn't ask and the officers didn't tell.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Compromise Reached on Wiretap

From The New York Times:

After months of wrangling, Democratic and Republican leaders in Congress struck a deal on Thursday to overhaul the rules on the government’s wiretapping powers and provide what amounts to legal immunity to the phone companies that took part in President Bush’s program of eavesdropping without warrants after the Sept. 11 attacks.
But is it really a compromise?

With AT&T and other telecommunications companies facing some 40 lawsuits over their reported participation in the wiretapping program, Republican leaders described this narrow court review on the immunity question as a mere “formality.”

“The lawsuits will be dismissed,” Representative Roy Blunt of Missouri, the No. 2 Republican in the House, predicted with confidence.

The proposal — particularly the immunity provision — represents a major victory for the White House after months of dispute.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Lawmakers Gone Wild

After an arrest for DUI, revelation that he fathered a bastard child with a former Air Force officer, and public shame and humiliation, U.S. Rep. Vito Fossella, R-NY, has decided to not run for reelection, according to a report by the Associated Press published by Talking Points Memo.

What has not been reported is which family he plans to spend more time with.

Fossella, 43, has admitted to fathering a daughter with a Virginia woman.

The congressman's secret relationship with the woman, Laura Fay, was revealed after he was arrested for drunken driving May 1. Fossella was stopped after running a red light, and he told officers he was going to see his sick daughter, according to police.

Fossella is married with three children. The family lives on Staten Island.

He has served in Congress since 1997, representing Staten Island and part of Brooklyn. He is the only Republican member of Congress from New York City.

It was Fay who got him out of jail after the arrest. She is a former Air Force lieutenant colonel and worked for a time as a liaison to Congress.

After his arrest, police said Fossella's blood-alcohol level was twice the legal limit, and he could face a mandatory five days in jail if convicted. A court appearance on the drunken driving arrest is scheduled for next month.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Selected Legal Real Estate Events

Here is a selection of real estate events across the country that focus on legal issues.

8th Annual Outlook for Texas Land Markets
April 24 - 25, 2008
Hyatt Regency Hotel, 123 Losoya, San Antonio, Texas
The this event will provide information on a variety of legal, economic, social and natural resource issues influencing current land market dynamics and other real estate issues. At the seminar’s conclusion, the TREC Ethics MCE course will be offered to real estate licensees. Continuing education credit for these events is pending from ASA, ASFMRA, BTPE, IPT, TALCB, and TDLR. Credit approved by TREC
RLI Reception: $20
Seminar only: $200 or $220 after Mar 23
Seminar and ethics course: $220 or $245 after Mar 23
Seminar and RLI reception: $220 or $240 after Mar 23
Seminar, ethics and reception: $240 or $265 after Mar 23
Denise Whisenant
Real Estate Center
2115 Texas A&M University
College Station, TX 77843-2115
Phone: 979-458-4773

22nd Annual Legal Seminar on Ad Valorem Taxation - 2008
August 27 - 29, 2008
Hyatt Regency
123 Losoya, San Antonio, Texas
The event provides a wealth of information on a variety of legal topics influencing ad valorem taxation and is presented in cooperation with the State Bar of Texas Property Tax Committee.
Denise Whisenant
Real Estate Center
2115 Texas A&M University
College Station, TX 77843-2115
Phone: 979-458-4773

The John Marshall Law School
Continuing Legal Education Events organized by the Center for Real Estate Law

May 4, 2008
Ethics for the Lawyer Involved in Real Estate Transactions

Wendy Muchman is a senior counsel and group manager at the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission of the Supreme Court of Illinois where she investigates and prosecutes lawyer disciplinary cases, including those involving real estate transactions. She teaches legal ethics at Northwestern University School of Law as a member of its adjunct faculty.

Advancing Your Legal Career
Event Co-Sponsored by Career Services and The Center for Real Estate Law.

Relationships with Other Professionals Are Critical to Career Success

Hear a lively exchange between Attorney James Hochman (Coman & Anderson PC) and real estate professional James Kaplan (James Kaplan Companies, Inc) who had worked together on many events. They illustrate how critical a good working relationship between attorneys and other professionals can be to the success of the transaction. Learn how to achieve career success by recognizing the important roles that other professionals play in transactions. Real estate attorneys and professionals work in a small community. Good relationships make deals happen and advance careers.

Real Estate Mortgage Market Litigation

April 18, 2008

The Mortgage Meltdown is at the forefront of market troubles in the U.S. today. There will be a tremendous amount of subsequent litigation, including Borrowers suing Lenders, Investors Suing Lenders, and Lenders Suing Brokers and Appraisers. This will effect a lot of people!

If you are involved in the real estate industry, this event could not be a more timely program. Anyone involved in real estate development will need to know how to protect themselves and their clients moving forward.

The Red Lion Hotel on 5th
1415 5th Ave
Seattle, Washington 98101

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Email Not Allowed as Evidence in Alaska Case Against Eli LIlly

An email by an Eli Lilly official discussing off-label use of the drug Zyprexa will not be allowed as evidence in Alaska's suit against the pharmaceutical company, the judge in the case has ruled.

From The New York Times:

Judge Mark Rindner, said it could not be admitted into evidence in the trial because off-label use was not at issue in the case.
However, the email may be useful to federal prosecutors in Pennsylvania:

Its disclosure nonetheless comes at a sensitive moment for Lilly, which is also under federal criminal investigation for the way it promoted Zyprexa and played down the drug’s risks to doctors. Between 2000 and 2002, internal Lilly documents show that the company aggressively tried to expand Zyprexa’s sales into markets for which the drug was never approved, including elderly patients with dementia.

To settle that investigation, and related investigations by several states, Lilly is negotiating with federal prosecutors in Pennsylvania on a deal that could result in the company’s paying $1 billion to $2 billion in fines and restitution, according to people involved in the investigation. The prosecutors declined to comment on Friday.

Monday, March 10, 2008

$10,000 Per Bullet

A man was awarded $1.3 million after a jury determined Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputies used excessive force when they fired 120 shots at him following a low-speed chase. Sixty-six shots hit the man's vehicle.

Winston Hayes, 46, suffered nine bullet wounds when deputies fired 120 shots at him at the end of a low-speed pursuit on May 9, 2005. More than half the bullets hit Hayes' vehicle.

"Justice was done," Hayes said after the verdict.

"We do hope this verdict acts as a catalyst for building relationships between the Sheriff's Department and the community it serves," said Brian Dunn, Hayes' attorney.

Lawyers for the county declined comment.

After 10 days of deliberations, the jury determined Friday that Los Angeles Sheriff's Department deputies Michael Haggerty and Vergilian Bolde used excessive force. Nine of the 12 jurors voted for the award, the minimum required in a civil case.

Deputies testified that they believed Hayes had attempted to run them down, and all said they only fired to save their own life or that of a fellow deputy. One deputy was caught in the crossfire but was only slightly wounded.

Thirteen deputies involved in the shooting received disciplinary actions ranging from written reprimands to 15-day suspensions.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

California Same-Sex Marriage Fight Shifts to State Supreme Court

SAN FRANCISCO -- The national gay marriage debate shifted to California on Tuesday, as the state's highest court heard more than 3-1/2 hours of arguments on the constitutionality of a voter-approved law banning same-sex marriage.

Gay rights advocates sued to overturn the ban four years ago after the court halted a months-long same-sex wedding spree that saw thousands of couples marry at San Francisco City Hall.

"I think I speak for everybody when I say that this has been a long time coming and a day that has been eagerly an ticipated," said City Attorney Dennis Herrera, who is representing the city in a lawsuit supporting gay marriage.

The court heard arguments in six cases that were filed after the court stopped the same-sex marriages in the winter of 2004. More than 4,000 couples exchanged vows at the direction of Mayor Gavin Newsom months before gay marriage became legal in Massachusetts, although the high court ultimately voided the unions.

The seven justices asked whether California already protects the civil rights of gay and lesbian couples through domestic partnerships. They also wanted to know if a ruling 60 years ago legalizing
interra cial marriages in the state gave them a precedent for striking down the same-sex marriage ban.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

ESL and the Immigration Lawyer

With the recent interest in the immigration issue in the United States, many law students are considering a career in Immigration Law.

Law schools, such as New York University, are compiling lists of immigration law resources to assist their students in this growing field. Job sites such as Monster.com and jobscareers24.com include immigration law jobs in the databases.

However, one area in which immigration lawyers need to be more proactive is assisting their clients with learning English as a second language, or ESL.

Fortunately, there is ESL software available to assist non-English speakers to learn to read and write the language correctly.

The software developed by experts is designed to supplement the ESL student's study and gives them the opportunity to learn correct English grammar as they complete their lessons. The software is web-based and is continually updated giving the student the most current information.

Also available are writing models, templates and related articles to assist the ESL student in completing a variety writing tasks that have immediate real-world application, such as letters of job application, business e-mails, college papers and more.

Immigration lawyers and their staff should check out available ESL software to assist their clients into easier transition into English-speaking society.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Just What is This Requirements Management Thing?

OK, this has nothing to do with law or the legal profession, at least not overtly so, but I learned a new term this week - requirements management - and just had to write about it.

A little background.

Several of us meet after work every couple of weeks or so for a few drinks and dinner, and last week Barry (don't-use-my-real-name) Boston brought along a new face to join the group. The newbie, whose name escapes me (hate when that happens) so I'll just call him Johnny for now, is a project manager for the product development division, and to make him feel more comfortable we all started peppering him with questions about his work.

Someone asked him what the toughest part of his job was and he told us that until two months ago it was requirements management. Say what?

Seems that whenever someone comes up with a new project there have specific things they want the product to accomplish, or requirements. Now it was making sense.

A big part of Johnny's job is keeping track of the project and making sure it is progressing and requirements are are on track. He was using a spreadsheet to keep track of everything, but it was a cumbersome process. He had to enter everything himself and it was eating up all his time, so he started looking around for a tool that could free up his time by streamlining the process and give responsibility to the designers and engineers.

What he found was on-demand requirements management software - now there's a mouthful. The on-demand part means that it is web-based, so it can be accessed by anyone working on the project from any computer. And since several of the designers liked to take work home with them, Johnny thought this was perfect.

The software is fully customizable so if the client wanted to add a requirement it was easy and everyone could instantly know about the addition. Tracking of all requirements was a breeze, he said, as was the prioritization.

In fact, using the Accompa software saved so much time he had just received a pretty good-sized bonus and picked up the tab for all of us.

Not only did we learn something new, we also got a free meal! Not a bad deal, hun?

We're hoping Johnny comes back next time, and I promised to remember his name.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Lindsay Lohan To Work Off Sentence In Morgue

As part of her agreement on a misdemeanor drunk driving charge, actress Lindsay Lohan will work two four-hour shifts in a morgue, said her attorney.
She must also spend two days working in a hospital emergency room.

Lohan was arrested twice last year on DUI charges and pleaded guilty in August to misdemeanor drunken driving and cocaine charges. She has already served 84 minutes in jail as part of the plea deal.