3rd Circuit Appeal Challenges Judge's Outside Research In Bench Trial
Legal Topics | 2009/08/20 16:24
According to the New Jersey Law Journal, a federal appeals court has been asked to limit the right of judges to do their own research in bench trials, lest they be swayed by facts not before them.

US Magistrate Patty Shwartz in Newark, N.J., no-caused a medical malpractice claim after consulting published and unpublished cases -- not cited by the parties -- that dwelled on the type of injury the defendant doctor was accused of inflicting.

A three-judge panel of the 3rd US Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the verdict, saying the research was for "informational" purposes only and was not the basis for Shwartz's decision.


Asbestos Tests Must Continue
Headline Legal News | 2009/08/19 16:13
Courthouse News reports that air tests for asbestos-like fibers must continue at a Minnesota mining plant because a 1975 order to do so has been folded into the state's environmental laws, the 8th Circuit ruled.

Northshore Mining Co., a taconite processing facility in Silver Bay, Minn., has tried for several years to get fiber tests removed from state permits.

But the St. Louis-based 8th Circuit agreed with a district court that the 34-year-old law is moot because it "has been effectively incorporated into state administrative law."


Split Supreme Court Orders Review Of Death Row Inmate's Claims That Witnesses Recanted Testimony
Legal Topics | 2009/08/18 16:15
According to the Fulton County Daily Report, the case of Troy Anthony Davis took another extraordinary turn on Monday as the US Supreme Court ordered a federal district judge to hear testimony on the death row inmate's claims that he did not murder a Savannah, Ga., police officer.

Justice Antonin Scalia said in a dissent that the high court hadn't made a similar move in nearly 50 years.

The decision was welcomed by supporters of Davis, who for years have claimed that prosecution witnesses have recanted their testimony from the 1991 trial in which a jury condemned Davis to die for the 1989 killing of Officer Mark Allen MacPhail.

Georgia Attorney General Thurbert E. Baker, whose office has fought Davis' efforts to gain relief, issued a measured response to the ruling, saying simply that he hoped the hearing would resolve doubts about the case.


Bogus 'Emergency' In Forest, Groups Say
Headline Legal News | 2009/08/17 16:23
Courthouse News reports that the US Forest Service declared a bogus "emergency situation" to push through a salvage timber sale in Northern California's Klamath National Forest, three environmental groups say in Federal Court. The Forest Service can declare an emergency when a project threatens imminent economic loss to the government, but the only ones who will lose if this project doesn't proceed is a private, third-party timber auction bidder, the groups say.

Under the National Environmental Policy Act, instead of the inaccurate and incomplete environmental analysis the Forest Service prepared, it needs to complete a more comprehensive environmental impact statement that also considers cumulative impacts and a full range of alternatives, the groups say.

Joining the Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center as plaintiffs are the Environmental Protection Information Center and the Klamath Forest Alliance.

Represented by René Voss of San Anselmo, the groups seek withdrawal of the faulty environmental assessment, want the "emergency situation" to be set aside, and injunctive relief.


Redbox Says Fox Is Trying to Kill It
Legal Topics | 2009/08/14 16:11
Courthouse News reports that Redbox, the DVD kiosk rental giant, says Twentieth Century Fox is trying to kill its business by cutting off the supply of DVDs because Redbox refused to agree to a 30-day "blackout period," during which it will withhold new releases. In its antitrust complaint in Delaware Federal Court, Redbox claims Fox is conducting an illegal boycott in restraint of trade.

Redbox says Fox ordered its distributors, Ingram Entertainment and Video Product Distribution, to cut Redbox off.

In remarkably self-serving language written in high dudgeon, Redbox cites "tough economic times," during which "people simply need some form of release from their financial pressures, even if just for a couple of hours." Redbox says it provides this through its cheap movies, but Fox demands a "business-killing blackout period ... during which consumers would be allowed to procure these DVDs only through more expensive channels ... despite the fact that consumers are being battered by one of the toughest economic recessions in history."


Texas Judge Orders Microsoft To Stop Selling Word In The US
Headline Legal News | 2009/08/13 16:39
Courthouse News reports a federal judge in Texas fined Microsoft $290 million and ordered it to stop selling Word in the United States, because the word-processing software violates a patent held by a small company called i4i. Toronto-based i4i, which has about 30 employees, said Microsoft violated a patent tied to Extensible Markup Language or XML, a special alphabet that allows computers to interpret text.

The Canadian company filed a patent for a "customized XML" tool in 1998.

Because Word 2003 and Word 2007 have the ability to process XML documents with custom XML elements, i4i accused Microsoft of patent infringement. Microsoft insisted the patent was invalid.

In May, a jury ruled for i4i and awarded it $200 million in damages.

Microsoft moved for judgment despite the verdict, but US District Judge Leonard Davis in Tyler, Texas, sided with i4i, saying Microsoft knowingly infringed on the smaller company's patent.


Top Madoff Aid Pleads Guilty
Headline Legal News | 2009/08/12 18:57
According to the New York Law Journal, Bernard L. Madoff's right-hand man pleaded guilty Tuesday and is cooperating in the government's investigation into the largest Ponzi scheme in history.

Frank DiPascali Jr. waived indictment and entered guilty pleas to 10 counts in a criminal information before Southern District of New York Judge Richard J. Sullivan. DiPascali admitted he was part of a scheme that cost institutions, individual investors and charities billions of dollars.

In spite of his cooperation with the government and over the objections of both his defense counsel and the prosecution, Sullivan ordered DiPascali to jail immediately.

DiPascali, who began working for Madoff in 1975 and who was described as the company's chief financial officer, said the conspiracy dated back to the early 1980s and that he followed Madoff's lead from the outset.


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