Fla. lawyer suspected in $1B fraud losing license
Legal Topics | 2009/11/18 18:00

A South Florida lawyer suspected of operating a $1 billion Ponzi scheme is asking for his own disbarment.

A Florida Bar committee has approved the disbarment request submitted by attorney Scott Rothstein. A spokeswoman said Wednesday the final decision must be made by the state Supreme Court.

The FBI says Rothstein sold investments in legal settlements that did not exist. The total amount lost could top $1 billion. No criminal charges have been filed yet.

Once disbarred, Rothstein would no longer be allowed to serve on a panel that nominates appeals court judges. Gov. Charlie Crist appointed Rothstein to that panel in 2008. Rothstein was a major contributor to Crist and many other high-profile politicians nationwide.



Guilty plea in Wash. shooting spree that killed 6
Headline Legal News | 2009/11/18 17:59

A man who killed six people, including a sheriff's deputy, in a northwest Washington shooting rampage last year pleaded guilty Tuesday and will spend the rest of his life in a mental hospital or prison.

Isaac Zamora entered the pleas to 18 charges, including aggravated murder, attempted murder and burglary, after prosecutor Rich Weyrich agreed he would not seek the death penalty.

"Mr. Zamora won't ever walk the streets again," Weyrich said. "From a public safety standpoint, we've accomplished that."

Zamora, 29, began his rampage Sept. 2, 2008, near the town of Alger, 70 miles north of Seattle, and continued it on Interstate 5. Described by his family as mentally disturbed, he was captured after a police chase and later told investigators he killed for God.

The dead included a man who had accused Zamora of trespassing, a woman who lived nearby, two construction workers, a motorist on the highway, and Skagit County Deputy Sheriff Anne Jackson. Jackson had frequently tried to help Zamora's family deal with his mental illness, Zamora's mother said.



Court gives $1.1B tanker contract back to Boeing
Areas of Focus | 2009/11/17 18:00

A federal appeals court has reversed a ruling that overturned Boeing Co.'s $1.1 billion contract for maintenance of an Air Force refueling tanker jet.

The decision Tuesday by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit reinstates Chicago-based Boeing's 10-year contract for work on the KC-135 Stratotanker — the Air Force's primary mid-flight refueling aircraft.

Boeing, which built the KC-135, was awarded the maintenance contract in September 2007. The company had already held similar contracts for nearly a decade.

But rival bidder Alabama Aircraft Industries Inc. filed suit, claiming the contract was not properly awarded to Boeing, citing issues such as pricing and past performance. The U.S. Court of Federal Claims ruled for Alabama Aircraft Industries in 2008 and ordered the Air Force to re-solicit bids for the maintenance deal.

Boeing spokesman Dan Beck said the company is pleased with the decision and that Boeing looks forward to beginning work with the Air Force.

An Alabama Aircraft Industries president Ronald Aramini said in a statement that the company was disappointed with the ruling and that it "will be reviewing all legal and strategic options available to us."




Obama administration: Toss wiretap lawsuit
Headline Legal News | 2009/11/02 17:39
Attorney General Eric Holder says a lawsuit in San Francisco over warrantless wiretapping threatens to expose ongoing intelligence work and must be thrown out.

In making the argument, the Obama administration agreed with the Bush administration's position on the case but insists it came to the decision differently. A civil liberties group criticized the move Friday as a retreat from promises President Barack Obama made as a candidate.

Holder's effort to stop the lawsuit marks the first time the administration has tried to invoke the state secrets privilege under a new policy it launched last month designed to make such a legal argument more difficult.

Under the state secrets privilege, the government can have a lawsuit dismissed if hearing the case would jeopardize national security.

The Bush administration invoked the privilege numerous times in lawsuits over various post-9/11 programs, but the Obama administration recently announced that only a limited number of senior Justice Department officials would be able to make such decisions. It also agreed to provide confidential information to the courts in such cases.

Under the new approach, an agency trying to keep such information secret would have to convince the attorney general and a panel of Justice Department lawyers that its release would compromise national security.

Holder said that in the current case, that review process convinced him "there is no way for this case to move forward without jeopardizing ongoing intelligence activities that we rely upon to protect the safety of the American people."

The lawsuit was filed by a group of individuals who claimed the government illegally monitored their communications. To proceed with the case, Holder said, would expose intelligence sources and methods.


Nokia’s lawsuit against Apple over iPhone likely a negotiating tactic over licensing fees
Headline Legal News | 2009/10/26 16:33
CrunchGear's Jeremy Kessel recnetly spoke with "Barry L. Cohen, Esq.,who specializes in commercial and business litigation and intellectualproperty litigation and licensing at Thorp Reed & Armstrong,[regarding] his thoughts on the Nokia v. Apple matter at large.According to Mr. Cohen, because Nokia has been successful in licensingthe patents at issue with dozens of other companies, the Finnishcompany most likely felt confident that it would be able to reach anagreement with Apple as well. When the negotiations reached an impasse,Nokia was essentially left with no other choice but to pursue legalrecourse."

"Filing the lawsuit against Apple is most likely, at least in part, adeliberate strategy to put more pressure on Apple to agree to the termsthat Nokia has requested with regards to licensing the patentedtechnologies," Kessel reports. "Because the 10 patents at issue include'fundamental' cellular technologies, the lawsuit may also have beenmotivated by some (or many) of the other companies who are alreadypaying licensing fees to Nokia and want Apple to do the same."


Chavez says Obama did "nothing" to deserve Nobel
Legal Topics | 2009/10/12 17:07
CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuela's socialist leader Hugo Chavez said on Sunday that U.S. President Barack Obama had done nothing beyond wishful thinking to earn the Nobel Peace Prize.

Chavez, who has mixed praise for Obama personally with criticism of his government's "imperialist" policies, said he thought it was a mistake when he read the U.S. leader had won.

"What has Obama done to deserve this prize? The jury put store on his hope for a nuclear arms-free world, forgetting his role in perpetuating his battalions in Iraq and Afghanistan, and his decision to install new military bases in Colombia," Chavez wrote in a column.

"For the first time, we are witnessing an award with the nominee having done nothing to deserve it: rewarding someone for a wish that is very far from becoming reality."

Chavez said giving Obama the Nobel award was like giving a baseball pitcher a prize simply for saying he was going to win 50 games and strike out 500 batters.

Although mild compared to some of the virulent rhetoric he often uses against the United States, Chavez's criticism contrasted with the assessment of his mentor, Fidel Castro.

Read more...


LAs leave 25% of class action settlements unclaimed
Legal Interview | 2009/10/05 22:32
UK – Local authority pension schemes could be losing up to £125m (€136m) by not participating in class actions, a report from the Goal Group has claimed.

The firm, which provides specialist class action services, calculated that between 2007 and 2008 UK local authority pension schemes lost almost £8.5bn on their investments, of which around £140m could be recovered through legal action.
Article continues below

Between 2008 and 2009, however, it revealed the losses by UK local government pension schemes (LGPS) increased to £22.5bn while the potentially recoverable funds from class actions more than doubled to £370m, because the financial crisis is likely to create a "far more sustainable stream of cases, albeit at less inflated settlement values".

In total, this means LGPS' lost around £31bn between 2007 and 2009 but have the potential to recover £500m. Goal Group claims, however, that £125m, or 25% of potentially recoverable funds, could be left unclaimed if local authorities do not start to increase their participation in legal actions.

Goal Group quoted statistics from Nera Economic Consulting stating the number of federal class action filings in US courts, the main location for these cases, peaked at 258 in 2008. This was the highest level since 2002, but the report noted the first half of 2009 has already seen 127 cases filed, of which 67% named at least one financial company as the primary or co-defendant.

Read more...


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