Ill. corruption figure Rezko sentencing set Jan. 6
Headline Legal News | 2008/12/02 23:06
A federal judge in Chicago has set a Jan. 6 sentencing for political fundraiser Tony Rezko, who helped bankroll the campaigns of Barack Obama and Gov. Rod Blagojevich (blah-GOY'-uh-vich).

Defense attorney Joseph Duffy says Rezko just "wants to get on with his life." Duffy made his comments while leaving court Tuesday after Judge Amy St. Eve set the date.

Duffy, however, left open the question of whether Rezko is still cooperating with the government's investigation of corruption in the Blagojevich (blah-GOY'-uh-vich) administration.

Rezko, convicted in June of mail fraud and other counts, wasn't in court Tuesday. He had asked for an early sentencing date.

Rezko was a major fundraiser for Obama in his campaigns in Illinois but did not raise money in his presidential campaign.



RI gov, union back in court over health insurance
Headline Legal News | 2008/08/25 15:25

Lawyers for Rhode Island Gov. Don Carcieri and the state's largest employees union are heading back to court in a health insurance dispute.

During a court hearing Monday, Council 94 will ask Superior Court Judge Patricia Hurst to delay a ruling that could force thousands of union members to pay more for their health insurance. The union has said it plans to appeal Hurst's decision.

Last week, Hurst ruled that Carcieri could implement an executive order raising health insurance costs for state employees in the executive branch. But the judge said constitutional checks prevent Carcieri from raising insurance costs for employees in other branches of state government.

Carcieri said the health care changes will save the state $10 million as it grapples with a budget deficit.



Indictments to stand against DeLay associates
Headline Legal News | 2008/08/23 15:23
An appeals court has declined to throw out money-laundering indictments against two of former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's political operatives, who had claimed that state elections law used to charge them was too confusing to proceed.

Attorneys for Jim Ellis and John Colyandro, who operated Texans for a Republican Majority during the 2002 campaign, argued that the 3rd Court of Appeals should toss out their indictments because the laws used against them were vague and too broad.

In arguments made to the appeals court two years ago, Travis County prosecutors disagreed, urging the court to let the prosecution continue.

In a lengthy opinion issued Friday, the court affirmed the finding of a lower court and declined to dismiss the indictments.

"The challenged statutes give constitutionally adequate notice of the conduct prohibited and sufficiently determinate guidelines for law enforcement," 3rd Court of Appeals Justice Alan Waldrop writes in the opinion.

In 2002, Texans for a Republican Majority sent $190,000 in corporate checks to the Republican National Committee. The RNC, in turn, sent $190,000 of money collected from individuals to seven Texas candidates.

A Travis County grand jury indicted Ellis, Colyandro and DeLay on money-laundering charges in 2005.

Prosecutors argue that the transaction was an attempt to turn corporate money that is illegal in Texas elections into legal donations to GOP candidates. The defense argues that it was separate, legal transactions.



N.Y. Judge Files $10 Million Defamation Suit
Headline Legal News | 2008/05/05 16:06

A Brooklyn judge has filed an unusual $10 million defamation suit against attorney Ravi Batra and the New York Daily News.

The suit, Martin v. Daily News, 100053/08, filed earlier this year in Manhattan Supreme Court by Justice Larry D. Martin, alleges that Batra was the source of two Daily News columns and related blog postings falsely accusing the judge of improperly presiding over a case involving a lawyer who had defended him before the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct.

Martin maintains that Batra "requested and urged" Daily News columnist Errol Louis to publish "defamatory statements" about him. He claims the articles were "outrageous, grossly irresponsible, malicious and evinced a complete and utter indifference" to his "rights and reputation."

Both Batra and the Daily News have filed motions to dismiss.

On Jan. 28, 2007, Louis wrote that the "complicated world of judicial corruption in Brooklyn -- a snakepit filled with bribery and back-room political deals" -- was on the verge of being "blown wide open."

He cited an action brought by Batra, relating to Singer v. Riskin, 015812/01, an ongoing multimillion-dollar real estate dispute between Batra's clients, Martin and Grace Riskin, and Ted Singer. That dispute has spawned 11 lawsuits.

In November 2006, Batra filed Riskin v. Karp, 34131/06, on behalf of his clients against attorney Jerome M. Karp. The suit alleges Karp represented Singer "in secret" in Riskin v. Belinda, 048555/98, a mortgage foreclosure action and offshoot of Singer v. Riskin.

Batra alleged that Karp's failure to disclose his representation of Singer in Belinda, over which Martin presided, created an undisclosed conflict since Karp had served as the judge's attorney before the judicial conduct commission.

The commission, in a determination issued in December 2001 and modified in June 2002, admonished Martin for sending ex parte letters seeking favorable consideration on behalf of defendants awaiting sentencing in other courts.

In an interview, Batra called Martin's pending action "a frivolous lawsuit [that] ill serves one who sits on the noble bench."

The suit is before Supreme Court Justice Martin J. Schulman.



Know Your Lawyer in Illinois
Headline Legal News | 2008/04/04 16:25
The demands of society to protect personal and property rights of all persons have resulted in an increasingly complex system of laws. Long ago it became necessary for some to devote themselves to study and knowledge of the law so the majority could be advised of their rights and obligations. The lawyers in your community perform this service.

Who Can Practice Law?

Only one who has a license to practice law in Illinois may do so.

The preparation for such a license and legal practice requires a great deal of time, hard work and expense. The licensed lawyer must graduate from an accredited law school and thereafter must pass the Illinois State Bar examination, a rigid test of knowledge in all fields of law. Finally, he or she must submit to an examination of personal character and fitness to practice law before being admitted to the bar.

When Do You Need A Lawyer?
The person who is accused of a crime or is sued for damages in a civil suit usually becomes acutely aware of the need for professional legal help. But legal assistance is highly desirable and often indispensable in many other situations in life which may have nothing to do with crime or a court action. Some of these situations are:
When Your Status Changes -- Coming of age, marriage, the birth or adoption of children and moving to a different state may result in new or different legal and personal responsibilities. Such may also require changes in the way you conduct your business or financial affairs. Your lawyer can help you plan for and meet such obligations, including the preparation of various legal documents which may be required.

When You Make Or Revise A Will -- The planning and drafting of your Will is an important legal matter. In drafting your Will, your lawyer can plan your estate in a way that will be most beneficial to you and to those for whom you wish to provide and your lawyer can suggest proper methods whereby substantial savings in taxes and other estate costs may be realized.

When You Buy Or Sell Real Estate -- Whenever you buy or sell real estate, you should have legal counsel. A real estate broker may be most helpful in putting the transaction together, but legally may not prepare certain legal documents necessary to the transaction, nor may the broker give legal advice as is often needed. There are potential legal pitfalls in the buying or selling of any real estate which can be avoided only by one with knowledge of the laws relating to real estate, taxes, insurance, contracts and other related subjects. Your lawyer can protect your against such pitfalls.

When You Enter Into Any Contract -- Any agreement, oral or written, which involves a consideration -- that is, the exchange of something of value in return for some goods or service rendered -- may be binding and enforceable. As a general rule, oral agreements should be avoided and written agreements should be either prepared by or examined by a lawyer on your behalf before being signed by you. You should consult with him or her regarding any agreement, particularly one representing a major financial obligation, before being entered into by you.

When You Are Involved In An Accident -- If you are involved in an accident of any kind resulting in personal injury or property damage you should consult with your lawyer. He or she can help you protect your rights and should be contacted immediately in order that such action may be taken quickly. In addition, you should notify your casualty insurance company immediately.

Whenever Your Rights Are Threatened -- The law exists to protect your rights, but often you must take definite action to make those laws work for you. Your lawyer is prepared to protect and enforce your rights under the law in all your personal or business affairs.



Nominees Announced for 10TH Judicial Circuit
Headline Legal News | 2008/03/27 15:54

fter consultation with The Florida Bar and general counsel for Gov. Charlie Crist, the 10th Circuit Judicial Nominating Commission met on March 24, 2008, and named additional nominees for the two circuit judge positions made vacant by the retirements of Judges Ralph Artigliere and Susan Roberts.

These additional nominees are: Mark H. Hofstad, Robin Matis-Jackson, and Donald E. Ratterree.

The following is a complete list of nominees for the three pending judicial positions (in alphabetical order):

David R. Carmichael
Angela J. Cowden
Mark H. Hofstad
Robin Matis-Jackson
Michael E. Raiden
Donald E. Ratterree
Ryan Christopher Rodems
Keith P. Spoto
Ronald N. Toward



State bar hears from Supreme Court candidates
Headline Legal News | 2008/03/20 15:03

Four of the five candidates for West Virginia's Supreme Court believe it faces several serious threats to its integrity and reputation.

A declining number of opinions, allegedly unfair treatment of businesses and civility among the justices were among the issues cited at a Wednesday forum hosted by the state's bar association.

Two court seats are up this year. All five hopefuls attended, including Chief Justice Elliott "Spike'' Maynard.

The sole incumbent running, Maynard defended the level of discourse among the court's five justices and the quality and quantity of their opinions.

"I don't know any judge who misbehaved in the conference room,'' Maynard said. "I think the written product is as good as any court's in the land.''

Maynard has made national headlines following the release of photos showing him in Monaco with the chief executive of a coal company with cases pending before the court. He has since disqualified himself from at least three cases involving Massey Energy Co.

Fellow Democrat Menis Ketchum was asked about the court's method for handling recusal requests. A Huntington lawyer, Ketchum advocated an independent panel to resolve such issues.

While court rules require judicial officers to recuse themselves from "a proceeding in which the judge's impartiality might reasonably be questioned,'' it also gives that judge the final say.



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