Conn. high court hears death penalty appeal
Legal Business | 2011/04/27 16:08
A lawyer told the state Supreme Court yesterday that his client’s death penalty case was the weakest one ever to go before the high court, alleging that the jury was biased and that key evidence was improperly withheld from the trial.

Justices heard the appeal of former Torrington resident Eduardo Santiago, 31, who prosecutors say agreed in 2000 to kill a West Hartford man in exchange for a pink-striped snowmobile with a broken clutch. He was sentenced to death by lethal injection in 2005 after a jury convicted him, despite no clear evidence that he was the one who pulled the rifle trigger.

Two other men are serving life prison sentences for the killing of Joseph Niwinski, 45, who was shot in the head while sleeping in his home.

Santiago’s lawyer, Assistant Public Defender Mark Rademacher, told the Supreme Court that there was no way a reasonable jury could have condemned Santiago. The defense presented 25 mitigating factors, including Santiago’s troubled childhood, for jurors to consider against the death penalty, while the state based its argument for execution on one aggravating factor, that Niwinski was killed in a murder-for-hire plot.


Lawyer-legislator says ethics opinion clears Prattville lawmaker
Legal Business | 2011/03/10 20:01

The chairman of the Legislature's Contract Review Committee said an opinion from the executive director of the State Ethics Commission clears a senator to work for a law firm that does business with the state.

The chairman, Republican Sen. Bill Holtzclaw of Madison said the opinion settled the issue of whether Republican Sen. Bryan Taylor of Prattville was in compliance when he joined the law firm of Capell & Howard.

The Huntsville Times reported that the opinion from Executive Director Jim Sum-ner said changes made in the state ethics law in December had very little, if any, impact of state contracting.

The committee had sought the advice last month when Capell & Howard got a $100,000 contract from the state Department of Corrections.




Too big to stop? Obama's overhaul lumbers on
Legal Business | 2011/02/02 17:51

Most insurers, hospital executives and state officials expect they'll keep carrying out President Barack Obama's health care overhaul even after a federal judge cast its fate in doubt by declaring all of it unconstitutional.

"It's still the law of the land," said William Hoagland, vice president for public policy at health insurer Cigna. "We'll continue to proceed with its requirements, and (the ruling) will not slow that down. We have no other choice until this thing is resolved one way or the other." Insurers spent millions to block passage of the law.

Health care accounts for about one-sixth of the economy, and many players in the sprawling sector have a love-hate relationship with Obama's health care remake. There's dissatisfaction with key provisions, and a sense that parts may be unworkable. But at the same time, it's seen as a vehicle to start addressing problems of cost and quality that, left to fester, could trigger more drastic consequences.

"I don't think people are going to hit the stop button," said Paul Keckley, executive director of the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions, a research arm of the consulting firm. "You probably don't make the big bets right now, but you make the incremental investments in case you have to make the big bets 6 or 12 or 18 months down the road. Everyone proceeds with an informed approach."

Monday's ruling by U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson in Florida had been expected to go against the Obama administration. But the scope of the decision in a lawsuit by 26 of the 50 states took some by surprise.

Vinson struck down the entire law after finding its requirement for nearly all Americans to carry health insurance unconstitutional. Another judge who reached the same conclusion in a separate case voided the individual insurance requirement and left everything else in place.




UW Madison's patenting arm wins lawsuit
Legal Business | 2010/01/05 20:47

The University of Wisconsin-Madison's patenting arm has won an appeal in federal court against Canadian drug company Xenon.

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday in favor of the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation.

The lawsuit dealt with how Xenon handled patent rights to an enzyme that can lower cholesterol levels in the human body.

The appeals court said a lower court correctly ruled in favor of WARF on its claim that Xenon broke its contract for a licensing agreement.

WARF licensed the technology to Xenon in 2001, which then entered into a partnership with Novartis to further develop the discoveries made by the university researchers.

The appeals court says Xenon breached its contract with WARF by not paying its share of sublicense fees.



Lawsuit: Botched Diagnosis Led to 30-Year-Old New York Teacher's Brain Hemorrhage Death
Legal Business | 2009/11/23 18:08
Doctors at a Long Island hospital failed to properly diagnose a 30-year-old Queens teacher's head pain in the days leading up to her death from a brain hemorrhage, a lawsuit alleges.

Melissa Fudge, who taught at PS 16 in Corona, died a year ago tomorrow. She had a history of ulcerative colitis when she was admitted to Long Island Jewish/Plainview Hospital in November 2008 complaining of vomiting and gastrointestinal pain accompanied by a searing headache and shooting pain in her left eye.

Doctors treated her for colitis, but her head pain continued, said her lawyer, Gerard Lucciola.

"They kept giving her transfusions and couldn't understand where all the blood was going," said her husband, Roger Fudge Jr. "They got tunnel-visioned on the colitis."

And, he said, the tragedy had far-reaching effects.

"It wasn't only me; it was my family, her family — her students, too," he said.

The suit, filed last week in Queens Supreme Court, seeks unspecified damages from the hospital and three doctors.


Microsoft Lawsuit Shows Malicious Advertising a Growing Issue
Legal Business | 2009/09/21 19:37
Microsoft announced on Sept. 18 that it has filed lawsuits against five entities that it claims have been spreading "malvertising," or online advertising used to port malware onto end users' machines. Microsoft is asking the court to shut down those entities, saying that they used Microsoft’s AdManager service, which lets Website owners manage their own advertising inventory, to launch their attacks.

The lawsuits are just the latest leveled by Microsoft against spreaders of malicious code. Earlier in the summer, Microsoft’s Internet Safety Enforcement Team filed a civil lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for Western Washington against what they described as a massive click-fraud scheme. In that case, the accused individuals had developed click-fraud attacks against online advertisements for auto insurance and World of Warcraft.

In 2009, Microsoft also targeted legal action against a party, Funmobile, which it accused of "spimming," or spreading links to possibly malicious software through instant messaging. Hong Kong-based Funmobile had apparently been sending instant messages to thousands of Windows Live Messenger users since March 2009.

The Sept. 18 filings represent yet another front in the battle.

"Our filings in King County Superior Court in Seattle outline how we believe the defendants operated," Tim Cranton, Microsoft’s associate general counsel, wrote in an official Microsoft blog posting on Sept. 1. "In general, malvertising works by camouflaging malicious code as harmless online advertisements. These ads then lead to harmful or deceptive content."

Microsoft’s court filings aim at entities using the business names "Soft Solutions," "Direct Ad," "qiweroqw.com," "ITmeter INC" and "ote2008.info," which Redmond says used malvertising to spread malware and scareware.


GOP argument: Don't give President Obama a blank check
Legal Business | 2008/10/24 01:49

(CNN) -- A new Republican ad appears to suggest that Barack Obama has al but won the presidential race, an argument several vulnerable Senate Republicans may have to reluctantly embrace with only days until Election Day, an expert in campaign advertising said.

Some Republicans are already planning on a Barack Obama presidency.

Some Republicans are already planning on a Barack Obama presidency.

Aimed at Kay Hagan, Sen. Elizabeth Dole's surprisingly strong Democratic challenger in North Carolina, the 30-second spot from the National Republican Senatorial Committee warns voters against Democrats holding the White House and Congress, and flatly states that if Hagan wins, the party will "get a blank check."

"These liberals want complete control of government in a time of crisis, all branches of government," the ad's narrator states. "No check and balances, no debate, no independence. That's the truth behind Kay Hagan. If she wins, they get a blank check."

Committee Online Communications Director John Randall denied that the ad is suggesting that GOP nominee John McCain will lose out on the White House.

"The NRSC is not conceding a Barack Obama presidency," he said. "Fiscally irresponsible liberals like Kay Hagan are not the answer in these tough economic times and would only make things worse. Our ad was intended to highlight Hagan's many failings in light of the Democrats' promise to close debate should they control the executive and legislative branches of the federal government."

But with polls warning of a GOP bloodbath November 4, vulnerable senators in red states may have no other option but to suggest that Obama will capture the White House and warn that the Illinois senator needs to be checked by Senate Republicans. Video Watch more on the fight for battleground states »

"They are basically painting the picture that the presidential race is over," said Evan Tracey of Campaign Media Analysis Group, CNN's consultant on ad spending. "Overall, people prefer divided government. This is that divided government argument: 'Don't hand sole control over to one party.' "

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