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The year was 2004. Paul Giamatti shined in "Sideways," a dramedy that would win the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay. Usher's "Yeah!," featuring rapper Ludacris and producer Lil Jon was tearing up the Billboard charts. And Connecticut Gov. John G. Rowland was headed to prison after pleading guilty to accepting inappropriate gifts from individuals with contracts with the state.

Ten years later, I finally got around to watching "Sideways." (Dark, depressing, and hilarious.) And the former governor? He's headed back to prison after being convicted of another corrupt political deal -- a campaign finance violation for a losing congressional race. And while last time, Gov. Rowland only served 10 months, this time he faces up to 57 years, reports The New York Times.

So, there's these Russians, right? And they had this ... defrauding the government thing. They'd sell medical equipment to the government at ridiculously inflated prices -- home whirlpools that cost about $30 were listed as costing $380 -- and they'd pocket the difference between the real cost and the fake cost, split it amongst co-conspirators, etc.

Hilariously, Vadim Yuzovitskiy and Grigory Groysman had been here before. They ran the same scam previously, Yuzovitskiy got caught, snitched on Groysman, and he snitched on everybody else. They testified that immediately after the case was closed, they opened a new office and went back to business as usual. When the sequel was inevitably discovered, the FBI went with their usual snitches and prosecuted the defendant, Lyubov Groysman, a woman who argues that she was simply a clerk, unaware of any scam or illegal activity.

Legally, that's all we know right now, because her conviction for being one of the main participants was just reversed for obvious, plain, ridiculous error. And the Second Circuit, mindful that not all cases will be this easy in the future, sent a little warning to prosecutors in the circuit.

It's a rare occasion indeed when a federal court upholds a state prisoner's federal habeas corpus claim. The procedural bar to getting relief -- showing that a state court's decision was "contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States" -- is quite high.

But Shawn Jackson made it over the hurdle.

In 2000, police arrested Jackson after they received a 911 call from three women at his home -- including his 14-year-old daughter -- alleging that he raped them several times that night. Once arrested, Jackson invoked Miranda and clammed up. Then, Kathy Bonisteel, a Child Protective Services worker, came by to investigate the child abuse charges. Instead of staying silent again, he willingly talked to her, essentially giving the prosecution everything it could have hoped for during the interview.

Two cases closely watched by the tech industry are making progress through the Second Circuit. In the first case, Apple's e-book litigation may be coming to an end with a proposed settlement awaiting court approval, while the criminal case against Ross William Ulbricht, the alleged founder of Silk Road, is moving forward.

And if that's not enough and you want to try your hand at the judiciary -- well there's a job opening for that. Read on for details.

We've been meaning to cover this case for a few weeks now, but with breaking new developments related to the Central Park Five settlement, and the at long last release of the "drone strike" memo, we were distracted. But now, we can now take a look at one of the most important Second Circuit Fourth Amendment cases to be heard this year.

And the court didn't stop there. It also gave district courts some suggestions on dealing with jurors' use of social media and the importance of jury instructions.

Last week, voters with disabilities were vindicated when the Second Circuit affirmed a district court's ruling that New York City failed to provide accessible polling locations for people with disabilities.

And while voters gained more access to the polls, SAC's Michael Steinberg was sentenced to 3-1/2 years' imprisonment for insider trading.

Child Porn Mandatory Minimums: Think Before You Plead

Want to help your client turn a possible five-year sentence into twenty? You can do it in two easy steps. First, forget about federal sentencing enhancements. Second, let him plead guilty without an agreed-upon sentence.

For an excellent demonstration, take a look at this case

Many high profile cases are making their way through the Southern District of New York, and to the Second Circuit. Today, we'll give you the latest on Apple's e-books suit, Chinese search engine Baidu's free speech, Rajat Gupta's failed appeal and JPMorgan's win.

Apple e-books Class Action Certified

Apple was dealt another blow last week when U.S. District Judge Denise Cote granted plaintiffs' motion for class certification. The consumers are suing Apple for "conspiring with five major publishers to fix e-book prices in violation of antitrust law," reports Reuters. Last year, Judge Cote found Apple liable in an antitrust action brought by the Department of Justice based on the same conduct. Today, 33 states have brought actions against Apple, and class actions have been filed in the remaining states, reports Reuters.

As always, there's lots to catch up on in the Second Circuit. So, let's cut the small talk and get to it.

Ecuadorian Judgment Against Chevron Fraudulent

Earlier this month, a district judge for the Southern District of New York penned a 497-page ruling finding that Steven Donziger violated a laundry list of laws to obtain an Ecuadorian court's judgment against Chevron, said the company in a press release. Donziger has voiced his intentions to appeal, and called the district court's ruling "an appalling decision resulting from a deeply flawed proceeding that overturns a unanimous ruling by Ecuador's Supreme Court," reports The Wall Street Journal.

Richard Guertin was Corporation Counsel for the City of Middletown, New York (presumably centrally located), in 2004. From 1997 to 2004, Middletown received federal funds from the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development to "promote the 'development of viable urban communities.'"

As a result of eight questionable loans, Guertin, along with Middletown Mayor Joseph DeStefano and Middletown Community Development Director Neil Novesky, were indicted on charges that the three conspired in an illegal scheme to benefit from loans stemming from federal funds.