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July 2010 Archives

Lack of Evidence Halts U.S. Attorney Firing Probe

A lack of evidence will bring a halt to any possible criminal charges stemming from the firings of nine U.S. attorneys during the George W. Bush Administration. One of the biggest domestic controversies of the Bush years comes to an end not with the bang of a gavel, but with a whimper. In a letter to the head of the House Judiciary Committee, it was announced that Nora R. Dannehy, an assistant prosecutor from Connecticut who led the investigation, was unable to find the evidence necessary to bring criminal charges over the firings of the nine attorneys. 

According to the Los Angeles Times, the investigation did find that former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales made statements to Congress that were "inaccurate and misleading" about the ouster of U.S. Atty. David Iglesias in New Mexico. Ronald Welch, an assistant attorney general, wrote in his letter to John Conyers, (D-Mich.) chair of the Judiciary Committee, that while Gonzales' statements and those of other DOJ officials were misleading, there was "insufficient evidence to establish that persons knowingly made false statements or corruptly endeavored to obstruct justice."

Tax Break for Trial Lawyers Proposed

Will the plaintiff's bar soon see a long desired break from the IRS? Several news reports believe, yes a tax write-off will soon be available for the up-front expenses often incurred in contingency suits.

According to Forbes, a ruling from the Treasury Department on the issue could come at any time. Plaintiffs attorneys who take contingency cases have complained they must eat the costs of the out-of-pocket expenses such as witness and filing fees as incurred, and only get to write off expenses against any fee they obtain at the resolution of the case. Forbes reports that writing off the costs each year would "substantially boost their after-tax income" and make a contingency-fee case a more attractive investment for attorneys. This could be good news for not just attorneys, but also less affluent plaintiffs who need to rely on a contingency contract to afford representation.

Attorney Lynne Stewart Resentenced to 10 Years

On Thursday, July 15 a New York judge sentenced attorney Lynne Stewart to a much harsher punishment than the one originally given her in 2006. Stewart was convicted of aiding her client, Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman, in contacting his organization, Al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya, and willingly and knowingly supporting the cleric's "efforts to continue to lead the Islamic Group from his jail cell."

Judge John Koeltl sentenced Stewart to 10 years in prison, according to Reuters. He noted that while the original sentence of 28 months was "not trivial," Stewart's lack of remorse and the illegal and potentially deadly character of her actions played a part in her sentencing. Lynne Stewart was convicted in 2005 and disbarred in 2006.

New and Improved: A Better Way to Earn an Ethics CLE

Things just ain't what they used to be when it comes to earning those CLE credits. Remember the days of having to sit in some over-air conditioned conference room with a bunch of other lawyers as mad as you at giving up billable time to earn credits? Well, if those days aren't exactly gone, the times they are a-changin'. Below are a few less painful ways to get part of your required ethics CLE under your belt.

First, a few webinars soon will be broadcast. You can remain at your own desk, with your own chair, adjusted just the way you like it, and take in three important webcasts on topical ethics issues.

Upcoming ABA Webinar: Oil Spill In the Gulf

On July 21, a timely webinar will be broadcast by the American Bar Association. Courtesy of the Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Section, experts in mass torts, government, the insurance industry and environmental law will discuss the legal ramifications of what has been called the largest environmental disaster in U.S. history: the BP oil spill.

The webcast, entitled "Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill: The Legal Fallout," will take place on July 21 at 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., (CT), or beginning at 12:00 p.m. noon (EST). The experts will address the legal framework of the spill, clean-up and resulting litigation, including: the Oil Pollution Act and the application of other laws; the role of the federal and state governments in regulating oil drilling and coordinating responses; the claims process; disaster response; insurance liability; pending and potential litigation, including civil remedies and economic damages; and insurance coverage and exclusions.

Liquid Litigation Management Releases Liquid Lit Manager

For solo and boutique firm attorneys looking for an edge in their discovery practice, anything that can save time and energy is worth considering.  For law practices seeking to increase productivity and profitability, software solutions are often worth considering.

Liquid Litigation Management, Inc. offers a unique set of software that contains discovery and case management tools in one product. This allows legal teams to prepare and participate in litigation in the most efficient way possible. 

San Antonio, Texas based Liquid Litigation Management, Inc. recently released Liquid Lit Manager Version 5.1.  The program includes streamlined tools that will both give users more control over the speed and efficiency of their review and ensure more organized litigation.

How to Use Google Alerts to Monitor Changing Laws

As a small firm owner, how do you monitor news related to changing laws, without breaking the bank on a bunch of staff you can't afford?

Google Alerts.

Instead of having other people out searching the news for you, why not let me magic of the Internet bring it to your email? That's exactly what you can do with a Google Alert and it can work wonders for your peace of mind, not to mention your law practice.

Google Alerts are set up to monitor content, and they automatically notify users when new content from the Internet matches a search terms you select. You can use them to find out what is being said about you or your firm, monitor legal news, monitor the status of a bill, or even to stay informed as to what opposing attorneys and their clients are up to.

Notifications can be received in a number of ways, most commonly they are sent by email, but you can also receive them as a web feed or have them displayed on your iGoogle page.