Friday, December 26, 2008

Washington prison doctor quits over death penalty

Washington prison doctor quits over death penalty, Seattle P-I, Dec. 24, 2008:

The top doctor in the Washington Department of Corrections has resigned, saying the use of medical staff to prepare for an execution is unethical.
The Department of Corrections says that no employee is required to take part in an execution.

Thanks: Roxanne Eberle.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Possible Private Court Hearings in R.I. Raise ACLU’s Hackles

Possible Private Court Hearings in R.I. Raise ACLU’s Hackles, ABA J. online, Dec. 24, 2008.

An almost 25-year-old law in Rhode Island is suddenly controversial, as it looks like it might be implemented for the first time.

The so-called hire-a-judge law enacted by the state in 1984 is the basis of an apparent plan by the Rhode Island Supreme Court to allow litigants in civil cases to retain retired judges to hold private hearings, reports the Providence Journal.

Under Rhode Island’s Retired Justice Trial Act, litigants decide where the case would be heard and pay all costs—including the fee for the retired judge whose decisions, the law states, would “have the same force and effect as if it had been entered or made by an active judge of the court.”
For more, see Hire-a-judge law may come to life, Providence J., Dec. 24, 2008.

Weighing Guilt When the Man on Trial Did No Killing

Kareen Fahim, Weighing Guilt When the Man on Trial Did No Killing, N.Y. Times, Dec. 24, 2008.

In the glare of public scrutiny, juries in Brooklyn and the Bronx started deliberations on separate cases last week, considering the same shocking charge — the murder of a police officer.

That was not all they had to contend with: Prosecutors in both cases were asking for murder convictions for the defendants who, the authorities acknowledged, were not the men who fired the fatal shots.

In deciding whether to convict, the jurors in Brooklyn repeatedly asked for readings of the law, and explanations, in plain English, for what it meant to be an accessory to murder. In the Bronx, jurors sifted through all of the evidence over and over, to try and divine whether the defendant in their case knew that an acquaintance of his — the man who killed the officer — was carrying a gun.
One defendant was acquitted of felony murder but convicted of attempted burglary. A mistrial was declared in the other defendant's case.

The newspaper story quotes the comments of several jurors, explaining the questions they had during deliberations.

Jury Issues First Death Sentence in New Hampshire Since the 1950s

Jury Issues First Death Sentence in New Hampshire Since the 1950s, N.Y. Times, Dec. 18, 2008. The defendant was convicted of killing a police officer.

Another man was convicted of capital murder in October, but his jury rejected the death penalty. That defendant was white; the one sentenced to death is black and the officer he killed was white.

UW law student finds evidence that frees man convicted of Tacoma robbery

UW law student finds evidence that frees man convicted of Tacoma robbery, News Tribune (Tacoma), Dec. 23, 2008. Accused of robbing a Safeway in Tacoma, the defendant said he was in L.A. at the time and in fact had met with his probation officer. Nobody came up with the records to show it, and he was convicted. Boris Reznikov, then a student in the Innocence Project Northwest clinic, got the records and the man was exonerated. Severe weather has delayed the processing of the paperwork, but he will be released soon. Clinic director Jacqueline McMurtrie and volunteer attorney Christopher R. Carney also worked on the case.

Thanks: Lisa Kremer.

Update (Dec. 28): Jackie McMurtrie reports that they were able to get Mr. Anderson, the wrongly convicted man, to L.A. on Christmas so he could be with his extended family.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Service by Facebook

In Seeming First, Aussie Court Says Default Judgment Can Be Served on Facebook, ABA Journal online, Dec. 15, 2008.

Later, the ABA Journal asked readers to send in their oddest stories of process service. One of my favorites involved putting the papers under the paws of a Saint Bernard in the front yard.

Photo is of Orville Wright's dog, Scipio, from (I know, the connection to process service is tenuous, but I like a nice dog picture. And Scipio looks like he would have let a law student intern leave papers under his paws, doesn't he?)

Thanks: Maureen Howard.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Whole Foods Sues FTC

In Once-Every-Fifty-Years Case, Whole Foods Sues FTC, Am. Lawyer, Dec. 10, 2008 (

The FTC opposed the merger of Whole Foods Market and Wild Oats Marketplace in the summer of 2007, so it sought a preliminary injunction. The district court denied the motion. The FTC went to the D.C. Circuit to get an injunction pending appeal. Denied. So the deal went ahead. The FTC still appealed the district court's denial of an injunction, and in July the D.C. Circuit reversed and remanded. Federal Trade Comm'n v. Whole Food Market, Inc., No. 07-5276 (D.C. Cir. July 29, 2009, amended and reissued Nov. 21, 2008).

Now, American Lawyer reports:

Now, the Whole Foods legal team from Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, Dechert and new addition Constantine Cannon is trying something it says hasn't been attempted in half a century -- suing the FTC.

The Whole Foods team, which says the company has already spent $16.5 million on legal fees and other costs related to winning approval of the deal, says the FTC is so biased against the merger that it should be prohibited from reviewing it.

Additionally, the grocer's lawyers say, new FTC rules that call for an expedited discovery process put Whole Foods at an unfair disadvantage by giving the company just five months to prepare its case (Whole Foods wants an additional ten months).
A press release from Whole Foods (Dec. 8) is here. The FTC has lots of documents related to its investigation and the litigation here.

See also Whole Foods Returns FTC's Fire: Grocer Files Rare Suit Against U.S. Agency in Fight Over Wild Oats Merger, Wall St. J., Dec. 9, 2008.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Justice to go mobile in Karnataka-India-The Times of India

Justice to go mobile in Karnataka-India-The Times of India, Nov. 20, 2008:

BANGALORE: Karnataka is all set to take justice and legal literacy to the doorsteps of its people across the state, particularly to the poor as they cannot pay for the expensive and time-consuming court battles.

A specially designed bus will serve as a court room to conduct the lok adalat (people's court).

Lok adalat is a mechanism for speedy settlement of disputes through conciliation, compromise or arbitration. It is not a substitute to the courts but supplements their function. For the financially weak, it is a relief as they need not pay any court or lawyer's fees for the lok adalats to take up their case.
Thanks: Michele Storms.

Panel Upholds $17M Attorney Fee Award, Cites Bad-Faith Patent Litigation by Drug Companies - Panel Upholds $17M Attorney Fee Award, Cites Bad-Faith Patent Litigation by Drug Companies, Dec. 9, 2008.

The generic drug companies had sought approval to produce generic versions of an anti-diabetic drug for which Takeda held the patent. The two companies made certifications that the Takeda patent was invalid for obviousness.

But at trial, both companies changed the focus of their invalidity arguments from what they had filed in their certifications. After an extensive bench trial, the court held that the patent was nonobvious and enforceable.

Takeda moved for an award of attorney fees under a section of the law that permits that award to prevailing parties in "exceptional cases." The district court agreed with Takeda that both companies lacked a good faith basis for their certification filings and had engaged in litigation misconduct.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Civil-rights trial will pit deputy against deputy

Local News | Civil-rights trial will pit deputy against deputy | Seattle Times Newspaper:

A flier calling for King County sheriff's deputies to rally around "our brother, Brian Bonnar," who is accused of beating a handcuffed suspect, has federal prosecutors and sheriff's officials concerned that its intent is to intimidate officers prepared to testify against him.
This is "the first time a law-enforcement officer in Western Washington has been charged under the criminal civil-rights statute."

One of the prosecutors on the case is Assistant U.S. Attorney Kelly Harris, who is also a UW Trial Ad instructor.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Community Supervision of Dangerous Mentally Ill Offenders

A task force convened by the King County Prosecuting Attorney and the Department of Corrections Secretary released a 160 page report on the mental health and criminal justice systems: Examining the Tools in the Toolbox A Review of Community Supervision of Dangerous Mentally Ill Offenders. A news story on the task force report and investigation, and the tragic circumstances that led to its formation, is in today's Seattle Post-Intelligencer. It reports that today "King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg will present 64 wide-ranging 'concepts for reform' to the Senate Human Services and Corrections Committee."

Thanks: Peggy Jarrett.

Peggy posted this on Gallagher Blogs (our law library blog), and suggested that I tell readers of Trial Ad about it too. Good idea, and done.

If you haven't already, you might want to visit Gallagher Blogs directly -- we post an interesting variety of tips, news, and resources related to law and legal research, and you could find it another good blog to follow.

Ressam sentence reinstated

Ressam sentence reinstated, Seattle P-I, Dec. 4, 2008. Federal prosecutors asked Judge John Coughenour (W.D. Wash.) to increase convicted terrorist Ahmed Ressam's sentence from 22 years to life. His sentence had reflected his early cooperation with investigators but he has stopped cooperating. Judge Coughenour stuck with the original sentence, but U.S. Attorney Jeff Sullivan hopes to appeal that decision.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Former Entellium CEO, finance chief may be near plea deal

Former Entellium CEO, finance chief may be near plea deal | Seattle Times Newspaper, Dec. 2, 2008:

Former Entellium executives Paul Johnston and Parrish Jones may be close to reaching a plea agreement with federal prosecutors on charges of falsely inflating company revenue to lure millions of dollars from investors.

The deal would allow the defendants to avoid trial and possibly obtain a shorter sentence in exchange for pleading guilty to one count of wire fraud, which is punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
One of the defendants is represented by Jeffery Robinson, who is also a Trial Ad instructor.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Mother Goes Undercover to Gather Evidence

Vanity Fair gives an inside look at a very unusual post-trial investigation. Christopher Ketcham on Doreen Giuliano's Quest for Justice: About Us:, Jan. 2009 (posted Nov. 28, 2008).

After her son, John Giuca, was convicted in a high-profile murder case, Doreen Giuliano wondered what she could do besides sending snacks to him in prison. Eventually the Brooklyn woman determined that she would gather information about jurors, hoping to find something that would get her son a new trial.

She followed her prime target for months, and then ramped up her efforts. She changed her appearance (losing weight, going to a tanning salon, dying her hair) and rented an apartment near him. She made a point to show up on his street and, with some strategic flirting, managed to strike up a friendship with him. After months of shared meals, wine, and marijuana, she finally got the former juror to say that he had lied during voir dire, revealing the fact that he had known some of the witnesses. Ketcham writes:

The law is clear: John Giuca, based on the evidence secretly gathered by his mother—along with other discrepancies in witness testimony—may very well be entitled to a new trial. Even if Allo didn’t understand the questions during voir dire of a connection to Giuca, under his oath as a juror he was obliged, once their intersecting circles became apparent, to inform the court of this conflict.

In addition, according to Doreen’s affidavit, which attorney Epstein has prepared to file in court, Allo also admitted on tape that he used to hang with members of the Ghetto Mafia (the gang prosecutors contend Giuca belonged to), that Allo’s cousin had dated a woman whose family’s house was used for Ghetto Mafia meetings, and that during the trial this cousin and Allo discussed events related to the case, referring to Giuca as a gang big shot named Slim. “It virtually demands a reversal of the conviction,” says Ezra B. Glaser, a legal adviser to Doreen. “There are New York State and U.S. Supreme Court precedents. He [Allo] knew what he did was improper.”

One thing I wonder: why did Ms. Giuliano, her attorney, and her son's attorney decide to give details to and pose for pictures for the Vanity Fair reporter before filing anything in court? The article was posted on VF's website on Friday; papers were filed on Monday.

Other coverage: