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Court Shields Bloggers From Disclosing Names
Court Center | 2008/07/09 14:22
A group of Internet users successfully fought a subpoena seeking their identities for comments written on a blog, but they are not entitled to attorney fees, a California appeals court ruled.

Mordecai Tendler asked Google for subpoenas to get the IP addresses of Web users who allegedly defamed him on jewishwhistleblower.blogspot.com.

When Google refused to comply with the subpoena orders, Tendler requested similar subpoenas for the Blogspot addresses of rabbinicintegrity, jewishsurvivors, and newhempsteadnews. The unnamed Doe defendants fought back with a motion to strike.

Justice Mihara reversed the lower court's award of $42,000 in attorney fees and costs after Tendler ultimately withdrew the subpoenas. Mihara ruled that a request for a subpoena does not fall within the anti-SLAPP statute.

"Even the broadest interpretation of the (statute) cannot stretch it to cover a subpoena," the judge ruled. "A request for a subpoena is not a complaint."

Mihara also noted that the third-party subpoena request was not even served on the Internet users and could "not possibly be expected to initiate a 'cause of action' against that adverse party."


Anheuser-Bush Invokes Cuban Embargo To Fight Buyout
Top Legal News | 2008/07/09 14:18
Anheuser-Busch has fired back at InBev, claiming the Belgium-based beer company made false statements about its buyout plan to try to buy the American beer giant at a discount. Among other things, Anheuser-Busch claims that InBev's 570 workers in Cuba, where InBev owns 55 percent of the beer market, would run afoul of the U.S. trade embargo.

In its federal claim, Anheuser-Busch challenges InBev's declaration that it would base its North American headquarters in St. Louis. InBev's Cuban operations would prevent that because of the Trading with the Enemy Act and Cuban Assets Control Regulations, the complaint states.

The lawsuit also questions InBev's statement that it has fully committed financing to buy Anheuser-Busch.

"Given the current state of the credit markets, no group of lenders would unconditionally agree to loan InBev the $40 billion it will need," the complaint states. "Any commitments InBev has received are certainly rife with conditions leaving the proposed lenders free to walk away if, for example, market conditions deteriorate, InBev's or the Company's performance worsens, or they are unable to syndicate their loans. For InBev to tout its purportedly 'fully committed' financing without disclosing these conditions is materially misleading."

Anheuser-Busch seeks an injunction prohibiting InBev from soliciting shareholders until it has clarified the allegedly misleading statements. InBev sued in Delaware state court in June, seeking to oust Anheuser-Busch's Board of Directors after the board rejected InBev's $47 billion offer.

Anheuser-Busch is represented by James Bennett.


Refco CEO Bennett Gets 16 Years
Top Legal News | 2008/07/08 14:19
Former Refco CEO Phillip Bennett was sentenced on July 3 to 16 years in prison and ordered to pay $2.4 billion for his role in the company's $2.4 billion fraud. Bennett pleaded guilty in February to all 20 charges against him, including conspiracy, securities fraud, wire fraud, bank fraud and money laundering.

Bennett oversaw massive book juggling to hide losses and inflate revenue. The frauds were discovered after Thomas H. Lee Partners bought Refco in August 2004. The company collapsed in October 2005.

U.S. District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald "held Bennett responsible for stealing approximately $2.4 billion from Refco's banks and investors," the U.S. Attorney's Office said. Bennett, 59, of Gladstone, N.J., was ordered to report to prison on Sept. 4.


Ruling Limits Courts' Role In Environmental Review
Headline News | 2008/07/07 14:17
The 9th Circuit rebuffed environmentalists who challenged a logging project in the Idaho Panhandle National Forest, saying it is not the court's job to act as a panel of scientists and order the government to "explain every possible scientific uncertainty."

The full appellate court overturned an injunction granted to the Lands Council and the Wild West Institute, clearing the way for selective logging of 3,829 acres of land as part of the "Mission Brush Project."

Lands Council argued that the U.S. Forest Service violated federal environmental law by failing to explain its scientific analysis of the project's effect on wildlife, especially the flammulated owl, and by not maintaining at least 10 percent old growth throughout the forest.

The court said it took the case en banc "to clarify some of our environmental jurisprudence with respect to our review of the actions of the United States Forest Service."

Judge Smith said Lands Council's arguments "illustrate how, in recent years, our environmental jurisprudence has, at times, shifted away from the appropriate standard of review."

It is not the role of federal courts to tell the Forest Service how to validate its hypotheses on wildlife viability, choose which scientific studies should be used for determining compliance with federal law, and order the agency to explain each scientific uncertainty, Smith said.

The court, concluding that the government has complied with federal law, reversed the halt on selective logging.

The thinning project had been proposed, in part to restore the forests to their historic composition, and to decrease the risks of fires, insects and disease.
 


DC police launch voluntary handgun search program
Top Legal News | 2008/07/03 14:30

Washington DC police are launching a new voluntary program to reduce the number of guns in the city after the US Supreme Court ruled last month that a city ban on private handgun ownership violated the Second Amendment to the US Constitution. Under the Safe Homes Initiative, police will ask residents for permission to search their homes for guns and residents will receive amnesty from prosecution for any weapons confiscated under the program. Critics allege that the program could amount to a violation of the Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable search and seizure if homeowners are intimidated into allowing the searches. The Washington DC chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union has distributed flyers advising DC residents of their constitutional rights.

Other cities are considering similar programs following the Supreme Court ruling. Gun ownership advocacy groups have filed lawsuits in Chicago and San Francisco seeking to overturn laws which ban handguns within those cities. In September 2007, Washington DC Mayor Adrian M. Fenty and DC Attorney General Linda Singer ormally appealed a March 2007 federal court ruling which invalidated the District of Columbia's handgun ban . The Supreme Court affirmed a March DC Circuit holding that the city's 30-year-old ban on private possession of handguns was unconstitutionally broad.



'Reality' Show Host Sued For Assault
Court Center | 2008/07/02 14:32
A security guard hired to work at Paris Hilton's unveiling of her clothing line claims "reality TV" host Stephen Glover aka "Steve-O" ordered his 6-foot-9-inch bodyguard to assault him, so that Glover, host of USA Network's "Dr. Steve-O" show, could crash the party.

Roland Cano claims Kitson's clothing store, a celebrity hangout, hired him to provide security for Hilton's Aug. 16, 2007 event. He says Glover demanded to be let in, and he did his job and refused him entrance. Glover then ordered his bodyguard, former professional football player and co-defendant Reggie Pace ("Big Regg"), to assault him, and Pace punched him in the face and head repeatedly, Cano says. Glover used the assault to enter the event, he says.

The complaint continues: "After defendant Big Regg struck Plaintiff's face and head, defendant Steve-O proclaimed, 'I just had my dude rip that security guard's face. ... It was awesome. ... I just needed to see my security guard rough everyone the fuck up!' Defendant Steve-O then hugged defendant Big Regg, stating, 'Nice work man. You made me so proud of you. ... We won!'" (Ellipses in complaint.)

Cano demands punitive damages for assault and battery, negligence and emotional distress. He also sued USA Networks' corporate parent, NBC Universal. He is represented by Joseph Barrett with The Cochran Firm.


DOJ seeks names of Swiss bank clients
Headline News | 2008/07/01 14:23

The US Department of Justice (DOJ) filed papers in the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida Monday asking the court to force a Swiss bank to hand over the names of American clients suspected of hiding funds from tax collectors. The DOJ is requesting permission for the Internal Revenue Service to issue "John Doe" summons against UBS to obtain information about unidentified American bank patrons accused of tax fraud. A former UBS banker pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the IRS last month, after he admitted that UBS employees assisted US citizens in hiding approximately $20 billion in taxable assets. IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman said:
Today's action sends a strong, unequivocal signal to anyone thinking of short-changing the nation and their fellow citizens by evading the tax laws.

Offshore accounts harbor billions of dollars, and people should take notice that the secrecy surrounding these deals is rapidly fading. The information we would gather from this action would help us detect wealthy individuals who don't pay their taxes as well as provide details about how advisors facilitate this abuse.

Owners of Swiss bank accounts have traditionally enjoyed great privacy, but Swiss banks have recently released information on certain clients. In 2006, the Swiss Justice Ministry granted US investigators access to information about bank accounts of terrorism suspects. Prosecutors in the US Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Virginia requested the information in a four-year old investigation into money laundering to support terrorist activities. The same year, the Swiss Supreme Court denied a Russian request for the transfer of bank documents to Russia which were relevant to an ongoing investigation into Russian oil giant Yukos.



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