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Court Clears Microsoft in $1.5 Billion Patent Action by Lucent
Court Center | 2008/09/29 14:16
Microsoft Corp. does not have to pay $1.53 billion in damages awarded to Lucent Technologies in a dispute over two patents for compressing digital music into MP3 format, the Federal Circuit ruled. The court affirmed U.S. District Judge Rudi Brewster's decision to throw out a jury's verdict against the world's largest software maker.

In February 2007 the San Diego jury ruled that Microsoft's Windows Media Player infringed on Lucent's patents. Brewster tossed the verdict in August 2007, finding that the jury had improperly used the value of the entire computer as the royalty base.

The Federal Circuit held that Microsoft had not infringed one of the two patents, and that Lucent lacked standing to sue Microsoft over the second patent.


Court Worker Says Judge Groped Her
Attorneys News | 2008/09/26 14:17
A state judge repeatedly fondled a court worker under her clothes and the State of Kansas fired her for reporting the sexual harassment to the chief judge and the court administrator, the woman says in Federal Court.

Christie Helm, a court worker since 1995, says Judge Frederick Stewart sexually harassed her for years, and became increasingly aggressive in 2007. Stewart is a judge in Kansas' First Judicial District.

Helm says she was an administrative aide in Judge Stewart's division from 2001 until she was fired in December 2007.

She says that "on and off" from 1998 until 2007, "Judge Stewart subjected plaintiff to sexual harassment in the form of unwelcome sexual touching and remarks."

The complaint continues: "Beginning in late March 2007 and continuing through June 2007, Judge Stewart's unwelcome sexual touching of plaintiff escalated dramatically, including the following: a. on approximately a dozen occasions, Judge Stewart tried to kiss plaintiff in his chambers; and b. on approximately five occasions, Judge Stewart reached under plaintiff's clothing and touched plaintiff's intimate body parts."

She says she reported the sexual harassment to Chief Judge David King in June 2007, to Judge Robert Bednar in August 2007, to First Judicial District Court Administrator Steve Crossland in August 2007, and that she testified about it to the Kansas Commission on Judicial Qualifications on Sept. 17, 2007.

She says Chief Judge King fired her on Dec. 14, 2007.

The complaint adds: "Chief Judge King's termination of plaintiff was in retaliation for her opposition - and/or participating in the investigation of - Judge Stewart's sexual harassment of plaintiff."

She demands punitive damages for sexual harassment and retaliatory firing. She is represented by Martin Meyers of Kansas City, Mo.


Candidate Must Admit He Is A Republican, Voter Says
Politics & Law | 2008/09/25 14:11
Republican gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi is trying to "obscure his true party preference" by listing himself on the November ballot as a member of the "G.O.P. Party," and Secretary of State Sam Reed will allow it unless enjoined, a voter says in King County Court. Jeff Smith says that listing Rossi as a member of a "nonexistent party" will foster "public confusion." Rossi is running against Gov. Christine Gregoire, who defeated him by 129 votes in 2004, after two recounts.

Smith, a Washington voter, says Rossi always has identified himself as a Republican, declared himself a candidate for the Republican Party, and was nominated by the Republicans.

"Allowing Rossi to obscure his true party preference and affiliation directly violates the law, would mislead a substantial portion of the voting public and would breed cynicism and mistrust in our public institutions and, indeed, in our electoral process," the complaint states.

"This lawsuit seeks an order declaring that such a 'party preference' is improper under Washington law and directing defendant Reed to prepare and to distribute an amended certified list of gubernatorial candidates that, in accordance with the law, accurately identifies Rossi's part preference as the Washington State Republican Party."

Smith is represented by Kevin Hamilton with Perkins Coie.

Secretary of State Reed is a Republican.


Attorney's Letter To Jurors Questioned
Court Center | 2008/09/24 14:11
An attorney may face federal contempt charges for contacting jurors who ruled against his client in a civil rights case. James Ensz sent a questionnaire to the jurors this month after representing a Lee's Summit police officer, court records indicate.

Ensz represented Lee's Summit Police Officer Richard McKinley, who was sued for allegedly conspiring to arrest Theodore White on trumped-up child molestation charges. The jury awarded White $16 million after White spent 5 years in prison before being acquitted.

White claimed McKinley hid evidence and covered up an affair he had with White's estranged wife, whom McKinley later married.

In the questionnaire, Ensz asked jurors whether they found certain witnesses credible, how much certain pieces of evidence affected their decision, whether they felt the judge favored one side or the other, and asked for specific examples of favoritism and how it affected the verdict.

Court documents show that U.S. District Judge Nancy Laughrey held a telephone conference with attorneys to discuss the questionnaire.

"The court informed Mr. Ensz that it is inappropriate to send out correspondence to the jury ... A party must obtain permission from the court in advance of contacting any juror," the meeting's minutes state.

Judge Laughrey has scheduled an Oct. 14 contempt hearing for Ensz.

Ensz defended his actions in a memo requesting that the hearing be canceled.

"There is nothing inappropriate about the questions asked, nor is there any pressure placed upon jurors to respond to the questionnaire should they choose not to respond," Ensz wrote.

There is no set penalty for Ensz if he is found guilty of contempt, but federal guidelines allow fines and jail time.


EPA Must Set Pollution Standards for Builders
Headline News | 2008/09/23 13:58
The Environmental Protection Agency must develop pollution standards for storm water runoff from construction sites or risk violation of the Clean Water Act, the 9th Circuit ruled.

The EPA identified the construction industry as a "point-source category" of pollution in its 2000 environmental plan, but then exempted the industry from the plan in 2004, skipping a three-year deadline to develop standards after listing.

The Natural Resources Defense Council, along with the Waterkeeper Alliance, filed suit against the EPA and its administrator, Stephen Johnson, for violating their duty to "promulgate effluent limitation guidelines and new source performance standards" for toxic storm water runoff from construction sites.

The environmental groups have standing because the polluted storm water ran into waterways that the groups' members use for recreation, the appeals court ruled. The National Association of Home Builders and Associated General Contractors of America, intervening on behalf of the government, argued that even if the runoff contained pollutants, the water wasn't toxic. The 9th Circuit disagreed. "In fact, the EPA has explicitly stated that storm water runoff from construction sites includes toxic and non-conventional pollutants," Judge Smith wrote.

The Clean Water Act clearly outlines the EPA's responsibility to develop standards for polluters within three years of developing a plan, the ruling states. The Act does not give the EPA authority to remove a point-source category from its plan once it is identified, or the three-year deadline would be meaningless, the court ruled. Also, the intensive listing process, which allows for public review and comment, shows that the agency seriously considered adding the construction industry before its listing.

"The three-year delay ... is not to decide whether to list a point-source category," Smith wrote, "but to allow the EPA to consider what the substance of the (standards) should be."


Psychologist group bars participation in interrogations
Headline News | 2008/09/22 14:01
The American Psychological Association announced Wednesday that it had adopted a measure prohibiting members from participating in interrogations of terrorism suspects at Guantanamo Bay and other military prisons where suspects have allegedly been tortured. The resolution, approved by a vote of 8,792 to 6,157 members, represents a reversal in position by the group, which last year rejected a similar ban. The measure states:
   Whereas torture is an abhorrent practice in every way contrary to the APA's stated mission of advancing psychology as a science, as a profession, and as a means of promoting human welfare.

   Whereas the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Mental Health and the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture have determined that treatment equivalent to torture has been taking place at the United States Naval Base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

   Whereas this torture took place in the context of interrogations under the direction and supervision of Behavioral Science Consultation Teams (BSCTs) that included psychologists....

   Be it resolved that psychologists may not work in settings where persons are held outside of, or in violation of, either International Law or the US Constitution, unless they are working directly for the persons being detained or for an independent third party working to protect human rights.
The resolution will take effect by the APA's next annual meeting, in August 2009.

Last year, APA members passed a resolution stating that the group opposed the use of torture and specifying which practices it found particularly inhumane, including mock executions, sleep deprivation and sexual humiliation. The American Medical Association in 2006 adopted ethical guidelines restricting physician participation in interrogations, following the approval of a similar policy by the American Psychiatric Association. According to a report by the US Defense Department [official website], psychologists have been involved in military interrogations since 2002. Mental health specialists were also reportedly involved in prisoner abuse scandals at Guantanamo and at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.


O.J. Team Says Cops Were Out To Get Him
Headline News | 2008/09/19 14:12
The defense team in O.J. Simpson's burglary and kidnapping trial on Thursday tried to paint a picture that police were out to get him. Simpson's attorney, Yale Galanter, made Las Vegas Metro police Det. Andy Caldwell read a transcript of a secret recording made by Tom Riccio, the memorabilia broker who set up the meeting at the Palace Station Hotel between Simpson and memorabilia dealers Alfred Beardsley and Bruce Fromong.

"California can't get him. Now we'll be able to blank got him," (sic) Caldwell read, quoting an unidentified civilian police employee who allegedly made the remark while questioning Riccio in his hotel room after the incident.

The person quoted seemed to be referring to Simpson's acquittal in 1995 in Los Angeles for the stabbing deaths of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ron Goldman.

Caldwell also testified Thursday in Clark County District Court that he and his crew did not immediately arrest Simpson due to "the nature of the case," and said that they chose instead to conduct surveillance on the former football star. Simpson was arrested days after the incident.

Riccio had planted a recording device in his hotel room while being questioned by police after the alleged Sept. 13, 2007 heist. He's also responsible for the seven secret recordings admitted as evidence Wednesday, dealing with events leading up to, during and after the alleged hold-up.

Riccio testified on Thursday that he often secretly records things because, as a memorabilia broker, it's his best defense to ensure that people follow through on promises.

The colorful memorabilia broker was granted full legal immunity for his cooperation in the case.
    He testified that he set up the meeting after receiving a phone call from Beardsley, who told him he had some of Simpson's items.

"He said, 'Don't call O.J. up because this stuff is stolen from his trophy room,'" Riccio testified.

When District Attorney Chris Owens asked what he did next, Riccio drew laughs from the courtroom with his blunt answer: "I called O.J. up."

Also Thursday, Brent Bryson, attorney for Simpson's co-defendant Clarence "C.J." Stewart, made his daily plea to have his client tried separately from Simpson. Again, Judge Jackie Glass denied the request.

Here is a link to Clark County District Court Web site, which contains 202 pages of transcripts, dubbed the "Riccio Recordings," allegedly from Riccio's tapes (scroll down to Documents).


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