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Judge Removed From Office For Phone Rage
Court Center | 2008/06/10 14:19
Niagara Falls City Judge Robert Restaino was removed from office in an apparent case of telephone rage. Frustrated that no one owned up to the cacophonous cell phone that rang in the back of his courtroom, Restaino sent 46 defendants to jail.

   The New York Court of Appeals said removal was proper, because Restaino acted in a way that eroded confidence in his ability to render fair, rational judgments.
When the cell phone went off, Restaino told the defendants in his courtroom, "Now, whoever owns the instrument that is ringing, bring it to me now or everybody could take a week in jail and please don't tell me I'm the only one that heard that."

After a fruitless inquiry to find the owner, he reiterated, "Everyone is going to jail; every single person is going to jail in this courtroom unless I get that instrument now. If anybody believes I'm kidding, ask some of the folks that have been here for a while. You are all going."

He questioned the 35 remaining defendants and recalled 11 defendants whom he had previously released before the phone rang. Dissatisfied with their responses, he revoked their recognizance release and imposed bail. He even set bail for a petitioner who had been standing next to the judge when the phone rang in the back of the room.

He then ranted about the breach of courtroom decorum. "You know, for some of you folks, this hurts me more than you imagine because someone in this courtroom has no consideration for you, no consideration for me and just doesn't care," he said. "Some of you people may not be in the (same) economic situation (as) this selfish person ... (is who) put(s) their interests (sic) above everybody else's. They don't care what happens to anybody."

The 46 defendants were transported to the city jail, booked, searched and placed in holding cells. Thirty-two defendants posted bail, while the remaining 14 who could not post bail were shackled and bused to the county jail.

The state court said the circumstances qualified as "truly egregious" to merit removal from office. "(I)t is ironic that petitioner displayed the very attributes by which he accused and summarily punished each defendant," the court added. Restaino had "more than 46 chances to correct himself and failed to do so."


FTC Appeals D.C. Circuit Order In Rambus Case
Top Legal News | 2008/06/09 16:11
The Federal Trade Commission claims the D.C. Circuit misunderstood patent law in finding Rambus Corp. a "lawful monopolist," though the memory chip-maker abused its power as a member of a standards-setting organization to acquire that monopoly.

The FTC seeks a rehearing en banc of the court's April 22 order setting aside the FTC's final order that Rambus cease and desist.

"The proceeding involved an issue of exceptional importance, in that the panel's failure to recognize the competitive harm that anticompetitive deception causes in the context of industry standard-setting organizations constitutes a significant error that has grave implications for beneficial industry standard-setting," the FTC says.

It claims the federal court panel's decision "is inconsistent with the causation standard for monopolization articulated by this Court's en banc decision in United States v. Microsoft Corp., 253 F.3rd 34 (D.C. Cir. 2001)."

And the FTC claims, "The panel decision improperly extends the Supreme Court's holding in holding in NYNEX v. Discon, Inc., 525 U.S. 128 (1998), to protect a firm's use of deception to achieve monopoly power."


Black Public Defenders Sue Atlanta
Court Center | 2008/06/05 14:51
In pursuit of "greater diversity," the City of Atlanta laid off five black female public defenders who were better qualified and had more experience than the white men it retained, the women claim in Federal Court.

The women claim, "the decision makers regarding the reduction in force laid off plaintiffs as part of an effort to achieve what they perceived as greater diversity in a department that had previously had primarily African American and female employees."

The woman want reinstatement, back pay, damages and costs, alleging racial and sexual discrimination.


Class Claims 'QuickPick' Bets Didn't List Last Horse
Headline News | 2008/06/03 14:54
Scientific Games' machines excluded the last horse from every race in its "QuickPick" program for more than 6 months, a class action claims in Superior Court.

The complaint states in Paragraph 11 that "the QuickPick program excluded the last horse in every race from the betting slips."

Two paragraphs later, it states, "The glitch was finally admitted when a Bay Meadows bettor played 1,300 quick picks and noticed that not one included the number 20 horse."

The complaint does not elucidate specifically whether the last horse was excluded in races with fewer than 20 horses, though Paragraph 11 indicates that was the case.

The named plaintiff claims that "Although Defendants were aware of the problem as of Nov. 1, 2007, the Defendants failed to notify the betting public. Instead, the Defendants kept the problem to itself [sic] and attempted to correct 'for' the problem with 'new software.' The glitch was finally admitted when a Bay Meadows bettor played 1,300 quick picks and noticed that not one included the number 20 horse. The public was not alerted to the problem until after May 19, 2008 - months after the Defendants knew of the problem and week after the Bay Meadows better complained to the State Board. As a result of the 'glitch,' thousands of Class members paid for 'QuickPick' bets without any chance of a 'QuickPick' payment."

Named plaintiff Angel Romero says he bought QuickPick tickets for races at Fairplex Race Track, Santa Anita, Hollywood park and Pacific Coast Quarter Horse, all in Southern California.

He is represented by William Audet of San Francisco and Thomas Ferlauto with King & Ferlauto of Los Angeles.


Hungarian Gypsies Lose Bid For Asylum In U.S.
Top Legal News | 2008/06/02 15:16
The 8th Circuit denied asylum to two Hungarian citizens who claimed they were attacked by skinheads in their native country because they are Roma, or gypsies.

Istvan Beck and Hilda Beckne Aranyi claimed they often ran into trouble in Hungary due to their Roma ethnicity. They were allegedly teased in school, denied employment opportunities and attacked by skinheads.

However, Judge Loken ruled that the plaintiffs did not show a clear probability of future persecution. The Hungarian government did not direct or condone the crimes, and the police had tried to find their alleged attackers.

Loken also cited a report by the State Department stating that the situation in Hungary is improving. The government has been fining companies that discriminate against Roma, and it is even considering an affirmative action program.

Beck and Aranyi have overstayed their U.S. visas by two years.


Louisville Slugger Crippled Little Leaguer
Headline News | 2008/05/30 21:03
Higher bat speed, and the resulting ball speed off an aluminum bat gave a Little Leaguer insufficient time to react, and the boy suffered cardiac arrest when hit by a batted ball during a game, the boy's family claims in lawsuits against Hillerich & Bradsby dba Louisville Slugger, and the Little League.

Aluminum bats have been controversial for precisely this reason, and because some baseball purists say the lighter bats give batters an unfair edge. In this case, the Domalewski family claims Steven, 12, was injured and hospitalized during a June 6, 2006 game in Wayne, N.J., from a ball bit by a Louisville Slugger TPX Platinum bat. The 31-inch bat weighs 19 ozs., the complaint states. Traditional wooden bats generally weight 30 ozs. or more.

As a result of the blow to his chest, Steven "went into cardiac arrest ... was resuscitated and transported to St. Joseph's Medical Center in Paterson," according to the claim in Passaic County Court. It claims Steven "suffered from anoxic encephalopathy secondary to comotio cordis" and "is multiple handicapped."

The Domalewskis accuse the defendants, among other things, with consumer fraud: minimizing the dangers of aluminum bats, though knowing of them. They demand punitive damages.


Arkansas law firm takes on Austin lawyers to expand locally
Firm News/Arkansas | 2008/05/30 20:29
The law firm of Mitchell Williams Selig Gates & Woodyard PLLC is ramping up its presence in Austin by acquiring a local boutique insurance law firm.

Mitchell Williams, a Little Rock, Ark.-based full-service firm, has taken all five attorneys from longtime Austin firm Long Burner Parks & DeLargy PC to grow its Austin office.

The Austin office of Mitchell Williams was opened by Bill Bingham, who died unexpectedly last December after opening the office a year ago, says Harry Hamlin, managing partner at Mitchell Williams.

Hamlin says the Austin office will likely add three more attorneys by year's end, and grow to about 15 attorneys within three years.

The 50-year old firm has 60 attorneys in its Little Rock office and eight attorneys in a Rogers, Ark., office.

"Initially, we want at least a lateral litigator and lateral transactional attorney. We have immediate needs for those," says Hamlin. "And if it turns out two or three want to come as a group, we'd definitely look at that."

The firm leases space on the ninth floor of the Littlefield Building at Sixth Street and Congress Avenue.

"We had identified Texas because we have a lot of clients with business interests in Texas," says Hamlin.

Those clients include real estate companies, regional banks and insurance companies.

"Texas was logical -- it was just a question of where in Texas," he adds.

Hamlin says the Austin move was based on the firm's steady work for insurance companies, with attorneys regularly representing clients before the Department of Insurance and other state agencies.

The move is also part of a firm-wide initiative to grow in the southern region, Hamlin says.

"This is the first time our firm has gone to another market and brought on this many attorneys," says Hamlin. "We are looking at other [nationwide] markets to do the same thing--smaller groups of attorneys that complement the work we are already doing."


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