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Appeals court rejects DC missing pants case
Court Center | 2008/12/18 17:17
An appeals court on Thursday turned down a request for a new trial from a former District of Columbia judge who sued his dry cleaners for $54 million over a lost pair of pants.

The D.C. Court of Appeals rejected the request from Roy L. Pearson to overturn a 2007 ruling that denied him damages. Pearson had argued that Custom Cleaners failed to live up to its promise of "Satisfaction Guaranteed."

Three appellate judges agreed Pearson failed to show the store's advertising amounted to fraud and said his argument defied logic.

Pearson can still ask the entire nine-judge appellate court to review the case or appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Pearson did not immediately respond to an e-mail or telephone message seeking comment.

Jin Chung, the dry cleaner owner, said through his lawyer that his family is "very very happy" with the decision. The family said they hope Pearson won't take any further action.

The American Tort Reform Association lauded the court's move, saying the city's easily exploited consumer protection law should be reformed.

The case has taken its toll on both sides. The Chungs have sold the dry cleaning shop, citing a loss of revenue and the emotional strain of defending the lawsuit. Pearson lost his job when a D.C. commission voted not to reappoint him.



Oregon bank bombing suspect charged with murder
Court Center | 2008/12/16 17:05
Police arrested a suspect late Sunday in the Oregon bank bombing that killed two officers and critically injured a police chief, authorities said.

Sheriff Russ Isham of Marion County declined to release the suspect's name, saying it would jeopardize the integrity of the investigation and the safety of officers still working the case.

"We do believe the person responsible for the bombing is in custody," Deputy District Attorney Courtland Geyer said late Sunday.

The suspect was arrested in Salem, located just south of Woodburn, the small city south of Portland where Friday's bombing occurred.

Officers made the arrest shortly after Sheriff Russ Isham of Marion County released surveillance photos of a "person of interest." Geyer would not say if a tip led to the arrest.

He also wouldn't disclose if the man in the photos, apparently taken with a security camera, is the same person in custody.

Isham would not release the precise location where the arrest took place, and said the suspect's name likely wouldn't be released until Monday afternoon.

"I'm really proud of those who tirelessly worked to get us to this point and am humbled by the community's support," Isham said. "We know there is still a lot of hard work ahead of us, but this development will help bring relief to the local community and the officer's families."



Court sides with NY Times in anthrax libel case
Court Center | 2008/12/14 17:04
The Supreme Court has rejected a plea by former Army scientist Steven J. Hatfill to revive his libel lawsuit against The New York Times over columns falsely implicating him in the deadly 2001 anthrax attacks.

The justices did not comment Monday in turning down Hatfill's appeal of a unanimous ruling by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, based in Richmond, Va. A three-judge panel affirmed a lower court's dismissal of the libel claims on the grounds that Hatfill is a public figure and failed to prove that columns written by Nicholas Kristof were malicious.

Circumstantial evidence led the FBI to suspect Hatfill was involved in the anthrax attacks that killed five people and sickened 17 just weeks after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Then-Attorney General John Ashcroft publicly identified Hatfill, who worked at the Army's infectious diseases laboratory at Ft. Detrick, Md., from 1997 to 1999, as a "person of interest" in the investigation.

In June, the Justice Department agreed to pay Hatfill $5.8 million to settle a lawsuit claiming officials violated his privacy rights by speaking with reporters about the case.

No one has been charged in the attacks, although the government now believes another Army scientist, Bruce Ivins, was responsible. Ivins killed himself in July.



Ex-Attorney Loses Bid to Access Legislator's Records
Court Center | 2008/10/01 14:18
The Ohio Supreme Court denied a retired lawyer's request for access toa state legislator's e-mails, text messages and correspondence.
    JeffreyGlasgow sought a writ of mandamus for access to the correspondence ofRep. Shannon Jones, because he was concerned about the effects of OhioHouse Bill 151 on his public-employee pension.
    The bill would require public investors to divest holdings in companies that do certain business in Iran or Sudan.
    The state Supreme Court ruled that Glasgow's request was overly broad.
    Glasgow'smerit brief focused on e-mails and text messages. Therefore, thejustices disqualified correspondence. Text messages were alsodisqualified because "they do not document work-related matters."
    SinceJones has already delivered the 26 e-mail messages pertaining to HouseBill 151, the justices ruled that Glasgow's request is moot.


Homeowner Get 122K in Hidden Cash, Court Says
Court Center | 2008/09/30 14:10
The $122,000 cash that an electrician found hidden in a ceiling belongs to the woman who bought the home, not the seller's estate, the Oregon Court of Appeals ruled.

Helen Sollars bought a home from the estate of Helene Valoff in Milwaukie, Ore. An electrician found the money more than a year after the purchase.

The trial court ruled that the city should release the disputed money to the estate, because the real estate transfer was not intended to include the money.

Judge Ortega disagreed, citing the language the estate was required to remove personal property and leave other items. So, when the estate left Sollars the refrigerator, stove, and window coverings, it also left her the money.

"Nothing in the requirement that the estate remove all personal property provides any exception based on the parties' knowledge of such property," Ortega wrote.


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.


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.


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