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Supreme Court to swear in large group of deaf lawyers
Legal Interview | 2016/04/12 08:43
Mobile phones ordinarily are strictly forbidden in the marble courtroom of the nation's highest court, but the justices are making an exception next week when roughly a dozen deaf and hard-of-hearing lawyers will be admitted to the Supreme Court bar.

The lawyers will use their phones to see a real-time transcript as they take part in an April 19 swearing-in ceremony featuring the largest group of hearing-impaired attorneys ever admitted at one time to practice before the high court.

Advocates for deaf lawyers say they hope the event will encourage others with disabilities to pursue legal careers.

"We wanted to do an event that would help break down stereotypes and demonstrate clearly that deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals can achieve anything they set their minds to," said Anat Maytal, a New York lawyer and president of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Bar Association.

Nearly 4,000 lawyers join the Supreme Court bar each year, though the vast majority will never actually represent a client there. Membership requires a $200 fee, membership in a state bar for three years and sponsorship by two current Supreme Court bar members.



African-American voters see court fight as affront to Obama
Legal Interview | 2016/02/27 22:08
Watching the fight unfold between President Barack Obama and Senate Republicans over who should choose the next Supreme Court justice, Michael A. Bowden got angry at what he saw at the latest affront to the first black president.

And then his thoughts turned from Washington to his own state.

Obama won't be on the ballot this fall, but Pennsylvania GOP Sen. Pat Toomey will ? and Bowden has made defeating him in November a priority.

"This kind of thing really burns me to the core," said Bowden, a 56-year-old Air Force veteran from Philadelphia. "I've already started planting the seed in people's heads that Sen. Toomey is one of those people in lockstep with the Republicans. This could give him a wake-up call that he could be vulnerable as well."

Democrats are pressuring senators in Pennsylvania, Ohio, New Hampshire, Illinois and Wisconsin to back down from their refusal to confirm or even consider Obama's nominee to succeed the late Antonin Scalia or face the consequences in November. In some states, they may get help from African-Americans who see the court battle as the latest GOP snub of Obama ? one rooted in racism, which could galvanize a crucial component of the Democratic voting bloc.



Chief justice remembers Scalia's 'irrepressible spirit'
Legal Interview | 2016/02/20 22:10
Chief Justice John Roberts on Monday remembered the late Justice Antonin Scalia as a friend and colleague of "irrepressible spirit" as the Supreme Court resumed work for the first time since Scalia's death.

"He was our man for all seasons and we will miss him beyond measure," Roberts said in brief remarks after the court's eight remaining justices took the bench.

Roberts recounted Scalia's humble roots in New Jersey, his graduation at the top of his class at Georgetown University and his stellar performance at Harvard Law School. As a top attorney at the Justice Department, Roberts said Scalia argued his first and only case before the Supreme Court in 1976.

"He prevailed, establishing a perfect record before the court," Roberts said to laughter.

Scalia became the 103rd justice confirmed to the high court in 1986, Roberts noted, and wrote 292 majority opinions for the court.

"He was also known on occasion to dissent," Roberts said to more laughter.

The high court is resuming work just two days after the justices and thousands of dignitaries, friends and family mourned his loss at a funeral Mass in Washington.

The void created by Scalia's death was visible on Monday. His chair, in its usual place to the right of Roberts, was draped in black wool crepe, which will remain until next month.

Only in late March do the justices plan to switch seats in line with their seniority on the court. Justice Anthony Kennedy is now the longest-serving member of the court, with 28 years of experience.

President Barack Obama has vowed to nominate a candidate to take Scalia's seat, but Senate Republicans, backed by their party's presidential contenders, have pledged to block anyone Obama puts forward. Republicans have said the choice should await the next president.

Scalia's sharp questioning of lawyers transformed arguments into lively sessions in which the justices sometimes seemed to be talking to each other, rather than to the lawyers arguing before them.


Burkina Faso court rejects candidate of former ruling party
Legal Interview | 2015/09/02 21:37
A court in Burkina Faso on Saturday rejected the chosen presidential candidate of the former ruling party, prompting threats of a boycott of the vote in October.

The presidential and legislative elections scheduled for Oct. 11 are intended to end one year of transitional rule imposed after longtime President Blaise Compaore was ousted in a popular uprising triggered by his attempt to alter rules that would have prevented him from seeking a third term.

The candidate list published Saturday included 16 of the 22 proposed candidates. The list is still provisional and appeals can be filed until Sept. 6. Most of the rejected candidates were disqualified for failing to pay the necessary fees.

But Eddie Comboigo, the chosen candidate of Compaore's Congress for Democracy and Progress, was barred under a new electoral code passed earlier this year that disqualifies candidates who supported Compaore's bid to stay in office. Earlier this week, the court rejected more than 40 candidates for the legislative vote including former ministers and lawmakers close to Compaore.

The United States has expressed concern about the code, which was denounced by a regional court. The country's interim leader, Michel Kafando, initially said the country would abide by the regional court's ruling, but transitional authorities have more recently called for the High Court's decisions to be respected.

Compaore's party will boycott the elections "and resort to civil disobedience" if its candidates are blocked from running, said Jonathan Yameogo, a communications official with the party.


Ill. high court rejects intervention on state paychecks
Legal Interview | 2015/07/18 16:48
The Illinois Supreme Court has denied a request by state officials to decide the issue of paying government workers during the budget crisis.

The high court made no comment Friday in rejecting the plea by Attorney General Lisa Madigan.

Madigan sought intervention because two separate courts ruled opposite ways last week on pay for 64,500 employees.

A Cook County judge ruled it would be illegal to pay most of them. But an appellate court reversed that decision Friday and sent it back for additional arguments.

A St. Clair County judge decreed it would violate the Constitution not to pay them.

State Comptroller Leslie Munger began paying workers this week.

A new fiscal year began July 1 but Gov. Bruce Rauner and legislative Democrats can't agree on a spending plan.



Josef Cowan | Civil Litigation Construction Law Firm Los Angeles
Legal Interview | 2013/10/25 22:46
Josef Cowan founded our firm over 20 years ago.  The following are some questions and answers that discuss his unique qualities and why so many individuals and businesses trust our firm with their legal and business needs.

Q.    Why did you become a lawyer?

A.    I’m the youngest of 6 kids raised by a single mother.  We didn’t have much money, so I started working in the construction industry at a very young age.  In fact, I started a construction business when I was 17 years old, and that company is still in existence and has over 400 employees.  The construction industry involves a huge number of legal issues in a wide variety of different areas.  I always found the legal issues fascinating and believed that a solid understanding of the law and ability to resolve complex issues is a huge advantage in business.

Q.    What inspired you to found the Cowan Law Group?

A.    When I originally went to law school, I intended to use my legal training to help me with the construction business I started.  However, I found I have a real passion for helping individuals and small to medium-sized companies resolve their legal and business problems in ways that make good business sense.

Q.    How is the Cowan Law group different from other law firms?

A.    There are far too many firms that provide little to no value to their clients, and many that create more problems than they resolve.   In many instances, the attorneys are good, smart people, but they don’t have the background or business savvy necessary to provide truly strategic, cost-effective legal solutions to their clients.  This is a real problem because a good attorney who understands not just the legal issues, but also his client’s business challenges and objectives, is a tremendous resource and strategic advantage.  With that in mind, I created the Cowan Law Group, whose main mission is to provide legal services that are smart, creative, and practical.

Q.    So what makes you a good lawyer and advisor?

A.    I have benefitted greatly from a first class college and legal education.  What I believe is even more important, however, is my life experience.  Starting at a very young age, I have had to overcome many challenges both personally and in business.  As a lawyer and advisor, these experiences have been invaluable because, through them, I have developed an ability to look at problems and challenges and know how to navigate through them in ways that are smart and effective.  

But what is most telling is what my clients say.  Over the course of my legal career, I have successfully resolved over $700 million of legal disputes in many different areas, including general business, real estate, construction, employment, and trade secret litigation, and I have handled a large number of business transactions.  My clients often tell me that I provide counseling that is practical and mindful of business priorities, and that I handle it all well.


Japan whistleblower sidelined despite court ruling
Legal Interview | 2012/07/11 22:49
An employee at Japanese medical equipment maker Olympus said Wednesdaythat his humiliating treatment has not changed despite a Supreme Courtruling that his demotion for whistleblowing was illegal.Masaharu Hamada said he is still isolated in the office and after lastmonth's court judgment is not given any work. His was the firstwhistleblower case to reach Japan's highest court.His lawyer Koichi Kozen said Hamada may have to file another lawsuit,complaining of human rights violations. Japan remains behind Westerncountries in penalizing companies that fail to abide by court rulings,and some fines are so small companies would rather pay up than abide,Kozen said."We would hope the company would respond quickly, but there has beenno response," Kozen said. "We want Mr. Hamada to get a new assignment,where he can be happy."Hamada, 51, an Olympus salesman with experience in the United States,first sued in 2008, alleging punishment for relaying a supplier'scomplaint.He is considered a whistleblower in Japan because he raised questionsabout colleagues' professional behavior and was subjected to bizarreand humiliating punishment, such as taking rudimentary tests.


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