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First Guilty Plea In HP Boardroom Leak Case
Court Feed News | 2007/01/12 19:34

A former Hewlett-Packard Co. private investigator pleaded guilty to posing as a reporter and company directors to get telephone records for an internal probe of boardroom leaks.

Bryan Wagner, 29, of Littleton, Colorado, admitted identification theft and conspiracy today before U.S. District Judge Jeremy Fogel in San Jose, California. Wagner's lawyer said his client didn't know he was working for the company and was assured his actions were legal. Wagner agreed to assist the U.S. in its investigation of the leak probe at Hewlett-Packard, the world's largest personal-computer maker.

``Its kind of a one-way street,'' Fogel said of Wagner's cooperation agreement. ``You are making a promise to the government. The government is not promising they will make a recommendation of leniency.''

Disclosure of Palo Alto, California-based Hewlett-Packard's probe led to the resignations of former Chairman Patricia Dunn, General Counsel Ann Baskins and three other executives. Wagner's defense lawyer, Stephen Naratil, said his client has been cooperating with prosecutors. Wagner faces as much as seven years in prison at his sentencing on June 20.

Wagner and two other private detectives, Ronald DeLia and Matthew Depante, were accused of faking identifications, a technique known as pretexting, to get phone records of board members and journalists.

Law challenged by teacher accused of filming students
Court Feed News | 2007/01/12 08:01

DALLAS A Texas high school teacher is accused of videotaping a girls wrestling match for his sexual enjoyment. Attorneys for 28-year-old David Ware, a first-year speech and drama teacher in suburban Dallas, says he'll himself in to Grand Prairie police. Ware is facing charges of improper visual recording.

Police say Ware captured about two hours of video at an all-day wrestling tournament Saturday, often zooming in on the crotches of female wrestlers. Ware is also a softball coach at Garland Lakeview Centennial High School, which did not have a team competing at the tournament. He's now on paid leave. Defense attorney Scott Palmer says Ware was simply interested in wrestling. Under Texas law, videotaping a person without their consent for sexual arousal is a state jail felony. Conviction carries a penalty of up to two years in prison and a ten-thousand-dollar fine.

Bush sending more troops to Iraq
Law & Politics | 2007/01/11 16:36

President Bush laid out his "New Way Forward" in Iraq on Wednesday night, saying the United States should beef up its forces there by 21,500 troops, add $1.2 billion in reconstruction aid, and let Iraqi forces take the lead in joint combat operations.

"The changes I have outlined tonight are aimed at ensuring the survival of a young democracy that is fighting for its life in a part of the world of enormous importance to American security," Bush said in a nationally televised address. "The question is whether our new strategy will bring us closer to success. I believe that it will."

Bush's optimism was immediately challenged by Democratic leaders, who repeated their opposition to increasing troop levels. Even some Republicans criticized the plan.

The president acknowledged previous failures.

"Where mistakes have been made, the responsibility rests with me," he said. Past efforts to quell violence in Baghdad failed, he said, because "there were not enough Iraqi and American troops to secure neighborhoods" and "there were too many restrictions on the troops we did have."

He said his plan would remedy such flaws.

In earlier operations, the president said, "political and sectarian interference prevented Iraqi and American forces from going into neighborhoods that are home to those fueling the sectarian violence."

"This time, Iraqi and American forces will have a green light to enter those neighborhoods," Bush said.

First US execution of 2007 held in Oklahoma
Legal Career News | 2007/01/11 02:34

The first US execution of 2007 took place Tuesday, when the state of Oklahoma executed a man by lethal injection for the 1992 murders of four people. The US Supreme Court denied Corey Duane Hamilton's request for a stay of execution and certiorari review on Monday, with Justices Souter and Stevens voting to grant the request. The Death Penalty Information Center said Hamilton is one of thirty people in the US scheduled to be executed in 2007. Death sentencing in the US hit a 30-year low in 2006.

Earlier this month, a New Jersey State commission recommended abolishing capital punishment in that state altogether, replacing it with a life sentence without the possibility of parole. If the commission's report makes its way into law New Jersey will become the first US jurisdiction to ban capital punishment in over 35 years. In December, Florida Governor Jeb Bush suspended all executions in that state after a lethal injection execution there was botched, and a federal judge effectively suspended capital punishment in California by ruling that that state's lethal injection procedure creates "an undue and unnecessary risk" of cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment of the US Constitution.

Supreme Court rules in railroad negligence case
Court Feed News | 2007/01/11 02:33
The US Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that the causation standard for railroad negligence under the Federal Employers Liability Act is the same as that for employee contributory negligence under the Act. In Norfolk Southern v. Sorrell, an employee of the railroad sued for injuries suffered and was awarded $1.5 million in damages. The railroad disputed jury instructions used at trial, arguing that the standard used to determine the railroad's negligence was "much more exacting" than the standard used for employee contributory negligence. The Supreme Court vacated the state appeals court decision and remanded the case for further proceedings.

Supreme Court rules in immigration, patent cases
Court Feed News | 2007/01/10 04:46

The US Supreme Court handed down decisions in three cases Tuesday, including US v. Resendiz-Ponce, where the Court upheld the conviction of Juan Resendiz-Ponce on charges of attempting to re-enter the United States illegally from Mexico after being deported. The indictment in the case did not allege an overt act showing that he tried to enter the US, but the Supreme Court ruled that the indictment was not defective as it "need not specifically allege a particular overt act or any other 'component part' of the offense." Read the Court's opinion per Justice Stevens, along with a dissent from Justice Scalia.

In MedImmune v. Genentech, the Court ruled that MedImmune did not need to breach its patent license agreement with Genentech before challenging the patent's validity, overturning a Federal Circuit decision.

In a statement Tuesday the industry group Coalition for Patent Fairness said that the unanimous ruling demonstrated yet again that "the patent system needs to be modernized. Fair patent protections deliver innovative products for consumers and strengthen America's international competitiveness. This ruling is a positive step, but it is clear that a legislative remedy is needed to strengthen our overall patent system."

Finally, the Court remanded Burton v. Stewart back to the lower courts, saying that Lonnie Lee Burton's appeal should be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. The Court had agreed to hear the case to determine whether Blakely v. Washington, the 2004 decision which limited judges' discretion in criminal sentencing, "announced a new rule and, if so, whether it applies retroactively on collateral review." Despite hearing oral arguments on those issues, the Court ruled that Burton never complied with the jurisdictional requirements of 28 US 2244(b).

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