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Libby to Appeal Conviction in Leak Case
Lawyer Blog News | 2007/04/15 00:51

Former US vice-presidential aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, convicted in March of perjury and obstruction of justice, will be appealing the verdict according to documents filed in court Friday. Libby's defense team had previously planned to request a new trial, bids for which are rarely granted. Libby's appeal may focus on a decision by US District Judge Reggie B. Walton to allow prosecutors to present evidence to the jury that Libby's defense viewed as being prejudicial, such as White House briefing room videos which US Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald played to show Libby's eagerness to publicly conceal conversations he had with reporters about CIA official Valerie Plame.

Libby was convicted by a federal jury after 10 days of deliberation in a case that began January 23. Libby was convicted of two counts of perjury, one count of lying to the FBI and one count of obstruction of justice. He was acquitted on one count of lying to the FBI. Libby's sentencing is scheduled for June 5.

Shelton's attorney planned an appeal.
Lawyer Blog News | 2007/04/14 20:48

Prosecutors in Louisiana are investigating Shelton in connection with the death of Justin James, 19, in October 2005. Coroner's officials ruled his death a homicide, saying he died of an overdose of cocaine, Xanax and morphine. Shelton was the last person with James.

Shelton's career at Manhattan Beach ended in 2003 after he accused former Chief Ernest Klevesahl and other officers of harassing him because he was gay. He later was arrested on drug prescription forgery charges in Long Beach and for trespassing with an 18-year-old man on a ranch in Moorpark.

Judge Approves CA Ex-CEO's $800M Restitution
Lawyer Blog News | 2007/04/14 03:14

Former Computer Associates (CA) CEO Sanjay Kumar will pay almost $800 million in restitution over his lifetime for his role in the accounting fraud in which CA swapped revenues of $2.2 billion with another company in 1999 and 2000, according to a settlement approved Friday in the US District Court for the Eastern District of New York. Kumar, who pleaded guilty to charges of securities fraud and obstruction of justice in April 2006 and was sentenced to a 12-year prison sentence and an $8 million fine in November 2006, is required to sell personal property to pay $52 million of the total restitution amount by the end of 2008. Although the agreement does not mandate the liquidation of his family's home, it does require Kumar to turn over 20 percent of his annual income for the rest of his life.

Kumar, who has not served any prison time yet, also faces a lawsuit filed by CA seeking repayment of $14.9 million it fronted for Kumar's legal defense. The settlement comprises part of the over $1 billion in restitution due to victims of the CA revenue-swapping scheme.

State Supreme Court upholds Killen conviction
Lawyer Blog News | 2007/04/13 16:06

The Mississippi Supreme Court Thursday upheld the manslaughter convictions of former Ku Klux Klan organizer Edgar Ray Killen. Killen, now 82, was sentenced to 60 years in prison in 2005, receiving one 20-year sentence for each of the 3 young men who were killed in 1964 after assisting African-Americans in registering to vote. Killen appealed his sentence on a number of grounds, including prejudice in the 41-year pre-indictment delay resulting in, among other things, faded witness memories. The court rejected any contention of actual prejudice from the delay, citing the fact that Killen's own witnesses had testified live about the events of 1964, and none claimed problems with faded memories.

The court further rejected Killen's argument that the delay was intentionally used to gain a tactical advantage. Killen claimed in his brief that the political climate in Mississippi in the 1960s would have made a conviction back then far less likely. The court expressed surprise that Killen would even attempt to claim present prejudice stemming from the fact that he was not tried by a white-prejudiced jury.

Bankruptcy Court Orders External Audit for Church
Lawyer Blog News | 2007/04/12 15:59

A federal bankruptcy judge Wednesday ordered an external audit of the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego amid accusations church leaders are trying to hide assessts to avoid payment to sex abuse victims. Judge Louise DeCarl Adler had earlier threatened the diocese with contempt for misrepresenting facts and possibly violating bankruptcy laws. She criticized church attorneys for failing to include 770 parish accounts in bankruptcy documents.

"This is the most Byzantine accounting system I've ever seen," Adler said. "I am mystified."

The contempt threat Monday came six weeks after the diocese sought bankruptcy protection amid lawsuits by more than 140 people who accuse priests of sexual abuse.

Adler had cited a March 29 letter sent by a diocese parish organization to pastors urging them to get new taxpayer identification numbers and transfer funds to new accounts.

The judge had said any post-bankruptcy transfers between the diocese and parishes outside of normal cash operations violate laws against shifting the diocese's assets while the bankruptcy case is pending - rules designed to protect assets that may eventually be used to compensate clergy sexual abuse victims.

She said any transfers require court approval.

In a sternly worded order, Adler had said attorneys Susan Boswell, Jeffry Davis and Victor Vilaplana appear to have "conspired with parishes" to create new bank accounts separate from the diocese.

On Wednesday, Adler grilled attorneys representing the diocese and the parish organization, as well as two pastors who had sent letters the judge said misrepresented her comments during an earlier hearing.

Boswell apologized and said she had misinterpreted the judge's comments at a March 1 hearing concerning how the parishes should go about protecting their cash flow through the bankruptcy process.

"We are not dealing with a commercial enterprise - we are dealing with a church," said Boswell. "What it does is give money to the parishes. This is not a nefarious function."

Boswell agreed to file amended statements with the court reflecting parish accounts operating under the diocese's taxpayer identification number and to cooperate with an independent audit.

Attorneys for the alleged victims have repeatedly accused the church of trying to hide assets to reduce the overall sum available for potential settlements. They estimate that a fair settlement would total about $200 million.

In March, the diocese proposed a $95 million settlement schedule for victims that would offer plaintiffs anywhere from $10,000 to $800,000.

San Diego was the fifth U.S. diocese to file for bankruptcy. The other dioceses that have filed for bankruptcy protection are Davenport, Iowa; Portland, Ore.; Spokane, Wash.; and Tucson, Ariz. Tucson has emerged from bankruptcy protection, while proposed settlements are awaiting final approval in Portland and Spokane.

Senate-approved stem-cell bill faces veto
Lawyer Blog News | 2007/04/12 15:40

The U.S. Senate passed a bill that aimed to loosen President Bush's restrictions on human embryonic stem cell research for the second time in nine months, but once again falling short of the 67 votes needed to override a promised veto, the Washington Post reported Wednesday. The Senate voted 63 to 34 to pass the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act, which would allow federally funded studies of stem cells isolated from embryos slated for destruction at fertility clinics.

The vote capped 20 hours of often passionate debate, with proponents focusing on the cells' potential to help treat a wide range of diseases and opponents decrying the fact that human embryos must be destroyed to retrieve them.

With the House having passed a similar bill in January, the two chambers are now set to hammer out compromise wording and send the legislation to Bush. But the White House Tuesday set the stage fora new Bush veto, saying it was unthinkable that public tax dollars should be used to destroy human embryos.

Bush used his power of veto for the first time in his presidency to slap down a similar text passed in Congress last year, when it was then controlled by his Republican party.

However, proponents are relishing the fact that they will have the opportunity to rebuke the president by overriding that veto this time.

Although the House majority favoring the legislation is 15 votes larger this year than that in 2005, it is still dozens short of the two-thirds needed for an override.

In that case, Bush's veto pen will prevail and the situation will revert to what it has been since Aug. 9, 2001, when Bush, in his first major televised address to the nation, declared that federal funds could only be used to study stem cells derived from embryos already destroyed by that date.

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