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Romanian court sentences judge to 22 years in bribe case
Class Action | 2015/02/03 15:12
A court has sentenced a judge to 22 years in prison on charges that he took bribes to rule favorably in several cases involving one of Romania's richest businessmen.

The Bucharest Appeals Court also confiscated a luxury car and money from Mircea Moldovan. The ruling is not yet final.

Businessman Dan Adamescu was also sentenced to four years and four months while judge Elena Roventa received five years and 10 months. Two other judges were also sentenced to prison.

Adamescu was convicted of instructing his lawyer — who threw himself under a train after the judges were arrested — to bribe the judges 20,000 euros ($17,700 ) in December 2013 to rule in his favor in several insolvency cases involving his companies. Adamescu denies wrongdoing.

Two justices once open to cameras in court now reconsider
Court Watch | 2015/02/03 15:12
Two Supreme Court justices who once seemed open to the idea of cameras in the courtroom said Monday they have reconsidered those views, dashing even faint hopes that April's historic arguments over gay marriage might be televised.

In separate appearances, Justices Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor said allowing cameras might lead to grandstanding that could fundamentally change the nature of the high court.

Sotomayor told an audience in West Palm Beach, Florida, that cameras could change the behavior of both the justices and lawyers appearing at the court, who might succumb to "this temptation to use it as a stage rather than a courtroom."

"I am moving more closely to saying I think it might be a bad idea," she said.

During her confirmation hearings in 2009, Sotomayor told lawmakers she had a positive experience with cameras and would try to soften other justices' opposition to cameras.

Speaking at the University of Chicago's Institute of Politics, Kagan told an audience that she is "conflicted" over the issue and noted strong arguments on both sides.

Kagan said that when she used to argue cases before the court as Solicitor General, she wanted the public to see how well prepared the justices were for each case "and really look as though they are trying to get it right."

But Kagan said she is wary now of anything "that may upset the dynamic of the institution."

She pointed to Congress, which televises floor proceedings, saying lawmakers talk more in made-for-TV sound bites than to each other.

Fugitive treasure hunter to appear in Florida federal court
Court Watch | 2015/01/30 09:29
A treasure hunter locked in a legal battle over one of the greatest undersea hauls in American history was scheduled to appear in federal court Thursday after two years on the run.

The U.S. Marshals Service captured former fugitive Tommy Thompson at a Hilton hotel in West Boca Raton on Tuesday. The capture was announced Wednesday by Brian Babtist, a senior inspector in the agency's office in Columbus, Ohio, where a federal civil arrest warrant was issued for him in 2012 for failing to show up to a key court hearing. A criminal contempt warrant was unsealed Wednesday.

Thompson had been on the lam for two years, accused of cheating investors out of their share of $50 million in gold bars and coins he had recovered from a 19th century shipwreck.

Thompson made history in 1988 when he found the sunken S.S. Central America, also known as the Ship of Gold. In what was a technological feat at the time, Thompson and his crew brought up thousands of gold bars and coins from the shipwreck. Much of that was later sold to a gold marketing group in 2000 for about $50 million.

Panama high court OKs corruption probe of ex-president
Legal Careers News | 2015/01/30 09:29
Panama's Supreme Court voted Wednesday to open a corruption probe against former President Ricardo Martinelli, a move likely to rally popular support in a nation where the politically powerful rarely face justice for misdeeds.

A statement from the court said all nine judges voted to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Martinelli over allegations he inflated contracts worth $45 million to purchase dehydrated food for a government social program.

The accusation is based on the testimony of a political ally, Giacomo Tamburelli, the former head of the National Assistance Program who has said he was taking orders from the then president to inflate contracts. He is now under house arrest.

Martinelli, a billionaire supermarket magnate, has denied the charges and says he is the target of political persecution by his successor, Juan Carlos Varela, who broke with the government in 2011 while serving as Martinelli's vice president and foreign minister.

John Q. Kelly - Ivey, Barnum & O’Mara in Greenwich
Elite Lawyers | 2015/01/21 09:33
John Q. Kelly, a lawyer with the venerable firm Ivey, Barnum & O’Mara in Greenwich, specializes in wrongful deaths. Very wrongful deaths. Kelly represented the survivors of Nicole Brown Simpson, allegedly knifed to death by her ex-husband, O. J.; of Natalee Holloway, vanished and believed murdered during a high school class trip to Aruba; and of Kathleen Savio, drowned in her bathtub by ex-husband Drew Peterson.

These notorious cases put Kelly on national TV and made him the most sought-after wrongful death lawyer in the land. Curiously, though, he tends to fly under fame’s hypersensitive radar. People don’t recognize his name or stop him on the street, and there are virtually no news articles that shed light on his illustrious career. Don’t imagine that Kelly is displeased by any of this. He gently resisted our interview request and then expressed a desire to get out of his photo shoot. The only way to explain the paradox—a TV personality who doesn’t invite public notice—is to point out that in twenty-first century America, television is sometimes necessary to further his clients’ cases.

“High-profile, high-stakes litigation is basically a blood sport,” he says. “You either win or you lose, and losing’s not an option.”

“John is an old-fashioned trial lawyer, a very serious lawyer,” remarks Greta Van Susteren, the Fox News Channel host. “Some lawyers are easy to book. John is not, unless it’s for the benefit of his clients. I think he’d much rather be working for them than talking to me on TV.”

“I’ll tell you straight out,” says Bo Dietl, the private investigator and TV personality. “I’ve been in this business a long time, and I’ve seen every kind of lawyer. A lot of them have big names, and they get on TV and blah, blah, blah, they talk a lot of crap. Not John. John is unique. It’s something about the way he presents his cases. He looks honest; he sounds honest; and he is honest. I’ve never seen an attorney who is better prepared and who can break things down for a jury in a way that they understand.”

Kelly has vivid blue eyes set in a tan face, neatly combed chestnut-brown hair and a broad, white, slightly devilish smile. He lacks signs of the enormous ego so common to high-profile lawyers and will venture a heretical opinion when it’s warranted. For example: On Larry King Live he submitted that the case against Amanda Knox, the American convicted of brutally murdering a housemate in Italy in 2007, smacked of an “egregious international railroading,” angering and confusing victims’ advocates everywhere. (“What on earth possessed John Q. Kelly?” read one Internet headline.) But he turned out to be exactly right; Knox’s conviction was overturned in 2011.

Among his own cases, Kelly’s best-known victory came with the civil trial that found O. J. Simpson liable for the deaths of Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman in 1997. In the criminal trial, prosecutors had presented a pile of evidence showing that Simpson had committed the June 12, 1994 murders—not least Simpson’s blood mingled with that of the victims’ on his gloves, socks, car and at the crime scene. While seemingly every TV and radio in America was tuned to the months-long criminal trial, Kelly quietly filed a civil suit on behalf of Nicole’s estate. He never expected to have to act on it. “Assuming Simpson would be convicted, it would have been just a little footnote, nothing else,” Kelly says. “We never would have pursued it.”

On October 3, 1995, Simpson was acquitted, shocking the nation and polarizing it, disturbingly, along racial lines. For the majority who believed him culpable, the only chance now to hold him accountable would come at the civil trial in Santa Monica. A win for Kelly would not put Simpson behind bars, of course, but it would cripple him financially and might force him to give up custody of his two young children to Nicole’s parents, Lou and Juditha Brown.

“We had plenty of evidence before we started,” Kelly says, “but probably the most compelling new evidence we turned up were the pictures of Simpson wearing the Bruno Magli shoes.” This was a huge stroke of good luck. The bloody shoe prints leading away from the crime scene were made by size 12 Bruno Magli Lorenzos, a rare high-fashion shoe with a soft sole; but prosecutors had been unable to prove that Simpson owned such a shoe. In a civil-case deposition, Simpson himself testified that he would never own such “ugly-ass” footwear. Mistake. Kelly learned in December 1996—deep into the civil trial—that a freelance photographer in Buffalo had gone through his archive and turned up pictures of Simpson at a football game in 1993, wearing exactly the shoes in question. “The photographer developed those pictures the day I went up there—I think it was New Year’s Eve,” Kelly says, grinning at the memory of that eureka moment. (Simpson’s attorneys were obliged to claim the photos were fakes.)

Unlike the criminal trial, the civil one was not televised. A gag order and a no-nonsense judge also ensured an atmosphere of sobriety and restraint, in marked contrast to that of the circus-like criminal trial. The jury awarded total damages of $33.5 million for the deaths of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman. The families did not expect to realize the whole award, but they were able to collect a portion of it from the auctioning of O. J. Simpson’s personal property—including the Heisman Trophy he won in 1968.

EU appeals Hamas court ruling taking group off terror list
Legal Spotlight | 2015/01/19 14:18
The European Union foreign policy chief says the bloc is launching an appeal against last month's EU court ruling that ordered the Palestinian group Hamas removed from its terror list for technical reasons.

Federica Mogherini said Monday the council of ministers will challenge some of the court's finding and consider future action to avoid similar annulments.

Hamas was put on the EU terrorist list as part of broader measures to fight terrorism in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks and its funds were frozen. Hamas has long contested the classification.

An EU high court on Dec. 17 said the reason for listing it was based too much on media and Internet reports, and not enough on acts examined by competent authorities.

Arizona sheriff could face civil contempt hearing in court
Court Watch | 2015/01/19 14:16
An Arizona sheriff could face a civil contempt hearing in federal court for his office's repeated violations of orders issued in a racial-profiling case.

U.S. District Judge Murray Snow held a telephonic conference Thursday and told Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio's attorneys that the six-term sheriff may face an April 21-24 hearing.

But a top lawyer with the Arizona chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union said Friday that Snow stopped short of officially ordering the hearing. The judge has given both sides until Jan. 23 to file additional paperwork.

At a Dec. 4 hearing, Snow sent strong signals that he intended to pursue contempt cases that could expose Arpaio to fines and perhaps jail time.

Lawyers for the sheriff didn't immediately return calls for comment on the possible civil contempt hearing.

Dan Pochoda, senior counsel for the Arizona ACLU, said Friday that Arpaio's office could face sanctions or fines for not following court orders and "fines to deter future bad acts and fines to compensate anyone permanently harmed" in the racial-profiling cases.

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Class action or a representative action is a form of lawsuit in which a large group of people collectively bring a claim to court and/or in which a class of defendants is being sued. This form of collective lawsuit originated in the United States and is still predominantly a U.S. phenomenon, at least the U.S. variant of it. In the United States federal courts, class actions are governed by Federal Rules of Civil Procedure Rule. Since 1938, many states have adopted rules similar to the FRCP. However, some states like California have civil procedure systems which deviate significantly from the federal rules; the California Codes provide for four separate types of class actions. As a result, there are two separate treatises devoted solely to the complex topic of California class actions. Some states, such as Virginia, do not provide for any class actions, while others, such as New York, limit the types of claims that may be brought as class actions. Medicare fraud advanced prosthetic devices
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