Federal and state prosecutors issued a stern warning to banks on Nov. 19 as enforcement officials announced a record $13 billion settlement with JPMorgan Chase & Co. over its role in the financial crisis: Investigations continue. The deal does not preclude criminal charges against the bank or any individual. “Without a doubt, the conduct uncovered in this investigation helped sow the seeds of the mortgage meltdown,” Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. said. “No firm, no matter how profitable, is above the law, and the passage of time is no shield from accountability.”
ROPES WINS VERDICT
A Boston federal jury took 2 1/2 hours on Nov. 20 to reject former associate John Ray III’s retaliation case against Ropes & Gray, which he’d accused of lashing out after he complained of racial discrimination. The panel concluded that Ray hadn’t filed a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in good faith. Ropes argued Ray threatened embarrassment unless it met demands that at one point hit $40 million. “His discrimination claim was not about discrimination. It was about threats and it was about money,” trial ­lawyer Michael Keating told the jurors.
APPLE WINS AGAIN
From missing executives to sparse documents, Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd.’s case for why it should only pay $52 million for infringing five Apple Inc. patents was full of holes, jurors in San Jose said after handing Apple a more than $290 million award on Nov. 21. The decision wrapped up the mobile titans’ closely watched rematch on damages. Tacked onto $640 million awarded last year and left undisturbed, the damages bring the Cupertino, Calif.-based company’s total award to about $930 million — a slight drop from the $1.05 billion it was initially granted.
TOP TIER WINS OUT
Pedigree trumps diversity when it comes to law faculty hiring. Vanderbilt University School of Law professor Tracey George and Albert Yoon of the University of Toronto Faculty of Law analyzed data from the 2007-08 law school hiring cycle and found the vast majority of candidates offered tenure-track jobs graduated from top-tier law schools; they accounted for 68 percent of applicants and 82 percent of those hired. One element of conventional wisdom — that law schools give preference to women and minority candidates to correct their underrepresentation on faculties — didn’t bear out.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has revived a religious-freedom lawsuit brought by Sikh IRS agent Kawaljeet Tagore, who claimed she was fired after refusing to remove a ceremonial sword before entering the federal building where she worked. “We’re five or six years down the road in this litigation, and I think we’ve at least established that the government can’t arbitrarily deny Sikhs the ability to wear the kirpan in federal buildings,” said Scott Newar, a Houston solo practitioner who represents Tagore.
Legislation introduced in New Jersey with bipartisan sponsorship would counteract a state appeals court ruling that found a basis of civil liability in text messaging a motorist who winds up in a wreck. Both bills are addressed to Kubert v. Best, a case of first impression and the first known ruling in the country in which a court recognized a basis for remote-texter liability. “I think we’re headed into murky waters,” Assemblywoman Celeste Riley said. “That ruling got me a little bit nervous.”
Winston Moseley, whose 1964 murder of Kitty Genovese in Queens, N.Y., became a symbol of urban apathy and fear, has been denied parole for the 16th time by a panel that said the 78-year-old displays “no insight” into his offenses even after spending nearly a half-century behind bars. Moseley stalked and killed Genovese over the span of a half-hour, possibly while dozens of Queens residents ignored her cries for help.