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News: U.S. Supreme Court declines to get involved in the dispute over the Democrats’ last-minute candidate switch in New Jersey’s U.S. Senate race. Comment: The case won’t be ripe for review until the Republican candidate actually loses the election. News: Deputy DA James Hammer, the dog-maul prosecutor, helps raise money for affordable housing by auctioning off the right to dunk him in a swimming pool. “Maybe the high bidder will be Bill [Fazio] or Kamala [Harris],” Hammer jokes, referring to potential future rivals for the district attorney position. Comment: Given some of the remarks Hammer made at the Knoller sentencing, Judge James Warren might also be considering a bid. News: It takes longer to get there, but for a change of pace the California Supreme Court justices ride Amtrak to oral arguments in Fresno. Comment: No truth to the rumor that the justices use the same mode of transportation to circulate their draft opinions. News: Although Gov. Gray Davis has voted to reverse or remand grants of parole in 137 of 139 murder cases, California Supreme Court justices sound unconvinced at oral argument that Davis has a “blanket no-parole policy.” Comment: It’s worth remembering that California voters concluded that the Rose Bird-led Supreme Court had a blanket no-death-penalty policy on the basis of a “mere” 60 reversals out of 64 cases. News: The litigation strategies in the Frode Jensen v. Pillsbury Winthrop defamation battle are becoming clear: Jensen will try to publicly embarrass Pillsbury management as much as possible over its operation of the firm, while Pillsbury will try to publicly embarrass Jensen as much as possible with details of his alleged sexual harassment. Comment: Please, please, please don’t let this case settle. This could make the O.J. trial look like a tedious tax case. News: At oral argument, the 9th Circuit sounds ready to rule that Caltrans can’t allow American flags to fly on freeway overpasses unless it allows other types of political messages as well. Comment: It’s only a matter of time before yet another round of congressional hearings on splitting the circuit. News: On the eve of trial, JAMS star Coleman Fannin tries but cannot mediate a settlement of the Barry Bonds home run ball case. Comment: Mighty Collie has struck out. News: Oakland’s Crosby, Heafey, Roach & May is poised to merge with Pittsburgh’s Reed Smith. No decision has been made yet on a new name for the merged firm. Comment: Reed Smith Heafey, Crosby Reed Smith — any combination will be eminently marketable so long as it doesn’t include “Roach.” News: New State Bar President James Herman says he isn’t fazed by the presence of several dissenters on the Bar’s Board of Governors. “Critics are important to any organization,” he says. “My job is to lead this organization and build consensus, and you can only reach consensus with diverse viewpoints.” Comment: One thing we already know about Herman — he does great spin. News: After winning a $3 billion judgment against Philip Morris Inc. last year, plaintiff attorney Michael Piuze strikes again with a $28 billion award against the tobacco giant. Comment: Pity the appellate lawyers that Philip Morris hires for post-trial motions. They could get $27 billion knocked off the verdict and still be seen as failing. News: Intel loses patent case against Intergraph Corp., but under the settlement terms of a previous dispute, damages are capped at $150 million. Comment: Philip Morris needs to make this kind of deal with Piuze. If Piuze wins another trial against the company, damages are capped at $25 billion.

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