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AS YOU SOW WINS IN PROPOSED DECISION A San Francisco judge has cleared the way for the environmental organization As You Sow to recoup costs and legal fees from its former lawyer, whom it accused of denying it money owed from the settlement of about 300 cases. In a propose statement of decision, Superior Court Judge Richard Kramer said As You Sow correctly interpreted its costs and fee agreement with attorney CliffordChanler, who now must account for what he owes the organization. Kramer set Feb. 25 for a hearing in the second phase of the trial, when Chanler must present evidence of what costs were incurred, such as filing fees and copying expenses, and give an accounting of his hourly fees for each case. Once Kramer decides how much money Chanler owes, the case is scheduled to move to its third phase, a jury trial, where As You Sow’s claims of fraud and breach of fiduciary duties would be litigated. As You Sow attorney John Stonich said Wednesday the judge rejected Chanler’s defenses in As You Sow v. Chanler, 300622, and agreed the environmental group was owed money by its co-founder and former lawyer. “We see it as much of a clear-cut victory in phase one as we could imagine,” said Stonich, a Santa Cruz solo. Chanler’s attorney, James Boughey, a partner at Wilson, Elser, Moskowitz, Edelman & Dicker, said he had not yet read the judge’s ruling. Chanler did not return calls to his Oakland office. As You Sow was co-founded by Chanler and his Duke University classmate, Thomas Van Dyck, as an enforcement mechanism for Proposition 65, a 1986 voter-approved measure aimed at companies that failed to warn consumers that their products contained cancer-causing and reproductive toxins. In 1999, As You Sow sued Chanler, accusing him of reaping $6.4 million in attorneys fees from $8.2 million in settlements resulting from about 300 Prop 65 cases. Stonich also said Chanler owed the organization about $400,000 in costs that it provided for the prosecution of the cases. Kramer held that Chanler collected As You Sow’s money for costs and then failed to distinguish in the settlements what components were costs and what were attorneys fees. The judge also held that Chanler had no authority under his agreement with As You Sow to negotiate for “premium fees” above his hourly rate. — Dennis Opatrny COURT TALKS THE TALK ON TRANSPORT WALK Transportation suddenly has a whole new meaning. In an opinion guaranteed to catch drug dealers flatfooted, the First District Court of Appeal ruled Wednesday that the crime of transporting methamphetamine could be committed by walking. “A conclusion that walking does not constitute transportation of a controlled substance,” Justice Douglas Swager wrote, “would give drug traffickers a free ride — so to speak — to move drugs by foot travel without violating [the law], sanction one form of conveyance of drugs while continuing to criminalize all others, and often effectively eliminate the crime of transportation for local or neighborhood movement of drugs.” Justices James Marchiano and Sandra Margulies concurred. The Contra Costa County case began when officers arrested Michael Ormiston as he was walking away from a Pleasant Hill hotel in 1998 with three baggies of methamphetamine powder, a hypodermic syringe and a digital scale. Among other charges, Ormiston was accused of violating Health & Safety Code � 11379, which criminalizes the transportation of meth. “[Ormiston's] use of foot travel, rather than some other means of conveyance, to take the methamphetamine to whatever destination he intended to reach, does not negate the element of transportation,” Swager wrote. “Section 11379 neither mentions nor excludes from its scope any particular means of transportation.” The case is People v. Ormiston, A094813. The partially published ruling will appear in Friday’s California Daily Opinion Service. — Mike McKee

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