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JUDGE WON’T WADE INTO TREVOR FIGHT SACRAMENTO — A federal judge has decided not to intervene in the fight to sanction a Beverly Hills law firm for allegedly abusing the state unfair competition law. U.S. District Judge Audrey Collins has denied a temporary restraining order request from the Trevor Law Group. The three lawyers at Trevor — Damian Trevor, Shane Han and Allan Hendrickson — last week asked Collins to issue the order to prevent the State Bar from suspending their licenses to practice. Bar Judge Richard Honn had suspended the trio after reviewing the Bar prosecutors’ case accusing the lawyers of unethically using the unfair competition statute, Business & Professions Code � 17200, to leverage settlements in suits filed against thousands of small businesses. The attorneys would not be able to practice while their case is litigated in Bar court. The lawyer for the Trevor firm, Kevin Gerry, also of Beverly Hills, had argued to Collins that the Bar was infringing on the attorneys’ constitutionally protected right to file lawsuits. But Bar Chief Assistant General Counsel Lawrence Yee responded that federal court is not the correct venue for the matter. Yee said Trevor should use the Bar court appeal process, which ends at the state Supreme Court. Collins’ written ruling was not available Monday. Gerry did not return a phone call seeking comment. – Jeff Chorney JURORS CONSULT BIBLE DURING MURDER TRIAL NEW YORK — A death row inmate’s chance for a long life was born again when a judge overturned his sentence, finding that jurors had brought Bibles to deliberations while insisting that God’s law trumped Colorado’s. Adams County, Colo., District Judge John Vigil found that some jurors had Bibles at the table several years ago when deliberating. Jurors also had brought in reference notes they made from study Bibles they had consulted about the proper penalty for murder. At the conclusion of the penalty phase of Robert Harlan’s trial in 1995 for murder, rape and kidnapping, the judge instructed the jury on the approach it was required to take when deciding Harlan’s fate. Jurors had to decide whether the prosecution had proved aggravating factors beyond a reasonable doubt, determine the existence of mitigating factors and then weigh them against each other. The final step was a moral assessment — whether the jurors believed beyond a reasonable doubt that the ultimate penalty should be imposed. At this stage, consideration of mercy and sympathy are permitted. Prejudice, bias, passion or arbitrary emotional responses are not. Deputy Public Defender Kathleen Lord argued in a brief that some jurors had impermissibly researched and discussed biblical passages while sequestered and during deliberations, which may have influenced their decision to impose the death sentence. Adams County prosecutor Steve Bernard countered in his brief that these common passages were read merely for “comfort and inspiration.” Under state law in effect when the crime was committed, there will be no new penalty phase and Harlan will be re-sentenced to life in prison. The judge’s ruling will be appealed. – The National Law Journal

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