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‘PITCHESS’ CASES GET SPECIAL MASTER IN S. F. A special master has been appointed to investigate thousands of potential Pitchess motion violations by San Francisco’s police department. Joshua Weinstein, a staff attorney for the Judicial Council of California’s criminal law advisory committee, was tapped Monday for the job by San Francisco Superior Court Presiding Judge Donna Hitchens. In his role as special master, Weinstein will comb through an estimated 3,500 Pitchess motions filed in criminal cases between 1997 and 2002. Defense lawyers routinely file Pitchess discovery motions to obtain information about any prior misconduct by the arresting officer. Earlier this year, the police department acknowledged that certain personnel files known as Performance Improvement Program, or PIP, files were not included in materials given to judges in response to Pitchess motions. Weinstein said he was not sure how long the review process would take. “Everybody knows how a Pitchess motion goes when one is before the court, but looking at it retrospectively is somewhat uncharted territory,” he said. — Alexei Oreskovic VIACOM TO PAY $ 13M TO SETTLE CLASS ACTION Viacom has agreed to pay $13 million to 650,000 California cable subscribers who were supposed to get refunds after the company raised rates in 1991. The refunds will amount to about $15 per customer. It’s difficult to get large corporations to pay damages that will amount to a relatively small recovery for individual plaintiffs, particularly several years after the fact, said Derek Howard, a partner at Oakland’s Murray & Howard that represented the plaintiffs. “Viacom was counting on the fact that no one � was going to hold their feet to the fire and make them keep their promise,” Howard said. Gilmur Murray of Murray & Howard and Alan Plutzik of Walnut Creek’s Bramson, Plutzik, Mahler & Birkhaeuser were also on the plaintiffs’ legal team. According to the class action, Viacom raised cable rates in 1991 when 10 counties began to levy heavier taxes. Viacom pledged to fight the tax increase in court and promised consumers that it would refund the new surcharge if it prevailed. Viacom successfully challenged the tax — Alameda, Contra Costa, San Francisco, Marin, Napa, Sonoma, Shasta, Colusa, Tehama and Butte counties repaid Viacom millions. However, Viacom, which stopped providing cable service in 1996, didn’t give cable subscribers their money back, the suit says. Alameda County Superior Court Judge Ronald Sabraw approved Friday the tentative settlement agreement for Guyette v. Viacom, 828165. Fees will come out of the $13 million, Howard said, but he hasn’t yet petitioned the court for a specific amount. “We are very pleased that we are able to settle this matter, particularly in a way that benefits the community at large,” said New York-based Viacom spokesman Carl Folta. Folta declined to comment further on the case. Viacom lawyer Brian Ferrall of San Francisco’s Keker & Van Nest declined to comment on the case. Another Viacom lawyer, Gary Lafayette of Lafayette & Kumagai, did not return a call for comment. — Jahna Berry EEOC ACCUSES BOIES FIRM OF PREJUDICE NEW YORK — The law firm of noted litigator David Boies discriminated against female lawyers with respect to compensation and terms of employment, violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has determined. The EEOC’s investigation of Armonk, N.Y.-based Boies, Schiller & Flexner began after two female associates filed a complaint with the commission in April 2001 alleging the firm relegated them to a lower-paid, all-women non-partnership track while preserving the firm’s partnership track exclusively for male associates. The two associates who filed the EEOC complaint, Rachel Baird and Bonnie Porter, also later sued the firm in the Southern District of New York for about $1.25 million. They settled in April 2002 after the firm agreed to have a judgment entered against it and pay them $37,500 each. The EEOC investigation proceeded, however, and the Aug. 7 determination backs the two associates’ central allegations. “The evidence of record indicates that [Boies, Schiller] maintains a two-tiered system which is not applied uniformly, resulting in discrimination against a class of female associate attorneys,” wrote Spencer Lewis, the director of the EEOC’s New York office. In their lawsuit, the two women had claimed that Baird, a 1992 Yale Law School graduate, earned $112,000 a year when she worked at the firm in 2000, while two partnership-track male associates who graduated law school in 1996 made $159,000. — The New York Law Journal

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