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Score one for S.P.E.C.T.R.E. Eight years after ethicists started fretting over lawyer TV ads with actor Robert Vaughn, the Indiana Supreme Court has ruled that they come across as a guarantee, and that’s unprofessional. The ads, which were outlawed by the State Bar in North Carolina in 2001, show actors playing insurance adjustors in a strategy session over an accident case. They learn the name of the victim’s attorney-insert here the name of the firm that’s bought the ad-and are transfixed with fear. They immediately opt to settle. Vaughn in full-command mode appears to state that others know you mean business when they hear-he repeats the name-and you should phone that lawyer now. An Aug. 8 opinion reprimands the Indianapolis law firm Keller & Keller for using the ad, which had been customized for more than 35 plaintiffs’ firms nationwide. In Massachusetts and North Carolina, the advertising lawyers not only turned out to lack stop-’em-in-their-tracks reputations, but they had never even tried a case before a jury. The ads’ creator, Ed Olender of Massachusetts, says he chose Vaughn because he projects classiness and authority. That’s the problem, say the justices, leaving open the possibility that Don Knotts might have passed muster. Facilitator Fortune’ has a new job description for Joseph “Don’t call me an agent” Bachelder: kingmaker. The magazine’s current issue looks at power in the business world, anointing all the usual suspects (Warren Buffett, Bill Gates). Front and center, however, there’s a piece about four unique men with the clout to bestow power. Putting Bachelder second (alphabetically?) after investment banker Herb Allen, the magazine says his forte is making the rich richer. Founder of New York’s Bachelder Law Offices, the executive pay expert has negotiated megabuck CEO contracts for IBM’s Lou Gerstner, Honeywell’s Larry Bossidy and Campbell Soup’s Douglas Conat. Another e-oops Dayton corporate lawyer Mark S. Foster may have been goaded, an Ohio Supreme Court panel noted, but attorneys are expected to rise above it all. Instead, in the heat of a fee dispute, Foster sent escalatingly nasty e-mails and letters to the brother of a litigant with whom he’d worked. (How the brother got involved isn’t clear. The court doesn’t say. Foster stipulated to unprofessional conduct but won’t talk to reporters.) Among the quotes: “Your dear little brother only serves to make my life more miserable. In turn, I will make his as miserable as possible.” One missive asked if the family had been inbreeding and noted the “gene pool was in serious need of a filter, at best.” Another told the brother, “Next time you get your panties all in a wad, please copulate independently.” Foster also labeled the litigant an “anencephalic cretin” characteristic of the “lunatic fringe.” The court said it was concerned with Foster’s lack of remorse. But it let him go with a six-month suspension that will be stayed if he behaves himself. Disparities The latest U.S. Sentencing Commission report shows remarkable district-by-district disparities, e.g., 63% downward departures in Arizona and 3% in Eastern Arkansas. Even allowing for a different crime mix and the possibility that Arizona criminals are many times nicer than those in Arkansas, it suggests the unfairness the guidelines were supposed to cure. It’s possible that it would be useful to find out which judges are departing from the guidelines, and why. If the person gathering those data were anyone but the righteous Attorney General John Ashcroft, a lot of people-including some judges-wouldn’t be so nervous.

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