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VERDICT IN BURGLARY OF JUDGE’S HOME A San Francisco jury found a man guilty Tuesday of burglarizing a superior court judge’s home. Assistant District Attorney Andrew Clark said he dismissed two other felony counts against defendant Michael Weible, for driving and being in possession of a stolen Jeep, when the jury reported that it was still deliberating on those charges Tuesday afternoon. “The issue of first-degree burglary is the powerful one,” Clark said, adding that Weible faces a maximum sentence of 17 years in state prison — six of those because of a prior strike under the state’s Three Strikes law. Convictions on the other two counts would have added only eight months to that exposure, Clark said. One of Weible’s lawyers, San Francisco solo Paul Alaga, said he wasn’t sure whether his client would appeal. “We’re probably going to process that over a pint,” Alaga said, referring to he and co-counsel Lewis Romero, another solo. Weible was accused of burglarizing the home of San Francisco Superior Court Judge Robert Dondero in January 2002, and stealing a Jeep in a separate incident. Clark called Dondero’s wife and daughter as witnesses, but decided against putting the judge on the stand. He had said he didn’t want the jury to feel the judge’s status had affected the way police or prosecutors handled the case. Judge Daniel Creed, retired from the Santa Clara County Superior Court bench, presided over the trial. The prosecution argued Weible’s DNA type matched that of blood found at the Dondero home. The defense conceded Weible was there, but said he’d been forced into the burglary at gunpoint by his drug dealer. — Pam Smith JUDGE ALLOWS SEPT. 11 SUITS AGAINST AIRLINES NEW YORK — American and United airlines, aviation security companies and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey had a duty of care to those who were injured, killed or suffered property damages as a result of the Sept. 11 hijackings and the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, a Manhattan federal judge ruled Tuesday. Southern District Judge Alvin Hellerstein said the harm to those in the buildings and on the ground was reasonably foreseeable for airport screeners and the managers of the World Trade Center. In doing so, he rejected a motion to dismiss the lawsuits and paved the way for discovery and trial — or settlement — for those who have chosen, or will choose, to opt out of the federal Victim Compensation Fund. The decision in In re September 11 Litigation, 21 MC 97, dealt with cases that have been consolidated into four master complaints, one each for the victims of the two airplanes that hit the World Trade Center towers, the plane crash near Shanksville, Pa., and the plane that hit the Pentagon. The decision also involved a fifth master complaint for those who seek recovery for property damage. The decision stems from a two-day hearing in May in which Judge Hellerstein was obligated to credit the plaintiffs’ allegations as true for purposes of the motions to dismiss. It represents the second major ruling on liability issued by Judge Hellerstein in the cases this year. He had already refused summary judgment motions by several operators of airports involved in the tragedy and three non-carrier airlines who share responsibility for security at the relevant terminals. — The New York Law Journal 2ND CIRCUIT CLARIFIES ALIEN TORT CLAIMS ACT NEW YORK — Environmental claims do not rise to the level of clear violations of international law needed to bring an action under the Alien Tort Claims Act, the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals has ruled. Holding that assertions of “right to life” and “right to health” are “insufficiently definite to constitute rules of customary international law,” the Second Circuit, which broke new ground for recognizing claims under the act, rejected pollution as a basis for a cause of action. The court’s decision in Flores v. Southern Peru Copper Corp., 02-9008, was the latest in a line of cases that began with the Second Circuit’s seminal decision in Filartiga v. Pena-Irala, 630 F.2d 876 (1980). The controversial Filartiga decision recognized that the ATCA afforded subject matter jurisdiction over claims that the international prohibition against official torture was violated by the torture and murder of two Paraguayan citizens by a former Paraguayan police official. — The New York Law Journal CUBA TRIPS AND CIGARS SINK BAR APPLICANT NEWARK, N.J. — A self-described liberal idealist who says his three visits to Cuba in violation of federal law were acts of civil disobedience has been denied admission to the New Jersey bar by the state supreme court. Zachary Sanders, who passed the New Jersey bar exam in July 2001, first was given a thumbs down by the Committee on Character, which rejected his argument that he had a right to disobey what he called the “immoral and unjust” embargo on trade and travel to Cuba. A three-lawyer committee said, “it was crystal clear � that Mr. Sanders believes himself to be absolutely morally justified in breaking the law.” The panel said it viewed him as one who “detaches himself from responsibility to obey the law by endeavoring to distinguish the morality of the law from its legality.” The Supreme Court heard Sanders plead his case pro se April 29, and on May 6, Chief Justice Deborah Poritz signed an order denying him admission. Sanders, 29, admitted traveling to Cuba three times; deceiving U.S. Customs officials about the visits on re-entry to the country; lying to customs agents about trying to smuggle Cuban cigars into the United States and blowing off a query by the U.S. Treasury Department seeking information about his first visit. — The New Jersey Law Journal

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