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THE SPY WHO CAME IN WITH A FALSE AFFIDAVIT When Houston U.S. District Judge Lynn Hughes overturned the conviction of an accused rogue CIA agent this month, the decision was full of invective directed at the government’s conduct in the case. It’s probably a good thing for the government, then, that Edwin Wilson’s lawyer shelved a motion to hold 17 former Justice Department and CIA officials in contempt. Wilson’s lawyer, Houston solo David Adler — himself a former CIA operative — said Wilson told him to yank the motion, thinking it was holding up Hughes’ decision in his case. The order had been pending for three years; it came out a month after the contempt motion was withdrawn. Wilson was convicted in 1983 of selling C-4 explosives to Libya. His defense was that the government knew about and approved of his activities. The appeal centered around an affidavit submitted by the government saying Wilson had no post-employment contacts with the CIA, when in fact he had several. Adler produced evidence showing that the government knew the affidavit was false, yet no one in the government told the court. Among those Adler tried to hold in contempt were Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Stephen Trott and Northern District Senior Judge D. Lowell Jensen. Both had supervisory positions in the Justice Department during the prosecution. Hughes waited so long to release the ruling that Adler sought a writ from the Fifth Circuit forcing Hughes’ hand. The Fifth Circuit turned him down but told Adler to come back if he had not heard from Hughes in 60 days. Hughes then released the decision vacating one of Wilson’s three federal convictions. In the interim, Adler himself appeared in the Northern District on an unrelated case — before Judge Jensen. He was worried going in, but Adler said Jensen was “a perfect gentleman.” — Jason Hoppin OF APPLES AND EARLY WORMS It’s campaign crunchtime — and one candidate’s consultant is off apple picking. That’s the kind of snippy observation Eric Allen, a.k.a. “Joefire,” and two other local political junkies have been making about the mayoral election on www.joefire.com since August. But the site only recently started paying as much attention to DA candidates Terence Hallinan and Kamala Harris. Now that voters have whittled the fields down for a December runoff in both races, Allen and his cohorts, armed with a digital camera and a notebook, aim to bring Internet surfers “into the rooms” of the DA race, as well. At a debate or press conference, they’ll focus more on nudges and whispers in the crowd than on the candidate’s spiel, using “blah blah blah” or “yadda, yadda, yadda” to summarize the official proceedings. Right after the general election, Allen and company posted a shot of a note on the door of Hallinan headquarters saying it was closed for the day. Allen wrote that he was told by a worker in the campaign office that it was closed due to then-campaign consultant Bob Henderson’s apple-picking plans. Henderson said Wednesday that he did indeed go apple picking, but that he got to the office by about 10 a.m. on the day in question. He added that he didn’t know where the handwritten sign had come from, and that he took it down when he arrived. When Allen ran into Henderson at an event last week, he told him he’d stopped by at 9 a.m. with camera in hand. “I’m never in the office at 9. This is the Hallinan campaign,” Henderson joked. “We get up at 10.” — Pam Smith CELL CALL When lawyers took a recent stem cell patent suit to trial, a few jurors got queasy. “Some asked to be excused because of the controversy,” said Paul Andre, a partner in Perkins Coie’s Menlo Park office who represented plaintiff PharmaStem Therapeutics Inc. But the jurors changed their minds when attorneys told them that the patent dispute involved stem cells from umbilical cord blood rather than embryos. The jury issued a $7 million verdict in October in Delaware federal court finding that four companies willfully infringed PharmaStem’s patents on the preservation and use of such stem cells for use in bone marrow transplantation. PharmaStem “came up with a technology that saves thousands of people’s lives,” Andre said. “They had received scientific recognition. It’s nice to get legal recognition as well.” A judge is to decide whether to treble the damages since the infringement was willful. Andre is also seeking attorneys fees, which he said are probably in the $2 million to $4 million range. The defendants — Cryo-Cell International Inc., ViaCell Inc., CorCell Inc. and Cbr Systems Inc. — have filed a motion for a judgment as a matter of law. Cbr attorney William Abrams, a partner in Pillsbury Winthrop’s Palo Alto office, said there is insufficient evidence to support the jury verdict. “One of the patents requires transfusion of stored blood into humans, and we don’t do that,” Abrams said. “Another patent requires enough [stem cells] to grow in a human adult” and to date there is no evidence that a transplant has been successful in adults. Andre said PharmaStem’s inventors discovered that the blood in umbilical cords was rich in stem cells that could be used for bone marrow transplantation. Half of people undergoing such operations “die because they can’t find a match,” Andre said. In the last few years several companies have begun collecting and storing umbilical cord blood for future use by the baby or the baby’s family members. Andre said they charge $700 to $1,800 for the service and that PharmaStem licenses its patents at a 15 percent royalty rate. Andre said the umbilical cord blood storage business has grown exponentially in the last few years and that the four defendants stored 150,000 samples over a three-year period. — Brenda Sandburg

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