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BLOOD AND SWEAT Michael Barnsback, 41, and Bernard DiMuro, 49, of Alexandria’s DiMuro, Ginsburg & Mook, faced a formidable adversary in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia last month. The plaintifs lawyers didn’t relish facing an opponent as respected as the American National Red Cross, especially when during voir dire several members of the eight-person jury had indicated that they thought frivolous suits were a problem in U.S. society. “We were nervous,” DiMuro says. “We went out there and said we know there are frivolous lawsuits. This is not one of them.” Barnsback and DiMuro’s client, Robyn Fairshter, developed reflex sympathetic dystrophy, a chronic pain disorder, after her attempt to give blood was botched by a Red Cross technician, who overinflated the blood pressure cuff and left it that way until Fairshter’s arm turned bright blue, according to court filings. Fairshter, a lawyer in the Disability Rights Section of the Justice Department, now suffers constant pain, numbness, and tingling in her left hand and forearm and has lost use of that arm to the extent that she cannot pick up her children. A jury found the Red Cross negligent for Fairshter’s injuries and awarded her $800,000 in damages. The Red Cross, however, has filed a motion for a new trial in the case, which Judge Gerald Bruce Lee is scheduled to hear on Dec. 12. � Siobhan Roth A NEW CHAPTER “I’d done the big firm. I’d done the small firm,” says Richard Johns, explaining why he decided to strike out on his own early this month. Having spent time first with Reed Smith and then with Leftwich & Ludaway, the 32-year-old Johns says he took “an assessment of where I was professionally and realized I could be in a different place.” Thus, the Law Offices of Richard F. Johns was born. Sharing office space with two other solos, Johns seems to have hit the ground running. “I’ve been blessed and fortunate since day one to be as busy as I’ve been,” say Johns, adding that his plate so far has been filled with a variety of work: civil and commercial litigation, family law, and small business general corporate law. � Joel Chineson THE OLD COLLEGE TRY Of his welcome into the invitation-only American College of Trial Lawyers, Barry Coburn of D.C.’s seven-lawyer Coburn & Schertler says, “It’s a great thing to be a part of. I think it’s a wonderful organization, and I’m deeply honored to be elected to it.” Solo Roger Adelman is similarly humbled. “It’s a singular honor to be recognized by the premiere group of American trial lawyers,” he says. Coburn and Adelman are just two of eight new ACTL fellows from the District inducted in Montreal earlier this month. The other inductees are from small and large firms alike: Sanford Ain of Ain & Bank, Robert Trout of Trout & Richards, David Curtin of McKee Nelson, Michele Roberts of Shea & Gardner, Douglas Spaulding of Reed Smith, and John Williams of Collier, Shannon & Scott. The ACTL strives to maintain the standards of trial practice, the administration of justice, and the ethics of the profession. � J.C. COLLEGE PARK PLACE Public interest lawyer Joseline Pena-Melnyk is bringing her legal expertise to the College Park City Council. “I am very much used to dealing with issues and conflicts. I’m a good listener,” says Pena-Melnyk, who won the District 4 seat uncontested in the Nov. 4 election. Pena-Melnyk worked as an assistant U.S. attorney in the District for two years until she resigned in 1999, after the birth of her son. “I thought I was coming back, but when I saw him I couldn’t part with him.” Though she stays home with her 5-year-old son and twin 3-year-old daughters, Pena-Melnyk continues to work. The 37-year-old is a board member on Casa de Maryland, among the state’s largest social service providers, and has kept busy with a slew of pro bono cases. On the council, she hopes to ease the relationship with the city and the University of Maryland College Park. � Alicia Upano HISTORY LESSON D.C. solo attorney James Johnston was a junior in college when then-President John F. Kennedy was slain in 1963, but 13 years later he was counsel for the subcommittee of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence that looked into the assassination. After an investigation that lasted from June 1975 to June 1976, Johnston’s subcommittee issued a report saying that both the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Central Intelligence Agency failed to disclose material information to the panel appointed by then-President Lyndon Johnson to investigate the president’s murder and headed by then-Chief Justice Earl Warren. Among the information withheld from the Warren Commission, says Johnston, was that the CIA sought out and met with a high-level Cuban official who wanted to assassinate strongman Fidel Castro as part of a coup. “The Warren Commission never learned of this or any other plot by the CIA to assassinate Castro,” recalls Johnston, a frequent contributor to Legal Times. � J.C.

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