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BINGHAM’S S.F. OFFICE SLASHES SOME JOBS More than a dozen staff positions at Bingham McCutchen’s San Francisco office were eliminated last week as the firm centralizes some of its administrative operations in Boston. In all, nine staff members were laid off and four were offered transfers to the Boston office. The affected staff members worked in the firm’s accounting, records and information technology departments. The moves come nearly two years after San Francisco’s McCutchen, Doyle, Brown & Enersen merged with Boston’s Bingham Dana. While the San Francisco office housed the former McCutchen firm’s IT headquarters and a large accounts payable department, management at Bingham McCutchen decided to centralize both departments in the Boston office. The firm chose to base the groups in Boston because of space and economic considerations, said Scott Pine, the Northern California regional director of administration. “The Northern California region is absolutely booming right now. We are busting at the seams, and one of the reasons that we couldn’t accommodate centralization here is that we have no space,” Pine said. According to Pine, the affected staffers were given four months’ notice and generous severance packages. Two positions were eliminated in the San Francisco records department, a result of a one-year efficiency review rather than centralization, said Pine. In November, Bingham’s 50-attorney Silicon Valley office pink-slipped five staffers in an effort to eliminate redundancies. Pine said there were no further plans for staff reductions in Northern California. — Alexei Oreskovic FEDS DEFEND SECRETIVE NATURE OF 9/11 CASE MIAMI — The U.S. Department of Justice has made bold new assertions about the extent to which federal judges can hide information about the cases before them, according to censored documents filed at the U.S. Supreme Court. The government’s arguments are filed under seal in the case, which involves a Florida man who was detained after the Sept. 11 attacks on an alleged visa violation. But a heavily redacted reply brief filed by the Miami Federal Public Defender’s Office discloses the government’s main assertion that federal grand jury secrecy can be stretched to cover up even “ancillary proceedings that may touch on grand jury matters.” U.S. Solicitor General Theodore Olson advanced the Bush administration’s position in secret last month in defense of an appeal by Mohamed Kamel Bellahouel of Deerfield Beach, Fla. The appeal, turned aside by the Supreme Court without comment last week, sought to lift the extraordinary blanket of official secrecy that’s cloaked Bellahouel’s habeas corpus case since it began more than two years ago. Solicitor General Olson’s arguments in support of secretly docketing Bellahouel’s case are “a broad and revolutionary interpretation” of the law, Paul Rashkind, chief of appeals for Federal Public Defender Kathleen Williams wrote in his reply brief. “Never before has the court approved such a radical view … nor does the government point to lower courts that have done so,” he wrote. “This argument, attempting to justify the blanket sealing of all court filings, decisions and docket entries, flies into the headwind of all precedent respecting the First Amendment and common-law rights of public access.” The Supreme Court allowed Rashkind to file the heavily redacted reply brief for public viewing. It is shot through with numerous blank spaces where words, sentences and entire paragraphs were excised to comply with gag orders issued by U.S. District Judge Paul Huck in Miami and the Eleventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Atlanta. After reviewing a copy of the redacted reply, prominent New York City First Amendment lawyer Floyd Abrams criticized the government’s position. — Miami Daily Business Review

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