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Court of Appeals Puts City Bond Bailout Case on Fast Track The Court of Appeals yesterday agreed to hear a crucial New York City bond bailout appeal on an expedited basis. The city is appealing the Appellate Division, Third Department’s ruling earlier this month in Local Government Assistance Corp. v. Sales Tax Asset Receivable Corporation and City of New York. In that case, the Albany appeals panel shot down part of a bond bailout bill that would essentially transfer billions of dollars in city debt to state taxpayers. The city immediately moved for leave to appeal, which the Court of Appeals yesterday denied as unnecessary � an indication that in the Court’s view the city has an appeal as of right. Significantly, the Court also put the matter on the fast track and agreed to hear arguments on April 28, just six weeks after the Third Department’s March 4 ruling. It usually takes 6 1/2 months between a leave grant and oral argument. � John Caher Judge Denies Mistrial Motion as Tyco Jury Squabbles After six days of deliberations, jurors in the corporate corruption trial of two former Tyco International executives were embroiled yesterday in a bitter dispute that threatened the case’s outcome. “The atmosphere in the jury room has turned poisonous,” read one of three notes sent by the jury to Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Michael Obus, prompting a motion for a mistrial by the defense. The judge rejected the motion, then told the jury to go home and relax. Jurors are expected to return today to resume deliberations. The notes portrayed a jury in danger of imploding, divided by insults and hard feelings. One or more jurors “does not have an open mind,” said one note. One member of the jury, the note said, “had stopped deliberating in good faith.” Jurors were also swapping “incendiary accusations,” the note continued. Jurors sat through five months of testimony before deliberations in the case against ex-Tyco CEO L. Dennis Kozlowski and ex-CFO Mark Swartz even began. � Associated Press Sidley Austin Corporate Co-Head Joins Milbank Tweed The co-head of the New York corporate and securities practice at Sidley Austin Brown & Wood has left to join Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy. Michael L. Fitzgerald, whose practice focuses on corporate finance with an emphasis on cross-border capital markets and mergers and acquisitions, will become a partner in both Milbank’s global securities and general corporate practices. � Anthony Lin Panel Reinstates Jury’s Defamation Verdict An appeals court has reinstated a jury verdict in a defamation suit that was derailed by jurors who insulted each other with racial epithets. The suit involved Wing Shung Lam, the executive director of the Chinese Staff & Workers’ Association, who accused the owners of the restaurant Jing Fong of defaming him and injuring his reputation in the community. After a trial, a jury determined that Mr. Lam had been defamed but deserved no compensation. Civil Court Judge Lucy A. Billings vacated the verdict after receiving affidavits from two jurors complaining of verbal abuse and racial slurs by the other four jurors. The Appellate Term, First Department, upheld Judge Billings’ decision in a 2-1 ruling. Yesterday, though, the Appellate Division, First Department, said the jury’s verdict should stand for the reasons stated by Appellate Term Justice William P. McCooe in his dissent. Justice McCooe said that while the juror remarks were uncivil and unacceptable, they did not establish racial bias or affect the verdict. The First Department did not issue a full opinion. � Tom Perrotta Personal Notes on Lawyers � Former Southern District prosecutor Richard F. Albert has joined Morvillo, Abramowitz, Grand, Iason & Silberberg as a principal. He most recently had been a partner at Dorsey & Whitney. � Ben B. Rubinowitz of Gair, Gair, Conason, Steigman & Mackauf and a Law Journal columnist, has been sworn in as president of the New York City Chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates.

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