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California power crisis brings first indictments In the first federal criminal charges brought against a corporation in connection with California’s power crisis, a San Francisco grand jury last week indicted Reliant Energy Services Inc. Four corporate officials of the Houston-based company�two former and two current�were also indicted. The charges are the result of a four-year investigation into the worst power emergency in California history. Investigators have alleged that several companies manipulated California’s gas and electricity markets in order to swindle ratepayers out of millions of dollars. The company and the individual defendants face six counts, including wire fraud, commodities manipulation and attempted manipulation of a commodity in interstate commerce. The company said that it would mount a “vigorous” defense. Tyco trial part II delayed The lawyer for former Tyco International Ltd. General Counsel Mark Belnick said he was “ready” for a trial originally scheduled to begin this week. But the judge postponed the trial for two weeks after prosecutors requested more time to prepare their case and to let the frenzy surrounding the first Tyco trial die down. New York County Supreme Court Justice Michael Obus said jury selection in the Belnick trial will begin April 26. Belnick is facing charges of grand larceny, securities fraud and falsifying business records for allegedly taking about $50 million from Tyco in unauthorized loans and compensation. [See Page 6 for more Tyco-related news.] Morgan Lewis in Paris As part of a concerted strategy to bring its European presence and capabilities up to the level of many of its American-based rivals, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius will open a Paris office with the expected addition of 15 lawyers from a well-known French firm. The acquisition will not become official until Morgan Lewis receives approval to proceed from the Paris bar. The new hires would come from French firm De Pardieu Brocas Maffei & Leygonie. Partners in the group have been practicing together for more than a decade, working together at the Moquet Borde firm before moving to De Pardieu in 1999, according to Morgan Lewis Chairman Fran Milone. The Paris office would be led by Jean Leygonie, a corporate lawyer who has an active competition (antitrust) practice. A ‘wider’ pro bono The 72,000-lawyer New York State Bar Association has voted in favor of a wider official definition of “pro bono” work. The state bar’s House of Delegates decided by an overwhelming voice vote that the term should include civic and charitable work as well as that done for the poor. Since at least 1990, the state court system has defined pro bono as providing legal assistance to those who could not otherwise afford a lawyer. In January, the New York court system issued a report calling for an increase in pro bono activity. The report stated that an estimated 10 million additional hours of attorney assistance may be needed each year “to provide New York’s poor with even a bare minimum amount of the legal help that they need.” Oblivious killing of fetus is still a murder The California Supreme Court ruled last week that the killing of a fetus constitutes second-degree murder, even if the accused had no idea the expectant mother was pregnant. The 6-1 ruling strengthens a 34-year-old state law that holds murder defendants accountable for two killings if a mother and her fetus are slain. The decision overturns an appellate court ruling that said fetal murder could be charged only if the defendant was aware of the pregnancy. “By engaging in the conduct he did,” Justice Janice Rogers Brown wrote for the majority, “defendant demonstrated a conscious disregard for all life, fetal or otherwise, and hence is liable for all deaths caused by his conduct.” Justice Joyce Kennard dissented, arguing that the California Legislature intended second-degree murder to apply only if there was implied malice toward a particular fetus or fetuses, not life in general. People v. Taylor, No. 04 C.D.O.S. Starr Pepperdine-bound Former judge, solicitor general and independent counsel Kenneth Starr-a major player on the Washington legal scene for nearly a quarter-century-will become dean of Pepperdine University School of Law on Aug. 1. The Pepperdine announcement took the Washington legal establishment by surprise. Starr will maintain a role in the D.C. office of Chicago-based Kirkland & Ellis, where he has been an architect and leader of the appellate practice. “It’s not like the king is dead. The king is going to be part-time,” said one Kirkland insider who declined to be named.

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