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Court Denies Silver Amicus Status in Bond Bailout Case

The Court of Appeals yesterday refused to bestow amicus curiae status on Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan, in a pending bond bailout case. Local Government Assistance Corp. v. Sales Tax Receivable Corp., which was argued last week, centers on the constitutionality of legislation passed last year to relieve New York City of its lingering debt from the 1970s fiscal crisis. Mr. Silver, who supported the legislation, sought to appear amicus curiae. Without explanation, the Court denied the lawmaker’s motion, as it frequently does when a legislator seeks to appear as a friend of the court on a case hinging on the constitutionality of a legislative enactment. Also yesterday, the Court accepted an amicus curiae brief from the New York State Conference of Mayors and Municipal Officials, which urges the Court to uphold the legislation. — John Caher

Jury Selection Begins in Lynne Stewart Trial

Views about Islam and people of Middle Eastern descent were among questions posed yesterday as jury selection began at the trial of defense attorney Lynne Stewart and two others accused of aiding foreign terrorists. Questionnaires were handed out to hundreds of prospective jurors, who let out a collective moan as Southern District Judge John G. Koeltl warned that the trial could last from four to six months. Among more than 100 questions were queries about the Arabic language, Islam and whether those answering questions “have any negative feelings or opinions about persons of Middle Eastern descent or people of the Islamic faith.” Ms. Stewart and her co-defendants, Mohammed Yousry, an Arabic translator, and Ahmed Abdel Sattar, a U.S. postal worker, are being tried on charges that they helped imprisoned Egyptian Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman communicate with the Islamic Group, an Egyptian-based terrorist organization. — Associated Press

Report Details 9/11 Pro Bono Effort

A comprehensive report made available yesterday on the legal community’s response to the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks documents an outpouring of pro bono aid for victims’ families and others. Some 3,000 volunteer lawyers, who received training from either the Association of the Bar of the City of New York or their firms, helped represent at least 4,000 individuals and families, according to the report. In dealing with such disasters, the report found that the use of trained lawyers to provide advice to victims on a broad range of issues was the best approach. The burden on victims’ families was reduced by having a single lawyer — with access to other attorneys with specialized knowledge — address legal questions, the report said. Of 293 survey respondents, 22 percent said they had done no prior pro bono work, and 85 percent said the would volunteer again in other causes. The report was prepared the City Bar Fund, the NALP Foundation for Lawyer Career Research and Education, and the Lewis Stein Center for Law and Ethics of Fordham University School of Law. — Daniel Wise

Artists to Share $50 Million Settlement

David Bowie, Liza Minnelli, Dave Matthews, Sean Combs, and thousands of other performers will share an estimated $50 million in royalties in a settlement with the record industry, Attorney General Eliot Spitzer announced yesterday. The artists went unpaid because the record companies lost contact with them, Mr. Spitzer said. Under the agreement, the companies will list the names of singers and song writers who are owed payments on the companies’ Web sites and share artist contact information with each other. During the course of a two-year investigation, $25 million has already been paid to the artists, said Juanita Scarlett, a spokeswoman for Mr. Spitzer. Use of the new procedures is expected to yield at least another $25 million in payments, she added. — Daniel Wise

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