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California high court to review out-of-state issue The California Supreme Court voted unanimously last week to decide whether companies based outside California can be sued under the state’s unfair competition laws if they advertise in-state via billboards, newspapers and the Internet. Several Nevada casino hotels, including Harrah’s, had petitioned the court for review after a California appellate court in Los Angeles ruled in March that they could be sued by a man seeking class action status on behalf of all California residents hit with a $3-per-night energy surcharge while staying in Las Vegas, Reno or other gambling towns. The ruling sent a shudder through the gaming and hotel industries, which envisioned thousands of lawsuits by residents of California, which, according to published reports, is Nevada’s top market. But attorneys for the casino hotels said the decision also should worry businesses nationwide. Gray Cary elevates 20 Gray Cary Ware & Freidenrich has added 20 partners, more than twice the number it did last year. The new batch is made up of about 5% of the firm’s overall headcount and is one of the largest classes the firm has ever elevated at once, according to spokesman Patrick Bustamante. The firm, which unlike others, makes its elevations at mid-year, boosted 10 in both 2002 and 2001. Budget crunch in D.C. Closing the federal courthouse one day a week. Putting civil trials on hold for a month. Granting felony offenders early release. Deferring payments to court-appointed attorneys. Curtailing drug treatment. And firing staff. These are some of the proposals being considered by officials at the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, who say rising caseloads and a decrease in funding are pushing them closer and closer to a budget crisis. “From what I have seen in 20 years, this is probably the most serious challenge we have had with the budget,” said Chief Judge Thomas Hogan of the D.C. district court. “We’ve cut ourselves to the bone.” Since 2002, the district court’s annual budget has decreased more than 5%, from $15.3 million to $14.5 million. Meanwhile, the number of criminal cases going to trial has doubled over the past year, and mandatory expenses, such as employee benefits and rent, continue to rise. Key 3M appeal rejected In a tiny batch of orders that marked the final day of its term, the U.S. Supreme Court last week refused to take up a closely watched antitrust case in which consumer and safety products maker 3M Co. was hit with a $68 million verdict. Despite ending the case, last week’s ruling could spur one final round of litigation because the team of lawyers that represented plaintiff LePage’s Inc. is now entitled to an award of attorney fees. Plaintiff’s attorney Barbara W. Mather of Pepper Hamilton of Philadelphia said her team had already filed a petition for $6 million in fees for its work up through the date of the verdict. Mather said she expects to file a supplemental fee petition seeking at least $3 million more for the work on post-trial motions and appeals that lasted several years. LePage’s Inc. v. 3M Co., 324 F.3d 141 (3d Cir. 2003). Election funding in N.Y.? Judicial elections are not leaving New York anytime soon, but a report released on July 1 by a statewide commission suggested several ways to begin pushing money and politics out of the process. The recommendations of the commission, established last year by New York Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye, come at a time when several judges have been involved in ethical scandals and public confidence in the judiciary is seen as low. Among the commission’s recommendations were public financing for some judicial elections, with an eye toward statewide public financing in the future; special “retention” elections that would absolve sitting judges from having to raise campaign money for re-election; and state-sponsored screening panels to vet judicial candidates. Foley & Lardner: from Milwaukee to Manhattan Foley & Lardner has opened a New York City office with the acquisition, effective last week, of 11-lawyer litigation boutique Friedman, Wang & Bleiberg. Friedman Wang partners Peter N. Wang, Charles M. Bleiberg, Susan J. Schwartz, Robert A. Scher and Todd C. Norbitz will join Foley & Lardner as partners, while Arthur S. Friedman will serve as a consultant to the new office. The move also includes four associates. Ralf Boer, chairman of Foley, which has its biggest office in Milwaukee, said expansion in New York had been among his firm’s highest priorities. He said the new office’s focus on securities and commercial litigation would complement the firm’s other practices. Foley & Lardner, which has almost 1,000 lawyers worldwide, had been one of the nation’s largest law firms without a New York office.

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