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Foul ball lawsuits Newark, N.J. (AP)�Baseball fans can sue if they are injured by a foul ball around the concession areas in New Jersey’s minor league ballparks, a state appeals court ruled. Last week’s decision permits a Newark man who was hit in the face by a ball while buying a beer at Newark’s Bears & Eagles Riverfront Stadium to sue the team and the food service company. The appellate panel said that while fans who attend sporting events assume some risk of balls flying into the stands, that standard should not apply while they are at concession areas ordering food or drink. The judges said that fans in those areas should have more protection because they can “let down their guard.” Louis Maisonave, 46, was struck in the face during a Newark Bears game on Aug. 26, 1999, while standing in front of a vending cart, talking with other fans and waiting to be served a beer. While getting his money ready, he heard somebody yell, “Look out!” The person selling the beer ducked, and Maisonave was struck in the face, fracturing a bone. James J. Horan, attorney for Gourmet Dining Services of South Orange, which provided concessions for the stadium, said the company is considering an appeal to the state Supreme Court. E-mail leads to judicial inquiry The Florida Judicial Qualifications Commission has offered a county court judge in Fort Lauderdale a deal to settle allegations that he violated the judicial code by sending a hostile e-mail to a fellow judge, according to anonymous sources. The offer calls for Broward County Court Judge Robert F. Diaz to admit responsibility and accept a 30-day suspension, a public reprimand and a $7,500 fine. Diaz also would have to apologize in writing to fellow County Court Judge Lee Jay Seidman and the Broward Hispanic Bar Association. Diaz declined comment, and his Fort Lauderdale, Fla., attorney, James M. Stark, did not return calls seeking comment. Judge Seidman’s Fort Lauderdale attorney, J. David Bogenschutz, said he was unaware of the commission’s offer to Diaz. It has not been revealed what specific judicial conduct rules Diaz is accused of violating. Judge Seidman received an anonymous e-mail on Jan. 19, read the contents the next day and reported it. The e-mail contained a Jan. 18 Palm Beach Post story about Palm Beach Circuit Judge Roger B. Colton’s controversial practice of notifying the U.S. Border Patrol about illegal immigrants who appeared before him in criminal court. The article quoted immigrant advocates who accused Colton of abusing his authority, and Colton’s rebuttal that he felt obliged to report lawbreaking. The e-mail to Judge Seidman that accompanied the Post article asked, “Isn’t that what you used to do in Hollywood? We remember.” The sender was identified only as [email protected]. Seidman is assigned to the domestic violence division at the main courthouse in downtown Fort Lauderdale. He denies ever informing on illegal aliens in his court, Bogenschutz said. A similar e-mail was sent on Jan. 19 to then-Broward Hispanic Bar Association President Catalina Z. Avalos, who could not be reached for comment. Seidman considered the e-mail hostile and possibly threatening. He asked the Broward sheriff’s office to investigate, and the e-mail was quickly traced to Judge Diaz. Two days after the Miami Herald broke the story on Jan. 31, Diaz took a two-week paid leave. �American Lawyer Media Juror punished Kansas City, Mo. (AP)�Barbara Sparkman’s attempt to duck jury duty earlier this month nearly landed her in jail. Sparkman, 54, was serving as an alternate juror in a murder trial when she left a message the morning of July 8 with court officials, saying she was too stressed to continue. Circuit Judge Thomas Clark wasn’t pleased and ordered deputies to find Sparkman and bring her to court to explain herself. Sparkman told Clark and her co-jurors that she didn’t want to view crime scene and autopsy photos, that she had an asthma attack the night before and that she was worried about her mother in a nursing home. Clark then told the jury to pick Sparkman’s fate: one day in jail, a return trip to the jury pool next week or a sentence of sitting somewhere in the courthouse for the rest of the trial. Jurors decided against jail, but chose the other two penalties.

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