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Oracle merger gets blessing from judge He didn’t buy the government’s arguments, and didn’t believe its witnesses. In the end, Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker of the Northern District of California just didn’t like the government’s case. Walker last week rejected the U.S. Department of Justice’s attempt to block Oracle Corp. from acquiring rival software maker PeopleSoft Inc. The decision is a major defeat for the government, which warned that the hostile takeover would be bad for business and for consumers, who, it said, would eventually bear the burden of decreased competition. In a statement, R. Hewitt Pate, assistant attorney general in charge of the DOJ’s antitrust division, expressed the government’s disappointment, and noted, “The department is considering its options.” U.S. v. Oracle, No. 04-0807. Tax-shelter probe started Four unnamed lawyers are under investigation by the Internal Revenue Service’s Office of Professional Responsibility for writing opinion letters that supported bogus tax-shelter schemes based on arbitrage-driven transactions, Mark Scott, chief of the IRS tax-exempt bond division, told participants at the National Association of Bond Lawyers’ annual workshop. Scott said his office, in addition to dozens of active bond examinations, was working on 40 tax-promoter penalty cases, which could net the government $100 million. Enron task force leader switches to the defense The former leader of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Enron Task Force has switched to defending suspected white-collar criminals. Leslie Caldwell, who stepped down as the task force’s leader in March, has joined the corporate investigation and criminal defense team in the New York office of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, a Philadelphia-based law firm. Caldwell will lead the firm’s criminal defense team in New York and spend a lot of time in its California offices to enhance the litigation group’s West Coast practice, the firm said in a statement last week. Caldwell said in the statement that the firm’s commitment to building a top national white-collar crime practice helped make it a “natural choice as I rejoin the private practice of law.” She stepped down from the Enron task force earlier this year. Judge slams Quattrone The decision by former investment banker Frank Quattrone to take the stand and deny that he knew he was breaking the law when he urged employees to “clean up their files” led a federal judge last week to increase his sentence to 18 months in prison. Judge Richard Owen of the Southern District of New York rejected a Probation Department recommendation that Quattrone serve only five months behind bars for his May 3 conviction for obstructing justice, obstructing an agency proceeding and witness tampering. Owen found that the former star investment banker at Credit Suisse First Boston perjured himself on the witness stand and deserved a higher sentence. More cuts at U.S. courts For the second time in less than a year, the federal courts in South Florida are shedding workers amid a deepening budget crisis that’s wracking the nation’s court system and threatening to halt civil trials. In the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, 29 employees lost their jobs last month and their positions were eliminated. According to a written statement released last week by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts in Washington, federal courts across the country have reported that 185 employees have been laid off, 234 have received buyouts or early retirements and more than 500 have been furloughed. More personnel actions are expected, the administrative office said. Judge won’t dismiss dumpster-diving case An Arizona judge took a plaintiff’s counsel at his word when the lawyer denied he’d seen privileged communications that his client’s investigator had obtained while dumpster-diving. Wachter v. Lezdey, No. CV 1999-009334 (Maricopa Co., Ariz., Super. Ct.). The judge chided David Tierney of Scottsdale, Ariz.’s Sacks Tierney for not telling the investigator not to share attorney/client privileged information with his client, but refused to dismiss the case or recuse Tierney as the defendant had requested. The ruling involved a dispute over lucrative drug patents. The case included charges of corporate espionage. [NLJ, April 19].

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