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Cigarette Net sales suit is out-but not for long New York City’s novel pursuit of tax revenue lost to direct sales of cigarettes over the Internet was dismissed last week by Judge Deborah Batts of the Southern District of New York. But the city’s corporation counsel, Michael A. Cardozo, and other city attorneys say they are confident that Batts’ decision allowing them to refile their complaint against 16 Internet cigarette dealers under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act will enable them to prevail eventually. City of New York v. Cyco.net, No. 03 CV 383. Prejudice test for jurors When allegations of jurors seeking extrajudicial opinions before deliberations are lodged post-verdict, Pennsylvania trial courts should follow an “objective test for prejudice” in determining whether a hearing on those claims is merited, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has ruled in a 6-1 decision. In affirming a panel of the intermediate-level state Superior Court in Pratt v. St. Christopher’s Hospital, the majority concluded that a Philadelphia judge had abused his discretion by not holding a post-trial evidentiary hearing after receiving a letter from a Pratt juror alleging that fellow jurors had discussed the underlying medical malpractice action with physicians they knew personally. ATLA taps John Haber as new chief executive The Association of Trial Lawyers of America named a new chief executive last week. John Haber, a senior partner at the public relations firm Fleishman-Hillard, takes over from Tom Henderson, who is retiring. Haber, a graduate of the University of San Francisco School of Law who once practiced in California, has also worked on the staffs of U.S. senators Patrick Leahy and Dianne Feinstein. His prepared statement, released by ATLA, wasted no time addressing the battles that await him. “Fundamental American values are under attack by the insurance industry, drug companies, big HMOs and their allies who proclaim a false crisis,” Haber said. “We will oppose their special interest agenda.” ATLA President Todd Smith said Haber’s background in running large organizations and managing communications campaigns “will be especially valuable at this critical juncture.” ‘Robing-room’ actions are overturned by court A guilty plea and a sentence have been overturned by the 2d U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals because a district judge accepted the plea and handed down the sentencing in the robing room. The 2d Circuit found last week that Judge Shirley Wohl Kram’s robing room sessions violated the public’s qualified First Amendment right of access to criminal proceedings. The court said it was exercising its rarely used “supervisory powers” to remand the cases “for proceedings to be held in open court.” The ruling came in the cases of U.S. v. Goiry, No. 02-1010, and U.S. v. Munoz, No. 03-1061, cases argued before separate 2d Circuit panels last spring. Morgan Lewis collars a top U.S. attorney Adding wattage to its white-collar practice, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius has hired Enron Corp. prosecutor John Hemann for its San Francisco office. Hemann, a 10-year assistant U.S. attorney, prosecuted Enron’s former chief financial officer, Andrew Fastow. He said he was recruited to Morgan Lewis through Leslie Caldwell, the former head of the Enron Task Force and former director of the criminal division in the U.S. attorney’s office in San Francisco. O’Melveny swipes trio of Wilson M&A partners O’Melveny & Myers is poaching three high-profile corporate partners from Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, a source familiar with the deal said last week. Michael Kennedy, Steve Camahort and Michael Dorf will all be leaving for the San Francisco office of O’Melveny & Myers, effective on Feb. 1. None of the partners returned telephone calls seeking comment. A spokesman for O’Melveny declined to comment. Kennedy and Camahort launched the San Francisco office of Palo Alto, Calif.-based Wilson Sonsini after making the jump from now-defunct Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison in 1999.

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