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Kansas AG seeks late-term abortion records The Kansas attorney general, a staunch opponent of abortion, has demanded the medical records of nearly 90 women and girls who had late-term abortions, saying he needs the material to investigate crimes. The two abortion clinics involved in the case say the state has no right to such personal information and are fighting the request in the Kansas Supreme Court. But Attorney General Phill Kline insisted last week that he needs the records because he has “the duty to investigate and prosecute child rape and other crimes in order to protect Kansas children.” The clinics argued that unless the state high court intervenes, women who obtained abortions could find government agents knocking at their door. Appellate panel orders judge to ban cameras A unanimous New York appeals panel last week expressed serious reservations about allowing televised coverage of criminal trials in ordering a judge to bar cameras from his courtroom during the trial of a first-degree murder case. The misgivings about TV coverage in criminal cases expressed by the intermediate-level New York Appellate Division in ruling against a Troy, N.Y., trial judge is sure to buoy supporters of the state’s 52-year-old ban on the broadcasting of trials. Heckstall v. McGrath, No. 96480. High court spotlight hits a quiet 4th Circuit judge The fickle spotlight on possible nominees to the U.S. Supreme Court if Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist departs has swung toward Judge John Roberts Jr., the newest judge on the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. In spite of Roberts’ quiet manner, his credentials-he is a former Rehnquist law clerk, deputy solicitor general and practitioner at Washington’s Hogan & Hartson-are speaking for him and winning fans. Add to that a brief 20-month tenure on the court that provides few targets for Democrats, and Roberts is emerging as a top candidate for the high court. “He is well in the running, and he is superb,” said C. Boyden Gray, partner at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr and chairman of the Committee for Justice, which fights for President George W. Bush’s judicial nominees. Reinstatement for first Sarbanes whistleblower A U.S. Department of Labor judge, ruling in a closely watched test case of a new corporate whistleblower law, has ordered a tiny Virginia bank to reinstate a former employee who questioned its accounting practices. Administrative Law Judge Stephen Purcell recently ordered Cardinal Bankshares Inc. to reinstate its former chief financial officer, David Welch, and pay him nearly $65,000 in back pay and damages. The ruling, while focusing on a tiny company little known outside its region, with just a few hundred shareholders, touches on many of the issues that have drawn substantial attention to the case. Last year, Welch became the first person to win protection as a whistleblower under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, passed by Congress in 2002 in the wake of corporate scandals at Enron and other firms. The law contains a provision designed to protect business insiders who blow the whistle on accounting irregularities. Beware: MCI-Verizon plans to slash legal team At some point in the coming months, the proverbial blood may be hitting the floor. Verizon Communications Inc.’s $6.7 billion proposed acquisition of MCI Inc. would result in job losses in the corporate legal department-in all, 357 attorneys work for the two telecommunications giants-and it will almost certainly mean some outside law firms are going to lose a big client. In a recent Webcast with Wall Street analysts, Verizon Chief Financial Officer Doreen Toben said a combined Verizon-MCI would “have head count reductions in a number of areas . . . [including] corporate staff functions such as [human resources] and legal.” Overall, 7,000 employees would be cut. The company said it is too early to know the specific fate of inside and outside counsel.

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