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Lay’s solo trial to follow multidefendant trial Kenneth Lay won’t have to go to trial alone this summer. Lay, former chairman of Enron Corp., faces trial in January 2006, along with former Enron chief executive officer Jeff Skilling and chief accounting officer Richard Causey, on fraud charges. But U.S. District Judge Sim Lake of Houston, who earlier severed some bank fraud charges against Lay from the larger Enron trial, ruled last week that he will set the trial on the bank fraud charges to begin immediately after the multidefendant trial. Lake said that a bench trial on the bank fraud charges will begin as soon as the jury begins deliberations in the larger trial. Drexel University to open law school in 2006 Drexel University said it plans to open a law school by the fall of 2006 that will focus on much of the Philadelphia school’s undergraduate core curriculum of intellectual property, health care and emerging growth businesses, and incorporate its focus on cooperative education. Carl “Tobey” Oxholm III, Drexel vice president and general counsel, said the board of directors’ executive committee has scheduled a vote at next month’s meeting to approve the plan. If the committee signs off on it, the next step would be acquiring formal approval from the Pennsylvania Department of Education. Los Angeles firm brings Cochran name to S.F. Partners at one of Southern California’s most successful plaintiff shops have embarked on a novel business plan: They’re opening San Francisco Bay Area offices for a firm whose reputation is staked on one man. And they don’t seem to mind that he died last month. “Johnnie Cochran is established in the public mind. He became almost an icon or a cultural standard of exquisite legal practice, criminal and civil,” said Bruce Fishelman, of counsel to Santa Monica, Calif.’s Greene, Broillet & Wheeler and the new western manager for the 130-lawyer Cochran Firm, whose name partner died on March 29. “Greene Broillet has got a great reputation, but it’s not known the way Cochran is known,” Fishelman said, explaining why Greene Broillet’s nine partners-plus three who left that firm last week-have become partners in the Cochran Firm. Threats against federal judge lead to arrest Federal authorities arrested a man last week who allegedly threatened to kill an Eastern District of New York judge and bomb the courthouse in Brooklyn. In several anonymous letters and telephone calls beginning late last month, 19-year-old Wazir Khan of Queens, N.Y., said he would kill U.S. District Judge Raymond Dearie for putting his brother in jail, authorities alleged. The letters said Dearie would be killed by the end of the month, “just like Atlanta,” a reference to the recent shooting death of a state court judge by a man on trial for rape. Magistrate Judge Cheryl L. Pollak ordered Khan held at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn. Suits over gasoline additive may proceed A federal judge has refused to dismiss the bulk of cases filed against major oil companies for groundwater contamination caused by the gasoline additive known as MTBE. Judge Shira A. Scheindlin of New York’s southern district denied motions to dismiss in the consolidated multidistrict litigation on MTBE (methyl tertiary butyl ether), a chemical that gasoline manufacturers began adding to their products in 1979 to increase octane levels, and, supposedly, to burn fuel more efficiently. In In re Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether Products Liability Litigation, MDL No. 1358, Scheindlin also presented what she called the “commingled product theory,” a modification of the theory of market share liability, for claims originating in three of the 15 states where cases were filed. The plaintiffs, claiming that MTBE is now the second most frequently detected chemical in groundwater, sued the defendants in dozens of actions around the country.

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