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Orrick acquires China practice from Coudert Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe has agreed to acquire most of Coudert Brothers’ China practice, in the first such move to follow Coudert’s announcement two weeks ago that it is disbanding. Through the agreement, Orrick will gain its first presence in China. The nine partners and roughly 30 other lawyers joining Orrick currently comprise all of Coudert’s Hong Kong and Shanghai staff and a large part of its Beijing office. Orrick has 27 lawyers in its Tokyo office, and also has an office in Taipei, Taiwan. The two firms announced their agreement, which will be finalized next month, with a joint statement in which Orrick Chairman Ralph Baxter copiously praised Coudert for blazing a trail in China. Reversal of $1.3 billion Tyson verdict is upheld A unanimous panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals recently affirmed a district court judge who had overturned a $1.3 billion verdict in a class action against a Tyson Foods Inc. subsidiary. Pickett v. Tyson Fresh Meats Inc., No. 04-12137. The jury had found that Tyson (formerly IBP Inc.) had illegally manipulated cattle prices. The appeals court noted that while the claims of cattle producers had emotional appeal, “markets are notoriously unromantic.” [NLJ, Feb. 21]. No free-speech right for death threats to judge A three-member panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said last week that there is no First Amendment right to offer a person money to kill a federal judge. A prisoner’s statement “that he wanted to target a judge and ‘string the motherfucker up and cut her throat, his throat, and make it like a copycat so that people would do the same thing,’ combined with an offer to provide weapons and money reward, can reasonably be interpreted as a serious expression of intent to harm,” wrote Judge Carlos Bea. Bea was joined by Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain and Robert Cowen, a senior judge from the 3d Circuit sitting by designation. The opinion stemmed from the case of Robert Stewart Jr., who had been serving a five-year sentence in an Arizona federal prison for charges of possessing a machine gun. U.S. v. Stewart, No. 05 C.D.O.S. 7551. Lesbian mothers in Calif. win parenting rights The California Supreme Court last week granted same-sex couples parenting rights equivalent to those of their heterosexual counterparts. The decision, arising out of three cases involving breakups by lesbian couples, holds that both partners in a same-sex relationship are legal parents when they use modern methods of reproductive science to produce and raise children. As a result, the court said, both are entitled to all the rights and responsibilities of parenthood, including custody and child support. The opinion is reportedly the first of its kind in the country. Elisa B. v. Superior Court (Emily B.), No. 05 C.D.O.S. 7498. Pa. prosecutors shouldn’t wield handguns in court Pennsylvania prosecutors should think twice before displaying, during an opening statement, a handgun that will later be entered into evidence in the trial, a state appeals court panel has suggested in a case of first impression. In Commonwealth v. Parker, No. 1568 EDA 2004, a three-judge panel of the intermediate-level Pennsylvania Superior Court ruled that although a Philadelphia assistant district attorney should not have been permitted by the trial court to display the gun allegedly belonging to Maurice Parker, the error was harmless, given the weight of the evidence brought against Parker. “We do, however, caution against the use of such tactics by prosecutors in the future,” Judge John T. Bender wrote. “The display of the gun by the prosecution could not honestly be said to serve any legitimate purpose except to inflame the jury,” he added later.

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