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Baker & McKenzie gets Coudert’s N.Y. office Ending weeks of speculation, Baker & McKenzie announced last week its acquisition of most of the New York office of Coudert Brothers. Pioneering international law firm Coudert Brothers announced last month it is disbanding its global network of offices and practices. The New York-based firm had been in merger discussions with Baker & McKenzie, another internationally minded firm, but the two failed to reach an agreement on a firmwide combination. The addition of 70 Coudert lawyers, about 25 of whom are partners, in New York meets one of the more pressing needs of Baker & McKenzie, whose presence in the city has been a modest 65 lawyers despite the firm’s status as one of the world’s largest, with more than 3,200 lawyers. Baker’s largest U.S. office is in Chicago; other U.S. locations include Dallas, Washington and San Francisco. Man who shot intruder won’t get insurer defense A man who killed an intruder in his home in self-defense is not entitled to insurance defense in a wrongful death action, a divided New York intermediate-level appellate panel ruled last week in a case of first impression. The split by New York’s Appellate Division, 3d Department, in Automobile Co. of Hartford v. Cook, No. 97160, illustrates a debate that has divided courts across the country. Holocaust allocation formula is approved An Eastern District of New York judge’s allocation of settlement funds to the most needy, elderly victims in the Holocaust Victims Assets litigation has been upheld by a federal appeals court [See Page 24.]. In a decision written by Judge Jose Cabranes, the 2d U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the formula used by U.S. District Judge Edward Korman that placed special emphasis on compensating Holocaust victims who live in the former Soviet Union. The principal issues in the appeals were settled by the circuit in In re Holocaust Victim Assets Litigation, nos. 04-1898-cv and 04-1899-cv. The appeals had challenged Korman’s geography-based allocation of a $1.25 billion settlement with Swiss banks and other organizations designed to aid victims of the Holocaust. Gang colors key in justifying police action In a case of apparent first impression, a New York state judge has ruled that a suspect’s wearing a color associated with street gangs may be considered a factor in determining whether a policeman’s actions were justified. The issue arose in a motion to suppress the introduction of a pistol in the trial of Tyheem S., a 14-year-old charged with weapons possession. “Although there was no indication that [Tyheem and his companions] were then engaged in criminal activity, given the time of night, the fact that three of the four people were wearing clothing of a color associated with membership in a notorious street gang . . . there was an objective and credible reason for the officers to approach these four individuals to request information,” Queens County Family Court Judge John M. Hunt ruled in Matter of Tyheem S., No. D-10485/05. Warrantless searches need probable cause Even if a defendant agrees to warrant-less searches in exchange for pretrial release, police still can’t search him without probable cause, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled. In a victory for the privacy rights of defendants awaiting trial while on their own recognizance, a 2-1 majority threw out evidence that Nevada authorities had received by testing Raymond Scott for drugs without probable cause. True, Scott had consented to random drug testing “by any peace officer without a warrant.” But because the government did not have probable cause-and could not show a “special need” to lower the bar-the drug test violated Scott’s Fourth Amendment rights, Judge Alex Kozinski wrote for the majority. The panel said their opinion is one of first impression among all the federal circuit courts, and the dissenting judge, Jay Bybee, predicted a widespread impact on federal and state pretrial proceedings. U.S. v. Scott, No. 05 C.D.O.S. 8214.

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