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SECOND CIRCUIT GIVES DEFENDANTS NEW TRIAL NEW YORK � A drug robbery executed by defendants who flashed a badge indicating they were police officers does not constitute “force” within the meaning of the Hobbs Act, the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals has ruled. Ordering that a judgment of acquittal be entered for one defendant who had been convicted in the Southern District of New York, the circuit said the impersonation of a Drug Enforcement Administration agent does not meet the standard for a robbery in interstate commerce under the act, which requires that the plan involve the “actual or threatened use of force, or violence or fear of injury.” The Second Circuit, in United States v. Rodriguez, 03-1639, written by Judge Rosemary Pooler, also ordered a retrial for two defendants because the statement of a co-conspirator was admitted against them at trial in violation of the Confrontation Clause as outlined by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2004′s Crawford v. Washington, 541 U.S. 36. “We conclude that the government has failed to establish, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the error complained of � the erroneous admission of K. Rodriguez’s statement against his co-defendants � did not contribute to the jury’s determination that a conspiracy to take property through ‘actual or threatened force, or violence or fear of injury’ existed,” Judge Pooler said. Judges Guido Calabresi and Barrington Parker joined her on the panel. &# 151 New York Law Journal N.J. LAWYER ADMITS STEALING FROM PARTNERS NEWARK, N.J. � In a rare case of thievery at a large New Jersey firm, tobacco litigation pioneer Alan Darnell admitted that he misappropriated money from his partners and clients at Woodbridge’s Wilentz, Goldman & Spitzer and has volunteered for disbarment. Darnell, 59, said in an affidavit made public last week that he had come under investigation by the Office of Attorney Ethics for improperly charging personal expenses to his firm, the equivalent of knowing misappropriation of client and law firm funds. “I acknowledge that these allegations are true, and if I went to a hearing on this matter, I could not successfully defend myself against these charges,” he added in the July 27 affidavit. Mental illness was a factor, Darnell suggested in the affidavit. He said he was suffering from bipolar disorder, which led him to obtain disability inactive status in January. The illness did not interfere with his ability to understand that by accepting voluntary disbarment he can never seek reinstatement, the affidavit said. By bowing out of the profession before the investigation was complete, Darnell saved himself and Wilentz, Goldman from a public airing of the details of what money he took, who he took it from and what he did with it. &# 151 New Jersey Law Journal

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