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Libby indicted in leak case; Rove still in probe Vice Presidential Adviser I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby Jr. was indicted on Oct. 28 on charges of obstruction of justice, making a false statement and perjury in the CIA leak case. Karl Rove, President Bush’s closest adviser, escaped indictment but remains under investigation. The indictments stem from a two-year investigation by special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald into whether Rove, Libby or any other administration officials knowingly revealed the identity of undercover CIA agent Valerie Plame or lied about their involvement to investigators. The five-count indictment accuses Libby of lying about how and when he learned about Plame’s identity in 2003 and then told reporters about it. Merger creates IP giant with 160 attorneys Two intellectual property firms, Merchant & Gould and Welsh & Katz, have agreed to merge, forming a 160-attorney IP firm with six offices. The merger creates one of the largest firms focusing exclusively on IP work. Merchant & Gould, with 110 attorneys, has locations in Atlanta, Denver, Minneapolis, Seattle and Washington. Chicago-based Welsh & Katz has 50 attorneys. The merger, which will create Merchant Gould Welsh & Katz, becomes effective on Jan. 1, 2006. Vioxx litigation lawyers form legal ‘dream team’ Mark Lanier and other marquee plaintiffs’ lawyers in the massive litigation over withdrawn painkiller Vioxx are banding together a legal “dream team” that will push all future suits into state courts, which are considered less friendly to defendant Merck & Co. Lanier, founder of Houston’s Lanier Law Firm, and colleagues have put together a team involving at least 10 law firms and 350 lawyers around the country, Lanier told The Associated Press last week. The effort is also aimed at forcing Merck to start settling cases instead of fighting each in court. Lanier said the lawyers’ group already has about 20,000 potential lawsuits in its inventory, and only about 10% of those have been filed in courts so far. Kenneth Frazier, Merck’s general counsel, said the company was sure its strategy of fighting every lawsuit remains correct. Judges should oversee courthouse access Judges should oversee security precautions at courthouses that might limit access to public proceedings, the 2d U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has cautioned. While the circuit easily disposed of a challenge by a defendant who claimed that security screening at a Western District of New York building could have violated his right to a public trial, the circuit said judges should coordinate with the U.S. Marshals Service to ensure the right of public access is not compromised. The decision was written by Judge Barrington D. Parker and joined by judges Ralph Winter and Sonia Sotomayor. In U.S. v. Smith, No. 03-1588, Wendell Smith claimed that his First and Sixth amendments public trial rights in a proceeding were violated by a requirement that all visitors to a federal building containing courtrooms were required to show photo identification. ABA backs state power to review mergers Companies hoping to reduce the extra cost and delay of state merger reviews won’t get any help from the American Bar Association, which recently refused to recommend any decrease in state regulators’ authority to review deals. Merging companies must obtain approval from federal antitrust regulators, but individual states may exert authority over deals that affect their residents as well. The added layer of reviews often causes delay and some additional costs, the ABA acknowledged in comments submitted to the Antitrust Modernization Commission, but the nation’s primary trade association for lawyers stopped short of condemning the overlap. The Antitrust Modernization Commission is charged with examining whether there is a need to modernize the antitrust laws as well as with identifying specific areas ripe for change. The panel’s report to Congress is due in July 2007.

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