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Judges reject Yahoo’s free speech argument Yahoo! Inc.’s attempt to argue the First Amendment against a court order in France was thwarted by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last week on procedural grounds. A French court had threatened the Internet portal with financial penalties unless it took measures to stop people in France from using Yahoo to view auction listings for Nazi artifacts. Yahoo’s French subsidiary Web site has basically cut off such access, but Yahoo’s U.S. site can still be viewed by Internet users in France. The Silicon Valley parent company has argued that restricting the objectionable content from French viewers who go to its U.S. site would be technically difficult and overly restrictive. It was a close call for E. Randol Schoenberg, a lawyer for the French groups, who persuaded the 9th Circuit to throw out the case, with two arguments that combined for success. At the en banc hearing, he persuaded only three of the 11 judges to agree with his jurisdiction argument, which he had seen as the focus of the case. But three other judges backed his argument that the case wasn’t ripe enough to be ruled on. Taken together, the six votes were enough to reverse an earlier decision by U.S. District Judge Jeremy Fogel of the Northern District of California in the closely watched case. Yahoo v. La Ligue Contre Le Racisme et L’Antisemitisme, No. 06 C.D.O.S. 360. New California budget would add 150 judges California’s courthouses could welcome the first of 150 long-awaited new judgeships in spring 2007 under the $98 billion budget unveiled by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger last week. Court executives and the governor’s budget writers say that the 2007-08 budget will include money for 50 new judges, plus enough to start hiring 50 more in spring 2008. The governor would appoint the final group of 50 judges to the bench in 2009. Lawmakers have unsuccessfully pushed a number of bills in recent years to add jurists, but court officials say they are optimistic that 2007 is the year the plans will become a reality. “From the perspective of the Judicial Council, we are very pleased with the recommendations put forward,” said William Vickery, California administrative director of the courts. L.A. firms hike associate salaries to match Gibson Two of the largest firms in Los Angeles, O’Melveny & Myers and Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker, are lifting associate salaries to match Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, raising first-year base pay to $135,000. “We’re committed to paying top-tier compensation in all of our markets,” said Greg Nitzkowski, Paul Hastings’ managing partner. “It’s clear that the market is moving up.” At those firms, other years saw a hike of $5,000: Fourth-year salaries are now $170,000, and seventh-year salaries are now $210,000. O’Melveny’s salary structure applies to all U.S.-based lawyers, while Paul Hastings’ hike will affect lawyers in California and Washington. Paul Hastings is waiting to see what New York firms do before taking action there, Nitzkowski said. Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom has been paying $140,000 to first-years, including those in California. N.Y. bar task force to address privilege waiver A recent trend in which state and federal prosecutors require as part of a plea bargain that corporate defendants waive the attorney-client privilege is raising concern among leaders of the New York State Bar Association. The state bar’s president, A. Vincent Buzard of Harris Beach in Rochester, N.Y., said he is concerned not only with the inherent “threat to the attorney-client privilege,” but also with the fact that many lawyers are apparently unaware of the trend. Buzard recently appointed a task force, headed by Stephen D. Hoffman of Siller Wilk in New York City, to consider the implications of the practice and to make recommendations. Buzard also announced a special presidential summit to address the issue at the state bar’s annual meeting later this month.

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