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FTC files charges against cellphone record sellers The federal trade Commission has filed criminal charges against five Web-based companies that allegedly sold private cellphone records over the Internet. The charges, filed on May 3, follow a months-long investigation by the FTC, which had monitored more than two dozen companies that advertised on the Internet that they could obtain and sell confidential phone records. [NLJ, Feb. 6]. The FTC is seeking a permanent halt to the sale of the phone records, and has asked the courts to order the operators to surrender the money made from the sales. The defendants include 77 Investigations Inc., based in Upland, Calif; AccuSearch Inc., doing business as Abika.com, based in Cheyenne, Wyo.; and CEO Group Inc. doing business as Check Em Out, based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Cornell professor to head Case Western Cornell Law School Professor Gary Simson will become the new dean at Case Western Reserve University School of Law in Cleveland. Simson, who also served as associate dean for academic affairs and associate dean for faculty development at Cornell, has taught courses on constitutional law and conflicts of law. He graduated from Yale Law School, where he was editor of the Yale Law Journal. Simson replaces Gerald Korngold, who will step down on June 30. Pelicano tensions may have led to Miller’s exit Founding partner Louis “Skip” Miller is leaving Christensen, Miller, Fink, Jacobs, Glaser, Weill & Shapiro. Several sources said that he will join Boston firm Goodwin Procter’s new Los Angeles office. Miller, 59, said last week that he hasn’t yet decided where he’ll go, and added that he had no comment as to why he’s leaving. A source close to Miller cited as a motivator tensions stemming from the firm’s dealings with celebrity private investigator Anthony Pellicano, but a firm spokeswoman called that “hogwash.” “It’s a situation that’s a culmination of events involving Skip over a number of years,” said partner Patricia Glaser. Later in the day, she issued a press release that sought to counter the Pellicano speculation by saying that the firm had stripped Miller of his title as co-chairman of the litigation group back in November. D.C. Circuit nominee to get a new hearing Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter last week granted Democrats a hearing to question White House aide and D.C. Circuit Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh on his role in the administration’s secret wiretapping program, its torture policy and any relationship with convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff. The move put off, for now, a repeat of last year’s parliamentary showdown over President Bush’s judicial nominees. Democrats lauded the decision. “It’s the least that can be done for the nominee to the second-highest court in the land and a controversial nominee,” said Senator Charles Schumer, D-N.Y. “There are a lot of things that have happened since the last hearing, in the administration of which he is a part.” Akerman in merger talks with Virginia law firm After just two years in the Washington market, Orlando, Fla.-based Akerman Senterfitt is trying to expand its presence. The firm has been in merger talks with Northern Virginia-based Wickwire Gavin for more than two months. “The boards met and have decided to see if the numbers work,” said Richard Spees, managing partner of Akerman’s Washington office. “This could take months, but there certainly has been [interest] from both firms.” Based in Tysons Corner, Va., 45-lawyer Wickwire specializes in construction and government contracts. With more than 400 lawyers in 10 offices, primarily in Florida, Akerman has been aggressively trying to grow along the Eastern seaboard. Ginsburg finds judicial watchdog ‘scary’ idea U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said last week that a Republican proposal in Congress to set up a watchdog over the federal courts is a “really scary idea.” Ginsburg told a gathering of the American Bar Association that lawyers should stick up for judges when they are criticized by congressional leaders. “My sense now is that the judiciary is under assault in a way that I haven’t seen before,” she said. As an example, she mentioned proposals by senior Republicans who want an inspector general to police judges’ acceptance of free trips or their possible financial interests with groups that could appear before them. “It sounds to me very much like the Soviet Union was . . . .That’s a really scary idea,” Ginsburg said.

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