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JUDGE ADMONISHED FOR FINING LAWYER SACRAMENTO � The Commission on Judicial Performance publicly admonished a Central Valley judge on Tuesday for improperly fining a lawyer $1,000 and suggesting his firm acted in “the direction of malpractice.” The admonishment marks the fifth time in 11 years that the commission has chastised Kings County Superior Court Judge Ronald Maciel. In the latest case, Maciel sanctioned defense attorney Eric Schweitzer for failing to show at a preliminary hearing. At the time, Schweitzer was handling a case in Fresno and another lawyer from the firm, Robert Wynne, appeared before Maciel to ask for a continuance. The judge granted the delay, but not before slapping Schweitzer with a $1,000 sanction and criticizing his law firm for sending Wynne to the hearing on short notice. Schweitzer’s fine was dropped on appeal. The commission found that Maciel should have given Schweitzer a chance to explain himself before fining him. And in its admonishment, the commission said the judge shouldn’t have accused the firm of wrongdoing. “Gratuitous remarks about malpractice made to an attorney in open court in the presence of the attorney’s client are contrary to canon 3B(4), which requires judges to be patient, dignified and courteous toward those with whom they deal in an official capacity.” Between 1995 and 2001, the commission sent Maciel three advisory letters for improperly talking to the press about a pending case, for terminating a father’s visitation rights without a hearing, and for ordering a colleague to make a recusal request in writing. In 1997 Maciel was publicly admonished for ex parte communications with a defense attorney he had appointed and was advising on how to handle the case. � Cheryl Miller WEIL, GOTSHAL TRIAL GETS UNDER WAY NEW YORK � The co-head of Weil, Gotshal & Manges’ antitrust and competition practice became the firm’s first witness Monday in a legal malpractice trial. The case, in which opening statements were also delivered Monday, stems from Weil, Gotshal’s representation of a New Jersey mall boutique in an unfair competition suit against Italian fashion house Fendi. Annette and Randi Fischer, owners of Fashion Boutique of Short Hills, which sold Fendi goods, claimed Fendi instructed its Manhattan store employees to disparage the New Jersey store’s offerings, contributing to its 1991 closing. A federal jury awarded the boutique a disappointing $110,000 in damages in 2000. After Weil Gotshal sued the Fischers in 2003 for legal fees, the former owners counterclaimed for malpractice on the grounds the firm had a conflict of interest because Prada, which acquired an interest in Fendi in 1999, also became a firm client. Weil Gotshal partner and antitrust co-chair Helene Jaffe, who led the firm’s representation of Fashion Boutique, testified Monday that she was unaware of the firm’s representation of Prada until around the time the Fendi matter was at trial and did not tell her clients about it until the second day of jury deliberations. But she denied it had any impact on her work for Fashion Boutique. Both Jaffe and litigation partner Robert Sugarman are also individually named counterclaim-defendants in the matter. On direct examination by Michael Feldberg of Allen & Overy, Jaffe also testified that Fashion Boutique only paid around $200,000 of its legal bills, which totaled $2.3 million including expenses by 1998. She said the firm did offer to waive its fees if the Fischers accepted a pretrial settlement offer from Fendi of $1.4 million but the boutique owners declined. � New York Law Journal

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