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SEC won’t let small businesses off on SOX If he hadn’t made it clear already, Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Christopher Cox last week said emphatically that the most controversial provisions of the 2002 Sarbanes-Oxley Act mandating strict corporate disclosure remain a good idea and exemptions for small companies won’t be coming. Instead, a few adjustments to the SEC’s rules will allow the law to be implemented successfully, he said, especially for the small companies that appear most burdened by the heavy costs of hiring outside auditors to verify compliance. Securities and accounting regulators said at a conference held at SEC headquarters in Washington on May 10 that they are open to suggestions about how to change the provision of the post-Enron law, Section 404, that requires companies to prove they have systems in place to prevent accounting mistakes. The Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, a private-sector oversight body created by Sarbanes-Oxley, and SEC hope to issue public statements in the next few weeks after they have evaluated the information from the roundtable, recommendations from a separate SEC advisory board on smaller public companies, and a new report from the Government Accountability Office, Cox said. Kavanaugh moves out of Judiciary Committee President Bush’s nomination of White House aide Brett Kavanaugh to a federal appeals court judgeship moved a step closer to confirmation last week even as Democrats raised objections to two other judicial picks. After Democrats cleared the way, the Judiciary Committee approved Kavanaugh in a 10-8, party-line vote, and the Democrats moved on to questions about the other nominees’ conflicts and qualifications. Kavanaugh, a candidate for the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for District of Columbia, has been a lightning rod for Senate Democrats since he was first nominated in 2003, derided as too young, too inexperienced and too partisan. Philly’s Cozen moves to Florida for first time Philadelphia-based Cozen O’Connor is opening an office in Miami, its first in Florida. The new office will be led by managing partner Rick Dunn. Joining him will be partners Sherrill Colombo and Christopher Brown. The three lawyers, all commercial litigators, previously were partners in Kansas City, Mo.-based Shook, Hardy & Bacon’s Miami office. Cozen O’Connor has 515 attorneys in 23 offices in the United States, Toronto and London. Its U.S. locations include Atlanta; Charlotte, N.C.; Chicago; Dallas; and New York. 2d Circuit tees off on immigration appeals A frustrated 2d U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is demanding that immigration appeals panels specifically define which particular groups may be considered for asylum based on their persecution in foreign lands. The 2d Circuit complained that the Board of Immigration Appeals too frequently grants summary affirmances of asylum-request denials without defining whether a group to which an applicant belongs merits the special status. The 2d Circuit said it wanted the board “to recognize and define social groups with particularity and to reject proposed groups (on an active and ongoing basis in the first instance) in order to avoid the ping-pong effect of summary affirmance followed by a remand-a pattern that serves no one and squanders judicial resources.” The circuit’s directive came in a curious context. In Ucelo-Gomez v. Gonzales, No. 04-4184-ag, an immigration judge denied the application of a Guatemalan couple who said their status as an affluent couple subjected them to persecution by gangs targeting the rich as part of a class war. Antitrust lawyers speak out against oil legislation Adding more fuel to the debate over oil costs, antitrust lawyers are warning Capitol Hill that pending legislation aimed at combating price hikes could backfire and might even harm the consumers the bill purports to protect. The Oil and Gas Industry Antitrust Act of 2006, authored by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pa., aims measures at the petroleum industry, including amending antitrust law by making some supply actions illegal. The American Bar Association’s Antitrust Section wrote a 10-page letter dissecting the bill. The letter, signed by section leader Don Klawiter, a partner at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, said, “[T]he bill is unnecessary because the current federal antitrust laws already bar illegal collusive, monopolistic, and anticompetitive conduct by individuals and business entities, including those in the oil and gas industry,” and “may actually negatively impact consumer markets.”

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