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In California there is just no end of ways to make a killing in real estate. Take Aurora Lepe of Los Angeles. Someone stole her identity and used it to buy a house, but never paid the mortgage. Lepe, 61, found out in 2004, when she applied for a loan for her own first-home purchase, only to discover that as far as the bank was concerned she already had one. By that time the thief was long gone. Lenders foreclosed on the house. When the dust settled, the foreclosure auction brought in far more than the bank was owed and, after expenses, a $51,000 excess remained. Lepe argued that she was entitled to the money because her credit had collapsed and her life was thrown into turmoil by the thief’s wrongdoing. Justice Richard Mosk of the California 2d District Court of Appeal agreed. “Although one might argue she is gaining a windfall, a victim is entitled to trace stolen assets into other assets and obtain the final product even though it may exceed the value of that which was stolen,” Mosk wrote. With thieves like that, to paraphrase Henny Youngman, you can take our identity-please. Law of karma Jesse Helms is gone, but his legacy lives on in so many ways. Its most recent manifestation can be seen in the squabbling over the vacancy left on the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals by Judge Michael Luttig’s resignation to join The Boeing Co. North Carolina’s U.S. senators, Elizabeth Dole and Richard Burr, sent the White House a letter recently complaining about their state’s single seat on the court, a situation they called “tremendously unfair to the residents of our great state.” The irony, notes University of North Carolina School of Law Professor Michael Gerhardt, is that the paucity of North Carolina judges is due in part to their fellow Republican, the now-retired Senator Helms, who spent the entire Clinton presidency using Senate rules to block every North Carolina nominee. Among the many Clinton choices he denied a Judiciary Committee vote were two black judges, James A. Wynn Jr. of the North Carolina Court of Appeals and former North Carolina U.S. District Judge James Beaty Jr. “You have to go back to 1980 to find the last Democratic appointee to the circuit from North Carolina,” Gerhardt said. “What cracks me up about the Luttig seat, about Dole and Burr saying they need more representation, is that their predecessor, Helms, was holding so many nominations up,” said Leslie Proll, the director of the Washington office of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. -Legal Times Car trouble What worked for Elvis Presley and Carl Perkins has landed Connecticut attorney Kevin C. McDonough in the Statewide Grievance Committee’s doghouse. Perkins and Presley, who wrote and recorded Blue Suede Shoes, were known for the Cadillacs they owned by virtue of their musical success. But when McDonough, a car enthusiast, accepted a 1970 Cadillac ragtop as partial payment for legal services rendered, he had a grievance filed against him by the man who gave it to him, former attorney Donald Hall, for not providing a properly written fee agreement. Also included as payment was $1,000 worth of Stop & Shop supermarket gift certificates, which had expired. The grievance committee recently issued McDonough a reprimand in the matter. “I didn’t even want the [gift certificates],” McDonough said in an interview. “I just mailed them back to [Hall]. I gladly would’ve given the Cadillac back, too.”- Connecticut Law Tribune

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