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Texas juror took loans from Vioxx plaintiff Attorneys for Merck & Co. want to see bank and cellphone records that could show the extent of a juror’s financial relationship with a plaintiff who won a $32 million verdict against the drug company in the death of a 71-year-old man who took Vioxx. Jose Manuel Rios, a $22,000-a-year school janitor who served on the panel that found Merck liable for Leonel Garza’s fatal heart attack after taking the painkiller Vioxx, testified in a post-trial deposition to having borrowed up to $10,000 interest-free from Garza’s widow, Felicia, the plaintiff in the lawsuit against Merck. He said the loans included $2,500 that was paid off just weeks before he was selected as a juror in the case. In another Vioxx case last week, U.S. District Judge Eldon E. Fallon of New Orleans threw out a $50 million compensatory damage award against Merck, saying it was “grossly excessive,” and ordered a new trial. Barnes & Noble gets an options subpoena Bookstore chain Barnes & Noble Inc. said that it has received a subpoena regarding its stock option practices from the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York. In a regulatory filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the company said that it received the subpoena on Aug. 25 and that it intends to cooperate fully in its response. 2d Circuit rejects N.Y.’s judicial conventions This year should be the last that political parties in New York can use the state’s arcane convention system to nominate candidates for Supreme Court, the 2d U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last week. The unanimous ruling in L�pez Torres v. New York State Board of Elections, No. 06-0635, written by Judge Chester J. Straub, upheld on all counts a January ruling by Judge John Gleeson of the Eastern District of New York that the system violates the First Amendment rights of voters and candidates alike. The ruling agreed with Gleeson’s analysis that the convention system is a top-down apparatus totally controlled by party leaders, which tramples the associational rights of candidates lacking leadership support to run for Supreme Court. Brocade execs plead not guilty in options case The first two executives ensnared in the nation’s stock options scandal pleaded not guilty last week to charges of making false statements to securities regulators, falsifying records and other charges. Gregory Reyes, former chief executive of Brocade Communications Systems Inc. and Stephanie Jensen, Brocade’s former vice president of human resources, were originally charged with one count each of alleged securities fraud. Authorities allege that the backdating of stock options was, in part, cause for the company to restate financial results for fiscal years 1999 through 2004, shaving 20 cents off previously reported earnings per share figures. Texas lawyers can use online legal match service Texas lawyers can pay a fee to participate in an online service that matches subscribing lawyers with potential clients, as long as the service exercises no discretion in those matchups, the Professional Ethics Committee of the State Bar of Texas has determined. The opinion revisits an issue that the committee considered a year ago. The committee concluded in 2005 that participating in such a service would violate the anti-solicitation provisions of Texas’ Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct. But Peter Kennedy, attorney for San Francisco-based LegalMatch Inc., which asked the committee in December 2005 to take another look at the issue, said committee members did not do an about-face. “They distinguished their earlier opinion on a key fact, that the service doesn’t use discretion in forwarding information to attorneys,” Kennedy said.

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