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An assailed State Farm asks for change of venue State Farm Fire & Casualty Co. of Bloomington, Ill., claims that it cannot get a fair trial in Katrina-ravaged southern Mississippi, where it has been savaged by plaintiffs’ lawyers and politicians, including Representative Gene Taylor, D-Miss., who publicly stated he held child molesters and insurance executives “in the same, very low, esteem.” State Farm has asked U.S. District Senior Judge L.T. Senter Jr. to order a venue change to the state’s northern federal district in Broussard v. State Farm, No. 06-cv-06 (S.D. Miss.). In a report attached to the motion, State Farm claims that though biases exist throughout the state, its best chance of getting an unbiased jury lies in the least Katrina-stricken northern district, western division. Judicial candidates in Ky. may solicit contributions Judicial candidates in Kentucky can tell voters which political party they belong to and can even personally solicit contributions from attorneys who might later argue cases before them, a federal judge ruled last week. However, U.S. District Judge Karen Caldwell said judicial candidates in the state can’t promise how they will rule on particular issues, including controversial topics such as abortion or public postings of the Ten Commandments. Lieff Cabraser name partner starts new firm After more than 30 years as a name partner at Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, Robert Lieff is stepping down and starting a new aviation firm: Lieff Global, which is slated to take off with about five lawyers on Jan. 1, 2007. The new entity will focus primarily on international aviation cases. But Lieff won’t be going far: He will remain of counsel to the firm he helped found, which will continue to work closely with him on existing cases and offer litigation support for new work. Lieff Cabraser will keep the same name, and the departing partner will continue to practice out of the firm’s San Francisco offices. Lieff Global will become lead litigation counsel to those Lieff Cabraser aviation clients the partners already share, Lieff Cabraser managing partner Steven Fineman said. The bigger firm will have the choice of co-counseling future Lieff Global clients, Fineman said. Weil Gotshal retirement policy leads to an exit One of Weil, Gotshal & Manges’ most senior partners has joined Dewey Ballantine. A. Paul Victor, a 38-year veteran at New York’s Weil Gotshal and a prominent figure in the antitrust bar, will become a litigation partner at Dewey. Victor is particularly noted for his work defending international corporations accused of acting as cartels. Victor, 67, said last week that his departure from Weil Gotshal was due to that firm’s strict policy of mandatory retirement for partners at age 68. “I wasn’t ready for that,” he said. “I’m having too much fun doing what I’m doing.” He said Dewey, also based in New York, had no similar policy and he will remain a partner there for the foreseeable future. Complaints against N.Y. judges rise-again Complaints against new York judges increased for the sixth straight year in 2005 as the Commission on Judicial Conduct received a record number of gripes and commenced a record-breaking 260 formal investigations, according to an annual report released last week. The report shows that the watchdog agency rendered 30 disciplinary determinations and public sanctions last year, its highest total since a ticket-fixing scandal in 1981. It voted to remove four judges, to publicly censure 15 and to admonish five. Additionally, it investigated and privately cautioned two appellate judges whose identities were not revealed in the report. The commission has never publicly disciplined an appellate judge. All told, the commission received a total of 1,565 complaints, the most ever, resulting in 260 probes. But commission administrator and counsel Robert H. Tembeckjian said he is reluctant to “read too much into any single year’s numbers.” Tembeckjian suspects the spike in complaints may be attributable to more people being aware of the commission and its work than any decline in judicial ethics.

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