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Reforms planned for N.Y. local justice system With growing concern over the future viability of New York’s time-honored, but often maligned, local justice system, Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye and Chief Administrative Judge Jonathan Lippman last week announced a sweeping series of reforms designed to bring out the best elements of the current framework and weed out the worst with a strategy relying primarily on court system initiatives. The plan, among other things, would require two weeks, rather than one, of in-residence education for nonlawyer justices, plus a five-week home curricula, and would require local justices to report their compliance with rules and laws governing assignment of indigent counsel. Most of the reforms can be achieved by the judiciary without the need for legislative consensus. Kaye said she will ask for an additional $10 million in a judiciary spending proposal she will submit this week to the governor and Legislature. Paul Hastings opens a Chicago outpost Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker has opened a Chicago office with four attorneys, including two ex-Jones Day lawyers, Steve Catlett and Rick Chesley, who join the firm as partners. Chicago’s status as a manufacturing center and home to many Fortune 500 companies made it a hub that Paul Hastings could no longer ignore, according to Chesley, who will be the office chairman. Scheck, firm agree to pay $900K to settle suit Barry C. Scheck, co-founder of the Innocence Project, and his firm, Cochran, Neufeld & Scheck, have agreed to pay $900,000 to settle a malpractice claim by a man wrongfully convicted of rape. The settlement ended acrimonious litigation that began in June 2005. Scheck’s former client, Lee Long, 46, alleged that Scheck missed a deadline in a lawsuit against the state seeking damages for wrongful conviction. Long’s malpractice claim sought $3 million in compensatory and punitive damages, plus treble damages and attorney fees. Earlier this year, the New York Court of Appeals, the state high court, ruled that Scheck filed the complaint on time, but dismissed it because Long, now a resident of Alabama, did not personally verify the complaint. Instead, Scheck verified it on Long’s behalf. Suit against Philadelphia Archdiocese tossed out The Archdiocese of Philadelphia may not be sued under RICO for its alleged cover-up of sexual abuse by priests because the alleged victims cannot show they suffered RICO-style injury that was caused by the cover-up, a federal judge has ruled. In Magnum v. Archdiocese of Philadelphia, U.S. District Judge Legrome D. Davis found that the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act claims suffered from several flaws. Davis said the plaintiffs failed to allege any conduct that qualified as “racketeering activity,” and that the plaintiffs “alleged emotional distress, loss of earnings and decreased earnings capacity are personal injuries insufficient to confer RICO standing.” U.C. system names a new general counsel The 10-campus University of California system has hired Charles Robinson as its new general counsel. Robinson, 49, formerly general counsel and corporate secretary for the California Independent System Operator, will oversee the system’s diverse array of legal affairs. “They’re certainly a giant employer of outside counsel,” said Fenwick & West partner Lynn Pasahow, who has done IP work for U.C. for about a decade. The system is a major landlord and also has “all of the legal issues that are involved in running the huge facilities that campuses are, and in addition they have the legal issues of being part of the state government,” Pasahow added. Robinson replaces James Holst, who retired in June. Robinson, who will start on Jan. 1, will oversee 40 attorneys and 45 administrative staff at U.C. headquarters in Oakland, as well as 17 other U.C. attorneys at campuses across the state. Higher bar exam pass rate may hurt minorities Increases in the passing score for the New York bar exam would have a blunt and disparate impact on minorities, a new study indicates. A report commissioned by the state Board of Law Examiners to predict the effect of increasing the minimal passing grade on the bar exam reveals that while incremental increases would have a relatively minor effect on white test takers, significant percentages of blacks, Hispanics, Puerto Ricans and Asians would fail the test under higher standards. The report indicates that among domestically-educated first-time takers, if the passing grade is increased to 675, as proposed, half of black candidates sitting for the bar exam would fail.

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