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Testimony that the defendant thinks Osama bin Laden is not bad, just misunderstood, and once even supped with him was a bit much for a New Jersey appellate court. A panel of the state Superior Court’s Appellate Division threw out a a $62,000 sexual harassment verdict against storekeeper Bader Suleiman. The panel said the evidence was, you know, like prejudicial. “It is highly unlikely that jurors would look favorably upon an individual who purportedly had dinner with Osama bin Laden, and who thinks Osama bin Laden is a ‘good man’ who is being unfairly judged,” the panel said. The female former employee who sued Suleiman claimed that he bragged about his dinner with bin Laden, but nobody has suggested that the store owner has any real link to the al-Queda chief. “I’m sure if he knew Osama bin Laden, the FBI would have been all over him,” said defense counsel Aslan Soobzoko. Suleiman, a Muslim of Palestinian origin, came to the United States 25 years ago “and is as American as you or I,” the defender said. -NEW JERSEY LAW JOURNAL He’s honored New York’s Epstein Becker & Green might be forgiven for putting on airs. The firm counts not one, but two knights among its partnership. Actually, le mot juste would be “chevaliers.” The honor in question is induction into France’s Ordre National du M�rite-in English, the National Order of Merit. Immigration partner Pierre Georges Bonnefil was so honored recently by the French consul general in New York. Managing partner George Sape received the honor several years ago. “He pinned me with a medal-a nice medal,” Bonnefil said. “The medal is not supposed to be worn every day. They give you a blue lapel ribbon. They want you to wear it. It’s very understated, but for those who know, its pretty powerful.” French President Charles de Gaulle founded the order in 1963 to honor outstanding achievement in military or civilian life. Bonnefil, born in Haiti but now a U.S. citizen, was recognized for the legal work he has donated through the consulate to French nationals with immigration or business problems. Some of the work sounds glamorous-Bonnefil said he’d been summoned on occasion to rescue stranded celebrities. He was too discreet-dare we say chivalrous?-to name names.- STAFF REPORTS Certified harmless Some might say Dan Tilli’s letters to the editor threaten conservative values. But the U.S. Secret Service briefly worried that the 81-year-old man’s words threatened President Bush. A letter published in of the Express-Times of Easton, Pa., earned him a visit from a pair of Secret Service agents. The letter referenced the execution of Saddam Hussein and ended with the line, “I still believe they hanged the wrong man.” The government apparently saw that as a potential threat toward the president. “I didn’t say who-I could’ve meant bin Laden,” Tilli said later, adding that the statement wasn’t a threat. The agents interviewed Tilli for about an hour and viewed his scrapbook containing more than 200 letters he’s written over the years before concluding he was harmless. Tilli had been through this before. Two FBI agents showed up at his home last year under similar circumstances, he said. They were apparently worried about a letter he wrote advocating a civil war to unseat Bush. “It was a little surprising on this one because I didn’t think the letter was that bad,” Tilli said.- ASSOCIATED PRESS

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