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Growth Opportunity Steve Wolens and Gary Cruciani left Dallas-based plaintiffs firm Baron & Budd to become partners in the Dallas office of litigation boutique Diamond McCarthy Taylor Finley & Lee on May 7. Allan Diamond, Diamond McCarthy’s Houston-based managing partner, says the addition of Cruciani helps beef up the firm’s commercial litigation strength and Wolens, who did a lot of plaintiffs asbestos work at Baron & Budd, is expanding his practice into the commercial area. Wolens says he and Cruciani brought clients including the city of San Antonio, which they represent in City of San Antonio, Texas v. Hotels.com L.P., et al., a class action filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas. In 1991, Cruciani was one of the partners who founded McKool Smith, but he left the firm in May 2006 to join Baron & Budd. He says he and Wolens hit it off with lawyers at Diamond McCarthy. “Diamond McCarthy is, I think, where McKool Smith was a few years back . . . a little more of an entrepreneurial type of opportunity,” Cruciani says. The departures of Wolens and Cruciani came after a number of lawyers and staff left Baron & Budd in a March restructuring. Wolens declines to discuss the circumstances of his departure other than to say, “There were changes at Baron & Budd . . . and so I made a change.” He says, “I’ve made my peace with the firm, and I’m speaking about my future at Diamond McCarthy and not my past at Baron & Budd.” Cruciani also declines to discuss Baron & Budd, but he says he was not asked to leave. Russell Budd, managing partner of Baron & Budd, says, “Steve and Gary are both excellent lawyers, and we are certain their success will continue at their new firm.” Wolens, a former state legislator who had practiced at Baron & Budd for nearly 20 years, says he and Cruciani talked to a number of Texas firms but chose Diamond McCarthy because it’s young and exciting. Wolens declines to identify the other firms. Diamond says his firm, which has 35 lawyers in offices in Dallas, Houston and Austin, is in a growth mode. Porn Plea U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel of Austin has tentatively set an Aug. 7 hearing to sentence Austin attorney Douglas Michael Stum, who recently pleaded guilty to a child pornography charge. Stum, formerly a non-equity partner in Diamond McCarthy Taylor Finley & Lee in Austin, appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert Pitman on April 25 to plead guilty to possession of material involving the sexual exploitation of a minor, a violation of 18 U.S.C. �2252(a)(4)(B). Allan Diamond of Houston, Diamond McCarthy’s managing partner, says Stum resigned from the firm earlier this spring. According to the factual basis filed in United States v. Stum, Federal Bureau of Investigation agents removed three computers found to contain more than 1,000 images of child pornography from Stum’s Austin home in June 2006. “It’s the type of offense that crosses cultural and economic boundaries,” says Matthew B. Devlin of Austin, the assistant U.S. attorney who prosecuted Stum. As part of the plea agreement, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District has agreed to dismiss a second charge in the Feb. 20 indictment against Stum for alleged possession of obscene visual representations of the sexual abuse of children. The maximum penalty Stum could face, according to the plea agreement, is 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. Austin criminal defense solo David Sheppard, Stum’s attorney, declines comment on the case. Texas Lawyer could not locate Stum for comment. Diamond says Stum did not use the firm’s computers to view child pornography and that the firm has not been involved in any way in the charges against Stum. “This is just a purely personal matter for him,” Diamond says. Tuition Trouble Claiming that he has been denied due process, a former U.S. Military Academy at West Point cadet from Dallas has sued the U.S. Department of Defense and Defense Secretary Robert Gates seeking an injunction to block the DOD from collecting the cost of his education at the military academy from him. Charles R. Chesnutt Jr., a student at Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law, filed Chesnutt v. U.S. Department of Defense, et al. on May 7 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District in Sherman. Chesnutt alleges in his complaint that West Point terminated his military career in the spring of 2001, because he could not run at the speed required of cadets. According to the complaint, the DOD made a demand in 2006 that Chesnutt repay about $114,000 in education costs the military paid for the three years he spent at West Point. As noted in the complaint, Chesnutt provided the Army with a medical record showing that an impairment in his knees prevented him from running at the requisite speed. Chesnutt alleges in the complaint that the Army conducted fact-finding proceedings in which he was not allowed to participate and determined that his failure to run fast enough was a voluntary act. “They want him to pay money, alleging that if he tried hard enough, he could have done it; that’s just not the case,” says Dallas solo Charles R. Chesnutt Sr., the former cadet’s father and his attorney in the suit. The elder Chesnutt says the suit involves a jurisdictional issue. “The primary question here is, does the military have the constitutional right to interpret and apply and make adjudication on a federal statute to collect a money judgment against a civilian,” Chesnutt Sr. says. The statute at issue is 10 U.S.C. �2005(g), which addresses how the military determines the validity of debts owed by an individual for education costs after he or she separates from the military. “This is not a voluntary separation,” the father says. DOD spokeswoman Cynthia Smith did not return a telephone call seeking comment before presstime. The suit is pending before U.S. District Judge Richard A. Schell.

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