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FIVE YEARS AGO A state appeal court upheld a ruling vacating $88.5 million in attorneys fees in a class action over automobile smog-impact fees, saying the award was an unconstitutional gift of public funds. The ruling by Sacramento’s Third District Court of Appeal ordered a new arbitration at which the award, if any, could not exceed about $25 million. Justice Richard Sims III criticized the attorneys in the case, led by Milberg Weiss Bershad Hynes & Lerach, for living in an “unreal world of greed.” He also ripped the state for breaching an arbitration agreement as soon as “the political stuff hit the fan.” James “Jim” Rogers, known from his TV commercials as “the people’s lawyer,” asked an Alameda County judge to reconsider a $300,000 damage award to an ex-client. On June 17, an Alameda County Superior Court judge had ruled that the Oakland lawyer and Richmond city councilman had told client Todd Wilson to lie under oath and pressured him to accept a bad settlement. San Francisco Deputy City Attorney Jennifer Small died after a three-year battle with cancer. She was 45. Friends said Mayor Willie Brown often referred to her as “my lawyer.” Small had joined the city attorney’s office in 1996 after working for 10 years at Morrison & Foerster, where her clients had included Irish fugitive Kevin Artt. Faced with a $365,000 settlement in a sex harassment case, attorneys for the San Francisco Housing Authority stalled, delayed and lied during the discovery process, according to the First District Court of Appeal. Consequently, the agency was on the hook for more than $1.6 million in damages. The ruling by Justice Timothy Reardon was especially harsh on Housing Authority General Counsel Carl Williams and Assistant General Counsel Phillip Matsumoto. The Housing Authority’s attorney on appeal, Evelio Grillo, called the ruling “harsh” and “a disappointment,” but not a complete surprise. “We knew that in spite of the fact that there had been an instruction to comply with the court order, that a court order had not been complied with,” Grillo said. “Typically, courts don’t like to see their orders not complied with.” 10 YEARS AGO At Home Corp.’s initial public offering had Bay Area corporate securities attorneys reminiscing about the early days of the Internet. A high-speed access provider with $1.8 million in revenues during the first half of the year, At Home raised $94.5 million at $10.50 a share. The stock closed its first day of trading at $17 � creating a market valuation of $1.09 billion. Fenwick & West partner Laird Simons III headed the deal for At Home. Despite the success, analysts cautioned that Internet offerings were likely to be modest compared with the middle part of the decade. “There was a time in ’96 when the word ‘Internet’ was associated with a pot of gold,” said Manish Shah, publisher of IPO Maven. “I think much of the luster is gone from that association now.” Littler Mendelson added Kevin Hunsaker as an associate in its Menlo Park office. Hunsaker, 32, had previously been an associate at Ropers, Majeski, Kohn & Bentley in Redwood City. He was a 1994 graduate of Golden Gate University School of Law. Two highly profitable San Francisco law firms could receive hundreds of thousands of dollars apiece in state funds to train associates and other employees in the use of new computer software, The Recorder reported. Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe was awarded a $442,715 grant in May to train attorneys and support personnel on an upgraded version of the Microsoft Office suite of applications. Cooley Godward was applying for a similar grant. Heller Ehrman White & McAuliffe had received a $433,000 grant in 1995. The firms’ applications appeared to meet state criteria, but doling out such sums to train highly educated lawyers was raising eyebrows. The program had been created in 1982 to retrain skilled California workers, usually in the manufacturing sector. Following a year marked by infighting and battles with the Legislature, the State Bar Board of Governors elected San Diego solo practitioner Marc Adelman as its new president. Adelman prevailed on the first ballot after nonlawyer candidate Peter Kaye virtually withdrew his bid. The campaigning had been rancorous, with Kaye verbally lashing his colleagues for what he called their “stupid and arrogant” handling of controversial issues. 15 YEARS AGO A San Francisco federal judge again dismissed Pillsbury, Madison & Sutro’s sweeping racketeering suit over the rent it pays for a downtown office building. U.S. District Judge Charles Legge, who had expressed doubt in the past about Pillsbury’s use of RICO in the case, rejected the suit because it ran afoul of a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision. Pillsbury had first filed suit last year, claiming that its rent for subleasing space in the Adam Grant Building jumped dramatically as a result of a sham transaction that inflated the property’s worth. State Sen. Dan McCorquodale was offering judges a deal: If they supported his two-tiered retirement system, he would work to get the Legislature to rescind its action requiring judges to fund more of their retirement benefit. California Judges Association President Michael Ullman said the two issues shouldn’t be connected. “Thanks, but no thanks,” said Ullman. “Any inference that judges are going to sell out future judges for 3 percent is wrong.” Robert Reichman, hired by the California Supreme Court in March to find lawyers willing to represent the growing number of death row prisoners, sounded like a Marine recruiter as he pitched a dozen appellate practitioners at a Market Street restaurant in San Francisco: The work is hard. The hours are long. Only the most committed and qualified need apply. But, Reichman maintained, the money was good. Billings for a single case at $75 an hour could exceed $100,000. Reichman’s search came at a time when the number of killers sentenced to death continued to swell. Death row housed nearly 340 inmates, including 86 prisoners who did not have lawyers. For Reichman, the new job was a welcome challenge. “There’s nowhere to go but up,” he said. Lawyers entered into an agreement that resolved discrimination claims brought by current and former black employees of the Lucky’s grocery chain. The agreement, which still had to be approved by U.S. District Judge Marilyn Hall Patel, provided for changes in Lucky’s minority promotion policies, a $350,000 settlement fund and $125,000 in attorneys fees. The settlement did not resolve the bulk of the case, which focused on discrimination against women. Plaintiff attorney Brad Seligman and Morrison & Foerster partner Kirby Wilcox, Lucky’s lawyer, were not optimistic about settling. “We’re really miles apart,” Wilcox said. Compiled by Editor in Chief Scott Graham.

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