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A Deal Undone? Victims of the March 2005 explosion at the BP refinery in Texas City who object to a proposed plea deal calling for BP Products North America to pay a $50 million fine for violating the Clean Air Act will get a chance to convince a federal judge to reject the deal, which they allege is “shockingly lenient.” At a hearing Nov. 28, U.S. District Judge Lee Rosenthal of Houston agreed to allow lawyers representing victims of the refinery blast to provide her with information they believe will help her decide to reject the plea deal. On Oct. 25, the U.S. Department of Justice and BP announced the plea agreement, which calls for BP Products North America to plead guilty to one felony count of violating the Clean Air Act, pay the $50 million and serve three years of probation. But several victims of the explosion, which killed 15 and injured hundreds more, filed motions objecting to the proposed plea agreement under the Justice for All Act of 2004, 18 U.S.C. �3771. In motions filed in United States v. BP Products North America Inc., the victims asked Rosenthal to order a pre-sentence report. They object to the plea deal on several grounds, including what they believe is the low fine and the grant of broad immunity to BP, the parent company of BP Products North America, for unspecified Clean Air Act violations nationwide. Assistant U.S. Attorney S. Mark McIntyre told Rosenthal the plea deal is a “good and just result,” and Mark Holscher, a partner in Kirkland & Ellis in Los Angeles who represents BP, noted that the $50 million fine is the largest ever under the Clean Air Act. But in a motion filed by 12 victims represented by David Perry, a partner in Perry & Haas in Corpus Christi, the victims allege the fine should be $1 billion at a minimum, because BP earned more than $1 billion in profit from operations of the refinery in the 14 months preceding the explosion. Rosenthal delayed a decision on whether to order the pre-sentence report. Perry and W. Mark Lanier of the Lanier Law Firm in Houston, who represents another group of victims who object to the settlement, both say they are pleased Rosenthal will allow the victims to provide her with information relating to the proposed plea deal. “We think the court ought to have full data,” Lanier says. Changing of the Guard George Manning, a defense lawyer who counts Harriet Miers on his client list, will become the partner-in-charge of Jones Day’s 207-lawyer Dallas office on Jan. 1, 2008. Manning, who has led the firm’s 135-lawyer Atlanta office since 2000, will succeed Frank Hubach, who has been partner-in-charge in Dallas for 15 years. Manning says his plan is to work with Nancy MacKimm, the partner-in-charge in Houston, to “make the great state of Texas understand the breadth and depth of what we are, both nationally and internationally.” He notes the 2,359-lawyer firm has more than 400 lawyers in Europe and more than 200 in Asia. Manning says he will spend about 75 percent of his time representing clients and the rest of his time on management obligations. Manning says he represents Miers, the former White House counsel who is now a partner in Locke Lord Bissell & Liddell in Dallas, in connection with an investigation conducted by the House Judiciary Committee into circumstances surrounding the dismissal of eight U.S. attorneys. He declines to identify other clients. “The work I do, which is usually below the radar screen, is investigative work and white-collar work, which if truly successful, you will never hear their names,” he says. Prior to his assignment in Atlanta, Manning worked in Jones Day’s Washington, D.C., office and was an assistant U.S. attorney in the Southern District of New York. Manning says he will work closely with Hubach over the next year. In addition to assisting Manning, Hubach says he will work on client relationships and development, partner-level recruiting and charitable duties during 2008. Hubach, who joined Jones Day in 1968, says he plans to retire at the end of 2008. Check That Signature An Austin criminal-defense lawyer faces charges, including that he forged judges’ signatures on personal-bond forms to gain clients’ release from jail and that he had methamphetamines in his possession with the intent to sell the drugs. On Nov. 27, a Travis County grand jury indicted solo Bruce Phillip Garrison, 37, on several counts, including three counts of tampering with a governmental record and one count of intent to deliver a controlled substance. As alleged in three of the indictments, Garrison forged the signatures of three judges � Travis County Court-at-Law No. 6 Judge Jan Breland, 390th District Judge Julie Kocurek and Jon Wisser, former judge of the 299th District Court � on bonds for clients in 2006. As alleged in an affidavit in the warrant for Garrison’s arrest, a witness provided a sworn statement to the Travis County District Attorney’s Office that he witnessed Garrison sign Kocurek’s name to a bond. The witness alleges in the statement that Garrison told him, “I do this all the time.” A fourth indictment alleges that on or about Aug. 20, Garrison had in his possession, with intent to deliver, 4 grams or more but less than 200 grams of methamphetamines. Each of the tampering-with-a-governmental-record charges is a state-jail felony. The controlled substance charge is a first-degree felony. Austin solo Joshua Saegert, Garrison’s attorney, says his client is innocent of the charges. “We’re pleading not guilty on all of them,” Saegert says.

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