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A rare, unopposed run for high court in Illinois Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne M. Burke, a Democrat who is seeking election to the state’s highest court, is the only candidate to run unopposed for the top court in about 30 years. Attorneys attributed the lack of rivals to her well-regarded legal career and campaign stockpile of more than $800,000. Illinois political savvy runs in the family too, given her husband Ed Burke’s experience as a Chicago City Council alderman. Burke’s campaign committee is slowing its fund drive and is considering using some money to support other Democratic candidates, said John B. Simon, a Jenner & Block attorney who is chairman of the committee. Burke is seeking the seat allotted to the First Appellate District, which has the same borders as Cook County and includes Chicago. Bilking scheme earns Miami lawyer 15 years Saying he would mete out a longer sentence if he could, U.S. District Judge Alan Gold last week handed down the strictest prison sentence possible under federal guidelines, 15 years, for high-flying Miami lawyer Louis S. Robles for bilking elderly clients out of more than $13 million. Gold had previously rejected a plea deal worked out for Robles by the U.S. attorney’s office that would have resulted in 10 years behind bars for the 59-year-old lawyer, saying it was too lenient. Besides serving 15 years in prison, Gold ordered Robles to pay $13.5 million in restitution and work 900 hours of community service in a nursing home. He must also relinquish his law license for good. The attorney represented more than 7,000 asbestos clients from the late 1980s through February 2003. Federal prosecutors said he operated an elaborate Ponzi scheme. Pa. high court chief to join Buchanan Ingersoll Pennsylvania Supreme Court Chief Justice Ralph J. Cappy will join Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney after retiring from his judicial position in January, the Pittsburgh firm announced. Cappy will join the firm’s litigation section and play a significant role in its mentoring program, particularly in the area of appellate law. He has served on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court since 1990 and became chief justice in 2003. LeClairRyan to merge with N.J.’s Seiden Wayne The fast-growing Richmond, Va., firm LeClairRyan, which has gained toeholds in Boston and New York, is moving into New Jersey by merging with 45-lawyer Newark firm Seiden Wayne. The deal, announced last week, gives LeClairRyan a 215-lawyer presence in five states and Washington, and boosts the transactional side of a firm that now depends on litigation for two-thirds of its business. The combined firm will take the LeClairRyan name when the merger takes effect on Jan. 1, 2008. Chairman Gary LeClair said the firm’s expansion is driven by the goal of offering more services to existing clients and hiring successful lawyers rather than trying to create offices in particular areas. “We’re not geography-focused as much as client-focused,” LeClair said. Hackers target Duke Law School applicants Duke Law School has contacted 1,400 people who requested information about the school to warn hackers may have obtained their Social Security numbers. School officials said they discovered on Nov. 29 that hackers had breached a database of prospective applicants who provided personal information, including Social Security numbers. The site containing the information was taken offline. The potential applicants were told of the security breach via an e-mail that included information on how to avert identity theft. “We are reviewing all our processes to determine if we are protecting people as best we can,” said law school spokeswoman Melinda Vaughn. Scruggs’ law firm drops out of Katrina lawsuits The law firm of Richard “Dickie” Scruggs has informed its Gulf Coast clients that it has withdrawn from the group of attorneys who represent their claims involving Hurricane Katrina damage. Scruggs and three others have been indicted for allegedly bribing a Mississippi judge. The letter, released last week, said the law firm was discontinuing its work on the Katrina cases “until these legal matters have been resolved and it is also withdrawing as counsel in your case if filed.” In a related development, lawyer Timothy Balducci has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to bribe a judge and is assisting federal prosecutors in the case. He allegedly delivered thousands of dollars to a judge, allegedly at the behest of Scruggs, according to court records.

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