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Former law professor is named FTC chairman Federal Trade Commission member William E. Kovacic, formerly a professor of government contracts law, will step up as the agency’s new chairman when the resignation of current head, Deborah Platt Majoras, is effective on March 30. President Bush announced last week that he has designated Kovacic as the new chairman. The former George Washington University Law School professor left his teaching position to join the federal agency as a commissioner in January 2006. He was the FTC’s general counsel from 2001 through the end of 2004. Kovacic earlier worked at the commission from 1979 to 1983, first with the Bureau of Competition’s planning office and later as an attorney advisor to former Commissioner George W. Douglas. Law firm donations up for Obama and McCain Lawyers and law firms increased their donations by 40% to senators Barack Obama, D-Ill., and John McCain, R-Ariz., during the first two months of this year, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a Washington organization that tracks federal elections. Despite more modest gains, Senator Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., continues to lead in donations from the legal industry. The figures are based on data released March 20 by the Federal Election Commission. Obama has amassed more than $13.3 million, an increase of more than 40% from his total at the end of last year. His top lawyer contributors are Sidley Austin and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom. McCain has raised more than $3.5 million from lawyers and law firms, a 41% increase from the end of last year. His top lawyer contributors are Blank Rome of Philadelphia and Greenberg Traurig. Congressman to join D.C.’s Dickstein Shapiro Representative Albert Wynn, D-Md., will join Washington firm Dickstein Shapiro as a partner in its public policy and law practice upon his retirement from Congress. Wynn, whose career spans more than 25 years as an elected official, will focus his practice on legal, legislative and regulatory counseling. Wynn spent 16 of his 25 years in elected office as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, in which he represented Maryland’s fourth congressional district. Prosecutors may drop a charge against Kuehne The Department of Justice is considering dropping one of six counts against Miami lawyer Ben Kuehne and has appointed a new lead prosecutor to the case. In a motion filed last week, prosecutors revealed they are considering dropping one count � obstruction of justice � against Kuehne and need a continuance in order to make that decision. Also, a new lead prosecutor was assigned to the case, Robert Feitel, a trial attorney in DOJ’s Criminal Division. In a case that has rocked criminal defense lawyers around the country, Kuehne was indicted for his role in vetting legal fees for prominent Miami attorney Roy Black. Black was paid millions of dollars to defend Cali Cartel kingpin Fabio Ochoa. [NLJ, March 17.] Controversial L.A. judge pulled off case by 9th Cir. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has removed a controversial district judge, Manuel L. Real of Los Angeles, from another case, accusing him this time of “excessive and biased interventions” that denied two defendants a fair trial. In an unpublished order dated March 19, the 9th Circuit said, “Taken together, the trial court’s biased evidentiary rulings, disparaging remarks, and lengthy interrogations of witnesses . . . created an atmosphere in which an objectively fair trial could not be conducted.’ ” U.S. v. Hall, No. 06-50356. In April 2006, Real, 84, faced a possible impeachment hearing in Congress over allegations that he interfered in a bankruptcy case to help a woman whose parole he supervised. Congress dropped the impeachment without action.

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