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Rising: Judicial Compassion One would imagine a grisly murder that rivals the one which condemned Karla Faye Tucker to die in Texas would elicit the judicial rage of California’s Supreme Court justices. But that wasn’t what ruined convicted felon Eben Gossage’s quest for a law license. No, it was his convictions for heroin possession, drunken driving and theft that demonstrated to the justices his disrespect for the law — killing his sister with a pair of scissors wasn’t a strong enough statement. Apparently, Texas’ compassionate conservatism can’t hold a candle to California’s. Falling: Stifling Uniformity The wig jokes can stop now. William Prickett finally got the message that his fellow Delaware lawyers really, really, REALLY are against the one-man campaign he conducted to persuade them to wear robes when appearing before the state supreme court. The results of a survey of Delaware lawyers were clear: 79 percent were opposed, backed up by a bevy of biting, indignant letters. Boy, does Prickett have bad timing — this is the era of casual dress. He called robes “egalitarian.” Egalitarian? We’d call them downright elitist. Rising: Photographic Memories Apparently, you can’t always get what you want — even if you’re Oprah Winfrey. The talk show queen settled a lawsuit brought by freelance photographers who claimed she used photographs their photos of her without permission. The disputed photos were 11 of the estimated 60,000 that Stephen Green and Paul Natkin took over nine years; the photographers claimed the work was to be used for limited publicity purposes only, while Oprah contended that her production company, which paid for the film, was at least part owner. You don’t get to be Queen of the World by fighting losing battles, though — last month, the judge in the case sided with Green and Natkin, ruling they alone created the pictures and hold the copyrights. Oprah showed her smarts by settling and avoiding a potentially expensive jury verdict for the plaintiffs. Rising: Political Soaps American politics resemble more and more a soap opera — and not even a good one. Just as serious-minded Al Gore is about to accept the nomination at the glitzy, Hollywood-esqe DNC, the seemingly devious independent counsel announces its next plan of attack on the almost impeached, heavily probed (no pun intended) Bill Clinton: A new grand jury is poring over the Monica Lewinsky affair. Poor, flailing-in-the-polls Gore just can’t distance himself from his boss’s philandering. All we can think of is — despite the denials from his campaign — George W. Bush’s upper lip curling into a smirk and doing high-fives with his dad. Where’s the mute button?

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