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ADVOCATING FOR CLE Rather than shell out thousands of dollars to send his troops to the Institute for Continuing Legal Education programs, New Jersey Attorney General John Farmer Jr. created his own brand of CLE, which he calls the Advocacy Institute. About 500 deputy and assistant attorneys general showed up for the inaugural seminar. “Today’ s program reflects [a] commitment to excellence,” Farmer told the assembly. “As a deputy attorney general, you stand at the center of the legal issues that define our time. Private practice doesn’t offer that.” The guest speaker was University of Arizona College of Law professor Thomas Mauet, author of Mauet’ s “Trial Notebook” and other practice books, who spoke about research into the psychology of jurors, how they think and how lawyers can use that information. Farmer spokesman Roger Shatzkin says Mauet waived his usual fee — which can cost hundreds of dollars — for lawyers attending CLE seminars sponsored by the New Jersey State Bar Association. From the New Jersey Law Journal FUNNY MONEY Federal prosecutors indicted Judge George J.W. Smith, of Cook County, Ill., Circuit Court, on allegations that he structured a $21,100 bank withdrawal over three days in April 1995 to skirt a federal law that requires banks to report any withdrawals of more than $10,000. Smith’ s estranged wife, as it happens, alleged in a divorce deposition that her husband took out $20,000 to pay off a politician to secure his appointment to the bench, although that isn’t mentioned in the indictment. Smith first donned robes in March 1995. He has pleaded not guilty and agreed to give a handwriting sample to prosecutors. His lawyer, Thomas Breen, has said the judge took out the money to pay for home repairs. From The National Law Journal LESSONS LEARNED Stop us if you’ve heard this one before, but the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on May 26 tossed out a sanction that U.S. District Judge John McBride of Fort Worth, Texas, issued against a lawyer. McBride had issued the $300 sanction late last year against assistant federal public defender Doug Greene. Greene’ s alleged offense? He was 12 minutes late to an arraignment before his honor. Despite Greene’ s apology to McBride, and an explanation that he believed the hearing was before a magistrate, the judge held firm. (McBride had recently returned to the bench after his new case assignments were suspended for one year by judicial officials for, among other things, being abusive to lawyers.) “This is a classic case of a judge making a mountain out of a molehill,” the 5th Circuit wrote in a per curiam opinion vacating the sanction. “Mr. Greene never had notice or an opportunity to be heard and contest the disciplinary action under the Local Rule.” Obviously, Greene was pleased with the ruling. “I’ m glad they did it, that’ s for sure. I was waiting,” he says. McBride declines to comment. From Texas Lawyer LAWYER ENTREPRENEUR SUED FOR MISSING MILLIONS Independent Trust Corp, based in Orland Park, Ill., sued attorney-entrepreneur Laurence W. Cypriote this week, claiming he absconded with $68 million he had held in trust. The missing monies triggered the biggest trust company failure in state history, and is currently being investigated by the U.S. Attorney’ s office. According to the lawsuit, Independent Trust had managed $1.8 billion in assets for as many as 2,100 individual investors and their IRA plans. But a company controlled by Cypriote — one that was supposedly managing those funds for Independent — actually emptied the trust accounts they were being held in and forwarded the sums to unknown destinations. For months, state regulators had been demanding that Cypriote improve the way he had been handling monies for Independent. But it was not until mid-April that the state Office of Banks and Real Estate seized Independent to curb the mounting potential losses to investors. Independent had been handing over its cash management to Undercount Title Co. of Illinois (a small firm not to be confused with the large title insurance company called Undercount National Title). Cypriote of Franklin Park, Ill., and a partner, Jack Hargrove of Florida, controlled both companies. Cypriote’s lawyer, Chicago’ s Jeffrey B. Stein back, did not answer calls for comment. From American Lawyer Media

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