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As the Republican National Convention gets underway at Philadelphia’s First Union Center next week, most people will watch GOP luminaries such as George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and John McCain take center stage. What those television viewers won’t realize is that it was largely the work of a plethora of Philadelphia lawyers that made this high-profile event possible. It started in January 1999, when attorneys hammered out the details of the site-city contract agreement between the RNC and Philadelphia’s Host Committee. Pepper Hamilton represents the RNC locally, while Ballard Spahr Andrews & Ingersoll represents the Host Committee. Ballard chair David L. Cohen is one of three Host Committee chairs, along with Blank Rome Comisky & McCauley managing partner David Girard-diCarlo and Comcast Corp. president Brian Roberts. During those original contract negotiations, a wide range of issues were discussed, including securing sites for the convention itself and related events, labor, police and other public services, hotel space guarantees, telecommunications, construction set-up, and insurance matters. Once those issues were ironed out, Pepper’s workload became less intense, but Ballard attorneys have been constantly busy with convention items, as the Host Committee finalized yet more contracts with construction companies and other entities. “Since that time we’ve been constantly working with the RNC’s lawyers in preparing, reviewing, and drafting contracts,” Cohen said. “I’d guess we’ve handled over 100 contracts, ranging from portable toilets to general services companies.” Cohen said Ballard attorneys have also been involved in handling labor agreements, settling minor squabbles between unions and contractors, reaching license agreements on parking lots, and offering advice on federal election law. And some of the firm’s lawyers brokered a deal for the Host Committee with Sun Microsystems to provide software that enhances computer system security, as well as trademark work for the convention logo and Web site agreements. The Ballard lawyers involved include partners Brian Pedrow, Edward Rogers, Mark DePillis, Lisa Sloan, Cathleen Judge, and Jamie Bischoff; associates Daniel Johns, Edmond Ghisu, Kathleen Sandone, Kris Aldridge, and Sally Steffen; and counsel David Roscher. The city’s law department, led by litigation chair Bill Thompson; senior corporate attorney Michelle Flamer; and, most recently, city solicitor Ken Trujillo, has been involved in convention work since the months leading up to the site-city agreement. In addition to monitoring the site-city agreement, the law department also represented the city’s interests in the city services agreement, which basically determined which in-kind services the city would provide to the RNC. Included are security, EMS, telecommunications and access to city venues. In August of last year, the law department drafted two more agreements with the RNC/Philadelphia 2000, giving the RNC the right of first refusal on more than 100 city venues and an omnibus special events permit. The latter of the two caused the department some heartache earlier this year, as an umbrella group of protestors called Unity 2000 filed suit in federal court, claiming that the city violated its First Amendment right. By granting the Republicans the right to nearly all of the city’s public space, the group’s attorneys, ACLU’s Stefan Presser and David Rudovsky of Phialdelphia’s Kairys Rudovsky Epstein Messing & Rau, argued, the “omnibus permit” effectively chilled all other speech. In April injunction hearings were canceled, and a settlement was reached. Under the settlement, the city has agreed to issue permits to two groups — Unity 2000, which is planning a march and rally for up to 100,000 people on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, and the Ad-Hoc Committee to Defend Health Care, which expects up to 2,000 to attend its parade and rally at Philadelphia’s Love Park. Among the terms are a promise from the city to provide a stage and sound system, as well as toilets, electricity, emergency medical services, and police. Unity 2000 agreed to pay a $10,000 permit fee and to reimburse the city for an insurance policy of up to $5,000. Thompson and Flamer said law department attorneys have been in constant contact with other city departments in dealing with the slew of protest permit applications that have been filed. CASH CONTRIBUTIONS Vito Canuso Jr., a sole practitioner who also serves as co-chair of the Philadelphia Republican Committee with Reed Smith Shaw & McClay’s Michael Meehan, said the city’s legal community has really stepped up to the plate in preparation for the convention. “We don’t have a lot of corporate headquarters here in Philadelphia, so it was important for the legal community to come forth and make a substantial [financial] contribution, and they did,” Canuso said. “They’ve really been involved since the selection process in the summer of 1998.” Once the convention starts, Philadelphia lawyers will be floating around or near the First Union Center floor. Girard-diCarlo, who also co-chairs Philadelphia 2000 and chairs Bush’s campaign efforts in Pennsylvania, will, no doubt, be spending much of the week immersed in convention activities. Canuso will serve as an elected delegate for Philadelphia, while Saul Ewing Remick & Saul’s Tim Carson will represent Montgomery County’s 13th Congressional District. While there will literally be hundreds of events every day, there is one that will be of particular interest to lawyers — at least those of the Republican persuasion. The Republican National Lawyers Association, a group of about 1,000 attorney members from around the country that were Reagan/Bush loyalists, will be hosting a reception on Tuesday at Bookbinders between 4:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Congressional leaders and several state attorney generals are on the invite list. While many Republican lawyers are preparing for a hectic week, the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas will be reducing its schedule dramatically. President Judge Alex Bonavitacola said all trials involving persons in custody, police officer witnesses, the use of sheriffs and jurors will be postponed to free up law enforcement authorities at the request of Philadelphia Police Commissioner John Timoney. Jurors are being kept away because of the clog of protestors expected near the jury assembly area at the Criminal Justice Center. Bonavitacola said the court will have an enhanced pre- and post-convention schedule to make up for the lost time. Municipal court will have an additional on-call judge in anticipation of increased arrests created by protestors. Federal court officials, though, said they anticipate a normal schedule for convention week.

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