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A convicted mobster furthered the cause of condemned prisoners on Wednesday. The U.S. Supreme Court held that convicts can raise ineffective assistance of counsel claims in a collateral proceeding, even if they did not argue those issues on direct appeal. The case shows how sticky it is for courts and lawmakers to streamline the process on high-stakes criminal matters. Joseph Massaro, a member of New York’s Luchese crime family, received a life sentence for the murder of a mob associate. After losing an appeal, he contended his trial counsel failed him by refusing the judge’s offer to delay the case when prosecutors offered new ballistics evidence. Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for a unanimous court in Massaro v. U.S.Ebay has begun a bid to fend off a potentially multimillion-dollar patent suit. MercExchange claims eBay violates its online auctioneering patents, while eBay says the patents are invalid and not applicable. U.S. District Judge Jerome B. Friedman of Norfolk, Va., started picking a jury this week. The litigation has been sufficiently nasty to prompt warnings to counsel from Friedman. … The criminal prosecution of a priest in the church sex abuse scandal ended in a mistrial Wednesday. New Hampshire jurors hung, with a 10-2 vote for a conviction of Rev. George Robichaud, accused of raping a teen-age boy. The victim testified, the priest did not, and jurors indicated there was uncertainty about whether the boy was old enough to consent at the time of the alleged incident. … One of the many odd consequences of the Patriot Act, the post-9/11 law affecting everything from personal civil rights to the regulation of money transfers, is a rush by technology companies to help others comply with the law by providing anti-money-laundering products. Salon’s Katharine Mieszkowski eyes the action and writes, “Welcome to the digital police state, shrinkwrapped by a Silicon Valley start-up near you.” – Bill Kisliuk Related links: Supreme Court Justices Allow Late Claims of Ineffective Counsel Trial Begins in Contentious Lawsuit Against EBay Judge Disclares Mistrial in N.H. Rape Case The Patriot Software Bonanza

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