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How did Hazard, Ky., become the regional capital for temporary court reporting? The state’s Judicial Conduct Commission would like to know, and is looking for answers from two-term Perry County Circuit Judge Douglas C. Combs Jr., who hired a third of the state’s temp court reporters over the past six years. The commission is investigating claims that many persons who were paid for reporting instead performed nebulous services at Combs’ mobile home park. Inter alia, officials would like to hear more about the “do not disturb” instructions that Combs allegedly issued to employees when certain women came to chat … The first transatlantic merger of offshore firms will take place Feb. 1 when Channel Islands firm Ogier & Le Masurier joins with Cayman Islands boutique Boxalls. The combined practice will create one of the world’s largest offshore firms … Another year, another quiet holiday gathering by Willie Gary’s firm. Some 15,000 persons are expected to attend this weekend’s bash, hosted by the Florida plaintiffs attorney known for mammoth verdicts such as the $500 million he won from a Canadian funeral company in 1998. With the coastal burg of Stuart bracing for the influx, town planners can be grateful that some of the reported 275,000 invitees sent their regrets … Death row became a safer place for two Texas inmates this week. Kevin Lee Zimmerman and Billy Frank Vickers escaped the gurney because of doubts about whether a paralyzing chemical in their proposed lethal injections amounted to cruel and unusual punishment. Vickers’ death warrant expired before the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals could rule on the question, and Zimmerman won a reprieve from the U.S. Supreme Court 20 minutes before his scheduled demise. While human rights advocates cheered, Zimmerman complained of having to endure “18 more months of this crap.” – Lori Patel

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