A courtroom drawing of Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law Suleiman Abu Ghaith as he takes the stand in his own defense against terrorism charges. (Photo: Reuters / Jane Rosenberg)
Sulaiman Abu Ghaith testified on his own behalf last week in federal court in New York against charges he served as a propagandist for al-Qaeda and recruited fighters for Osama bin Laden ­immediately ­following the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. Although video evidence showed him vowing more attacks on the United States, including one in which he said the “storm of ­airplanes” would continue, he denied having advance knowledge of any plots.
UNCOMFORTABLE IN MOSCOW
The uncertainty surrounding deteriorating relations between Russia and the United States following the former’s annexation of Crimea has American lawyers in Moscow worried. After the Soviet Union collapsed, Moscow attracted Western firms seeking transactional work rising from the country’s natural resources including oil and gas reserves. But now foreigners in the Russian capital are exposed to unwelcome scrutiny at a time of heightened nationalism, one senior U.S. lawyer told The Moscow Times this week on the condition of anonymity. “It is scary,” he said.
TENURE STANDARD SURVIVES
The American Bar Association’s Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar has voted to continue requiring law schools to protect tenure for full-time faculty members as a condition of accreditation. The council reversed its earlier ­support for relaxing the requirement. “It’s an imperfect standard, but the attempts to change it would have been far worse. It would have been a race to the bottom,” said Kate Kruse, president of the Clinical Legal Education Association. The council also voted tentatively to let students receive both pay and ­academic credit for externships.
BP FREED TO BID IN GULF
BP PLC, responsible for the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, was freed on March 19 to bid on new oil leases in the Gulf of Mexico. The United States lifted its 16-month debarment of BP from ­government contracts after the company’s general counsel, Rupert Bondy, signed an agreement on March 14 with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. BP promised to hire an independent auditor to monitor its compliance with a code of ­ethics, safety policies and corporate governance for the next five years. On March 17, BP petitioned the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit to review a three-judge panel’s decision to uphold the Deepwater Horizon oil spill ­settlement, which BP now values at $9.2 billion.
SUIT TARGETS NCAA
An antitrust lawsuit filed on March 17, if successful, could reshape the business of college sports. In a complaint filed in U.S. district court in Newark, four student-athletes represented by Jeffrey Kessler of Winston & Strawn argue that the National Collegiate Athletic Association and five of its conferences have illegally restrained competition for the services of student-athletes. The players seek no monetary damages, but rather an injunction that would scrap rules prohibiting players from ­receiving financial renumeration besides tuition and related fees.
MORE PROBLEMS FOR CHASE
A team of lawyers from around the country have filed a class action against JPMorgan Chase & Co. and its affiliates, alleging they used robo-signed affidavits to illegally obtain default judgments against credit cardholders. The civil lawsuit, filed on March 11 in Miami ­federal court, alleges violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act and common law fraud. A company spokeswoman declined to comment.
CITY, FIREFIGHTERS SETTLE
New York City, the federal government and an intervening group of black firefighters and applicants have agreed to settle the last pending claims in a hard-fought class action alleging intentional discrimination within the New York City Fire Department. The city will pay about $98 million to some 1,500 black and Hispanic firefighters and applicants who were either not hired or had their hiring delayed when they got low scores on ­written tests in 1999 and 2002.