Blake Griffin of the Los Angeles Clippers
Blake Griffin of the Los Angeles Clippers (Verse Photography via Wikimedia Commons.)

National Basketball Association general counsel Richard Buchanan is suiting up for what could prove a major legal battle with Donald Sterling, the Los Angeles Clippers owner whom the NBA banned for life on April 29. The league cited tapes purporting to recount Sterling, a lawyer and billionaire real estate developer, telling his girlfriend not to post pictures of herself with African-Americans and not to bring black people to the games. An investigation by Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz partner David Anders authenticated the recordings.

PATENT REFORM DELAYED

The Senate Judiciary Committee on May 1 postponed a vote on patent litigation reform as senators worked out differences on several provisions. Chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., hoped to have a bill ready soon. “We have settled the vast majority of the issues in there,” he said. At issue were provisions regarding pleading requirements and shifting legal fees. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, the top Republican on the committee, said committee members have made progress on the legislation.

CHRISTIE TAPS DEMOCRAT

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on April 29 nominated former state Attorney General John Degnan, a registered Democrat, to succeed David Samson as the chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Samson resigned on March 28 amid allegations that he used his position as chairman to financially benefit his law firm, Wolff & Samson. “I wanted someone with impeccable credentials,” Christie said. “I wanted someone who was willing to put public service to the state and the people of New Jersey above partisan politics.”

CRACKDOWN ON CREDITORS

New York Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman said on April 30 that the state’s courts would crack down on the filing of insufficiently documented claims for default judgments against consumer debtors. Creditors seeking collection of the debts — many of which have been sold and resold repeatedly by third parties — will be required to prove that the obligations are actually outstanding and owed by those named in collection actions before courts will intervene on their behalf. “You’ve got to come in with the documentation that proves your case,” he said.

GOOGLE STOPS SCANS

Google Inc. on April 30 announced it would no longer scan students’ Apps for Education Gmail accounts for advertising purposes. Bram Bout, director of Google for Education, said the company also has stopped showing ads on its student apps. Google estimates that 30 million students, teachers and administrators worldwide use its education apps.

NO JURY TRIAL FOR AIG EXECS

Former American International Group Inc. chief executive officer Maurice “Hank” Greenberg will not get a jury trial in the civil fraud case the New York attorney general’s office has been pursuing against him for the past nine years, a state trial judge has ruled. New York County, N.Y., Supreme Court Justice Charles Ramos said on April 29 that the two claims remaining in the case, for disgorgement and injunctive relief, do not provide a right to trial by jury. He granted a motion by the attorney general to strike the jury demands of Greenberg and his co-defendant, former chief financial officer Howard Smith.

BOTCHED EXECUTION

The flawed execution of an Oklahoma inmate on April 29 could breathe new life into lawsuits challenging state laws that keep certain information about lethal injections secret, according to death penalty experts. Clayton Lockett appeared to writhe in pain and attempt to sit up during the execution attempt and died from a heart attack minutes later. Defense attorneys argue that secrecy over the source of the drugs used in lethal injections could cause inmates to suffer unnecessarily cruel and unusual punishment. “This case adds a lot to this factual pedestal on which to raise this issue higher and more strongly,” said Fordham University School of Law’s Deborah Denno, who specializes in criminal procedure.