Stormy Weather — The Weather Channel is in the middle of a squall over claims it misappropriated trade secrets from a Shamong company that provided programming content.
A federal court suit asserts that the channel extracted information piecemeal from Events Media Network's proprietary database of concerts, sporting events and other leisure activities contrary to a licensing agreement that required treatment as a whole. The channel moved to dismiss on the ground that publicly available information can't be considered a trade secret.
But on July 12, U.S. District Judge Robert Kugler in Camden denied the motion, finding a compilation of data can qualify as a trade secret even if the individual parts are publicly known and readily available. He held that Events Media stated a prima facie misappropriation claim because the deal to pay for the database shows it has economic value and the restrictive contract language was a reasonable effort to protect it.
The channel's lawyer, James Steigerwald of Duane Morris in Philadelphia, and plaintiff lawyer Michael Kinkopf,of Eckert, Seamans, Cherin & Mellott in Philadelphia, did not return calls.
Pay It Forward — Gov. Chris Christie on Thursday vetoed a bill that would have extended workers' compensation benefits to first responders physically or mentally injured after assisting during catastrophes.
"Although this measure would likely have a significant impact on State, local, and municipal government budgets, the bill's sponsors refused to obtain a fiscal analysis or refer the bill to either house's respective budget committees," he said.
The measure, S-1778 was introduced in response to first responders who became ill or died from exposure to toxins while helping out after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. It was named the "Thomas P. Canzanella Twenty First Century First Responders Protection Act," after a Hackensack firefighter who died in 2007 and championed better health care for emergency aid workers.
One of the primary sponsors, Sen. Linda Greenstein, D-Middlesex, says she is "shocked and disappointed" by the veto.
"Not everything has to be sent to a committee for a budget analysis," she says. "That's not a good reason." During committee hearings, Greenstein says, it was demonstrated that a majority of other states had adopted similar legislation and that it "has worked well without a lot of additional expense." She says she is considering reintroducing the measure.
Bearing Arms — A bear activist can claim victory in her effort to upend a rejection for a firearms-purchaser ID card.
Susan Kehoe's application was denied in June 2012 by Vernon Police Chief Roy Wherry, who cited public safety concerns based on her demeanor. Kehoe — a frequent demonstrator against state-sanctioned bear hunts whose home abuts Wawayanda State Park — once called an officer a "bear killer" and had been the subject of citizen complaints from hunters and neighbors who claimed she was feeding bears. She once had been convicted of interfering with state wildlife officers trying to trap and tranquilize a bear.
Kehoe appealed the decision, and on Thursday Sussex County Superior Court Judge N. Peter Conforti deemed her no threat and found the complaints against her hearsay.
Kehoe, 62, sought the ID so she could sell or otherwise dispose of guns previously owned by her deceased husband. The ID, which permits purchases, technically isn't needed to transport firearms, but she said she wanted it in case she were stopped by police.
Her lawyer, Newton solo Daniel Perez, says her reputation was no reason to deny the application. "I acknowledge there are people who don't like my client," Perez says. "She's a bear activist, and in Sussex County, that by definition means you're unpopular."
Assistant Sussex County Prosecutor Laura Nazzaro, who represented Vernon, says they're considering an appeal. "The state still stands by Chief Wherry's decision."
Clock Watchers — A murder conviction reached by jurors prescreened without defense counsel present was upheld on appeal Monday.
Defendant Paul Cibelli Jr. has twice been convicted for strangling to death his girlfriend, Tania Silva, after she moved out of his South Plainfield home and disposing of her body in a Philadelphia dumpster. He won his first appeal because his ex-wife was allowed to testify he threatened to kill her if she left and said her body would never be found.
Before starting jury selection for the 2010 retrial, Middlesex County Superior Court Judge Bradley Ferencz announced he would preselect a jury pool by asking whether people could sit for two to three weeks, without telling them the details. He proceeded over the objection of Cibelli's lawyer, Hoboken solo Paul Casteleiro, that he was unavailable for the prescreening.
Appellate Judges Marie Simonelli, Ellen Koblitz and Allison Accurso called the procedure unprecedented, unorthodox and troubling because it could skew the jury pool toward retirees, people paid by employers while on jury duty and those eager to serve on a murder case. Nevertheless, they affirmed because Cibelli could not show prejudice.
Casteleiro, who will seek review, says, "I've never been in a proceeding where … I couldn't be present and I was told by the judge it was too bad." He questions how he could show prejudice without knowing more about who was excluded.
Assistant Middlesex County Prosecutor Andrew Carey released a statement saying, "Justice was served."
— By Charles Toutant, Michael Booth, David Gialanella and Mary Pat Gallagher