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Beyonce Wins Call the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals conservative, stodgy and even unhip. But the court knows its R&B. Just ask Beyonce. On Dec. 21, 2007, the court ruled in favor of the Houston-born Grammy-winning singer in Jennifer Armour v. Beyonce G. Knowles, et al. Aspiring singer and songwriter Armour sued Beyonce in 2005, alleging the megastar violated copyright laws by using Armour’s song “Got a Little Bit of Love for You” to help create Beyonce’s song “Baby Boy.” Armour alleged that she sent Beyonce a demo tape that was used to create “Baby Boy.” But U.S. District Judge Nancy Atlas later dismissed Armour’s suit based on a 5th Circuit precedent set in 2004′s Positive Black Talk Inc. v. Cash Money Records Inc., in which the court found there was no substantial similarity between two rap songs “that included the poetic four-word phrase “back that ass up.’ ” However the 5th Circuit took a different turn with Beyonce’s case. In a per curiam opinion by Judges Patrick Higginbotham, Jerry Smith and Priscilla Owen, the court ruled that Armour could not prove that Beyonce had access to Armour’s demo tape before composing “ Baby Boy.” Armour’s attorney, Dana Kirk of Houston’s The Kirk Law Firm, says it is unlikely his client will appeal the 5th Circuit’s decision. “Even though we disagree with their conclusion, I think they did a good job of going through the issues,” Kirk says. Beyonce’s attorney Hank Fasthoff, a partner in Houston’s Stumpf Farrimond, says his client is “happy with the opinion. It feels good to get vindication.” New Year, New Judges Courthouse activity may slow down to docket-deafening hum over the holidays, but the festive season didn’t slow Gov. Rick Perry’s picks for the 14th Court of Appeals and the Harris County district courts. “The governor has had a very busy December,” says Harris County Republican Party chairman Jared Woodfill, a partner in Houston’s Woodfill & Pressler. “His office has filled five benches around here in the last four weeks.” Two of these appointments were sparked by the retirement of 14th Court of Appeals Justice J. Harvey Hudson, who Perry replaced with Jeffrey Brown, formerly of the 55th District Court, according to a Dec. 21, 2007, press release issued by the governor’s office. Brown did not return a telephone call seeking comment before presstime on Jan. 3. Perry filled the vacant 55th District Court bench by appointing Jeffrey A. Shadwick, former senior counsel at Andrews Myers Coulter & Cohen and general counsel for the Harris County Republican Party. Shadwick was sworn in on Christmas Day. “I have been practicing law for 27 years and felt that I wanted to practice for at least 20 years before trying to get on the bench,” says Shadwick. “In my law practice I liked more experienced judges so that is who I wanted to be when I took the bench.” Replacing Justice Richard H. Edelman on the 14th Court is William “Bill” Boyce, whose appointment was announced in the same Dec 21 press release. Prior to being sworn in on Dec. 28, Boyce was a partner in the appellate practice group at Fulbright & Jaworski. He formerly served as a clerk for Judge W. Eugene Davis of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Boyce is past chairman of the Houston Bar Association Appellate Section. “I have been working in appeals essentially since I started practicing law 18 years ago,” Boyce says. “I have always enjoyed studying and writing about the law, and I look forward to doing both as a judge.” When asked about the disparity in income that will inevitably result from his job change, Boyce replies, “The opportunity for public service outweighs the disparity.” Also on Dec. 21, the governor appointed Patricia J. Kerrigan, a partner in Houston’s Werner, Kerrigan & Ayers, to the 190th District Court. The bench has been vacant since October, when the U.S. Senate confirmed Jennifer Walker Elrod for a seat on the 5th Circuit. “The idea of being a judge was something I had considered off and on during my professional career,” says Kerrigan, who was formerly a civil litigator. “But something professionally like a new case would get in the way. This time, the timing was right.” The governor also appointed David Farr, a Harris County family court judge, to fill the unexpired term of James D. Squire, who resigned his seat on the 312th District Court to run for Congress. “I had wanted to do this for a long while,” says Farr. “In 2005 I was being considered, but I had to withdraw my name, because I got deployment orders from the Texas National Guard to go to Kosovo as part of the U.N. peacekeeping mission.” All three newly appointed district court judges will face primary opponents in March. If they survive the challenge, they, along with the two new 14th Court justices, will face Democratic challengers in the 2008 general election, says Harris County Democratic Party chairman Gerry Birnberg. “We have someone running in every open race in Harris County,” he says.

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