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Supreme Court hears money laundering case
Legal Business | 2008/02/25 11:21

The US Supreme Court on Monday heard oral arguments in Cuellar v. United States, 06-1456, where the Court considered "whether merely hiding funds with no design to create the appearance of legitimate wealth is sufficient to support a money laundering conviction" under 18 USC 1956(a)(2)(B)(i). The case involves Humberto Cuellar, who was sentenced to over six years in prison for international money laundering. Cuellar's car was pulled over about 100 miles from the Mexico border and police found over $80,000 in cash hidden in the vehicle. Several justices, including Chief Justice John Roberts, seemed skeptical that the Cuellar's actions met the requirements of the federal money laundering statute. Cuellar is appealing a decisionfrom the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit upholding his conviction. AP has more.

The Court also heard oral arguments in Warner-Lambert v. Kent, 06-1498, where the Court considered whether federal law preempts a Michigan law that allows personal injury lawsuits against prescription drug manufacturers only when the drug at issue was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration based on the fraudulent submission or withholding of information.



Four law firms dominate school district services
Topics in Legal News | 2008/02/23 13:59
On Long Island, where public education is a multi-billion-dollar enterprise, four law firms control more than 60 percent of the estimated cost for legal services.

In 106 of the 124 school districts, $56.9 million was spent for legal fees from 2000 through 2004 -- $16.4 million alone during the 2003-2004 school year. Experts say legal costs have grown since then, with lawyers handling a wide range of issues from personnel and union issues to special education lawsuits.

The four law firms -- Guercio & Guercio in Farmingdale; Ingerman Smith in Hauppauge; Ehrlich, Frazer & Feldman, and Jaspan Schlesinger Hoffman, both of Garden City -- earned the majority of that total amount during that period, the most recent data available to Newsday.

Some experts say that consolidation of legal services is expected because educational law is highly specialized and few lawyers are experts at it.

In an unprecedented series of moves that have unfolded in rapid-fire fashion in the past week, three of these firms -- Guercio & Guercio being the exception -- that have attorneys whose arrangements with school districts allowed them to receive lucrative public benefits while working as private legal counsel are now under state and federal investigation.


Top U.S. court backs S.F. health care
Legal Business | 2008/02/23 13:45
The U.S. Supreme Court allowed San Francisco on Thursday to continue requiring employers to pay part of the cost of providing health care to uninsured residents while a group of restaurant owners tries to overturn the program.

Justice Anthony Kennedy denied a request by the Golden Gate Restaurant Association to suspend the employer contributions while the case awaits an April 17 hearing before an appellate panel.

The city expanded its health care program six weeks ago after winning a ruling from the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. That court allowed city officials to require large and medium-size companies to provide insurance to their employees, at spending levels set by the city, or pay a fee to support care for the uninsured at 22 hospitals and clinics.

The expansion lets San Francisco phase in coverage for about 26,000 residents who were not previously eligible for subsidized care. The city says the program will ultimately cover all 73,000 adult residents who are not poor enough for Medi-Cal or old enough for Medicare. About 12,500 people have enrolled so far, program Director Tangerine Brigham said Thursday.



Hogan law firm eyes new Legg tower
Press Release | 2008/02/22 14:10

Washington, D.C., law firm Hogan & Hartson is negotiating to take at least 40,000 square feet in the planned Legg Mason Tower, a 24-story office building to be constructed on the fringes of the city's business district at the waterfront Harbor East development.

The law firm would be the first tenant to follow Legg Mason to the new office tower, where rents are said to be the highest in the city. Legg is slated to move by summer 2009 from its signature office building at Light and Pratt streets.

Hogan has about 45 local lawyers and about 30,000 square feet at Harborplace Tower, a waterfront office building at Calvert and Pratt streets where its lease is set to expire in October. The building is connected to the Gallery shopping mall.



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