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The Judge has grown weary of sulking in the shadows and letting the MeJDs and Chinaskis of Judged hog the limelight. Here you will find news about Judged, updates to our law firm rankings and the Judge’s daily ramblings. Want the real scoop? Check it out here.

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Since 2005, the IRS has been trying to get the Miccosukee
600-member tribe to turn over financial paperwork. According to the IRS, the
tribe hasn’t been reporting its gambling profits, which is required even though
they are a sovereign nation. Because the tribe disperses the profits from the
casino they own to its members, each individual is required to report their
income and pay taxes. In 2005, the tribe’s lawyers argued that they didn’t owe
money to the IRS and used their sovereign status as a defense.

Some of the members of the Miccosukee tribe receive between
$120,000 and $160,000 annually from gambling profits. Earlier in 2012, the
tribe admitted that 100 of its tribe members owe around $25.8 million in back
taxes, plus interest, based on the income that was received from a gaming
operation between 2000 and 2005. Miami U.S. District Judge Alan S. Gold
continuously ruled in favor of the IRS and denied the tribe’s attempt to block
the IRS’ summons for their tribal members’ bank account statements for 2010.

Most recently, a three judge panel rejected the Miccosukee
sovereign immunity argument that the IRS didn’t have a legal right to obtain
such records, which were being held by Citibank, American Express, Wachovia
Bank and Morgan Stanley. The tribe also stated that the summonses for their
financial documents was for an improper purpose and were overbroad. The panel
then agreed that Indian tribes weren’t able to rely on tribal immunity to bar
legal actions by a superior sovereign, a.k.a. the U.S. government.

This isn’t the first case that the Miccosukee tribe has
tried and failed. They are known for having a variety of legal battles
throughout the years for everything from income taxes to cleaning up the Everglades.

It is very likely that this case will end in a settlement of tens of millions of dollars.


10-16-2012


Harvey Updyke, Jr. is not a name many want to hear these days, especially if they're Auburn, Ala football fans. Following the 2010 Iron Bowl, someone poisoned the Toomer oak trees on the Auburn University campus. Those trees were sacred and had been as much a part of the school as the beautiful dogwoods that grow on the Princeton campus.  The one-point victory that Auburn walked away with the night before the poisoning indent brought a damper on the otherwise celebratory campus atmosphere. 

Updyke was arrested in late February for the poisoning after he confessed on a radio show. Until that point, there had been no suspects. He later recanted that confession and said subsequent confessions on various blogs in the southeast were not his. Many of Updyke's friends say he has been ''down on his luck'' for years but that he is a loyal
Alabama football fan and was disappointed when Auburn walked away with the one point victory.

He'd been in seclusion since he was released in February after posting bond and when he made his first appearance in an Alabama courtroom, he was assaulted following the
hearing. His attorney, Glennon Threatt, Jr., disputed the accusations that many made that Updyke had not been attacked, but that it was nothing more than a publicity stunt.

Updyke insists the attack occurred at the Tiger Express Gas Station in Opelika, Ala. He showed scratches and abrasions to Lee County Sheriff's deputies who'd responded to the 911 calls. Before long, when the press contacted the sheriff's department, they said Updyke had been uncooperative and therefore, they were limited in what they could do. His lawyer said his client was just upset and impatient to leave Opelika. ''He didn't want to cooperate with them at the time because he didn't believe people would give a dog-gone about him'', said Threatt to local media.

Soon, calls were pouring in to local radio and television stations. Callers said they doubted the legitimacy of the attack and said they wouldn't put it past him to deliberately strike himself to create the appearance of an attack. Updyke fired back through his lawyer and said that had he planned this, he'd have done it elsewhere.

Updyke sought medical treatment at East Alabama Medical Center and was released shortly thereafter according to a hospital spokesperson.

Updyke's been charged with first degree criminal mischief. It carries a possible sentence of ten years in prison. It's been handed over to the grand jury and in the meantime, Updyke is out on a $50,000 bond.


04-27-2011


It's ironic, or maybe not, to learn that Nicolas Cage has become fodder in Charlie Sheen's recent ''My Violent Torpedo of Truth/Defeat is Not an Option'' tour. According to the April 18th abcnews.go.com article, ''Nicolas Cage Arrest Details: Drunk and Violent'', Sheen shared that the actor assisted him with smuggling cocaine onto a plane, and coined Sheen's now infamous term, 'goddess.'

Good Goddess.

Over the weekend, Cage was arrested in New Orleans for domestic abuse battery and disturbing the peace. The actor was reportedly drunk, and confused about which house he was renting while in town filming ''The Medallion''. He and his third wife, Alice Kim, took the argument to the streets. Allegedly Cage pushed her, punched several cars and shouted at police to arrest him.

According to the abcnews.go.com article, Peter Bennett, a man who lives nearby the property, was quoted as having told People that: ''Apparently he had mistaken the house of my neighbors for the other house up the block that he is actually renting. His wife was trying to persuade him from disturbing the elderly couple who do in fact live in that house.''

To add to the actor's high profile drama, Duane ''Dog'' Chapman bailed him out.

According to the April 17th latimesblogs.latimes.com blog, ''Nicolas Cage: Before New Orleans arrest, a tattoo shop; after, bail by Dog the Bounty Hunter'', the Dog was quoted as saying in a statement: ''I am a truly dedicated fan of Mr. Cage, and will not be granting any interviews about my client as I wish to respect his privacy. I performed my duties as a bail bondsman and not in connection with our show. This is what I do for a living.''

Cage's downward spiral includes his fight at a Romanian nightclub during filming of the ''Ghost Rider'' sequel last year. And, this March, he allegedly had a verbal argument while intoxicated in New Orleans. However, he was not charged in that incident.

Ex-girlfriend and mother of his oldest child, Christina Fulton, also sued Cage for fraud and breach of contract in 2009, claiming Cage inflicted ''mental, physical and emotional abuse'' on her during their relationship, according to the April 18th mtv.com article, ''Nicolas Cage's Domestic Violence Arrest Just Latest Of Actor's Legal Problems''. She also claimed Cage bought her a house in 2001 but when she tried to sell it, found out the title was not in her name.

On top of Cage's legal problems are some steep financial woes. The IRS placed a tax lien on Cage's real estate, due to his failure to pay federal taxes. According to the mtv.com article, Cage admits he owes the IRS some $14 million, but he is repaying it, as he transitions between business managers - where yet another lawsuit has arisen, only in this case, it's Cage doing the suing.
The actor is suing former business manager Samuel Levin for $20 million, claiming mismanagement, which Levin denies. Cage is reported to have spent outrageous amounts of money on homes, castles, cars, jewelry, even islands.

According to the March 2010 musicrooms.net article, ''Nicolas Cage's lawyer gives cash-curbing advice'', Cage's attorney, Hollywood lawyer Martin ''Marty'' Singer told CNN that: ''You need someone to tell you, 'No, you cannot buy that piece of property. You cannot buy that piece of art. You cannot buy that car'.'', and that clients hire him for one good reason. Per Singer, clients tell him that, ‘I don't want to be Lindsay Lohan'. No courthouse. No jail.''

Enough said.


04-19-2011


The current drive in American politics to bring the federal budget under control has been almost entirely focused on reigning in spending programs ranging from entitlements to defense to earmarks and other forms of pork.

There has been little talk about increasing revenue, despite the insistence of economists and former politicians from all across the political spectrum that spending cuts alone will not balance the budget and are likely to slow down or even stop the economic recovery. An article in last week's New York Times may help spark some interest in at least reforming the tax code in ways that could increase revenue.

According to the Times, last year General Electric reported profits of $14.2 Billion, with $5.1 Billion of that total coming from operations within the United States. But thanks to the tax experts in its in house law department, GE did not pay a single dime in US taxes. In fact, rather than pay taxes, GE has what amounts to its own in house tax law firm with over 900 employees and has spent over $200 Million in lobbying over the last ten years, with much of that being focused on lobbying for beneficial tax laws. One loophole in particular, referred to as active financing, is particularly troubling. When Congress was preparing to let it lapse, the GE lobbying team went into gear and managed to turn around Charles Rangel, then the Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. The loophole survived.

Active financing means that if a company sells something like say a jet aircraft and finances it overseas, then it pays no taxes on the interest or profits unless they bring the money back to the US. In short, it's a tax break that is only available to multinational corporations, and not to the millions of small businesses that drive our economy. And it's worth about $9 Billion per year in lost tax revenue. If that was the end of it, it would still be an egregious tax dodge that further harms our economy by encouraging US companies to finance large sales offshore and to keep the profits from those enterprises outside of the US. But what makes it worse is that companies can still receive tax breaks or tax credits on some of those sales, like green energy turbines, that can then be applied to their US tax liabilities. This is how companies like GE are able to have record breaking profits while paying little to no federal tax.

The US corporate tax rate is one of the highest in the developed world which has resulted in more companies moving manufacturing and jobs overseas. But tax loopholes that also encourage moving money and jobs out of the US while making the high domestic tax rate irrelevant aren't helping the situation any either, and are contributing to the budget crisis. President Obama has talked about reforming the system to cut the top rate while eliminating many of the loopholes and shelters. This would benefit the small businesses that can't take advantage of loopholes like active financing while requiring multinational corporations to play by the same rules as the rest of us.

April 15 is right around the corner - and this year I'm paying more taxes than General Electric. It's time for a change.


03-29-2011


In what would surely have been a traumatic event for the family of Yale graduate student Annie Le is no longer a possibility. Raymond Clark, III pleaded guilty this week in the murder and attempted sexual assault of the woman who was only days away from her wedding.


Clark, who was an animal research technician at the time, will be sentenced to 44 years in prison as a result of his plea. Le was twenty-four at the time of her death and was just forty-eight hours away from her wedding day. Her body was found the day she was to walk down the aisle.

Clark's DNA was found on Le's clothing along with a green ink pen that had both Le's blood and more of Clark's DNA. It was the same green pen he used to sign into the lab the morning her body was found. She had been beaten, strangled and stuffed into a wall and evidence showed Clark had attempted to rape her.

Clark now has a fiancée who was with the rest of his family when they entered the courtroom on Thursday morning. His plea means there will be no trial. Many of Le's family members had voiced their willingness to accept a plea if it meant avoiding the ''dramatic, high profile trial''. It's also been reported other family members did not want the plea agreement and were hoping for a much stronger punishment. Clark was represented by a senior assistant public defender Beth A. Merkin. While Clark did not plead guilty to an attempt to commit sexual assault, it was entered under what's known as the Alford doctrine. The essence of this means that while he doesn't admit to it, he does agree that there is a strong likelihood that it could be proven.

Under the 44 year sentence agreement, Clark will not be eligible for parole and if he ever leaves prison, it will only be after he has served his sentence in its entirety. The district attorney says there are more than one thousand photographs and thousands of pages of police reports. Its likely Le's parents did not wish to witness those photos and other testimony.

Clark will be sentenced on May 20, 2011.    




03-21-2011


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