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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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The lawyers hired by Governor Chris Christie to investigate the bridge scandal that has plagued his current term in office will be subpoenaed by a New Jersey legislative committee. The committee will ask for interview transcripts and other documents who issued their report last week that cleared Christie of any wrongdoing or knowledge of the lane closures at the George Washington Bridge, according to ABC News.

John Wisniewski, an assemblyman, said that the lawyers who were hired by the Christie administration to conduct an internal review, had access to documents and information that the committee from the state has yet to see.

Wisniewski also noted that lawyers working on the review, who hail from the law firm of Gibson Dunn, withheld documents that were subpoenaed by the legislative committee while it worked on its report about the lane closures.

The report was released last week by lawyer Randy Mastro and in it concluded that Christie did not know of the lane closure plan at the bridge. It was done in retaliation against the Fort Lee, New Jersey mayor for not backing Christie during his re-election campaign for governor. The report also shot down claims that the administration tied recovery funds of Superstorm Sandy to approval of a redevelopment project favored by the administration.

The report was ripped apart by Democrats who said that it is incomplete because key players in the lane closures were not interviewed by the lawyers. The mayor who made the Sandy recovery funds claims was also not interviewed by the lawyers working on the case.

Wisniewski said that the committee has received "tens of thousands" of documents from the office of the governor following the subpoena last week. Wisniewski also said that some 70 people the lawyers interviewed and interview transcripts were not sent to the committee.

Mastro noted that interview transcripts were not released because the governor's office is cooperating with a federal investigation. Wisniewski said that the added subpoenas will be voted on when the committee convenes. The committee has eight Democrats and four Republicans on it.

Some two dozen people and organizations have been subpoenaed by the legislative committee that are close to Christie regarding the lane closures. The closures caused four days of remarkable traffic jams in Fort Lee until the lanes were ordered re-opened by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey executive director. Five people close to Christie have lost their jobs as a result of the lane closures, including deputy chief of staff for the governor Bridget Kelly. Kelly started the lane closures with the message of "Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee."


04-06-2014


Criminal defense attorney, Matthew Herman, may be not live in Colorado where marijuana is legal, but he plans to do business there.

Herman is an attorney that works out of his office in Grand Rapids, MI, helping defend clients who were charged with a wide range of crimes, including possession or selling of marijuana. In Michigan, marijuana is illegal, including the medicinal use of the drug. After spending so many years seeing the type of money that can be made in this business, he has decided to become involved, now that it is legal in Colorado.

Herman told reporters that he wants in on the business he has seen criminals making money off of. He is currently working closely with licensed growers in Colorado to create a new production facility that is entirely legal and approved by Colorado state regulators. He wants to be one of only a handful of producers that are providing marijuana products to retailers throughout the state.

He also mentioned that he thinks Colorado is going to limit the wholesale production of marijuana to just 5-6 producers. His new business, which is tentatively named Cannabis Solutions, Inc., is hopefully going to be one of the approved businesses. Herman is currently working on raising enough capital to operate a growing facility in Colorado, which will span about 22,000 square feet. He needs between $1.5 million and $4 to get it up and running.

As of now, he is already getting funding from athletes from the NBA and NHL, and some rap musicians, though he has not released their names to the press. Herman’s main goal is not to only grow the marijuana, but have better innovation in the growing process, and do it with less costs than other wholesale production companies have done so far. He wants to limit the number of investors to around 100, though he will consider an IPO is the money is not earned with this limited number of people. There are already big investors at $25,000 to $300,000 each, while family members have become small investors of the company.

The first stage of Herman’s plan is to earn enough capital for purchasing the equipment needed to grow marijuana. The reason he is starting there, is because if it does not work out how he hoped, he can still sell the equipment and return the money to the investors. Herman knows his way around the laws, as Michigan once had its Medical Marijuana act that was created by advocated, but not lawmakers. He knows the confusion that can arise from legalization of marijuana, even as the law is currently in Colorado.

A website is set up for Herman to provide information for a board of directors for his new company. Investors can access private information after being given a password to view the business plan and learn more about the business.


03-28-2014


The number of women listed as the top lawyers in the country is increasing, even higher than just five years ago. The most recent list of the top lawyers in the United States at Fortune 500 companies includes 21 percent women, while five years ago there were about 17 percent women. There was only one woman as a top head lawyer of a Fortune 500 company 25 years ago, showing a steady and significant rise of powerful women in the workplace, according to the New York Times.

These new numbers were released just a few days ago by the Corporate Counsel magazine. While the number is actually three less than the same time in 2012, it is still showing a good rise of women that are heading the legal departments of some of the top earning corporations in the country. There is also, not surprisingly, a higher number of women law school graduates and attendees, increasing the number of female lawyers in general.

Another impressive detail from this report is that five of these female lawyers head law departments of major aerospace and defense companies, something that has been traditionally considered a male profession. There were also nine women lawyers heading insurance industries, seven heading specialty retailers, and seven heading food consumer products, where they lead the company’s law department.

Among the 17 biggest corporations in the country, four of them have women as their leading legal position, which is either titled a chief legal officer or general counsel. Other well-known large corporations with women at the head of their legal offices are the United States Steel Corporation, Lockheed Martin, Honeywell International, Wal-mart Stores, and FedEx.

When looking at companies and corporations not in the Fortune 500 list, only about 17 percent of their top legal jobs were held by women, from companies listed between 501 and 1,000. According to the American Bar Association, only about 15.6 percent of women hold these top legal positions.

While the numbers for the top Fortune 500 companies is good and the steady increase is positive, it is also known that companies as a whole are not diverse in comparison between male and female employees, especially with their corporate legal jobs. The latest numbers of female partners in law firms located in the United States is about 19 percent, a number that hasn’t budged much in the last five years. Only three percent of women have full partnership or equity stake in their law firms.

The first corporate counsel promoted to the company’s top legal job was Mary Ann Hynes, leading the legal department of CCH Inc. in 1979. Twenty years later, there were 44 female head legal counsels, according to the ALM reports. This number today is now 106 women with these head legal jobs.


03-21-2014


There is currently some debate about the ethics surrounding a suspended lawyer that was hired for a city contract by Theo Gregory, the Wilmington City Council President in Pennsylvania. He recently gave a contract to a lawyer at $400 an hour, even though he was suspended due to practicing law in another state without an office. He was suspended because you must have a right to practice in any state you are living and working in, according to The News Journal.

The lawyer hired by Gregory was Calvin Harmon. He was hired by Gregory to help with a lawsuit against Mayor Dennis Williams who was providing council members with a slush fund, provided by $250,000 worth of grant money. In order to try to prevent a canceled budget meeting, Mayor Williams took Gregory to court, who then hired the suspended lawyer, Harmon.

Harmon lives in Wilmington, Delaware where he has a mail drop address for his registration as a lawyer to practice with the Delaware Supreme Court. With just a mail drop address and not a physical address where he practiced law in the state, he was suspended for going against Delaware’s policies. They require lawyers to have an office maintained in the state for practicing law, and specifically state it cannot be only a mail drop. Harmon’s defense is that he believes this rule only applies to lawyers that currently have pending cases with Delaware court.

When he was working as a lawyer for  Gregory, Harmon used Gregory’s address in that case and other cases, according to court records. During that year, he received $29,364 in city legal services. Harmon said his law office was in Pennsylvania, but the Disciplinary Board for the Pennsylvania Supreme Court say he was suspended from practicing in their state since Fall of 2010. This suspension was due to now paying his $200 annual attorney fee.

To this, Harmon attempted to defend himself by saying his office in Pennsylvania is actually an investment banking business, and not a law firm, and that most of his working hours are dedicated to the investment business. He mentioned Gregory was a friend, and that is why he was in court in Pennsylvania, helping him with this legal case.

The complaint that has risen from this case is that Harmon was working for Gregory’s law firm when he was presenting him, which would be against the city’s code of conduct. Harmon is trying to prove that he was only using his address, and not actually an employee of the law firm. They both deny being law partners and that Harmon representing Gregory against the Mayor is not against the code of conduct.

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03-14-2014


The Florida State Supreme Court ruled on Thursday in a unanimous decision to bar immigrants here in the United States illegally from working as lawyers in the state. However, the only Hispanic member of the Court decried the decision as ‘unjust.’ The bar expands to all U.S. Illegal Immigrants, including the ones who came to this country as children. The Florida Board of Bar Examiners submitted a question to the court, but many say it came across as a plea to change the professional licensing law in the state legislature.

The question comes from a submitted bar admission application by Jose Manual Godinez-Samperio, a Florida State University law school graduate who is a Mexican immigrant. In 2011, he passed the bar exam after receiving a waver that allowed him to test without proving residency or U.S. citizenship. All lawyers who wish to practice in the state of Florida are mandated to become Florida Bar members. The Florida Bar is overseen by the Florida Supreme Court.

The justices cited the Obama administration’s actions regarding halting deportation of those individuals who parents entered the country illegally several years ago or overstayed their visas. However, the executive policies have not been passed by Congress as laws, so the justices said they don’t authorize the state of Florida to ignore the laws in place currently by Congress. Therefore, they will not admit unauthorized or illegal immigrants to become members of the Florida Bar. The court stated that while Federal law does permit individual states to make citizenship requirement exemptions in professional licensing, Florida is not one of them to do so.

During the ruling, the court justices also cited a case in California where the state allowed a person who came into the United States as a child illegally to join the California Bar Association. Justice Jorge Labarga wrote the applicant to the bar was much like himself, except for his different birth location. It was his reluctance with the ruling that also made him decry of the “injustice of the decision.”

He continued to write that the ten 9 year old, Godinez-Samperio came into the US with visas from Mexico and decided to stay here. He noted Godinez-Samperio did everything required of a lawyer, was an Eagle Scout, and a good student. Labarga also came from Cuba in 1963 and said his path to education, citizenship, and career advancement was received with open arms.

The bar applicant, Godinez-Samperio said during an interview that he plans on taking the issue to the state legislature. He conveyed his wishes to basically just have the state legislature fix the problem. He vowed to not give up on Florida and said he received encouragement from the written ruling of the justices’, while also being ‘moved’ by Labarga’s words.


03-07-2014


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