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Judge won't dismiss charges against Haditha commander
Court Line | 2008/03/04 22:19

A military judge has refused to dismiss charges against the highest ranking officer accused of wrongdoing following the killing of two dozen Iraqi civilians in the city of Haditha two years ago.

The judge, Col. Stephen Folsom, rejected attempts by attorneys for Lt. Col. Jeffrey Chessani to throw out the case or order that a new pretrial investigative hearing take place to determine if the charges against him should stand.

Chessani was the battalion commander at Haditha when a squad of Camp Pendleton Marines killed the civilians following a roadside bombing and small arms attack on Nov. 19, 2005.

The civilian deaths occurred as troops searched for their attackers. Those killings and the actions of commanders in the aftermath have led to the largest criminal case against Marines since the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

One of Chessani's attorneys, Brian Rooney, said Wednesday that Folsom has refused to allow a deposition be taken from U.S. Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., as part of the defense's motion to have the case dismissed on the basis the charges resulted from "undue command influence."

The judge refused the defense access to computer hard drives of commanders above Chessani containing e-mail messages about the incident. Chessani's attorneys contend those messages show that their client had fully reported what he knew and that commanders far above him, including at least two generals, had concluded no formal investigation into the civilian deaths was required.

"That was the most stunning part of the ruling," Rooney said. "We intend to file a motion asking the judge to reconsider that because the essence of the case is all about the reporting."

Chessani, who commanded Camp Pendleton's 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment at Haditha in November 2005, is charged with dereliction of duty and failing to accurately report and thoroughly investigate a possible war crime. His scheduled to go on trial by military court-martial on April 28.

Two Marines under his command, Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich and Lance Cpl. Stephen Tatum, face court-martials this spring on manslaughter charges in the civilian deaths.

Richard Thompson, chief counsel of the Christian-based Thomas More Law Center of Ann Arbor, Mich., that is representing Chessani, said the pretrial rulings against Chessani and the prosecution itself "stink to high heaven."

"Denying us the right to take Murtha's deposition so that we could show undue command influence, as well as denial of our request for production of documents in the possession of Lt. Col. Chessani's superiors, makes it impossible for us to render this loyal Marine officer the effective assistance of counsel he deserves," Thompson said in a written statement. "They are attempting to throw him under the bus."

A second officer also accused of wrongdoing at Haditha, 1st Lt. Andrew Grayson, has been in a Camp Pendleton courtroom this week for a motion hearing in advance of his trial.


Ciolli Sues Yale Law Students in AutoAdmit Scandal
Legal News | 2008/03/04 22:06

Penn Law grad Anthony Ciolli — the former administrator of AutoAdmit who was named in a lawsuit filed in June by two Yale Law students against anonymous posters on the law-school discussion board and then subsequently dropped from the suit — is now returning fire. For backstory, click here, here and here.

In this complaint, which was filed today in state court in Philadelphia, Ciolli is suing the two Yale students as well as their lawyers, on eight counts, including abuse of process, libel, publicity placing plaintiff in a false light and tortious interference with contract. This fall, after being named in the original suit by the Yale women and accused of running a website called T14 Talent (now shuttered), which ranked women at the top 14 law schools based on their looks, Ciolli subsequently lost an offer for a full-time associate job at Boston firm Edwards, Angell, Palmer & Dodge.

In defending the action filed against him, Ciolli was represented by Marc Randazza. But this complaint is signed by Mark Jakubik.

We’ve reached out to Mark Lemley, a named defendant and the lawyer for the two women, as well as the other individuals named in the suit. We’ll let you know if we hear back.



Louisiana's new AG probes Foti's last-stand lawsuits
Legal Focuses | 2008/03/04 21:50

FCC General Counsel Feder Leaves for Law Firm
Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell could be ready to ditch some of the more "curious" cases he inherited from his predecessor.

Former attorney general Charles Foti, unseated by Caldwell last November, issued a flurry of lawsuits in his final days on the job, LNL reported last month. In two cases he teamed up with campaign-donor lawyers to file big class-action suits.

"There has been documented curious official behavior on the part of the previous AG's office that has not gone unnoticed," Caldwell stated in a report.

Another case left for Caldwell was against Foti, accusing the former AG of illegally contracting the same lawyers to represent Louisiana in another big lawsuit. Four law firms working on two of Foti's suits donated $13,500 to his unsuccessful re-election campaign last year, that report notes.

Attorneys from New Orleans firms Dugan Law Firm and Murray Law Firm - both of which gave Foti's campaign $5,000 - are listed as plaintiffs in two of the suits.

On the flip side, Foti has also been accused of violating state law by not gaining official approval to contract with private lawyers in a lawsuit against re-constructor Road Home. The case was filed by major insurers including State Farm.



Former Court justice Baldwin joins Pittsburgh law firm
Law Firm Topics | 2008/03/04 20:40

Cynthia Baldwin, who served as a justice on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court from 2006 until January, has joined law firm Duane Morris LLP's Pittsburgh office as a partner in the trial practice group and appellate litigation sub practice group.

Prior to her appointment to the commonwealth's highest court, Baldwin spent 16 years as a judge in various divisions of the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas.

Duane Morris, based in Philadelphia, opened its Pittsburgh office in 2003.



Schmidt & Clark, LLP Announces Trasylol Website
Attorney News | 2008/03/04 20:39

Schmidt & Clark, LLP, a nationally recognized drug litigation law firm has announced today that it has recently added additional content to its Trasylol recall website.

Trasylol has been marketed by Bayer for 14 years. Bayer marketed it aggressively until it was used in approximately 1/3 of all cardiac bypass surgeries. In the last two years, Trasylol has been linked to kidney or renal failure, heart attacks, strokes and approximately 22,000 deaths.

At the heart of current and pending litigation surrounding Trasylol side effects, is the fact that Bayer was aware of the potential problems over two years ago. A study connecting Trasylol and serious side effects was presented in January 2006, but the drug was not recalled until November 2007. Bayer failed to present their research to the FDA in their September 2006 meeting. The chairman of that FDA advisory panel, Dr. William Hiatt, said that he would have voted for a Trasylol recall back in 2006 if Bayer had not withheld the data from their study.

Michael E. Schmidt, Managing Partner of Schmidt & Clark, LLP has noticed an alarming number of inquiries to the firm related to Trasylol. Mr. Schmidt stated, “Our firm has substantial expertise in the areas drug litigation. As a result, we have received a number of inquiries from heart bypass surgery patients claiming serious or life-threatening side effects including death, kidney or renal failure, heart attacks, and strokes.”

Schmidt & Clark, LLP represents a number of Trasylol recall victims and continues to be contacted by victims of Trasylol on a frequent basis.

If you or a loved one has been the victim of a Trasylol induced side effect, the firm suggests that you visit their Trasylol website. The site includes detailed lawsuit information, news and more.

About Schmidt & Clark, LLP

Schmidt & Clark, LLP focuses on helping individuals and families. The firm has built a reputation for success, and represents their clients in group and individual lawsuits nationwide.

Although Schmidt & Clark, LLP is national in scope, they level the playing field for their clients by providing them with access to a level of professional legal representation previously available only to large corporations, while still providing personal attention to each client.

For more information on Schmidt & Clark, LLP or Trasylol lawsuits, please visit: http://www.schmidtandclark.com/Trasylol/ or call toll free 24 hrs/day (866) 588-0600.


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