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Alaska Senator Charged with Corruption
Law Firm News | 2008/07/30 14:53
A federal grand jury indicted Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska, thelongest-serving Republican senator, on corruption charges. Stevens, 84,was charged with seven counts of falsely reporting income from giftsand home renovations.
    A year-long investigation revealed arelationship between Stevens and oil executive Bill Allen, whosecompany, VECO Corp., won millions of dollars' worth of federalcontracts with Stevens' help. VECO supervised hundreds of thousands ofdollars worth of renovations on Stevens' Girdwood, Alaska home, almostdoubling it in size.
    Federal agents also investigated thesenator's son, Ben Stevens, then serving as president of the AlaskaSenate, as part of last year's inquiry into illicit payments made tocontractors and lobbyists.
    Stevens has served in the Senatefor 40 years and helped Alaska obtain statehood in 1959. He is up forreelection this November against popular Anchorage mayor, Mark Begich.Begich would be the first Democratic senator for Alaska since 1974.     
    Stevens, a World War II veteran, was first appointed tofill a vacant Senate seat in 1968 by former Alaska governor WalterHickel, and has been re-elected six times since.
    Theindictment will force Stevens to abandon posts as senior Republican onthe Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee and the defenseappropriations subcommittee.


Coalition Opposes Canyon Granite Removal
Court Issues | 2008/07/29 14:40
The U.S. Forest Service's approval of a plan to remove 1,000 cubic yards of granite from the Lost Horse Canyon in Montana's Bitterroot National Forest violates environmental law and threatens to rob rock climbers of "world-class" climbing, the Lost Horse Canyon Coalition claims in Federal Court.

The coalition and Rick Torre claim the Forest Service failed to analyze the removal project's impact on climbing, local business and sensitive wildlife species, such as the peregrine falcon, bull trout and westslope cutthroat trout.

The Forest Service allegedly curtailed its analysis based on a categorical exclusion for "minor" projects, but the plaintiffs say the agency "failed to explain how the project would be 'minor' in light of the predominant recreational use in the area."

Timothy Bechtold is representing the coalition.


Comedian Says Heckler's Lawsuit Isn't Funny
Court Watch | 2008/07/28 14:39
Toronto comedian Guy Earle has sued the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal to have a heckler's human-rights complaint against him dismissed.

In May 2007, according to Earle's petition in B.C. Supreme Court, he was hosting an open mic comedy night advertised as "Vancouver's Edgiest Comedy - Not for the Faint of Heart." His onstage persona, the petition states, was "an asshole comic." Lorna Pardy and two friends began heckling him by kissing and yelling, the petition states, and "in the course of trying to silence (Pardy), whom he regarded as an inconsiderate heckler, Mr. Earle used rude language which referenced (Pardy's) sexual preference. (Pardy) continued to heckle."

Earle claims he later tried to make peace with Pardy, but she allegedly threatened him and threw drinks in his face. Pardy later filed a human-rights complaint against Earle, despite an apology, and the tribunal denied Earle's application to dismiss. He claims the tribunal lacks jurisdiction and that the B.C. Human Rights Code is unconstitutional because it's overbroad, vague and it unreasonably infringes upon his right to freedom of expression.

"Guy Earle is not a homophobe," the petition states. "On the contrary, Mr. Earle has many friends and colleagues who are homosexual. He reasserts his unreserved apology to (Pardy) for any suffering she may have experienced as a result of his spontaneous expressions of frustration at her disruption of the performance."

Earle is represented by James Millar.


New York AG files complaint
Court Issues | 2008/07/25 14:54
New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo filed a lawsuit against financial firm UBS on Thursday for allegedly misrepresenting so-called "auction rate securities" as low-risk despite the actual volatility of such investments. In the complaint, Cuomo alleges that UBS led investors to believe they could easily divest themselves of the long-term securities, and that after the company was aware of market instability, they continued to push the funds even though top executives had moved quickly to sell their own holdings. During a press conference on the lawsuit, Coumo said:

   Not only is UBS guilty of committing a flagrant breach of trust between the bank and its customers, its top executives jumped ship as soon the securities market started to collapse, leaving thousands of customers holding the bag. Today we bring the first nationwide lawsuit against UBS, seeking to recover billions of dollars for customers and sending a resounding message to the rest of the industry that this type of deceptive behavior will not be tolerated.

Cuomo is seeking to force UBS to buy back the securities from investors and to pay restitution for any profits made from their sale, as well as other damages.

On Wednesday, the Texas Securities Board said it is considering banning UBS from selling securities in the state because of auction rate securities misrepresentations. A March New York Times report said the practice of representing the securities as low-risk and highly liquid was widespread and has resulted in large loses and a number of lawsuits around the country.


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