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Court Accepts Crime Lab Case
Court Watch | 2008/03/17 18:02
The Supreme Court agreed Monday to decide whether prosecutors can use crime lab reports as evidence without having the forensic analyst who prepared them testify at trial.

The reliability of crime labs has been questioned in several states and at the federal level in recent years.

State and federal courts have come to different conclusions about whether recent Supreme Court decisions affirming the constitutional right of a defendant to confront his accusers extend to lab reports that are used in many drug and other cases.

The case the justices accepted, and will consider in the fall, comes from Massachusetts. Luis Melendez-Diaz was convicted of trafficking in cocaine partly on the basis of a crime lab analysis that confirmed that cocaine was in plastic bags found in the car in which Melendez-Diaz was riding.

Rather than accept the report, however, Melendez-Diaz objected that he should be allowed to question the person who prepared it about testing methods, how the evidence was preserved and a host of other issues.



CNet to Appeal Court's Bylaw Ruling
Court Watch | 2008/03/17 18:02
CNet Networks Inc. said Monday that it will appeal a lower court's decision on bylaw provisions to the Delaware Supreme Court.

Last week the Delaware Chancery Court ruled that CNet's bylaws do not give it the ability to prevent a group of dissident shareholders led by an affiliate of hedge fund Jana Partners LLC from nominating directors to the company's board or proposing an increase to the board's size.

The court's decision "incorrectly calls into question the bylaws of a large number of companies with the same or similar bylaw provisions," CNet said in a release. The company said its stockholder-approved bylaws are "fully applicable" to the hedge fund.

A "costly and disruptive proxy contest" is not in the best interest of stockholders, and Jana should not be able to seek control of CNet without paying a premium, the company said.

In a letter to CNet Chief Executive Neil Ashe issued earlier Monday, Jana managing partner Barry Rosenstein questioned whether an appeal would benefit shareholders. "We believe it is time for fundamental strategic and operational change at CNet, and that the nominees we have proposed... have the collective experience and expertise to successfully implement this change," he wrote.

Jana had about a 10 percent stake in CNET as of Dec. 31.



Lake Stevens to halt drug testing after court ruling
Law Firm News | 2008/03/14 16:22
Lake Stevens School District plans to suspend student drug testing after the Washington State Supreme Court ruled today that testing of student athletes is unconstitutional.

The district’s lawyer needs to review the court decision, spokeswoman Arlene Hulten said.

“On first blush, it looks like this ruling would impact our programs and we’d have to stop our random drug testing programs for grades 9 to 12,” she said.

Lake Stevens High School is one of the few in the state that uses random drug tests. In a controversial move, the school began testing students involved in extracurricular activities for drugs in 2006.

The tests have helped motivate kids to avoid drugs, Hulten said.

The court unanimously ruled in support of a challenge brought against the Wahkiakum School District's policy of random urine tests of middle school and high school student athletes.


Jackson Lawyer: Neverland Auction Off
Topics | 2008/03/14 16:21
Michael Jackson still has Neverland, having cut an 11th-hour deal Thursday to keep it off the auction block.

But the magic that once made the financially troubled entertainer's 2,500-acre paradise in the rolling hills of central California's wine country one of the most talked-about places on Earth seems to have vanished along with its reclusive owner.

Jackson hasn't been seen in this bucolic area of oak-studded hills since he was acquitted in June 2005 of molesting a 13-year-old visitor to his estate, and his absence leaves the future of Neverland, a sort of Hearst Castle for 12-year-olds, in doubt.

"We're all, of course, wondering what's going to happen. We've heard rumors but we don't know anything," said Kim Morrison, one of the administrators of a private school located just across the road from Neverland.



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