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Judge blocks Philadelphia from enforcing new gun laws
Press Release | 2008/04/18 14:51

A judge on Thursday temporarily blocked the city from enforcing five gun-control ordinances pending a challenge from the National Rifle Association.

The NRA argues that state law prevents Pennsylvania municipalities from regulating guns, a view that even the city's crime-weary district attorney shares.

"The city has no basis to pass any of these gun-control ordinances and they know it," lawyer C. Scott Shields argued on the NRA's behalf.

City lawyers contend that Philadelphia can pass gun-control ordinances if the laws are outside the scope of state measures. As an example, lawyer Mark Zecca told the judge that one Pennsylvania county had banned guns at its courthouse.

Among other things, the five city ordinances passed April 10 ban the sale of assault weapons; require owners to report a lost or stolen gun within 24 hours; and limit firearms purchases to one a month.

They came in response to the city's one-a-day murder rate and its reputation for being a weapons source for criminals in New York and other states with strict gun laws.

The judge scheduled arguments for April 28. She said she would rule very quickly, although her decision is sure to be appealed by the losing side.

Mayor Michael Nutter, who declared a "crime emergency" shortly after taking office in January, quickly signed the City Council bills into law - despite still-pending litigation over earlier gun-control efforts.



Fed. judge declares 2nd mistrial in terror case
Law Firm News | 2008/04/17 15:12

US District Judge Joan A. Lenard Wednesday declared a second mistrial in a terrorism prosecution of six men charged with conspiring to bomb the Sears Tower in Chicago and the FBI headquarters in Miami after the jury was unable to reach a verdict after 13 days of deliberations. In December 2007 Lenard declared an initial mistrial when the jury was deadlocked after nine days of deliberations. A seventh man was acquitted in that proceeding.

The seven were indicted last year on charges of conspiring to provide material support to al Qaeda; conspiring to provide material support, training, and resources to terrorists; conspiring to maliciously damage and destroy by means of an explosive; and conspiring to levy war against the government of the United States. The indictment alleged that ringleader Narseal Batiste recruited the six other defendants to "organize and train for a mission to wage war against the United States government," and that they pledged an oath to al Qaeda in an attempt to secure financial and logistical backing. Lawyers for some of the men said that their clients were entrapped by an FBI informant posing as an al Qaeda operative. If the men had been convicted, they would have faced up to 70 years in prison.



Court Won't Hear Young Killer's Appeal
Court Issues | 2008/04/16 15:07
The Supreme Court has refused to review a 30-year prison sentence for a teen who was 12 when he killed his grandparents in South Carolina.

Lawyers for Christopher Pittman wanted the justices to examine whether the long prison term for a child violates the Constitution's ban on cruel and unusual punishment. With no possibility of parole, he will be 42 before he is released, they said.

Pittman is the only inmate serving such a lengthy sentence for a crime committed at such a young age, his lawyers said. The judge who sentenced him was prohibited by law from taking his age into account.

South Carolina contended the punishment is proportionate to the crime and said there is a national trend of increased punishment for young violent criminals.


Top Law Schools Tighten Hold on NLJ 250 Firms
Legal Network | 2008/04/14 15:04
A bigger percentage of students graduating from top law schools in 2007 took jobs at NLJ 250 law firms than those graduating in 2006.

Columbia Law School landed in the No. 1 spot again as the school thatsent the greatest portion of graduates to NLJ 250 law firms, withnearly 75 percent of its students in 2007 taking jobs among thenation's largest law firms. The school ranked No. 1 last year, when69.6 percent of its graduates went to NLJ 250 law firms. Boston CollegeLaw School rounded at the list of the top 20 go-to law schools, with36.8 percent of its 261 juris doctor graduates in 2007 heading forfull-time jobs at NLJ 250 law firms.

All together, the top 20 law schools that NLJ 250 law firms relied onmost to fill their first-year associate ranks sent 54.9 percent oftheir graduates to those firms, compared with 51.6 percent in 2006.

This year's list of go-to schools was compiled from recruiting information that law firms provided on the 2007 NLJ 250, The National Law Journal's annual survey of the nation's largest law firms.

In 2007, the top 20 schools sent 3,511 of their graduates to work asfirst-year associates at NLJ 250 law firms. Total graduates among thoseschools in 2007 equaled 6,395. In 2006, the 20 go-to law schools sent3,561 to NLJ 250 law firms out of 6,902 graduates.

Making a big jump in its percentage of graduates accepting positions atNLJ 250 firms was Northwestern University School of Law. It took theNo. 2 spot, compared with No. 11 the year before. Some 73.5 percent ofits 2007 graduates went to NLJ 250 firms, or 172 graduates out of atotal of 234. The year before, 143 graduates out of 265 went to NLJ 250firms, which equaled 54 percent.



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