Thursday, October 13, 2005

Duane Morris to Acquire West Coast Firm

The Boston Business Journal is reporting that Duane Morris LLP, its Boston office with over 30 lawyers, is acquiring the California firm of Hancock Rothert & Bunshoft LLP. Duane Morris has a press release here.

Hiller Zobel Recalled

Hiller Zobel, a noted book author (amongst his many articles for the Boston Bar Journal) who is best known for presiding over the Louise Woodward case, has been recalled to the bench to hear cases involving alleged sexual offenders.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

First Circuit Joins 7th & 10th in CAFA Ruling

In Natale v. Pfizer, Inc., No. 05-2203, decided September 16, 2005, the First Circuit joined the Seventh and Tenth Circuits in ruling that, for purposes of the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA), "commencement" does not refer to the time of removal, but rather the time of filing. Subsequently, the Ninth Circuit has also agreed. (Each opinion has also noted, alluded to, or held that "filed" is defined by reference to the state law in which the case was originally filed.)

CAFA allows for the removal of certain state filed class actions based on "minimal diversity." It also allows some aggregation of claims in order to meet a minimum amount in controversy. CAFA's section 9 notes that CAFA applies to actions "commenced" after the date of enactment. The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri held, while reminding us of our favorite childhood songs, that "enactment" means the date the President signs the bill into law, not the date the law was presented after passage by Congress.

The Seventh Circuit has clarified its holding by suggesting that some post-filed amendments made after the date CAFA was enacted may nonetheless allow for removal under CAFA.

Gertner Jury Venire Order Overturned

On Friday, October 7, 2005, the First Circuit overturned Judge Nancy Gertner's order seeking to increase African American participation in the jury pool.

This is the second pre-trial order in this case to be overturned by the First Circuit. In a number of opinions starting in July 2004 and culminating in December 2004, Judge Gertner had ordered that capital case bifurcated between two juries: one for guilt determination and for a punishment determination. Judge Gertner

A third order, requiring certain prior unadjudicated crimes to be presented to a Grand Jury under the Sixth Amendment, Apprendi, and Blakely, has not been appealed.

Included amongst the appellate lawyers was the recently opened Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice and the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights under Law.

Monday, October 10, 2005

BLS Chief Justice to Retire, Recall

In December 2005, Superior Court Boston Litigation Section Chief Justice Allan van Gestel will reach mandatory retirement age. It is expected that he will be recalled, though the SJC has not yet so announced via a press release.

Cote-Whitacre vs. Dept. of Public Health Argued

Cote-Whitacre vs. Dept. of Public Health, the case challenging the Commonwealth's use of the 1913 statute against non-Massachusetts residents seeking a Massachusetts marriage which would be "void" in the non-Massachusetts residents' state of residence, was argued on Thursday, October 6, 2005.

The Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders ( Mary Bonauto argued on behalf of appellants) has collected the documents here.

Starting in September 2005, the SJC, in conjunction with Suffolk Law School, has been both broadcasting and archiving oral arguments before the SJC.

The Cote-Whitacre oral argument is archived here.