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Two Birmingham law firms agree to merger
Legal Focuses | 2008/02/22 14:02

Birmingham law firm White Arnold & Dowd PC and fellow Birmingham firm Summey & Hennecy have merged.

Partners Sidney C. Summey and Karen M. Hennecy and their staff members recently agreed to join White Arnold & Dowd PC, which brings the firm's total staff to 17.

The move strengthens the firm's growing probate and elder law practice, a news release said.

Summey has more than 30 years of experience practicing in the probate and civil courts in Alabama and will continue his primary practice of wills, trusts and estates, assistance to litigators handling lawsuits for minors and incompetents, special needs trusts and planning, guardianships and conservatorships, elder law and litigation related to probate issues.

Hennecy will concentrate her practice on elder law issues, assisting clients and their families with matters including advance directives, durable powers of attorney, wills, trusts, asset preservation and Medicaid planning and administration of the estates of decedents and protected persons.



Morgan banker joins law firm Latham & Watkins
Legal Marketing | 2008/02/20 14:10
Daniel Maze has joined Latham & Watkins as a partner in its finance department after three years at U.S. investment bank Morgan Stanley the law firm said on Thursday.

Princeton-educated Maze was executive director in Morgan Stanley's leveraged and acquisition finance group.

"We have built one of the pre-eminent combined high yield and senior leveraged finance capabilities in the market, and Dan's arrival further bolsters our banking practice," said Andrew Moyle, managing partner in the firm's London office.



US court rules for Medtronic, bars some state suits
Headline Legal News | 2008/02/20 13:46

The U.S. Supreme Court handed a victory to Medtronic Inc on Wednesday, ruling that patients cannot sue medical-device manufacturers in state court over harm from a device that has approval from federal regulators.

By an 8-1 vote, the court ruled a 1976 law creating federal safety oversight for medical devices bars state-law claims challenging safety or effectiveness of devices that have won premarket approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The decision was the Supreme Court's first ruling on the legal effect of the FDA's approval of a medical device on liability lawsuits, Medtronic said.

The ruling could benefit other device makers, who have argued that the FDA's judgment that a product is safe and effective should protect companies from being sued for liability in state court.

The Medtronic case involved a New York man who was injured in 1996 when a doctor inflated a balloon catheter during an artery-clearing procedure.

Medtronic has said the doctor in the case used the catheter contrary to labeling instructions and in a patient for whom it was not recommended. The company no longer makes that specific catheter.

A federal trial court in Albany, New York, dismissed the lawsuit, finding the patient was not entitled to state law remedies because of the FDA's prior approval of the device.

A U.S. appeals court agreed that the lawsuit was pre-empted by federal law, and the Supreme Court upheld that decision.



Top US court rejects spying case
Headline Legal News | 2008/02/19 13:48

The US Supreme Court has dismissed a legal challenge to a domestic anti-terrorism eavesdropping programme.
President George W Bush authorised the monitoring, without a court order, of international phone calls and e-mails of US citizens after the 9/11 attacks.

The American Civil Liberties Union argued that Mr Bush did not have the constitutional authority to order the programme, which ended last year.

The Supreme Court gave no explanation for its ruling.

Legality questioned

The domestic spying programme was denounced by Democrats and rights activists when it was disclosed in 2005.

A group of civil liberties activists, journalists, academics and lawyers challenged the spying programme in the courts, arguing it violated a 1978 rule prohibiting surveillance of American citizens on US soil without a warrant.

In July last year, an appeals court struck down a lower court's ruling that found the programme to be unconstitutional.

The appeals court, based in Cincinnati, dismissed the case because the plaintiffs had failed to show that their communications had been monitored.

But the Cincinnati judges did not rule on the legality or otherwise of the programme.

The president rejected claims that he broke the law by ordering surveillance without first securing warrants. He argued the eavesdropping programme was necessary and was targeted against al-Qaeda.

The Bush administration has so far refused to release documents about the programme that might reveal who was under surveillance.




U.S. Appeals Court sets deadlines in Peel case
Court News | 2008/02/08 11:16
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago allowed Gary Peel's federal public defender to withdraw from his case.

The Seventh Circuit appointed Paul Camarena of Chicago to replace Stephen Williams of the East St. Louis federal public defender's office on Jan. 25, after Williams filed a motion to withdraw just before Christmas.

Before the appeals court would allow Williams to withdraw, it ordered him to gather all of the transcripts of Peel's trial from Stiehl's court reporter Daveanna Ramsey.

Peel filed his notice of appeal of his final judgment and sentence to the Seventh Circuit on Dec. 4.

He was sentenced to 12 years in prison by U.S. District Court Judge William Stiehl on Nov. 19. He was technically sentenced to 37 years, but Stiehl ordered the time to be served concurrently.

Peel, 63, was convicted on one count of obstruction of justice, one count bankruptcy fraud and two counts of child pornography by a federal jury in East St. Louis on March 23. He was also fined $1,000 and placed on three years supervised release.

Peel was prosecuted for blackmailing his ex-wife Deborah Peel with nude photos taken of her 16-year-old sister in 1974.

He and Deborah Peel were married in 1967 and divorced in 2003. During contentious settlement proceedings Gary Peel filed for bankruptcy in 2004.

At trial, prosecutors told jurors that Peel threatened to bankrupt his ex-wife in legal fees if she did not stop trying to get a deposition of his current wife, Deborah A. Pontious-Peel.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin Burke told the jury that Peel planned to send the nude photos to Deborah Peel's parents if she did not agree to a new divorce settlement.

The Seventh Circuit also set the deadlines for the appeal to be filed.

Peel has to file his written brief and short appendix by April 23. The government has until May 23 to file its brief. If Peel wants to reply to the government's brief, he must submit it no later than June 6.

Peel originally had until Jan. 15 to file his brief, but was allowed more time since Williams withdrew from the case.


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