Archive for the ‘Scott Graham’ Category

Dorsey-Flehr: A Merger That Didn’t Take

October 31, 2006

With merger mania gripping the legal community this week, it’s worth remembering that sometimes these ventures don’t work out so well.

Take the news this week that Dorsey & Whitney may shutter its San Francisco office. That office is itself the result of a 2002 merger between what was then 750-lawyer Dorsey & Whitney and 27-lawyer IP boutique Flehr Hohbach Test Albritton & Herbert of San Francisco.

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In-House Counsel Take on Outside Expenses

October 24, 2006

Nothing irks in-house counsel more than unreasonable expenses in outside counsel bills. But what’s considered unreasonable? A couple of in-housers offered their thoughts Tuesday at an Association of Corporate Counsel seminar in San Diego. (Technically, the subject was “Leading Edge Processes for Selecting Outside Counsel.” But an important first step toward selecting would appear to be eliminating past overbillers.) (more…)

SEC to GCs: Disclose … or Else

October 23, 2006

In a roomful of in-house counsel, an SEC lawyer is a 600-pound gorilla. Everyone’s keenly aware of him, and nobody wants to draw his attention.

At an “SEC Update” seminar Monday at the Association of Corporate Counsel’s annual meeting in San Diego, SEC Deputy Director Martin Dunn did about 70 percent of the talking, and his fellow panelists — two in-house attorneys and a Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher partner — weren’t about to shut him down. At one point Dunn jokingly referred to a report he’d written as “a work of genius” — but none of the 200 or so lawyers in the audience dared laugh. Which, of course, drew a rebuke from Dunn.

Substantively speaking, though, Dunn had an important message for every public company lawyer:

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Marriage Decision’s Most Infuriating Passages

October 5, 2006

Three passages from Justice William McGuiness’ opinion in In re Marriage Cases [*pdf] guaranteed to infuriate gay rights supporters: 

1)  “While same-sex relationships have undeniably gained greater societal and legal acceptance, the simple fact is that same-sex marriage has never existed before. The novelty of this interest, more than anything else, is what precludes its recognition as a constitutionally protected fundamental right.”

2) “Indeed, because registered domestic partners enjoy nearly all the same rights and responsibilities as married couples, to the extent California has the power to provide them, the quarrel here is largely symbolic, albeit highly significant.” 

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Kline Doesn’t Mince Words in Marriage Dissent

October 5, 2006

First District Justice J. Anthony Kline did not get cheated in his dissent today in the same-sex marriage cases. By the end of his 51-page opinion, he had compared his majority colleagues, William McGuiness and Joanne Parrilli, to the U.S. Supreme Court majority in Bowers v. Hardwick, the dissenting (and blatantly racist) dissenting judges in Perez v. Sharp and the Virginia appellate justices in Loving v. Virginia.

Bowers was the 1986 ruling — since overruled — upholding a law criminalizing sodomy. Perez is the California Supreme Court case establishing the right to interracial marriage, and Loving was a case in which the Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals had said the state could prevent a mixed-race couple from marrying. The U.S. Supreme Court overruled it.

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Majority: Heterosexual-Only Marriage Rational

October 5, 2006

Justice William McGuiness’ majority opinion today upholding opposite-sex only marriages largely followed the path taken by state courts in New York and Washington, concluding that the right to same-sex marriage is not fundamental — and therefore not subject to heightened scrutiny — and that it survives a rational-basis review.

The key issue on whether the right is fundamental is how it is defined. The city of San Francisco had argued on behalf of same-sex couples that it is the right to marry the person of one’s choice. But McGuiness and Justice Joanne Parrilli disagreed.

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No Right to Gay Marriage, Court of Appeal Rules

October 5, 2006

The California Court of Appeal has rejected the San Francisco city attorney’s effort to recognize a right to marriage for same-sex couples. “Courts simply do not have the authority to create new rights, especially when doing so involves changing the definition of so fundamental an institution as marriage,” wrote Justice William McGuiness in In re Marriage Cases [.pdf].

Justice Joanne Parrilli concurred separately, expressing sympathy with the city and gay rights activists’ cause but concluding that the time is not ripe for courts to intervene. “To the degree that any committed relationship provides love and security, encourages fidelity, and creates a supportive environment for children it is entitled to respect,” Parrilli wrote. “Whether it must be called the same, or supported by the state as equal to the traditional model, only time and patient attention to the models at issue will tell.”

Justice J. Anthony Kline has issued a fierce dissent, comparing the majority opinion to the 1986 U.S. Supreme Court ruling Bowers v. Hardwick, 478 U.S. 186, which upheld the criminalization of homosexual conduct and was later overruled. Gay rights supporters “do not seek the establishment of a ‘new’ constitutional right to serve their special interests, but rather the application of an established right to marry a person of one’s choice; a right available to all that government cannot significantly restrict in the absence of a compelling need.”

More on this opinion to come soon.

— Scott Graham

[This is an updated version of an earlier post.]

Mark Hurd and the Weasel Language Test

September 26, 2006

The smart money on Wall Street says now is the time to buy Hewlett-Packard stock, because it appears from last week’s press conference that CEO Mark Hurd will weather the “pretexting” storm.

The smart money may well be right (that’s why it’s smart), but by any objective measure Hurd failed the all-important Lawyer Weasel Language test.

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Meyers Nave Joins the Blogosphere

September 20, 2006

Oakland’s Meyers, Nave, Riback, Silver & Wilson is the latest law firm to debut a blog. The Public Blawg will focus on news of interest to government attorneys throughout California. Elections, eminent domain and public power issues are a few of the categories to be covered.

Recent blog posts looked at a Santa Clara County judge’s order on the filing of Brady motions, the Oakland city attorney’s stance against the “Ninth to Oak” development project, and legislation of interest to municipal lawyers that is awaiting the governor’s signature.

We can’t help but notice that so far all the work of the blog is being done by firm associates. Each of the blog’s 10 postings are from associates (except one, which was anonymous). Come on, Meyers, Nave partners: You can do this crazy blogging thing too!

— Scott Graham

Constitutional Law’s Greatest Hits

September 18, 2006

Pop quiz, con law hotshots: What were the three most important constitutional law decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court in the last hundred years?

The Federal Bar Association posed that question Thursday to three eminent scholars — Ninth Circuit Judge John Noonan, Boalt Hall professor Jesse Choper and criminal defense stalwart Ephraim Margolin — sparking a lively discussion before an audience of about 50 at the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. There was one ground rule set down by the moderator, Hastings professor Rory Little: Brown v. Board of Education was off limits, because it’s too obvious a choice.

Noonan answered the challenge directly, quickly identifying three cases in which he said the court was “vindicating principle by protecting persons.”

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