A daily look at legal news and the business of law:
Now That Black Is Sprung, Skilling Also Wants Out
In the wake of the recent Supreme Court ruling that jeopardized many high-profile white-collar criminal convictions by restricting the use of the "honest services" statute as a basis for fraud convictions, any number of corporate convicts are trying to get out of jail pending appeals. Conrad Black has succeeded. Ex-HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy is waiting for a ruling. Now, former Enron CEO Jeff Skilling has asked for bail. It was his Supreme Court victory, after all. That said, it's not at all clear that Skilling will get a new trial on all the other charges he was convicted of, much less be cleared of them, which makes him an unlikely bail candidate. Still, it doesn't hurt to ask.
Facebook Narrowly Avoids Patent Catastrophe
The alleged contract signing away most of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg's ownership of the company has been the only Facebook lawsuit the media had been focused on lately. However, also Facebook had a near-miss in a patent dispute, reports the Am Law Litigation Daily. A Delaware jury found that Facebook's technology infringed a patent held by Leader Technologies, a tiny Ohio software company. That decision would have cost Facebook plenty, except the jury also decided the patent was invalid.
Radical First Amendment Ruling Appealed
The National Law Journal has appealed a ruling that the integrity of a D.C. court's filing system trumps its First Amendment right to publish newsworthy, lawfully obtained information, reports The Blog of the Legal Times. The information the public supposedly isn't entitled to know is which government agency is investigating juice company POM Wonderful. So let's guess: Is it the FTC, over the company's marketing claims or anticompetitive behavior? Is it the Department of Justice, because something is rotten in pomegranate-land? Might it be the SEC, because POM's accounting is funny?
How bad could news of the investigation be to POM, really? The public will surely find out the details eventually, as it's hard to imagine that the judge's order will stand up on appeal. However, if it does, it would show that the judicial branch cares more about its own affairs than it does about national security or a criminal defendant's right to a fair trial, neither of which has been found to justify an order like this one.
New Wave of BP Lawsuits
Lawsuits against BP (BP) continue to multiply. Now, reports the National Law Journal, the first lawsuit alleging physical injury from the dispersant BP is using -- injury to Gulf Coast residents as opposed to cleanup workers -- has been filed. Apparently, BP's middle-of-the-night aerial spraying of the chemical is sending people to emergency rooms.
Cash May Be King Again
Cash hasn't been king for awhile, what with the dizzying array of plastic payment options available and marketing efforts to label anyone unhip enough to use cash as ridiculously slow. But the Department of Justice may help change that. Bloomberg reports that Visa is facing a possible Justice antitrust suit over Visa's (V) requirement that merchants charge their customers the same price for using credit as they do for using cash, even though Visa takes a cut of every purchase made with its cards. Many gas stations already offer such cash discounts on gasoline purchases: The Justice Department's action should eventually enable all retailers to do likewise if they choose.