Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Federal rules change - Rule 26 re expert witnesses

As reported in the latest issue of The Third Branch newsletter, amendments to Rule 26 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure will take effect on December 1, 2010. Among the changes are new work-product protections for expert witnesses' draft reports and protections, with certain exceptions, for attorney communications with their experts.

Webinar on federal legislative history research

HeinOnline is offering a helpful federal legislative webinar tomorrow, Thursday, Nov. 18, 2010. The webinar, which begins at 2:00 pm EST, will focus on four separate collections within HeinOnline: U.S. Federal Legislative History Library, Intellectual Property Law Collection, Taxation & Economic Reform in America, and History of Bankruptcy libraries. In addition, specific guidance in searching for legislative history documents will be covered as well as instruction on using Nancy Johnson's wonderful resource, Sources of Compiled Legislative History database.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Take a Legal Research Class in Spring 2011!

Does the idea of a supervising attorney asking you to do statutory research send a chill down your spine? Do you quiver in your boots if someone mentions administrative law research and finding agency decisions and regulations? Do not fear! Consider enrolling in one of the following courses for this coming Spring! Learn the skills that will make you a confident, efficient and effective researcher. In each class, we will take an in-depth look at legal research techniques and resources. Advanced Legal Research has a broad scope, while the subject-specific courses focus on the resources and techniques that are most useful in that particular area of the law.

  • Advanced Legal Research with Mark Sullivan & Laurel Davis--3 credits, Wed & Fri from 1:30 to 2:45
  • Insurance and Civil Litigation Law Research with Karen Breda--2 credits; Th 10-11:50
  • Intellectual Property Research with Joan Shear--2 credits; Wednesdays from 3 to 4:50
  • Tax Law Research with Mary Ann Neary--2 credits; Wednesdays from 10 to 11:50

Friday, November 5, 2010

Unfair Tactics and the Limits of Zealous Advocacy

I was somewhat disheartened after reading Friday's ABA Journal newsletter. The newsletter reported a number of outrageous and unfair tactics by trial attorneys. For instance, a state prosecutor intimidated a defense forensic witness to such an extreme that the witness not only withdrew from the case, but also moved out of state to escape the harassment. Although the prosecutor denied some of the accusations of intimidation, he admitted sending an email to the defense witness's employment supervisor which threatened to have both the supervisor and the defense expert fired from their state government jobs. The newsletter then went on to report that a lawyer representing a collection agency orchestrated a scheme whereby the collection agency set up a fake courtroom, had people impersonate sheriffs and serve fake summonses and subpoenae upon debtors and then held fake court hearings where debtors were coerced into revealing information about their assets.

Contrary to the Quixotic adage, not all is fair in love, war or in the courtroom. There is a limit to zealous advocacy. The behaviors described above went beyond the bounds of the law. For more on the limits of zealous advocacy (particularly on witness tampering, ex parte communications with opponent's expert, fraudulent misuse of subpoenae, misrepresentation of identity and purpose in contacting opposing parties and witnesses), see William H. Fortune's Modern Litigation and Professional Responsibility Handbook: The Limits of Zealous Advocacy, (Aspen Law & Business, 2001).

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Battle of the Lawyers Event Tomorrow

Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly will present its 5th annual Battle of the Lawyers tomorrow evening, November 4, 2010, from 5:30 pm to 8:00 pm in Suffolk University's Walsh Theater at 55 Temple Street in Boston. The event features the closing arguments given in four high-profile cases. Prosecutor Michael L. Fabbri will deliver his closing argument from the Neil Entwistle double murder trial; Thomas M. Greene will deliver his closing argument from the Pfizer RICO case; defense attorney Jonathan Shapiro will deliver his summation from the murder trial of a special needs high school student who fatally stabbed a classmate in a school bathroom; and Shannon Liss-Riordan will deliver her closing from a case where she recovered $325,000 in diverted tips from American Airlines on behalf of a small group of skycaps. Student tickets cost $35, general admission is $75. For more information, click on the title to this blog entry.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

2010 U.S. Sentencing Guidelines Manual

The new 2010 Federal Sentencing Guidelines became effective yesterday, November 1, 2010. The 2010 Federal Sentencing Guidelines Manual and Appendices, as well as the Supplement to the Federal Sentencing Guidelines Manual and the Federal Register notice of the temporary, emergency amendment to the sentencing guidelines (which explains the reasons for the amendment) are available in html and pdf format on the United States Sentencing Commission's website,