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Close vote in House expected on med-mal reform bill (access required)

Gov. Beverly Perdue’s veto of a medical malpractice reform bill appears to be headed for a razor-thin override vote in the state House. House Republicans could bring a vote this week to override the veto of Senate Bill 33, which limits the amount of money that certain victims of medical malpractice can collect for non-economic or quality-of-life damages, such as pain and suffering. The Republican-controlled Senate recently voted to override the veto, but the GOP will have a tougher job in the House. If all legislators are present and every Republican state representative votes in favor of the override, they will still need at least four Democrats to join them to reach the required three-fifths majority.

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NC man separated from wife because feds can’t decide whether he’s married (access required)

A Hillsborough man who married his Indonesian bride in an Islamic ceremony in Jakarta in 2008 has been separated from her and his U.S.-born son because the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security can’t agree on whether he’s married. The Republic of Indonesia’s Department of Religion, Office of Religious Affairs, declared that as of July 12, 2008, there was an “authenticated covenant of marriage” between the man – David Rowe – and Indonesia native Tri Aminudin (pictured with their son, Sean).

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Stock dispute nets plaintiff $1.1 million jury verdict  (access required)

Randolph James (pictured) was hired six weeks before trial in Barbara Wortley’s suit against Law Enforcement Associates, Inc. Wortley had a feeling the deck was stacked against her in Wake County. Former state Sen. Tony Rand was chairman of the board of LEA. He is the father of Ripley Rand, a former Wake County judge and now U.S. Attorney for the Middle District. Furthermore, Tony Rand is also Wake County Judge Shannon Joseph’s father-in-law. James said that although Rand made several appearances during the trial, any feeling Wortley had that she wouldn’t get a fair shake were laid to rest by the conduct of proceedings before Superior Court Judge Carl Fox. “We received a very fair, even-handed trial,” James said.

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Jurors, money and TV: a bad combination (access required)

Raleigh publicist Rick French caused a stir when he approached television networks saying he represented a juror in the recently ended Casey Anthony case and his client would not grant an interview without compensation – reportedly as much as $50,000. French declined to specify the juror and has said there was no price named. So far, no juror has received a check for explaining why the jury in the tabloid-worthy Florida trial didn’t think Anthony was proven to be her two-year-old daughter’s killer. But the episode raised a prospect that worries trial attorneys and prosecutors: Could the usually burdensome task of jury duty become a coveted role for people seeking to cash in on high-profile cases? “If you begin to see jurors who have a financial stake in the case, they could make decisions that they believe would be more valuable to TV or the news media,” said Wade Smith (pictured) of Raleigh, one of the state’s top defense lawyers.

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Feds, states in dispute over court interpreters (access required)

Annie Ling understood little of what was being said in a Georgia courtroom where she was put on trial, convicted by a jury and sentenced to 10 years in prison for abusing her two young children.The Malaysia native speaks Mandarin but little English, and there was no interpreter for her during the 2008 proceedings in Spalding County, an hour south of Atlanta. Just after she was sentenced, she thought she was going home and asked probation officials when she had to return to their office. She had no idea she was about to be hauled off to jail.

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Judge rules in FTC’s favor in suit against NC Dental Board (access required)

Chief Administrative Law Judge D. Michael Chappell has ruled that the North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners engaged in illegal conduct by asking providers of teeth-whitening services to cease and desist from their activities. The providers were based largely in mall kiosks around the state. Chappell, a federal administrative judge, ruled that Federal Trade Commission staff attorneys had shown “by a preponderance of the evidence that dentist members of the Dental Board had a common scheme or design, and hence an agreement, to exclude non-dentists from the market for teeth whitening services and to deter potential providers of teeth whitening services from entering the market.” The decision followed a four-week trial in front of Chappell in April, according to Raleigh attorney A.P. Carlton (pictured), who represented the Board.

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Young president, old values (access required)

At 44, Martin H. Brinkley is the youngest lawyer to lead the North Carolina Bar Association in over 50 years, but for all his youth what defines him are things old — his old fashioned style, for instance, and his love for the wisdom of the ancients. Brinkley, a business lawyer with the prominent Raleigh firm of Smith Anderson, favors bow ties and quotes freely from the classics of ancient Greece and Rome. Now he wants to give a noble legal tradition new life in North Carolina. His priority as association president is to get more lawyers to donate their time pro bono on behalf of the poor. The words are drawn from a Latin phrase used by Cicero — a Roman writer Brinkley studied as a highly honored classics major at Harvard — “Pro bono publico” or “For the public good.”

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Magistrate laments “really stupid” referrals to lawyer (access required)

A Charlotte judge has thrown out a driving-while-impaired case against a motorist because the magistrate who determined probable cause and set the conditions of the driver’s bond referred the accused man to his friend, an attorney. It is the second case in which a DWI case has been thrown out because of referrals by magistrate Francis G. Beer to his friend, Charlotte attorney Harrell G. Canning. District Court Judge Matt Osman threw out the most recent case on July 8 after hearing from Canning, Beer and the driver. Beer was under subpoena from the driver’s attorney. Canning said he came to testify voluntarily because he was aware of a pending motion to dismiss the case and understood “the portents of the underlying issue.”

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Islamic real estate deals require faith in lending (access required)

Last year, Gastonia real estate lawyer Keith Hance found himself facing a home closing involving financing that complied with Islamic law. He looked into the law, also known as Shariah, but in the end he passed on the closing at a time when the real estate market was still down and many in the business were hungry for activity. The financing for the home, he said, didn’t “pass the smell test.”

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Estate planning lawyers get gift in new tax law – tons of work (access required)

The new tax law, which contains changes to estate, gift and income tax rules, should keep estate planning attorneys busy advising clients on retirement planning for at least the next two years. The changes packed in the tax law signed by President Barack Obama late last year present lawyers with an opportunity to reach out to clients to review their estate plans.

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