Contractors in Iraq: In an unusual closed hearing, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday will debate a 2005 suit pitting former employees against KBR and its ex-parent company, Halliburton, that will weigh whether U.S. courts have jurisdiction over the actions of U.S. civilian contractors abroad, The American Lawyer reports in its February issue. Nine former drivers claim they were fraudulently recruited for hazardous jobs in Iraq with false promises. In September 2006, a federal district court judge in Houston dismissed the suit after partners David Kasanow and Raymond Biagini of McKenna, Long & Aldridge in D.C. convinced the court that the case raises a political question beyond the court's competence.
Not a Puppet: The city's legislative body met last night to discuss the independence of the attorney general's office and whether Mayor Adrian Fenty's general counsel, Peter Nickles, may have interfered in former attorney general Linda Singer's job. The Washington Post quotes council member Mary Cheh as saying Nickles' office appeared to be no more than a puppet of Fenty's. "I don't think anyone's a puppet," Nickles replied. "I'm not a puppet. I believe after 45 years in the legal profession, I'm entitled not to be called a puppet."
Unequal Footing: A government effort to set aside quotas for women-owned businesses in certain fields will hit a snag, legal scholars say, because of proposed rules by the Small Business Administration, the Charlotte Business Journal reports. Under a new proposal, each federal agency would have to find evidence that it had discriminated against women-owned businesses before setting aside contracts. Critics say the rules are not practical and will lead to no contracts and a potential chilling effect in state and local contracting.
Lies & Lawsuits: Seymour Lazar, a retired attorney who posed as a plaintiff for $2.6 million in a kickback scheme involving class-action suits by the firm now known as Milberg Weiss, was sentenced Monday to six months of home detention and two years probation, The Associated Press and Los Angeles Times report. Lazar, 80, becomes the first of seven people, including three former partners, who have pleaded guilty in the case to be sentenced. U.S. District Judge John Walter of Los Angeles said he was outraged that an attorney could "flatly lie" in proceedings. Walter, however, spared Lazar jail time because of his declinging health and age. Prosecutors say the case involves some $11 million in kickbacks paid by the firm to plaintiffs in class action suits against large corporations that netted an estimated $250 million in two decades.