Death Penalty Rollback?: The budget crunch among state governments is adding to the pressure to abolish the death penalty, The New York Times reports. No state has abolished it so far this year, but lawmakers in Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, and New Hampshire are making the economic argument, and experts say the bills have a good chance of passing in Maryland, Montana, and New Mexico. The state often pays the high costs of expert testimony and other expenses in capital trials.
Just in Case: Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. got the task of sitting out last night’s speech by President Barack Obama, in case the unthinkable were to happen. But what does the designated Cabinet official usually do for those couple hours? The Washington Post has a brief history, and it involves a lot of eating: pizza, crab cakes, etc.
International Practice: The New York Times has a look at Gary Locke’s time in private practice since the former governor of Washington state became a partner in the Seattle office of Davis Wright Tremaine. Obama is expected to name Locke as the new commerce secretary nominee today. A Chinese-American who is known as a “rock star” when he travels to China, he has helped lead the firm’s China practice and organize the 2006 visit to Seattle of President Hu Jintao of China. He told The Seattle Times recently that he’d been to China five times in the last year.
Fraud Investigations: The $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program could be ripe for fraud, Neil Barofsky, the program’s special inspector general, told lawmakers Tuesday. The Wall Street Journal reports that Barofsky said fewer than 5 percent of banks receiving government aid have responded to a request about what they have done with their bailout money. A Tennessee financial company has already been charged with defrauding investors of at least $6.5 million.
Before They Left: Heller Ehrman paid out more than $7 million to 35 departing or retiring partners in 2008, a bankruptcy filing by the firm shows. The Recorder reports via Law.com that the filing paints a picture of Heller’s shrinking capital coffers as a steady stream of partners left in 2008.