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A Legalpalooza Only Dickens Could Love
Attorney Opinions | 2008/03/01 14:07
pYou can't go home again. After two federal criminal trials charging him with looting Westar Energy, David Wittig has become all too familiar with that aphorism in his six-year legal odyssey./ppBut if you do go home again, it seems, you should first reacquaint yourself with local legal rates, which are likely to be far less than the high prices charged on the East Coast./ppThat seems to be the message of he most recent legal sideshow in the Westar case, sometimes dubbed the Enron of Kansas. /ppFirst, some background: In 2002, Federal prosecutors accused Wittig and another Westar executive, Douglas Lake, of wire fraud, conspiracy, money laundering, and circumventing of internal controls in the process of looting Westar, an electrical utility in Topeka, Kansas./ppTheir first trial, in 2004, ended in a hung jury. In September 2005, the jury at their second trial convicted the men of multiple counts, but an appeals court overturned the verdicts in 2007. It also threw out many charges, saying prosecutors had failed to prove the men violated any federal regulations. Their third trial is scheduled to start on September 9./ppWho has been paying Wittig's and Lake's multimillion-dollar legal bills while they have stymied their former employer all these years? Why, Westar itself. Under the company's bylaws, Wittig and Lake, as former officers, are entitled to payment of emreasonable/em legal defense costs, at least until they are convicted of criminal wrongdoing. /ppNot surprisingly, Westar is getting tired of writing the checks. And so it has challenged how much it is on the hook to pay. Specifically, does reasonable defense costs mean reasonable for Kansas City, where Westar is based? Or reasonable for New York and Washington, D.C., where Wittig and Lake found lawyers they like?/ppSince 2005, Westar has fought payment of lawyers for both Wittig and Lake, suing them in separate lawsuits, claiming outrage over the high prices charged by lawyers from the East Coast — and, so far, failing miserably in each of these cases. /p


FSUPD, local law firm host Bike-A-Thon
Press Release | 2008/03/01 14:05
pThe Florida State University Police Department and the law firm of Brooks, LeBoeuf, Bennett, Foster amp; Gwartney is hosting the free Stop DUI in 24 Hours Bike-A-Thon from noon today to noon Sunday.

/ppFSU PD Maj. Jim Russell invites FSU students and staff and concerned community members to grab their bikes and helmets and meet at FSU's Westcott Plaza between 10:30 a.m. and noon today to participate. According to event founder Major Jim Russell, this is the second year, the FSUPD is leading the bike-a-thon to raise awareness concerning impaired driving with a goal of reducing the number of DUI related offenses and fatalities./ppA public send-off ceremony will be held at noon Saturday at Westcott Plaza; also from noon until 5 p.m. a free safety village will be staged on the Plaza by the fountain with entertainment and a chance to make donations of $10 per lap to individual or teams hoping to win with the most laps. Dean LeBoeuf, one of sponsoring attorneys, stressed this is not a race but a safe, escorted three-mile circuit through campus that anyone may enjoy. Cyclists may ride as much or as little as they choose during the 24-hour time period. Throughout the ride, events will be held to raise awareness concerning impaired driving, traffic safety, and drug and alcohol abuse./ppThe first responder and law enforcement cyclists will stop at FSU residence halls between 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. to offer DUI awareness presentations. The ride will conclude with a public awards ceremony on the steps of the Westcott Building on Sunday at 1 p.m. Cyclists are asked to bring a helmet and bike with lights if they plan to ride in the dark. All riders will be provided with a free set of head and tail lights, however they must bring a set of batteries. Registration forms are available on-site or may be downloaded at the FSUPD website at a href=http://www.police.fsu.edu/ target=_blankwww.police.fsu.edu/a, click on the FSUPD Stop DUI in 24 Hours logo in the right hand column. Cyclists under 18 must have a signed release from a parent or guardian or they will not be permitted to ride./p


Barnhart establishes his own law firm
Legal Marketing | 2008/03/01 14:01
pIf you have been wondering about the newly painted red building situated in a prominent location at the corner of Martin Avenue and West Pine Street in Canton, the guesswork is over.

Canton attorney Gary Barnhart will open his own practice at the location on Monday, March 3.

Barnhart has represented clients in Canton and all over Central Illinois for 34 years./ptable class=clear align=righttbodytrtd align=middle!-- AdSys ad not found for news:middle --/td/tr/tbody/tablepBarnhart says that initially he came up with the idea of his own law firm because he wanted to involve his family. Family members include his wife, Susan (Jenkins) Barnhart; a son, Dr. Brett Barnhart, his wife Nancy, and their sons Micah and Cale of Canton; daughter Brynna Barnhart-Themas of St. Louis, Mo.; and son Bryan Barnhart of Macomb.

In addition to his daughter Brynna, who is a practicing attorney in the St. Louis, Mo. area, his daughter-in-law Nancy (Rabel) Barnhart is also an attorney.

Barnhart explains, “My daughter-in-law Nancy will be joining me (at the new law firm) on a part-time basis. She is a former Administrative Law Judge for the Illinois Labor Relations Board and brings expertise in the area of labor and employment law to our new office. Nancy also intends to spread her wings into other areas of law and I welcome her knowledge and expertise. She will be a great asset to me and to my clients as well./ptable class=clear align=righttbodytrtd align=middle/td/trtrtd align=middle/td/tr/tbody/tablepBarnhart will also be joined at the new location by his long-time legal secretaries, Kathi Harmon and Shelley Bloyd. “Their experience and knowledge will help provide excellent service for the firm’s clients,” says Barnhart.

With the team assembled for the new location, he adds, “Together, we intend to continue to maintain the high degree of professional service that the clients have come to expect and deserve in the areas of real estate, title insurance, wills and trusts, estate planning and administration, business and corporate law, labor and employment law, family law, plaintiff’s personal injury and cooperative law.”

The building, which was originally the Glenn-Maguire Clinic, is now completely renovated with the expert help of Jerry Jarnagin, explains Barnhart./ptable class=clear align=righttbodytrtd align=middle/td/trtrtd align=middle/td/tr/tbody/tablepThe building was a disaster when we first saw it. We gutted everything but were able to save the original peg hardwood floors and rescue the old water cooler, restoring it to its original state, says Barnhart. The old peg hardwood floor strikes fear into my heart. As a youth, I remember staring at that floor before getting shots from Dr. Glenn.

The roof has been replaced and the parking lot will be replaced early this spring. A handicapped-accessible entrance is now available on the south side of the building.

Barnhart says the basement of the facility is extremely dry and was also completely gutted and will be available for continued expansion./ptable class=clear align=righttbodytrtd align=middle/td/trtrtd align=middle/td/tr/tbody/tablepA unique feature of the renovation is the addition of two stained glass windows - featuring a B- which were specifically created for the family.

The former laboratory of the clinic is now the break room and the front office serves as an office for one secretary. Beyond that, the building has been renovated to include a large waiting area, two large offices and two large conference rooms.

We're excited. All that's left is a little bit of touch-up painting, says Barnhart, who was awaiting a weather-related delayed shipment of office furniture on Friday./ptable class=clear align=righttbodytrtd align=middle/td/trtrtd align=middle/td/tr/tbody/tablepAlong with work by Jerry Jarnagin, cabinetry was constructed by Chris Harmon.

PROFILES:

Gary Barnhart/ptable class=clear align=righttbodytrtd align=middle/td/trtrtd align=middle/td/tr/tbody/tablepGary Barnhart, a Canton native, attended Knox College and received a B.A. degree in Economics in 1969. He received his juris doctorate degree from Washington University Law School in St. Louis, Mo. In 1973, he returned to his home town to practice law and has been involved in many community and civic organizations. He has been a Special Assistant Attorney General of the State of Illinois since 1983. He is a member of the Fulton County and Illinois State Bar Associations and the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association. He is also a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and a charter member of the Electric Cooperative Bar Association.

Nancy (Rabel) Barnhart

Nancy (Rabel) Barnhart, also a Canton native, attended Knox College and graduated with a B.A. degree in Economics. She attended John Marshall Law School, graduating with a juris doctorate degree in 1997. She is a former Administrative Law Judge for the Illinois Labor Relations Board and has worked as a labor and employment attorney for Davis and Campbell in Peoria. She is second vice-president of the YWCA and active in the Evangelical Free Church, recently leading a “fill the truck” mission project for Katrina workers./ptable class=clear align=righttbodytrtd align=middle/td/trtrtd align=middle/td/tr/tbody/tablepBarnhart Law Office, Ltd. is planning an official ribbon cutting and open house in the near future and “look forward to visiting with persons and providing a tour of the newly renovated building.”

Barnhart Law Office, Ltd. is located at 106 Martin Ave. The office may be reached at P.O. Box 478, Canton, IL 61520. The new phone number will be (309) 647-0100./p


Williamsburg estate law firm is renamed
Press Release | 2008/03/01 14:00
A decade-old Williamsburg estate law firm is changing its name and Web site, effective today. Williamsburg Legal Associates, founded by John Sadler and the late Joseph Abdelmour, will now be known as Williamsburg Estate Planning.

The new site is a href=http://www.williamsburgestateplanning.com/ target=_blankwww.williamsburgestateplanning.com/a.

Sadler also announced that free quarterly educational planning workshops would continue, and the firm is establishing a speaker's bureau offering education on estate-planning topics.

Columbia Gas is reducing the cost of gas for its customers in March about 7 percent, dropping the average customer bill from $161.77 to $150.66. Natural gas costs in Virginia are passed on with no markup.

The utility gets a regulated profit margin on the cost of delivering gas to homes. Columbia said the price decrease was spurred by a plentiful supply of natural gas industrywide and a winter in Virginia that had been 10 percent warmer than average.

The new price applies to March, April and May.

Natural gas use is measured per hundred cubic feet, or Ccf. The average customer uses about 100 Ccf in March, then drops off to 35 Ccf in May.

The $150.66 estimate of the average bill will deviate higher or lower, depending on whether people use more or less than 100 Ccf of gas.

The peanut industry is poised for an uptick in 2008, in light of higher contracts.

The industry fell on hard times after the 2002 Farm Bill ended a federal peanut program that guaranteed high prices to some farmers.

But this year, contract prices are the highest since 2002, Dell Cotton, executive director of the Virginia Peanut Growers Association, told the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation.

Contract prices might be higher because peanut buyers are competing for acreage with wheat and soybeans, which are selling at 10-year highs.

Prices for the jumbo-sized Virginia peanut have been reported in the range of $555 a ton, compared with last year's $470, the Farm Bureau said.

The state's peanut acreage bottomed out in 2006, when only 16,000 acres were planted. In its heyday, peanuts were harvested from 164,000 acres in 1948. Last year, farmers planted 22,000 acres.

Now is too early to tell how many acres will be planted this year.


FCC General Counsel Feder Leaves for Law Firm
Attorney News | 2008/03/01 13:49
pSamuel Feder, the general counsel of the Federal Communications Commission, is leaving his post of about three years to become a partner at law firm Jenner amp; Block. Feder, who has worked closely with Chairman Kevin Martin since coming to the FCC in 2001, will be replaced by Matthew Berry, according to release by the agency. Feder worked with Martin on radio spectrum and international policy issues.

Sam provided exceptional legal advice on every matter we faced and also played a crucial role in policy development. I have worked with Sam since the day I became a Commissioner in 2001, and I will greatly miss his excellent judgment and wise counsel, Martin said in a release. /p


ANNOUNCEMENT - Bennett Jones LLP
Press Release | 2008/03/01 12:33
pBennett Jones LLP is pleased to announce that John Cordeau, Q.C., has been appointed Vice-Chair of the firm./ppJohn also serves as the firm's Lead Director. He has extensive litigation experience representing clients on matters including commercial disputes, administrative law, professional regulation, insurance matters, insolvency and enforcement actions./ppJohn is a member of the board of directors of Synenco Energy Inc., a foundation member and governor of St. Mary's University College, and a member of the Leaders of the Way, United Way of Calgary and Area./ppWith over 340 lawyers based in Calgary, Toronto and Edmonton, Bennett Jones LLP is an internationally recognized Canadian law firm founded and focused on principles of professional excellence, integrity, respect and independent thought. Our firm's leadership position is reflected in the law we practice, the groundbreaking work we do, the client relationships we have, and the quality of our people.
/p


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