Monday status conference: Cinco de Mayo edition

Justices from the nation’s highest court will convene in a conference on Thursday, lawmakers are busy trying to hammer out the farm bill and other matters (more on that below), and a brand-spanking new issue of Lawyers USA is out as you celebrate Cinco de Mayo today. Here are some highlights from this issue. Subscribers can click on the links for the full story.

Under the best of circumstances, divorce proceedings rarely are completely pleasant or smooth-sailing for a couple and their lawyers. But in an uncertain economy and shaky housing market, divorce is becoming increasingly complicated. More here.

Estate planning lawyers are finding that many prenuptial agreements for older couples contain costly omissions – about health care, nursing home costs and other “elder care” costs. More here.

A recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling addressing the definition of driving while intoxicated for purposes of federal sentencing is expected to have a broad impact on criminal cases, but also leaves open many questions, criminal lawyers say. More here.

Prepaid funeral plans may involve more risk than buyers realize. More here.

In other news and chatter:

Lawmakers want to hold hearings to investigate whether the practice of securities lawyers paying plaintiffs to file class action lawsuits happens at places other than Milberg Weiss. (BI)

Is the False Claims Act a legal gold rush for the tort bar? (WSJ Law Blog)

There will soon be a vacancy at the head of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division – giving Attorney General Michael Mukasey the opportunity to make a key appointment. (WaPo)

Many case-strapped states are releasing prisoners early in order to ease their budgets. (WaPo)

Lawmakers are working to come up with a veto-proof farm bill plan. (AP)

The IRS and FBI are investigating whether mortgage lenders ignored the signs that some borrowers were getting into subprime deals that would eventually overwhelm them – and the credit industry. (NYT)

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