Monday status conference: decisions and remembrances

The nation’s capitol continues to reel from the sudden passing of political news giant – and registered member of the bar – Tim Russert. Not only was Russert an attorney, but he also was a legal newsmaker, testifying last year in the “Scooter” Libby trial. But in a city where legal, political, and journalistic circles are surprisingly small and tight, Russert’s death is having a deep and lasting impact. More here from MSNBC.

Meanwhile the Supreme Court will hand down decision some of the 17 remaining decisions of the term at beginning at 10 a.m. Check back later this morning updates on today’s decisions.

The House does not meet today, but the Senate does, conducting business including a hearing on renewable energy and job creation.

Today also brings a new issue of Lawyers USA, and below are some story previews. Subscribers can click the links for more:

The use of trademarks sold as “keywords” by Google and other search engines to trigger “sponsored links” on the side of a search page continues to be a hot button issue for any business with a website – including law firms. There are a growing number of business-to-business disputes over the issue. More here.

Legal battles are raging on as cities around the country attempt to find constitutional ways to keep out illegal immigrants. One recent case involves a court enjoining an ordinance that prohibits illegal immigrants from renting apartments. More here.

The latest wave of Vioxx rulings appears to have dashed any lingering plaintiffs’ hopes as the pain-killer litigation winds down. And the decisions – especially one from the New Jersey Appellate Division – may make it harder to pursue other drug product liability suits. More here.

In 21st Century divorce wars, electronic data is a key source of evidence, whether its instant messages, web browsing histories or text messages via a cell phone. Angry spouses and savvy lawyers are scouring electronic gadgets to uncover unfaithfulness and find hidden assets. More here.

After several pro-employer decisions last term – including a controversial ruling that prompted lawmakers to draft legislation to overturn it – the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of expanding employees’ rights to bring retaliation claims under two federal statutes. The decisions are particularly surprising given the fact that last year’s opinions in favor of employers were punctuated with strong language admonishing against expanding causes of action. More here.

In other news:

Washington lawmakers are pulling in some serious coin with book deals. (WaPo)

The Supreme Court keeps ruling on ways the White House doesn’t like. (NYT)

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad is trying to make amends for his apparent sweetheart deal with lender Countrywide Financial Corp. (WaPo). Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd also received a favorable loan from the lender. (Portfolio).

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