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DirecTV ordered to pull ads

A federal judge ordered DirecTV on Wednesday to pull some, but not all, of its disputed ads in response to litigation by St. Louis-based Charter Communications. Charter filed a federal lawsuit on Monday alleging that competitor DirecTV has sent mailers and run print and radio advertisements claiming Charter is in trouble because it filed for bankruptcy. Charter says the bankruptcy is simply restructuring its finances, that service to customers is not affected and that the ads are false and deceptive. DirectTV will be able to keep this billboard, on I-70 near downtown St. Louis.

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Appeals court upholds authority of charter cities

An appeals court on Tuesday denied a constitutional challenge to the Kansas City Council's controversial repeal of a voter-passed light-rail initiative. A committee led by light-rail activist Clay Chastain (pictured on Jan. 16, 2008, prior to filing a challenge to Kansas City's repeal of a voter-approved light-rail plan) had sued Kansas City after the City Council voted in November 2007 to repeal a light-rail plan passed a year earlier. The voters had enacted an ordinance that extended the city's three-eighths-cent transportation sales tax to build, operate and maintain a light-rail system.

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Following the scripts

It pays to be observant. While walking around the Central West End last month, stylist Casey Ray peered into a trash bin behind the Chase Park Plaza and found scripts for "New Moon" and "Memoirs" - sequels to the vampire sensation "Twilight." (For those of you who don't have young teenagers at home, "Twilight" is a love story between a teenage girl and a vampire, pictured.) Ray began shopping the scripts around to the national tabloids, when someone from one of the papers told her how the deal would work. That's when Ray thought it might be a good idea to get some legal advice.

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Class action suit: Express Scripts put millions at risk

A federal lawsuit claims St. Louis-based Express Scripts should have done more to prevent a widely publicized data breach last year. According to the lawsuit, filed Friday in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, the company didn't use the most advanced information security technology it could and failed to take other steps to prevent the loss of its clients' confidential information. The lawsuit seeks class action status, claiming at least one million people were affected by the data breach.

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Homes getting smaller, cheaper

A weak market and lower mortgage rates are helping make homes in St. Charles County more affordable, according to an analysis recently released by the county's Department of Community Development. There also appears to be a trend to build smaller homes in the county. For years many local not-for-profit organizations and some businesspeople have lobbied local officials to take action to spur the construction of low- and moderate-income housing, which advocates of such projects call affordable housing. The marketplace may be doing what government couldn't or refused to do.

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Defenders see increase despite recession

The state's public defender office is mulling over the most effective use for money aimed at paring down its caseload. Approximately $2 million for the Public Defender Commission was tucked into a wide-ranging bill featuring some projects funded with federal stimulus money. After a series of starts and stops through the legislative process, the bill passed both the Senate and the House on Thursday evening, a little less than a day before a mandatory budget deadline. Pictured is House Budget Chairman Allen Icet, R-Wildwood.

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Thompson Coburn defers associate starting dates

St. Louis firm Thompson Coburn is pushing off until January the starting date for 13 incoming first-year associates. The firm is paying the new hires a $10,000 stipend and urged them to volunteer with Legal Services of Eastern Missouri during the three-month delay, said Thompson Coburn Chairman Tom Minogue (pictured). "It's better to have them start when the economy is turning around," Minogue said. Thompson Coburn's first-year class also is smaller by four lawyers than it was in 2008.

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Legal document mills may face scrutiny

An effort to crack down on companies that provide and complete legal paperwork without an attorney could get a boost from Jefferson City. An amendment tacked on to a wide-ranging judiciary bill in a Missouri House committee would place the unauthorized practice of law under the state’s Merchandising Practices Act. Moving such violations to the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act could increase prosecution by the state attorney general’s office of online legal document mills, said sponsoring Rep. John Burnett (pictured), D-Kansas City.

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Legislature passes the 2010 budget

The Missouri General Assembly has completed a budget that uses federal stimulus money to forestall cuts made to the state's judiciary system. (pictured is House Budget Chairman Allen Icet, R-Wildwood) As a result, both the judiciary and the state's public defender system will see slight increases to their 2010 operating budgets. Included in that budget bill is $37.3 million for the state's public defender system. The appropriation is slightly higher than what the department got during the current fiscal year.

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Judge defends sealing Clay divorce filing

St. Louis Circuit Clerk Mariano V. Favazza and Judge Margaret M. Neill (pictured) are defending the process used this week to seal U.S. Rep. William Lacy Clay's divorce filings. Clay's wife, Ivie, who was not consulted about the sealing, issued a statement saying she hadn't been told of the divorce filing and questioning whether she could get a fair divorce proceeding in St. Louis. The case raises a number of legal issues, including: Is it appropriate for a circuit clerk to delay releasing a public record before a judge seals the record? Can a judge seal the file in a divorce proceeding without notifying the other party? Can a judge seal the file without giving specific and tangible reasons for doing so?

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Pfeiffer named to Western District appeals court

Columbia attorney Mark D. Pfeiffer has been appointed to fill the first of three vacancies on the Missouri Court of Appeals Western District. The appointment is Gov. Jay Nixon's first to an appellate court since taking office in January. Pfeiffer will fill one of three openings on the Western District. He officially takes the spot of Judge Ron Holliger, who left the bench in January to go work as general counsel for Attorney General Chris Koster. Pfeiffer's name was submitted to Nixon in March, along with 17th Judicial Circuit Judge Jacqueline A. Cook and Cynthia L. Reams Martin. The governor had until Tuesday to make his selection.

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