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Suit questions Nixon’s role in clemencies

A federal lawsuit demands that Gov. Jay Nixon recuse himself from clemency considerations for three death row inmates, saying he can't be trusted to be objective because he prosecuted the men as attorney general. Dennis J. Skillicorn and two others say Nixon, through his representation of the Missouri Department of Corrections, "intentionally obstructed federal court appointed counsel's access to evidence in support of clemency." Based on those allegations, the Missouri Supreme Court last year granted a stay of execution for Skillicorn, who had been scheduled to die Aug 27. However, the court on Monday issued a new execution date for Skillicorn - May 20.

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AG Koster sues mortgage companies for fraud

Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster has sued two mortgage brokers, alleging the companies fraudulently misrepresented themselves in refinance letters to consumers by appearing to be supported by the consumers' banks and tied to the federal government. The lawsuits filed against Gold Star Home Mortgage and Oxford Lending Group are part of Koster's "zero tolerance" campaign against mortgage scams. Standing with Koster are John Phillips, left, and Doug Ommen, both with the consumer protection division of the Attorney General’s office.

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Court may get money to battle mold

Lawmakers are considering whether to take aim at an insidious force threatening to eat away at the very foundations of the Missouri Supreme Court. No, they're not talking about shoddy attorneys or activist judges. They're seeking to eradicate an ancient menace: mold. The chairman of the House Budget Committee is proposing to spend around $6.5 million worth of federal stimulus funds to refurbish the state Supreme Court Building (pictured) in Jefferson City. House Budget Chairman Allen Icet, R-Wildwood, included the item in a budget bill that would fund a number of capital improvement projects.

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40 years and counting

When you think "legal lions," think Myron H. Bright. Bright, 90, just celebrated more than 40 years as a judge on the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. It's been 40 years and eight months, to be precise, and that makes him the longest-serving working appellate judge on the 8th Circuit since it began in 1891. Bright, and other Court of Appeals employees who observed milestone anniversaries, were honored at a ceremony Tuesday at the Thomas F. Eagleton U.S. Courthouse.

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Collection agency to pursue red-light camera violators

St. Louis has stepped up efforts to bring in money from those cited for running red lights, hiring a collection agency to pursue violators who don't pay up. The city has hired Texas law firm Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson to pursue collection of outstanding court fines. Meanwhile, an anti-camera group led by Jesse Irwin and Ed Martin (pictured) is taking a wait-and-see approach. The group may pursue a ballot measure for a 2010 election to allow St. Louis city voters to ban use of red-light cameras.

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Defender bill gets rare move

State Rep. Bryan Stevenson might have removed the biggest obstacle in the way of legislation meant to relieve the caseload crunch for the state's public defender system: himself. Stevenson, a Webb City Republican who chairs the House Judiciary Committee, made the somewhat unusual move of asking for Sen. Jack Goodman's legislation to be sent away from his committee. The legislation was re-directed to the House General Laws Committee, which is chaired by Rep. Tim Jones, R-Eureka (pictured left).

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Looking up

Law firms find new niche: stimulus dollars. Months before the state knew it was receiving at least $4 billion in federal stimulus funds, Missouri attorneys were on the ground, studying the enormous financial package and guiding clients toward a piece of the action. Dardenne Prairie Mayor Pamela Fogarty, left, points out the work done on the new City Hall to attorneys Jane Dueker and former state Sen. Michael Gibbons. Dueker and Gibbons are part of a Stinson Morrison Hecker stimulus strike force advising clients on how to obtain federal stimulus money earmarked for Missouri.

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Downey explores dangers of online networking

Attorneys are being urged to go online to find clients more than ever before. But Michael P. Downey, a partner at Hinshaw & Culbertson in St. Louis who focuses his practice on ethics, urges caution when participating in online social networking sites. “Particularly in the current economic climate, lawyers are being pressured to develop business in new and creative ways,” Downey says. “But there are a whole series of potential problems.” Downey, author of the blog The Ethical Quandary, offers tips on how to avoid online networking risks.

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Court plan reform bill sent to Senate

Less than a day after it won initial approval in the Missouri House, a resolution altering Missouri's Nonpartisan Court Plan was sent to the Senate on Thursday. (pictured at left) Rep. Stanley Cox's resolution passed 85-72, three votes more than the constitutionally needed amount to send legislation to the Senate. Among other things, Cox's resolution would increase the number of judicial nominees from three to four. Watch video of Cox talking about the court plan. Click here to see how lawyers in the House voted.

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Express Scripts executive sued for sexual harassment

A former employee of Express Scripts claims that her boss, a subdivision president, sexually assaulted and harassed her. Cynthia Booker says that the company ignored her complaints and then retaliated against her. The lawsuit filed Friday in Jefferson Circuit Court in Kentucky alleges in graphic detail that Ronald Allen began to sexually harass Booker in June 2008 and pressured her to have an affair with him. Booker said she eventually relented and had an affair with Allen. Express Scripts, headquartered on the University of Missouri-St. Louis campus, is one of the largest pharmacy benefit managers in the country.

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Stevens’ conviction set aside

A U.S. judge set aside the political corruption verdict that probably cost ex-Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens re-election and ordered an investigation into whether prosecutors' "shocking" conduct was criminal. U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan said he had a duty to determine the "potential for obstruction of justice" by six federal prosecutors. The Justice Department abandoned the case after Attorney General Eric Holder discovered the prosecutors had withheld evidence that would have helped Stevens contest the charges he omitted $250,000 worth of gifts on his financial disclosure reports.

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