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Bar News - June 8, 2007

Notes from a Messy Desk



Doc in a Box at Depositions

How’s this for a convergence of technology trends? A Florida attorney who has developed a specialty in challenging medical experts (see May 7 issue of Lawyers Weekly USA), is now outsourcing the medical experts she uses to challenge medical expert witnesses, using physicians in India. Not only that, she uses Skype, a form of telephone Internet service that makes even international calls free, to allow her experts in New Delhi to listen in on depositions, and instant-message her with comments on the testimony or suggested questions, in real-time. Her consultants’ qualifications, aren’t at issue, says Attorney Dorothy Clay Sims, because they aren’t testifying. Her company is called MDinaBox.


Bill Auditors Assault Privilege

Increasingly, independent auditors are seeking information and work product that are protected by attorney-client privilege. Auditors are operating in an environment of increased scrutiny from the SEC, and they are concerned for their own liability if they fail to uncover faulty financials. “… [S]ome independent auditors have insisted that providing privileged materials will function as either a condition of engagement or as a requirement for completion of financial statement audits and reviews,” said Marty Steinberg, a litigation partner at Hunton & Williams of Miami. He recently discussed these issues at the Fortune 100 Auditing Roundtable.


Blogging Jurors

It will soon be necessary to check whether potential jurors are blogging, jury selection experts now say. Although defense attorney Mark Sisti’s attempt to overturn a conviction due to a blogging juror was rejected by the NH Supreme Court (Goupil v. State of NH, 2005-444, decided Sept. 28, 2006), lawyers in other states are seeing challenges of this sort multiplying. In the Goupil case, Sisti contended the verdict was tainted by juror misconduct because jury foreman Scott Vachon, four days before he was selected, said he would have to “listen to the local riff-raff try and convince me of their innocence.” The juror also commented on his selection before the trial. Sisti found out about the blog shortly before verdict from a lawyer who was a neighbor of the jury foreman.

In a March 12, 2007 article in National Law Journal, several jurors with blogs were interviewed, and they acknowledged that they had discussed the jury selection process but were not commenting on the trial itself. An attorney’s blog about juror issues, “Jury Geek,” asks: “Are they discussing the case if they are posting information about it but not hearing anything back?”


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