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from Alison Frankel:

Why the Arab Bank terror-finance trial matters

Last week, on the evening of Sept. 11, a lawyer named Mark Werbner stood outside his hotel in Brooklyn and looked across the East River at the blue lights commemorating the collapse of the World Trade Center in 2001. Werbner, who is from Dallas, was in New York because he represents American victims of Hamas bombings and shootings during the second Palestinian Intifada. Since early August, he and his co-counsel have been trying the victims' claims against Jordan's Arab Bank, which they accuse of financing the Hamas terror operations. As he looked at the blue lights, Werbner told jurors Thursday during closing arguments in the Arab Bank trial, he stepped back and asked himself whether the 10 years of work he'd put into the case had accomplished anything.

"What am I doing here? What difference will it make?" he told jurors. "You know what's going on in the world since then. It's not any better. You know what we're facing."

I've asked myself the same question, after watching portions of the Arab Bank trial over the past six weeks. For all of the dogged investigation, numbing research and considerable expense that the victims' lawyers have devoted to their case against Arab Bank, militants - including those from Hamas - are still finding ways to finance operations targeting civilians. Even as lawyers in this case argued in whispered sidebars in an air-conditioned courtroom in Brooklyn over the admission of pieces of evidence from an uprising that ended a decade ago, the Islamic State was putting out videos of its merciless beheadings of American journalists and a British aid worker. The 11 jurors who've endured long weeks of a multilingual, document-intensive trial must also have wondered: Can private litigation against a bank prevent terrorism?

The four lawyers who spoke Thursday for the plaintiffs in the Arab Bank case assured them that it can - that the message they send with their verdict will force international banks to do more than check wire transfers against terrorism blacklists. If jurors find Arab Bank liable for processing about $73 million that allegedly propped up Hamas operations in the Second Intifada, the lawyers said, banks around the world will be on notice that they're responsible for actively policing against financing terror.

from Photographers' Blog:

The most wanted photograph in China

Jinan, China

By Carlos Barria

As the morning approached, reporters, photographers and cameramen from national and foreign media organizations gathered outside the Jinan Intermediate People's Court to cover the final chapter in the trial of disgraced Chinese politician Bo Xilai.

The stage for this story was Jinan, in the northeastern coastal province of Shandong. This story had all the elements of a great thriller: power, corruption, romance and murder. With no access to the courtroom itself, the foreign media and the general public relied on images provided by the court for glimpses of the trial. Also, for the first time China’s judicial system provided court transcripts, published on Weibo, China’s version of Twitter.

from Unstructured Finance:

This summer, it’s the John Paulson show

Hedge fund manager John Paulson has shunned the limelight in recent years but in recent weeks it's a different story, with the 57-year-old manager not only giving his first ever TV interview, he's also set to take the stand in one of the most closely-watched trials in the country - the civil case against former Goldman Sachs trader Fabrice Tourre.

Tourre's lawyer Sean Coffey said in a Manhattan federal court on Friday morning they intended to call Paulson to testify in the trial. The U.S District Judge overseeing the trial estimated Paulson would probably take the stand August 1.

from Photographers' Blog:

The Ruby sex gate, my cell phone and Massoud

Milan, Italy

By Alessandro Garofalo

“Do you know how Ahamad Massoud died?”

It’s not a quiz but a question addressed to us a few days ago by an employee from the secretary of the Public Prosecutor’s office when we asked why photographers were not allowed to bring photographic equipment into the court during the trials involving the former dancer Maroc, Karima El Mahroug, better knew as Ruby Heartstealer, in the sexgate scandal with former Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi, accused of inciting the prostitution of a minor and abuse of power.

For a long time here in Milan we used to wait for Berlusconi and various protagonists of his different trials outside the courthouse because a measure prohibits filming in the courtroom for safety reasons.

from Alison Frankel:

Gupta appeal will be ‘very difficult,’ Holwell says

Without former U.S. District Judge Richard Holwell, there probably would not have been any prosecution of Rajat Gupta, the former Goldman Sachs director and McKinsey chief convicted Friday of insider trading and conspiracy. In 2010, Holwell ruled that prosecutors could use wiretap evidence in their case against Galleon Group hedge fund founder Raj Rajaratnam, rejecting defense arguments that the government is not authorized to use wiretaps to investigate insider trading. If prosecutors hadn't been able to use those Rajaratnam wiretaps – in which Rajaratnam obliquely referred to tips from a Goldman insider – it's unlikely the government would have gone to trial against Gupta, since the tapes were the only link between Gupta's alleged tips and Rajaratnam's trades.

Holwell, who is now in private practice at Holwell, Shuster & Goldberg, told me Friday that wiretaps have forever changed the way the government investigates insider trading. "Prior to the Rajaratnam case, you look at insider trading rings, and they're very small. Prosecutors would wind up getting one, two, three people." The Rajaratnam case showed that with wiretaps, you can sweep in rings of tippers, leading to "a vast array of prosecutions," Holwell said.

from Photographers' Blog:

The Amanda Knox lottery

By Alessandro Bianchi

On my mind was the number 77; the number of my press badge and the number I gave to police to get through security at the entrance to the court house.

Within a few minutes, the stepladders of photographers and television crews formed a pyramid that could block your view if you had chosen the wrong place. It was like a lottery and you had to wait to see if you had picked the right number.

from FaithWorld:

Dutch anti-Islam lawmaker Wilders challenges judges at hate speech trial

wilders trial (Photo: Geert Wilders (C) at his trial in Amsterdam, 4 Oct 2010/Marcel Antonisse)

Dutch anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders, a key player in efforts to form a new government, has accused judges trying him on charges of inciting hatred of scandalous bias and demanded they be replaced.

Wilders, who has 24-hour police guard because of death threats, went on trial Monday over comments including a comparison he made between the Islamic faith and Nazism.

from India Insight:

Moral brigade, media trials and law

In what is being seen as a significant judgement, India's apex court recently dismissed all charges against south Indian actress Khushboo for her alleged remarks on pre-marital sex in a 2005 magazine interview.

KhushbooThe Supreme Court said her comments were her personal view and that she was entitled to express them.

from Global News Journal:

China holds Rio trial behind closed doors

The trial of four Rio Tinto employees began early on a chilly, gray Monday morning in Shanghai, when four police vans in a convoy led by a cruiser with flashing lights swept the defendants to the courthouse well before 7 am.
 CHINA-RIO/

Quick glimpses from outside the modern courthouse are all that most outsiders will get.

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