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Aug 15, 2013

U.S. judge in airline mega-merger once ran Microsoft case

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The federal judge assigned to hear a lawsuit to block the latest U.S. airline mega-merger began her career as a prosecutor, oversaw the resolution of the Microsoft Corp antitrust case and for years presided over a secret surveillance court.

U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly was described by lawyers on Wednesday as a thorough, experienced jurist likely to weigh equally the views of the Justice Department and the two companies that want to create the world’s biggest airline.

Aug 13, 2013

In airline suit, U.S. antitrust enforcers try to build on wins

WASHINGTON, Aug 13 (Reuters) – AMR Corp’s American Airlines
and US Airways Group Inc could be in for a
long and bruising courtroom battle against seasoned lawyers if
they choose to keep fighting the U.S. Justice Department’s
objection to their merger.

Several experts in antitrust law said in interviews that the
aggressive stance taken by the Justice Department in the suit it
filed in U.S. District Court in Washington signals a sincere
intention to block the deal, not just a mere negotiating ploy to
get concessions before possible future approval.

Aug 13, 2013

U.S. sues to block AMR-US Airways merger; stocks fall

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. government on Tuesday sued to block American Airlines and US Airways’ proposed merger to create the world’s biggest airline, saying consumers would end up paying higher fares and fees.

The surprising move, which could also hinder American parent AMR Corp’s efforts to emerge from bankruptcy, triggered a 5.4 percent decline in U.S. airline shares.

Aug 13, 2013

U.S. court demands decision on Nevada nuclear waste project

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A federal appeals court said on Tuesday that the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission can no longer delay a decision on whether to issue a permit for the long-stalled nuclear waste project at Yucca Mountain, Nevada.

On a 2-1 vote, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ordered the commission to promptly decide to license the project or reject the application.

Aug 12, 2013

U.S. moves to curb long, mandatory drug sentences

SAN FRANCISCO/WASHINGTON, Aug 12 (Reuters) – The Obama
administration unveiled steps on Monday to fix what it considers
the longstanding unjust treatment of many nonviolent drug
offenders, aiming to bypass tough mandatory prison terms while
reducing America’s huge prison population and saving billions of
dollars.

“Too many Americans go to too many prisons for far too long,
and for no truly good law enforcement reason,” Attorney General
Eric Holder, the top U.S. law enforcement official, said in a
speech in San Francisco unveiling a series of sweeping
proposals.

Aug 12, 2013

Justice Dept to drop some mandatory drug sentences

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Justice Department plans to change how it prosecutes some non-violent drug offenders, ending a policy of mandatory minimum prison sentences, in an overhaul of federal prison policy that Attorney General Eric Holder will unveil on Monday.

Holder will outline the status of a broad, ongoing project intended to improve Justice Department sentencing policies across the country in a speech to the American Bar Association in San Francisco.

Aug 7, 2013

Exclusive: IRS manual detailed DEA’s use of hidden intel evidence

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Details of a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration program that feeds tips to federal agents and then instructs them to alter the investigative trail were published in a manual used by agents of the Internal Revenue Service for two years.

The practice of recreating the investigative trail, highly criticized by former prosecutors and defense lawyers after Reuters reported it this week, is now under review by the Justice Department. Two high-profile Republicans have also raised questions about the procedure.

Aug 6, 2013

U.S. accuses Bank of America of mortgage-backed securities fraud

WASHINGTON/NEW YORK (Reuters) – The U.S. government on Tuesday filed two civil lawsuits against Bank of America that accuse the bank of investor fraud in its sale of $850 million of residential mortgage-backed securities.

The lawsuits are the latest legal headache for the second-largest U.S. bank, which has already agreed to pay in excess of $45 billion to settle disputes stemming from the 2008 financial crisis.

Aug 5, 2013

U.S. to review DEA unit that hides use of intel in crime cases

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Justice Department is reviewing a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration unit that passes tips culled from intelligence intercepts, wiretaps, informants and a large telephone database to field agents, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Monday.

Reuters reported Monday that agents who use such tips are trained to “recreate” the investigative trail to effectively conceal the DEA unit’s involvement from defense lawyers, prosecutors and even judges, a policy many lawyers said could violate a defendant’s right to a fair trial. Federal drug agents call the process of changing the true genesis of an arrest “parallel construction,” according to a training document.

Aug 5, 2013

Goldman, LME face new U.S. legal front on aluminum storage

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A U.S. class action alleging an illegal agreement to inflate aluminum prices may be just the start of aluminum buyers’ legal assault against warehouse owners such as Goldman Sachs Group Inc, lawyers with antitrust expertise said on Sunday.

Goldman (GS.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), other warehouse owners and the London Metal Exchange were named as defendants in the lawsuit filed last week alleging anticompetitive behavior.