November 2010 Archives

Remembering Gregory Coleman

We were stunned and deeply saddened to learn of the loss of Gregory Coleman of YetterColeman, who died in a plane crash Tuesday evening. Coleman, an appellate lawyer who graced the cover of the 2010 edition of Texas Super Lawyers, was known for many things in his remarkable career, including serving as the state's first solicitor general, clerking for Justice Clarence Thomas, making many successful appearances before the U.S. Supreme Court, and just being one of the nicest guys around. He certainly was to us. Our condolences to his family.

Supreme Beings

Look for these professionals who have been listed to Super Lawyers to make an appearance before the U.S. Supreme Court in the coming weeks.
Tuesday, Nov. 30
CIGNA Corporation, et al. v. Janice C. Amara, et al., with Theodore B. Olson of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher in Washington, D.C., for the petitioners.
Arnold Schwarzenegger, Governor of California, et al. v. Marciano Plata, et al., with Carter G. Phillips of Sidley Austin in Washington, D.C., for the appellants.
Wednesday, Dec. 1
Glen Scott Milner v. Department of the Navy, with David S. Mann of Gendler & Mann in Seattle for the petitioner.
Virginia Office for Protection and Advocacy v. James W. Stewart, III, Commissioner, Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services, et al., with E. Duncan Getchell Jr., solicitor general of the Commonwealth of Virginia, for the respondents.
Tuesday, Dec. 7
Janus Capital Group, Inc., et al. v. First Derivative Traders, with Mark Andrew Perry of Gibson Dunn & Crutcher in Washington, D.C., for the petitioners; and David C. Frederick of Kellogg, Huber, Hansen, Todd, Evans & Figel in Washington, D.C., for the respondent.
Wednesday, Dec. 8
Chase Bank USA, N.A. v. James A. McCoy, Individually and on Behalf of All Others Similarly Situated, with Seth P. Waxman of Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr in Washington, D.C., for the petitioner.
Chamber of Commerce of the United States, et al. v. Michael B. Whiting, et al., with Carter G. Phillips of Sidley Austin in Washington, D.C., for the petitioners.

David Lillehaug's new specialty: election recount law

In 2008, the United States Senate race in Minnesota was certified with Republican incumbent Norm Coleman holding a 215-vote margin over Democratic-Farmer-Labor candidate Al Franken. Minneapolis litigator David Lillehaug of Fredrikson & Byron led Franken's legal team during the ensuing automatic recount that led to the DFLer's victory. "When we were done with the last matter, people said to me, 'Well, now you have a new specialty,'" he says. "And my response was, 'The next one will be in 40 years and by then I'll be in the nursing home.'" Lillehaug's estimate was 20 times too large--he's currently working on behalf of DFLer Mark Dayton in the court-ordered recount of the state's 2010 gubernatorial election. He feels good about his client's chances. Going into the recount, Dayton holds an 8,755-vote lead over his opponent Tom Emmer, a margin far beyond what has ever been toppled in a recount, Lillehaug says. "Let me put it this way. We are highly confident that Mark Dayton won the election," he says. "Now our job is to protect that." Meanwhile, he's enjoying the change of pace from normal litigation. "Election matters often proceed at the speed of light," says Lillehaug, who has been listed in Minnesota Super Lawyers every year since 2003. "It gets the adrenaline flowing." Fast also means busy. "I've never worked harder than I did [during the Franken recount,]" he says. "Most days were 7:30 in the morning straight through until 10:30 at night. One Sunday I did have dinner with my family and I said that we should go and get a Christmas tree the next day. My daughter looked at me and said, 'Dad. We have a Christmas tree. It's been up for three days in the living room.'" It's safe to say that he hopes he'll get a say in the Lillehaug family Christmas tree this year. "I'm hoping we don't go to that length in 2010," he says. "I'd be very pleased if Mark Dayton was sworn in as governor on Jan. 3."

Announcing Board of Advisors

We are honored to announce the Super Lawyers Board of Advisors, composed of attorneys who embody excellence in practice. The board will provide advice, feedback and editorial guidance and includes lawyers from across the country, of varied firm sizes, who have consistently appeared at the top of the Super Lawyers lists.

Drunk Driving and Its Consequences

drunk_driving.jpgDrunk driving has been called a nationwide epidemic and the public has supported increasingly harsh penalties. The growing recognition and reaction to the dangers posed by intoxicated drivers means drunk driving consequences can be in a state of flux depending on where the driver is arrested.
 
In general, jail time for DWI or DUI offenses are becoming more common, sometimes even in the case of first-time offenders. This trend towards stricter laws is happening across the U.S. as a result of lobbying by groups like Mothers Against Drunk Drivers.
 
Starting in the 1980s, drunk driving consequences started becoming more severe, and the last states to raise their drinking age, South Dakota and Wyoming, did so in 1988. The blood alcohol concentration limit was lowered to the .08 standard and under-21 laws prohibited any alcohol consumption by minor drivers.
 
Now that these laws have been standardized across the U.S., much of the new drunk driving legislation has focused on the problem of habitual offenders. Penalties like increased fines, stricter license revocation and mandatory jail time have made repeat drunk driving consequences more severe.
 
Even those who are not habitual drunk drivers can find themselves affected by stricter drunk driving consequences. Attorney's fees and court costs have increased and, even if the driver's license is returned (even first-time offenders can have lengthy license suspensions), the car insurance policy can be cancelled or the insurer may move the driver into a higher-risk classification. The driver may also be required to attend classes.
 
Even if a driver is not the cause of an accident, they can be liable for any damages if alcohol is detected in their system. This liability could run into the millions of dollars. Even if the BAC of the driver is below .08, it is still possible to be arrested or held liable for driving while impaired.
 
All of these costs and inconveniences pale in comparison to the ultimate drunk driving consequences: causing the injury or death of a driver, passenger or pedestrian. In one sobering study, commissioned by MADD, researchers found that, on average, a drunk driver kills someone in the U.S. every 40 minutes.

Ready for our close-up

Here's something fun. Super Lawyers is making its Hollywood debut in James L. Brooks' upcoming film, How Do You Know, starring Jack Nicholson, Owen Wilson, Reese Witherspoon and Paul Rudd. Months ago, the film's production company contacted us and requested a digital version of a cover image, and we were happy to comply with one. See if you can spot it. (Hint: pay close attention to the office wall at the 2:05 mark.) The film opens on Dec. 17th.