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High court sides with property owners in wetlands case
Lawyer Blogs | 2016/06/02 10:36
The Supreme Court is making it easier for landowners to bring a court challenge when federal regulators try to restrict property development due to concerns about water pollution.

The justices ruled unanimously Tuesday that a Minnesota company could file a lawsuit against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers over the agency's determination that its land is off limits to peat mining under the Clean Water Act.

The ruling is a win for property rights and business groups that said it was unfair for government agencies to decide what land is subject to complex environmental laws without a court ever deciding whether the agency is right.

It was the second time in four years that the high court sided with property owners against the government in a dispute over the right to challenge a designation of protected wetlands.

The Obama administration argued that the Hawkes Company could only contest the finding by seeking a permit, an expensive process that could take years to resolve. The company said it should be able to challenge the order immediately in federal court without having to spend more than $100,000 on a permit or risk hefty fines.

Writing for the court, Chief Justice John Roberts said the Corps' decision was the kind of final decision that carries a risk of major criminal and civil penalties if landowners don't go along. He said property owners shouldn't have to wait for the agency to "drop the hammer in order to have their day in court."

The case began when the East Grand Forks, Minnesota, company planned to expand its peat processing operations and asked the Corps for guidance. The agency issued a determination that the property was governed by the Clean Water Act because it affected the Red River of the North about 120 miles away.


Court says net neutrality rules will go into effect Friday
Lawyer Blogs | 2015/06/10 19:19
Rules that treat the Internet like a public utility and prevent companies from blocking or slowing down some online traffic will go into effect Friday after a federal appeals court refused to delay them.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit said it won't postpone implementation of the net neutrality regulations even though AT&T, Verizon, and other companies are fighting against them. The panel said the United States Telecom Association, the plaintiffs in the case, did not satisfy the requirements for a stay.

The ruling is a setback for the industry, but the litigation will go on. The court accepted the Telecom Association's request to speed up the proceedings and asked the two sides to submit a schedule for briefing within two weeks.

Last February, the FCC agreed in a 3-2 vote to new rules that specifically prohibit service providers from blocking or slowing Internet traffic. To make sure the FCC has the authority to punish violators, the agency agreed to put Internet service in the same regulatory camp as the telephone and other utilities. That means providers would have to act in the "public interest" when supplying Internet service and refrain from "unjust or unreasonable" business practices.



Josef Cowan | Civil Litigation Construction Law Firm Los Angeles
Lawyer Blogs | 2013/10/25 15:17

Josef Cowan founded our firm over 20 years ago.  The following are some questions and answers that discuss his unique qualities and why so many individuals and businesses trust our firm with their legal and business needs.

Q.    Why did you become a lawyer?

A.    I’m the youngest of 6 kids raised by a single mother.  We didn’t have much money, so I started working in the construction industry at a very young age.  In fact, I started a construction business when I was 17 years old, and that company is still in existence and has over 400 employees.  The construction industry involves a huge number of legal issues in a wide variety of different areas.  I always found the legal issues fascinating and believed that a solid understanding of the law and ability to resolve complex issues is a huge advantage in business.

Q.    What inspired you to found the Cowan Law Group?

A.    When I originally went to law school, I intended to use my legal training to help me with the construction business I started.  However, I found I have a real passion for helping individuals and small to medium-sized companies resolve their legal and business problems in ways that make good business sense.

Q.    How is the Cowan Law group different from other law firms?

A.    There are far too many firms that provide little to no value to their clients, and many that create more problems than they resolve.   In many instances, the attorneys are good, smart people, but they don’t have the background or business savvy necessary to provide truly strategic, cost-effective legal solutions to their clients.  This is a real problem because a good attorney who understands not just the legal issues, but also his client’s business challenges and objectives, is a tremendous resource and strategic advantage.  With that in mind, I created the Cowan Law Group, whose main mission is to provide legal services that are smart, creative, and practical.

Q.    So what makes you a good lawyer and advisor?

A.    I have benefitted greatly from a first class college and legal education.  What I believe is even more important, however, is my life experience.  Starting at a very young age, I have had to overcome many challenges both personally and in business.  As a lawyer and advisor, these experiences have been invaluable because, through them, I have developed an ability to look at problems and challenges and know how to navigate through them in ways that are smart and effective.  

But what is most telling is what my clients say.  Over the course of my legal career, I have successfully resolved over $700 million of legal disputes in many different areas, including general business, real estate, construction, employment, and trade secret litigation, and I have handled a large number of business transactions.  My clients often tell me that I provide counseling that is practical and mindful of business priorities, and that I handle it all well.


Chicago man pleads guilty in NY hacking case
Lawyer Blogs | 2013/05/31 10:54
A self-described anarchist and "hacktivist" from Chicago pleaded guilty Tuesday to charges he illegally accessed computer systems of law enforcement agencies and government contractors.

"As part of each of these hacks, I took and decimated confidential information stored on computer systems websites used by each of the entities," Jeremy Hammond told a judge in federal court in Manhattan. "For each of these hacks, I knew what I was doing was against the law."

Prosecutors had alleged the cyber-attacks were carried out by Anonymous, the loosely organized worldwide hacking group that stole confidential information, defaced websites and temporarily put some victims out of business. Hammond was caught last year with the help of Hector Xavier Monsegur, a famous hacker known as Sabu who later helped law enforcement infiltrate Anonymous.

A criminal complaint had accused Hammond of pilfering information of more than 850,000 people via his attack on Austin, Texas-based Strategic Forecasting Inc., a publisher of geopolitical information also known as Stratfor. He also was accused of using the credit card numbers of Stratfor clients to make charges of at least $700,000. He allegedly bragged he even snared the personal data of a former U.S. vice president and one-time CIA director.


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