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Time, Times get two kicks at the crack-legal-expert can

gavel.gifToday’s New York Observer reports that First Amendment lawyer-legend Floyd Abrams, who has been representing Time’s Matt Cooper and the Times’ Judith Miller in the ongoing legal battle regarding their refusal to name sources, now has only one client.

Apparently Cooper decided to hedge his bets and go with an alternative lawyer-legend: Ted Olsen, whose 41 Supreme Court appearances seem to recommend him (not to mention victory in a little case called Bush v. Gore). This effectively breaks out the case into two parts, which means that the court could conceivably issue two rulings. In either case, two briefs will be filed, which Abrams characterizes as a good thing, as does Time:

The initial statement issued by Time Inc. general counsel John Redpath said that they [Cooper and Miller] have been “Superbly represented by America’s premier First Amendment expert, Floyd Abrams,” adding, “But given the fact that Floyd is also representing Judy Miller of the New York Times in this matter, we thought it would be helpful to add a second voice to the team (the allusion to Miller was removed in an updated version).

Not a whole lot more is said about the switch, though distinctions between Cooper and Miller are drawn through a detailed description of the Wilson/Plame/Novak imbroglio and a mini-Branzburg tutorial.

Will Abrams be able to make the difficult case for journalistic privilege? Will Fitzgerald prove there’s a compelling need for the testimony, anyway? And what’s with those blank pages concerning Novak’s testimony? We have no answers, but either way we wouldn’t mind some of what Branzburg was smoking.

UPDATE: Well, at least they’re not going to jail…yet. Editor & Publisher reports that special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has agreed not to challenge the Cooper/Miller request for a stay on sentencing until the U.S. Supreme Court decides whether or not to hear the appeal. More details at E&P.

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