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Portland criminal defense attorney gives up law license, ends decades-long career amid charges of theft

UPDATE OCT. 12: This story has been updated to correctly state that the Oregon State Bar had made accusations against Gary Bertoni for alleged wrongdoing between 2015 to 2019.

Gary Bertoni, who for many years made frequent appearances in Portland courtrooms while representing some of Multnomah County’s high profile defendants, has surrendered his law license in Oregon amid a swirl of criminal and administrative allegations — including that he stole client money.

The Oregon Supreme Court on Sept. 30 accepted Bertoni’s “Form B” resignation, ending a law career that started in Oregon 42 years ago and showed no public signs of trouble until Bertoni had reached his early 60s.

Bertoni, now 69, didn’t respond to requests for comment for this story. He is now living in Arizona, according to his resignation letter.

At the height of his law career, Bertoni once had approximately 15 employees at his Portland area law firm. He represented some of Oregon’s youngest defendants who were facing some of the most serious crimes, among others: A 15-year-old boy who bludgeoned a 71-year-old man bloody and unconscious at a Gresham MAX stop; a 16-year-old who shot to death a 17-year-old who was returning home from saying good-bye to his dying mother at OHSU; and a drunken driver with a 22-year history of alcohol-fueled arrests who killed a woman after T-boning her car.

Gary Bertoni

Gary Bertoni has relinquished his law license in Oregon. (File photo/The Oregonian)

But Bertoni clearly became engulfed in financial problems. In 2012, his license was suspended for 150 days after the Oregon State Bar accused him of taking for his own personal use as much as $44,000 that had been set aside for clients’ defense expenses. He later returned it, the bar said. The bar wasn’t able to prove that Bertoni used the money for personal use, but Bertoni signed an agreement with the bar that referred to the inappropriate movement of money and incomplete record-keeping.

In August 2018, Bertoni was sentenced in federal court to five years of probation, three months of weekend home detention and 500 hours of community service for failing to pay employment taxes. He also was ordered to pay the Internal Revenue Service more than $181,000. The government had alleged that Bertoni had used the money for personal enrichment, but Bertoni’s defense attorney argued that Bertoni had made poor investments and disputed any contention that Bertoni had lived extravagantly.

In September 2018, Bertoni again was suspended from practicing law, this time for 18 months after the state Supreme Court cited “a pattern of disregard for the interests of his clients.” That included improperly holding onto client funds and failing to keep clients informed.

This past July, Bertoni acknowledged accusations the Oregon State Bar had made against him for wrongdoing from 2015 to 2019 as part of a signed document agreeing to relinquish his law license. Among those accusations was that Bertoni used $2,500 for his personal use even though a criminal defendant had given the money to him to go

Genesee County ISD special education funding formula violates state law, judge says

FLINT, MI — The formula used to funnel some special education dollars through the Genesee Intermediate School Distrct to local districts violates state law, an administrative law judge has said.

For Flint schools, this could mean the district will get more special education funding because it has a higher than average percentage of special education students. It also could mean less money for school districts with a high total student count but lower percentage of special education students, like Grand Blanc Community Schools.

As it currently stands, the GISD Mandatory Plan appropriates $3.8 million of Act 18 special education funds back to local districts based on a three-part formula: 1. Total special education headcount 2. Full-time-equivalent (FTE) special education student head count 3. Total FTE headcount. FTE head count is adjusted for part-time student numbers. These three factors are currently equally weighted.

However, Administrative Law Judge Michael St. John in a Friday, Oct 9 recommendation to State Superintendent Michael Rice, said this formula should change.

Residents challenge officials to change special education funding to benefit Flint schools

The Flint Community School district has said it is unfair to include total FTE as one third of the formula because it disadvantages the city district, which once was the largest in the county but has since lost ground to suburban districts.

GISD Superintendent Lisa Hagel testified that all three factors, including FTE, are of equal importance.

“However, the funding formula does not provide equal funding for the three factors,” St. John wrote in his recommendation. “Because the three numbers are simply averaged together, the larger number of FTE students dwarfs the smaller SEHC number and substantially dwarfs the much smaller SEFTE number. Rather than using relative percentages of each factor, they are simply added together and then divided. FTE therefore dominates both the numerator and the denominator in the current formula resulting in a skewed distribution of funds.”

St. John added that Hagel’s concern that altering the plan would result in less money for some special education students in some districts was also “heartfelt and entirely legitimate.”

The current GISD plan is in violation of state law because it does not meet the individual needs of each student with a disability, particularly those special education students attending Flint Community Schools, St. John wrote. He said the plan is also arbitrary and capricious.

However, he did not suggest removing FTE entirely as a factor for allocation of funds. Instead, St. John suggested weighting the three factors to ensure that the total student count in a district does not outweigh the number of special education students.

“It is the sincere hope of the Administrative Law Judge that the parties can come together to work through their differences toward their common goal of educating all students in Genesee County,” St. John wrote.

The GISD appreciates the thoughtful review and recommendation made by Administrative Law Judge St. John to State Superintendent Rice, GISD Associate Superintendent Steven Tunnicliff said in a statement to MLive/The Flint Journal.

“The

The George Washington University Law School

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As D.C.’s first law school, the George Washington University Law School has set the standard for legal education for more than 150 years. GW Law has an impressive, longstanding record of educating forward-thinking leaders. For example, by 1895, our graduates had already written the patents for Bell’s telephone, Mergenthaler’s linotype machine, and Eastman’s roll film camera. We continue to set the curve today, with a robust curriculum offering more than 275 elective courses designed to give students both a broad and in-depth legal education.

Our world-renowned faculty is regularly featured in print and in the media for outlets such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, MSNBC, and CNN. Our faculty also has been cited as having the second-most downloaded scholarship on the Social Science Research Network (SSRN) law school list. Our faculty members are experts who have written the leading textbooks in their fields and testified before Congress, but their primary commitment is to prepare the next generation of lawyers to meet the challenges of our ever-evolving world. In addition, our location in the heart of Washington, D.C., has allowed us to build a superb adjunct faculty of distinguished practitioners who are top lawyers at law firms, at government agencies, and on Capitol Hill. We’re the only law school where a sitting Supreme Court justice teaches a regular course.

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‘Universal law of touch’ will enable new advances in virtual reality

touch
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Seismic waves, commonly associated with earthquakes, have been used by scientists to develop a universal scaling law for the sense of touch. A team, led by researchers at the University of Birmingham, used Rayleigh waves to create the first scaling law for touch sensitivity. The results are published in Science Advances.


The researchers are part of a European consortium (H-Reality) that are already using the theory to develop new Virtual Reality technologies that incorporate the sense of touch.

Rayleigh waves are created by impact between objects and are commonly thought to travel only along surfaces. The team discovered that, when it comes to touch, the waves also travel through layers of skin and bone and are picked up by the body’s touch receptor cells.

Using mathematical modelling of these touch receptors the researchers showed how the receptors were located at depths that allowed them to respond to Rayleigh waves. The interaction of these receptors with the Rayleigh waves will vary across species, but the ratio of receptor depth vs wavelength remains the same, enabling the universal law to be defined.

The mathematics used by the researchers to develop the law is based on approaches first developed over a hundred years ago to model earthquakes. The law supports predictions made by the Nobel-Prize-winning physicist Georg von Békésy who first suggested the mathematics of earthquakes could be used to explore connections between Rayleigh waves and touch.

Seismic waves, commonly associated with earthquakes, have been used by scientists to develop a universal scaling law for the sense of touch. A team, led by researchers at the University of Birmingham, used Rayleigh waves to create the first scaling law for touch sensitivity. Credit: University of Birmingham

The team also found that the interaction of the waves and receptors remained even when the stiffness of the outermost layer of skin changed. The ability of the receptors to respond to Rayleigh waves remained unchanged despite the many variations in this outer layer caused by, age, gender, profession, or even hydration.

Dr. Tom Montenegro-Johnson, of the University of Birmingham’s School of Mathematics, led the research. He explains: “Touch is a primordial sense, as important to our ancient ancestors as it is to modern day mammals, but it’s also one of the most complex and therefore least understood. While we have universal laws to explain sight and hearing, for example, this is the first time that we’ve been able to explain touch in this way.”

James Andrews, co-author of the study at the University of Birmingham, adds: “The principles we’ve defined enable us to better understand the different experiences of touch among a wide range of species. For example, if you indent the skin of a rhinoceros by 5mm, they would have the same sensation as a human with a similar indentation—it’s just that the forces required to produce the indentation would be different. This makes a lot of sense in evolutionary terms, since it’s connected to relative danger and potential damage.”


Levitation,