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Guest List: Legal Newsmakers

The Washingtonians in headlines today we’d like to have dinner with tonight

- Susan Saladoff. The former Maryland and Washington lawyer has a new career. Her documentary, Hot Coffee, about the infamous overheated-McDonald’s-coffee lawsuit is screening in a decidedly un-Washington location, the Sundance Film Festival, even as it takes on the (forgive us the pun) hot political topic of tort reform. Folks looking for career changes—or legal eagles—take note!

- Judge Daniel Bouton. The Virginia Circuit Court judge is hearing arguments today in a lawsuit that pits preservationists against Walmart in a fight to keep the retail superstore away from a location that historians say was a key part of the Battle of the Wilderness. As the Civil War’s 150th anniversary approaches and a battle over Walmart’s expansion across the region heats up, this trial could touch lots of sore spots—not to mention wallets.

- Christian Guidi. The general manager of the Old Ebbitt Grill has a social-media phenomenon on his hands. According to the social-mapping service FourSquare, which analyzed 381,576,305 check-ins in 2010, the watering hole was the network’s third most popular bar in the country, behind Webster’s Wine Bar in Chicago and ahead of Wine Connection Deli and Bistro in Thailand. Whether it’s an indication of Washington’s social-media addiction or a great stealth marketing campaign, we hope Guidi is taking advantage of the free publicity.

- Baltimore Police Commissioner Frederick Bealefeld. A debate is underway in the Baltimore police department about whether David Simon’s crime show, The Wire, is a fair depiction of the department. Bealefeld has described the show as an embarrassment. We’d be curious to know how he plans to move his department beyond what he perceives as the bad reputation that Simon portrayed—and what it’s like to cope with public expectations for a police force that’s long been the subject of pop-culture phenomena.

- Virginia Delegate Vivian Watts. Even Oprah has jumped into the fight against texting and driving, but Watts is aiming for more than just public awareness. She wants to ban all cell-phone use for drivers—even if you have a device that lets you keep your eyes on the roads and your hands on the wheel while you do it—and jack fines up to $500 per offense for drivers who don’t comply. It’s not a bad idea for raising revenue in a recession, but will it work to change behavior? Smartphones aren’t nicknamed Crackberries for nothing.

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