10th Circuit

* Justice Sonia Sotomayor just ruined Hobby Lobby’s new year by refusing to block the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptives mandate. All of the members of the company’s legal team will have to scrapbook and crochet for hours to get over this loss. [Reuters]

* Harvard Law graduate Barack Obama is being feted as CNN’s “Most Intriguing Person of 2012,” but he’s currently trailing in fourth place in the most important year-end poll of all: Above the Law’s Lawyer of the Year competition. Get out there and vote! [CNN]

* Federal district court judges aren’t being confirmed as quickly as they once were, and it’s partly because our president isn’t submitting nominees as quickly as those who came before him. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]

* But even if the president nominated judges more quickly, he’d continue to face harsh opposition from the NRA, which matters because the gun group has an entire party in its pocket. [Opinionator / New York Times]

* A legal problem and a journalism problem wrapped up in a little pretty bow: David Gregory of NBC’s “Meet the Press” is being investigated for displaying an alleged 30-round magazine on the air. [Washington Post]

* One of New York’s most prestigious private schools agreed to settle the sex abuse suit brought against it by former students. Simpson Thacher partner Phil Culhane must be doing a victory dance. [New York Daily News]

* You got a fast car, and now this case will pay all our bills. Toyota settled a class action suit over unintended acceleration, and it’s touted as one of the largest product-liability settlements in history. [New York Times]

* Ay dios mio! You know that you’re never going to enjoy another vacation when you catch a hotel employee spreading his seed all over your clothes. But what did you expect? It’s Mexico. [Courthouse News Service]

* Only 44% of Americans approve of how the Supreme Court is doing its job, but that’s probably because the other 56% wouldn’t know what the Supreme Court was unless the justices were contestants on a reality show. [New York Times]

* Having nothing to do with the outcome of this Tenth Circuit appeal, apparently a juror in the underlying case had no idea when the First Amendment was adopted. As Bush II would say, is our children learning? [U.S. Tenth Circuit / FindLaw]

* Who’s going to win the “Super Bowl” of Android patent trials? Nobody. Judge Richard Posner has issued a “tentative” order which noted that both sides of the Apple/Google case ought to be dismissed. [Reuters]

* You should’ve “known better”: in case we didn’t make it abundantly clear when we spoke about NALP’s data for the class of 2011, the job market for new law grads is being classified as “brutal.” [National Law Journal]

* U. Chicago Law revolutionized the field of law and economics, but much to the school’s chagrin, everyone copied them. Now they’re thinking up new ways to do the same things. Gunners gotta gun. [Businessweek]

* Say hello to Mary Lu Bilek, the woman who’s been appointed as the new dean of UMass Law. Hopefully she’s not keen on using school credit cards for personal spending like the last dean. [Wall Street Journal]

* Occupy Wall Street protesters can’t sue NYC, its mayor, or its police commissioner, but they can sue the police. And with that news, “F**k tha Police” was sung in drum circles across the tri-state area. [Bloomberg]

CHECK YOU PRECEDENT.

The issues presented in this appeal have been previously decided. Counsel were given an opportunity to distinguish our prior cases but Appellant’s counsel used that opportunity to criticize, rather than distinguish, them. There is nothing more to say. AFFIRMED.

– A unanimous panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, in a non-precedential order disposing of the appeal in Commonwealth Property Advocates v. U.S. Bank National Association.

(This unpublished order reminded me of two prior benchslaps, discussed below.)

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Benchslap of the Day: You Can’t Fight City Hall (or Adverse Precedent)”

* “It seems no one can use dirty words, except Steven Spielberg.” Well, sh*t, I’ll be damned. Is Elena Kagan going to be the voice of reason in the Supreme Court’s FCC profanity case? [Los Angeles Times]

* Ken Cuccinelli filed an emergency motion to get Virginia’s primary ballots printed. You can’t wait three days for Perry’s hearing? It’s on Friday the 13th. You know how that’s going to go. [Bloomberg]

* The Tenth Circuit upheld a ruling to block an Oklahoma law barring the consideration of Sharia law in court decisions. If this pisses you off, go and watch Homeland. You’ll feel better. [MSNBC]

* Dewey want to join the Magic Circle? Bloody hell, of course! Clifford Chance has snagged two mergers and acquisitions partners from Dewey & LeBoeuf. [DealBook / New York Times]

* What will an LL.M. get you in today’s job market? Not a whole lot. And if you’re counting that extra year of loan debt as something of value, then you’re just a masochist. [National Law Journal]

* Heather Peters, the former lawyer suing Honda in small claims court, may be SOL because of a SOL issue. Stay tuned for the results at her second hearing later this month. [Huffington Post]

ALL YOUR DOCS ARE BELONG TO US.

Litigators at large law firms spend an inordinate (and depressing) amount of time on discovery disputes. They bombard poor magistrate judges with motions to compel. They bicker over deposition timing and location. They compile massive privilege logs. They file letter briefs with the court, explaining their entitlement to certain documents that opposing counsel is withholding, without justification.

Partners who work on such matters often say to their associates, “Find me a case in which a judge sanctioned a party for failure to comply with discovery obligations — preferably a case in which the non-compliance is exactly what opposing counsel is doing here, and ideally featuring soaring rhetoric about the importance of following discovery rules.” The associate spends several hours on Westlaw or Lexis, then returns empty-handed; there was nothing quite on-point. There was certainly no soaring rhetoric.

This shouldn’t be surprising. Do you think successful lawyers give up the practice of law in order to keep dealing with discovery-related headaches, for a fraction of what they earned in the private sector? Of course not. Federal district judges prefer to write published opinions about Sexy Constitutional Issues, leaving their magistrates to oversee the discovery playpen. In the rare discovery-related cases that do go up on appeal, federal circuit judges affirm as quickly and summarily as possible, so they can get back to the fun stuff. [FN1]

If you’re a Biglaw litigator searching for a published opinion addressing discovery issues, well, today is your lucky day. Check out this great opinion, just handed down — not by a mere magistrate or district judge, but by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Biglaw Litigators, Rejoice! A Circuit Court Opinion on a Discovery Dispute”

'Judge Tacha, I have a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore.'

Here’s a new mini-trend: federal judges leaving the bench to lead law schools.

In 2007, David F. Levi stepped down as chief judge of the Eastern District of California, to assume the deanship of Duke Law School.

Today, Pepperdine University School of Law announced that Judge Deanell Reece Tacha — who has served on the Tenth Circuit for over 25 years, including a term as chief judge (2001-2007) — will be the school’s new dean, effective June 1.

Judge Tacha follows in the footsteps of another federal judge: former D.C. Circuit Judge Ken Starr, of Whitewater / Monica Lewinsky fame. Judge Starr served as Pepperdine Law’s dean until he left last year for the presidency of Baylor University.

How are students reacting to news of Judge Tacha’s appointment?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Musical Chairs: Judge Tacha To Take Over as Dean of Pepperdine Law”

Today the Tenth Circuit told the state of Utah that it could no longer erect crosses by the side of the highway memorializing state troopers who have died. The WSJ Law Blog excerpts this part of the opinion in American Atheists, Inc. v. Duncan (PDF):

“This may lead the reasonable observer to fear that Christians are likely to receive preferential treatment from the [Utah Highway Patrol],” the judges wrote, adding elsewhere in the opinion that “unlike Christmas, which has been widely embraced as a secular holiday. . . . there is no evidence in this case that the cross has been widely embraced by non-Christians as a secular symbol of death.”

I’m sorry, are there Hindus driving through Utah who are unaware that “Christians are likely to receive preferential treatment” in Utah? If so, I’d call that person a most unreasonable observer.

All joking aside, are we really living in a world where a simple cross to mark the death of a government worker violates the Establishment Clause?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Crosses Memorializing Dead State Troopers in Utah Ruled Unconstitutional”

If this tiger reminds you of your pet cat, you are an idiot.

There’s a Chris Rock joke about the Siegfried & Roy tiger attack: “That tiger didn’t go crazy, that tiger went tiger.” With that in mind, I bring you this latest decision from the Tenth Circuit, via the National Law Journal:

An insurance company does not have to pay a Kansas family $100,000 for an accident in which a Siberian tiger attacked and killed their daughter during her senior photo shoot, a federal appeals court ruled this week.

On Monday, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals held that Safeco Insurance Company of America does not have to pay damages in a wrongful death suit because the homeowners policy bought by the tiger’s owners excluded coverage for business pursuits.

I’ll admit, it took me a second to appreciate what was going on here. As it turns out, the only actor that behaved reasonably in this situation was the tiger (and the Tenth Circuit)….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Tiger Goes Tiger, Insurance Company Doesn’t Have to Pay”

Great Depression 2 Dorothea Lange Migrant Mother Above the Law blog.JPG* “Are we headed for another Great Depression?” [McClatchy]
* Quelle surprise: Bear Stearns shareholder lawsuit (filed in S.D.N.Y. by Coughlin Stoia). [Bloomberg; WSJ Law Blog (PDF of complaint)]
* Speaking of Bear Stearns, here are some law firms losing out on BSC business. [WSJ Law Blog]
* Tenth Circuit reverses convictions of former Qwest CEO Joe Nacchio. [AP]
* Harvard Law School will pay the 3L tuition of future students who agree to work for nonprofit organizations or government for five years following graduation. [New York Times via Tax Prof Blog; Harvard Law School (news release)]
* Settlement in Paul McCartney-Heather Mills divorce (more on this later). [Legal Week]
* SCOTUS to hear Second Amendment / D.C. gun control case today (more on this later too). [New York Times; Reuters]

Last week, an investiture ceremony was held for Judge Neil Gorsuch, recently confirmed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. And it was a star-studded affair. From the Denver Post:

Seven-year-old Emma and 5-year-old Belinda helped their father, Neil Gorsuch, into his judge’s robes Monday after the newly appointed 10th Circuit Court judge was sworn in.

Munching on cookies after the formal ceremony, Emma said she thought it “was nice.”

Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who was in Denver to administer the oath, spoke directly to the little girls before Gorsuch raised his right hand. “He’s doing it to remind all of us that the first obligation any American has is to defend and protect the Constitution of the United States,” he said.

Justice Kennedy’s pedagogical impulse is admirable. We suspect, however, that Emma and Belinda were thinking more about cookies than the Constitution.
Some supplementary coverage, from an ATL tipster:

The entire en banc 10th Circuit was present. Justice Kennedy administered the oath. Attorney General Gonzales read the commission. Both Colorado Senators made remarks, as did Mark Hansen of Kellogg Huber (the insanely prestigious appellate shop from which Gorsuch rose). Half of the Justice Department was there: Rachel Brand, Elisebeth Collins Cook, Brett Gerry, Wan Kim, Gregory Katsas, among others.

The Gorsuch clerks showed everyone around Denver and got trashed on consecutive nights. Good times were had by all.

Article III groupies, Judge Neil Gorsuch is one to watch. He’s brilliant, he’s young, and he’s incredibly well-connected. Look for him to rise through the ranks of Supreme Court feeder judges in the years to come — and, perhaps, to be nominated to the Court himself someday.
(Judge Gorsuch is taking the seat of Judge David Ebel, who has been the Tenth Circuit’s resident feeder judge for quite some time now. Guess that’s the 10th Circuit’s designated “feeder seat.”)
Update: Would someone be able to locate and/or send us a good photo of Judge Gorsuch for our files? Our quick Googling didn’t produce anything useful.
10th Circuit judge’s oath a family affair [Denver Post]

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