11th Circuit

In one of his ballads, Jim Croce warned that there are four things that you just don’t do: “You don’t tug on Superman’s cape/ You don’t spit into the wind/ You don’t pull the mask off that old Lone Ranger/ And you don’t mess around with Jim.” He could have added a fifth warning to that list: “And you don’t let pistol-packing mother catch you naked in her daughter’s closet.”

– Judge Edward Carnes in the Eleventh Circuit’s ruling in Larry Butler v. Sherriff of Palm Beach County, Dorethea Collier. In the case, Ms. Collier, a corrections officer, threatened to shoot Larry Butler when she found him “coupling” with her daughter.

Nancy 'Newsworthy' Benoit

* With the SNR Denton merger talks dead, partners waiting only to be paid before they leave, and sad, empty tables at events, LeBoeuf seems to be cooked. [DealBook / New York Times; Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)]

* A gem from the Eleventh Circuit: if you believe it’s newsworthy, it is. Even naked pictures of dead girls. Now stop hoping a hot girl dies, sickos. [CNN]

* If there’s one thing judges are good at, it’s keeping their law clerks white. They’ve made no progress in increasing diversity. [National Law Journal]

* Some law school grads bitch and moan about the “student loan scam,” but others just do what they went to school for, and sue about it. [ABC News]

* The social media machine that is Mark O’Mara can’t be stopped — judge’s orders. And George Zimmerman is going to like and retweet that until the cows come home. [Boston Herald]

* Here’s infringing on you, kid. British fashion house Burberry insists that a California company stop Bogarting its rights to Humphrey’s trademark and likeness, all for the sake of promotional materials. [Bloomberg]

With Murdoch gone, British media can return to doing what it does best.

* A federal judge tossed out a law requiring tobacco companies to put graphic warning labels on cigarette packages. If paying $7 a pack doesn’t stop you from buying smokes, I don’t think nasty photos will either. [CNN]

* SCOTUS won’t deal with Arizona’s controversial immigration law for a couple months, but the Eleventh Circuit will hear oral arguments about Alabama’s even stricter law today. But why would you immigrate to Alabama, of all places? Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

* The Seventh Circuit ruled that police can search a cellphone for its number without a warrant. Judge Richard Posner compared it to law enforcement’s ability to open a pocket diary and copy the owner’s address. The bigger question is: do drug dealers keep diaries? [Wall Street Journal]

* James Murdoch, the News Corp. heir apparent, has resigned in the wake of the News of the World scandal and related lawsuits. Now everyone can just go back to reading British tabloids for the Page Three Girls. [Los Angeles Times]

* RIP Lynn D. “Buck” Compton, the prosecutor who secured a conviction of Robert F. Kennedy’s assassin, and the Army paratrooper portrayed in the book and HBO miniseries “Band of Brothers.” [Washington Post]


* The people at the Department of Justice really don’t want you to see Osama bin Laden’s death photos, but don’t they realize that the internet needs pics or it didn’t happen? [Blog of Legal Times]

* Déjà vu: Hustler Magazine’s nude photo spread of Nancy Benoit was back on the Eleventh Circuit’s docket this week. The porn purveyors face damages of $0, $250K, or $19.6M — what’ll it be? [ABC News]

* Poor Justice Clarence Thomas. He used to be such a “lonely kid.” Maybe that’s why he doesn’t talk much at SCOTUS these days, but he gives beautiful speeches outside the courtroom. [Worcester Telegram & Gazette]

* Cooley Law’s Temple building in Lansing was evacuated due to smoke, but no fire. It was probably just all of the hot air the administrators blow up students’ asses about their employment prospects. [MLive.com]

* This has got to be some kind of a first. Crawford Shaw, a lawyer, is withdrawing a client’s claim to a multi-million dollar lottery ticket because he can’t be bothered to argue about it. [Reuters]

* I’m going to Disney World prison! Bonnie Sweeten, the paralegal who faked her own abduction, has been sentenced to eight years for stealing more than $1M (half of which came from her law firm). [Daily Mail]

SCOTUS has spoken on S&C's screw-up.

We’ve previously written about the mailroom of death at Sullivan & Cromwell. To make a long story short (read our prior posts for the full background), a mailroom mix-up at 125 Broad Street caused an Alabama death-row inmate to miss a deadline for filing an appeal. The Eleventh Circuit rejected the condemned man’s attempt to reopen his case.

Presumably feeling bad for what had happened, S&C appealed to the Supreme Court. The firm hired a leading SCOTUS advocate — former Solicitor General Gregory Garre, now a partner at Latham & Watkins — to argue that prisoner Cory Maples shouldn’t forfeit his life because of S&C’s screw-up.

This morning, the Supreme Court handed down its ruling in Maples v. Thomas. What did the high court have to say?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Supreme Court Rules on Sullivan & Cromwell’s Mailroom of Death”

Rover's last wish was to have his ashes sprinkled over a pile of money.

* Saying your dog ate something isn’t a creative enough excuse these days. Try this instead: “I kept the clients’ missing money in my car, which I left running in the parking lot to keep my dead dog’s ashes from freezing. Someone then stole the car, and now the missing client money is gone forever!” [Canadian Lawyer]

* Oh, to be a lawyer with the ability to tell opposing counsel that his client is a “spoiled, brainless twit.” It’s even better when opposing counsel’s client is Meghan McCain. [Spectacle Blog / American Spectator]

* Next time you feel like kicking the crap out of someone, make sure your twin is there, because there’s a high likelihood that you’ll both get off. [Legal Juice]

* A judge in Louisiana just threw a case out because he didn’t want to catch the flu from a witness. Elie was right: germaphobia is the real contagion! [Lowering the Bar]

* How would Jesus feel about guns in his church? He’d probably change them into dildos and tell the violence-bearers to go f**k themselves. [WSJ Law Blog]

* There’s been a lot of talk about personal branding for lawyers lately. This guy probably has the right idea, but you’ve got to wonder if he really wants to be known as the “Bald Lawyer” for the rest of his life. What happens if he decides to get plugs? [Legal Blog Watch]

* Here’s the best thing written about Steve Jobs today. [The Wirecutter]

* Here’s who the ACS is inviting to speak in Georgia. Take that George Mason Federalist Society. [ACS]

* Are you applying to law school (or do you know someone who is)? Have Lat review the application essay — and support a good cause at the same time. [Kickstarter]

* Will the DOJ ask the 11th Circuit to reconsider Obamacare before appealing to SCOTUS to get the president reeelected? Does a bear sh*t in the woods? [Los Angeles Times]

* The verdict is in on Elena Kagan’s first year on the bench, and one thing’s for sure: the ladies love her. That’s definitely what she said. Right, RBG? [Washington Post]

* Casey Anthony now owes Florida over $217K. That’s almost as much as it costs to raise a child to age 18. Talk about a bad return on an investment. [CNN]

* Antonin Scalia, the Rock Star of One First Street, banned paparazzi from his Duquesne Law appearance. Tiger Beat had to settle for pictures of Taylor Lautner. [Blog of Legal Times]

* Meth dealer: not a viable career alternative for attorneys. This 2011 law school graduate will be heading to jail after she gets her bar exam results. [Richmond Times-Dispatch]

* Never accuse an elderly New Yorker of incest. She might sue, because she “was never that hard up that [she] would tap on family.” You go, girl grandma! [New York Post]

Aw crap, there go my approval ratings.

The Eleventh Circuit has declared that Obamacare’s individual health care mandate is unconstitutional. Today’s decision will be lauded as a victory for the 26 states, led by Florida, that challenged the law as unconstitutional.

In a 2-1 decision (and the first in which a judge appointed by a Democrat has voted to strike down the mandate), the Eleventh Circuit stated that Congress does not have the power to require all Americans to buy health insurance. The court also ruled, however, that the rest of the law could remain in effect.

The Eleventh Circuit decision comes in the wake of the Sixth Circuit upholding the individual mandate as constitutional (a ruling joined by Judge Jeffrey Sutton, a George W. Bush appointee). The Sixth Circuit case has already been appealed to the Supreme Court. We have a feeling that this case will also be appealed to the Supreme Court, setting quite the stage for a ruling within the next year or so.

Click here to read the Eleventh Circuit’s opinion, and read on for some more interesting facts about the case….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Breaking: Eleventh Circuit Rules Obamacare’s ‘Individual Mandate’ Is Unconstitutional”

sexual chocolate.jpgThe Supreme Court handed down a tasty opinion [PDF] today. The issues at hand though make for an odd coupling: the death penalty and chocolate genitalia.
In 1993, Marcus Wellons was convicted of the rape and murder of a 15-year-old girl. The jury sentenced him to death.
Apparently the case was a bonding experience for the Georgia judge and jurors. According to the SCOTUS per curiam opinion:

Only after the trial did defense counsel learn that there had been unreported ex parte contacts between the jury and the judge, that jurors and a bailiff had planned a reunion, and that “either during or immediately following the penalty phase, some jury members gave the trial judge chocolate shaped as male genitalia and the bailiff chocolate shaped as female breasts.”

It’s unclear why the jurors gave a chocolate penis and breasts to the judge and bailiff, but the high court is asking the 11th Circuit to reexamine the case as the gifts “raise serious questions concerning the conduct of the trial.”
Justices Scalia, Thomas, Alito and Roberts dissented, apparently feeling nothing raised….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Chocolate Penis Pokes a Hole in a Death Penalty Case”

Sullivan Cromwell LLP new logo Sullcrom.jpgMore than a decade ago, Cory Maples of Alabama murdered two people. After an evening of heavy drinking, playing pool, and riding around in a friend’s car, Maples killed two friends, shooting them execution-style.

According to court documents, he signed a confession, “stating that he: (1) shot both victims around midnight; (2) had drunk six or seven beers by about 8 p.m., but ‘didn’t feel very drunk’; and (3) did not know why he decided to kill the two men. Faced with this confession, Maples’s trial attorneys argued that Maples was guilty of murder, but not capital murder.”

A jury found Maples guilty and sentenced him to death.

Maples appealed his capital murder conviction with the help of attorneys at Sullivan & Cromwell:

Maples subsequently filed a petition for post-conviction relief pursuant to Alabama Rule of Criminal Procedure 32, claiming, inter alia, that trial counsel was ineffective for failing to investigate or present evidence of: (1) Maples’s mental health history; (2) his intoxication at the time of the crime; and (3) his alcohol and drug history.

The trial court dismissed Maples’ Rule 32 petition, and sent notice of the decision to the attorneys at Sullivan & Cromwell and to local Alabama counsel. There was a 42-day period for filing a notice of appeal, but all the lawyers involved dropped the ball on the case, PepsiCo-style.

So what’s the explanation for S&C’s missing the deadline for filing an appeal?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Sullivan & Cromwell’s Life-or-Death Mistake?
Leading law firm blows deadline in death penalty case.

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