October 2014

canada canadian flag.gifYesterday we implied that Canada isn’t tough on crime. Maybe we should take that back. Check out this interesting case:

Return to the Court With a Verdict of Guilty.” That’s what a Canadian judge told the jury in a marijuana possession case, where the defendant claimed he possessed the marijuana for medical reasons (though he apparently didn’t qualify for some reason for Canada’s medical marijuana exemption).

The judge instructed the jurors “to retire to the jury room to consider what I have said, appoint one of yourselves to be your foreperson, and then to return to the court with a verdict of guilty.”

Alas, the Canadian Supreme Court overturned the conviction. We’re kinda disappointed. The Canadian criminal justice system would be so amazingly efficient if they ditched this whole “jury trial” business and allowed directed verdicts of guiilt.
“Return to the Court With a Verdict of Guilty” [Volokh Conspiracy]
R. v. Krieger, 2006 SCC 47 [Supreme Court of Canada]

* The German court is right — long distance relationships are a bitch. [Reuters]
* Blonde Justice shares her views of the new legal drama Shark. James Woods is pretty universally acknowledged as a horndog / lucky bastard, but despite his stellar Dirty Old Man credentials, how can we watch him in anything anymore without thinking about his latest and creepy-even-for-him escapade? [Blonde Justice]
* I think it essentially boils down to this: Surfing for porn will get you into trouble, and keep that Social Security number safe. [Legal Theory Blog]
* She did this to deter a 14-year-old boy from playing basketball outside? And he told his parents to get her to stop? I am so confused. [Associated Press via Feminist Law Professors]

We worship federal judges — for their brilliance, their probity, and their service to our nation. We have a somewhat lower opinion of state court judges.
Many state judges are talented and dedicated public servants (and some of them later serve on the federal bench). But some of them are like the Not-So-Honorable Glenn Staege:

Two women have slapped a former municipal judge with 18 felony charges on grounds that he allegedly made them sign a contract to live on his property and have control of their prescription medications. He then required sex acts in exchange for the medicine.

Glenn A. Staege, 67, was charged with two counts of compelling a person to prostitution and 16 counts of possession of prescription drugs with intent to deliver.

van trashy.jpgDo you really want to know the particulars? Okay, read on:

One of the women said she and her boyfriend had been homeless when Staege agreed to let them live in a van on his property. She adds that the former judge coerced her to perform sexual activity 18 times to get her prescription medications while he recorded the liaisons.

Having a van lying around your property: SKETCHY.
Having a van lying around your property, which you turn into a halfway house for homeless drug addicts: VERY SKETCHY.
Having a van lying around your property, which you turn into a halfway house for homeless drug addicts, whom you force to prostitute themselves in exchange for drugs, in sexual acts that you record on videotape: STATE COURT JUDGE.
Women Charge Ex-Judge Of Sex For Prescription Swap [All Headline News]

supreme court 1.jpgIf you’re wondering where your favorite October Term 2005 Supreme Court clerk wound up — like, for example, this Kathryn Judge groupie — the National Law Journal has the answers. Check out this juicy article (free access):

Latham & Watkins is the “in” spot this year for recent U.S. Supreme Court clerks leaving the rarified atmosphere of the highest court in the land for the hands-on practice of law.

The firm, home to more than 1,900 attorneys in 22 offices in the United States and abroad, hired six clerks from the October 2005 term — the largest number of hires from a single term by a single law firm in recent years.

Here are the six Lathamites:

Three of the six clerks hired by Latham are going to Washington: Lori Alvino (Ruth Bader Ginsburg), Dan Kearney (Roberts) and Jeff Pojanowski (Anthony M. Kennedy). Two are going to San Francisco: [Benjamin] Horwich (O’Connor / Alito) and Kathryn Judge (Stephen G. Breyer). And Dan Lenerz (John Paul Stevens) is going to San Diego.

As any owner of an NBA team can tell you, talent doesn’t come cheap. You could buy a nice house with the bonus money bestowed upon those six clerks:

[Latham partner] Richard Bress said that his firm paid the market-level hiring bonus for U.S. Supreme Court clerks — about $200,000 [per clerk] — and considers the money well spent. “We’ve found they can come in and immediately operate at a very high level,” said Bress.

High enough to earn out that bonus, plus the standard six-figure salary paid to an associate of the relevant seniority level? We have our doubts.
But let’s not look at this through an economic lens. The ability to boast of having a SCOTUS clerk at your firm — plus, of course, the ability to boss around said SCOTUS clerk — is priceless.*
(We recommend the full NLJ article to you. It also reports on clerks who have gone to other firms, legal academia, and government posts.)
* Of course, you can’t really abuse that power too much. If you force Supreme Court clerks to sully their hands with, say, document review, they may spread the word among the Elect that you’re a horrible place to work — and you’ll never bag another SCOTUS clerk again.
Latham is the ‘in’ spot for high court clerks [National Law Journal]

cruel intentions.jpegAfter enduring copious coverage of Heather Mills’s and Sara Evans’s marital woes, we finally get to read about an A-lister’s split. From TMZ.com:

Reese Witherspoon and Ryan Phillippe have separated. The couple’s rep released a statement to TMZ Monday morning that says “We are saddened to announce that Reese & Ryan have decided to formally separate. They remain committed to their family and we ask that you please respect their privacy and the safety of their children at this time.”

This is too bad. Reese and Ryan were one celebrity couple we actually kinda liked.
Divorce papers haven’t been filed yet, “so there’s still some hope,” say the Popsugar folks. But we’re less sanguine. Per TMZ:

Sources tell TMZ Witherspoon has contacted celebrity divorce lawyer Robert Kaufman, who has represented Jennifer Aniston, Roseanne and Lisa Marie Presley.

Sounds like Reese will be retaining Kaufman any day now (if she hasn’t done so already). And once you’ve retained a divorce lawyer, you’re more than halfway there.
Reese Witherspoon and Ryan Phillippe Split [TMZ]
Reese and Ryan Split??? [popsugar]
To high-rent family lawyers, keeping secrets quiet is key [Los Angeles Business Journal]

canada canadian flag.gifOkay, they didn’t quite say that. But they might as well have. A quick update on a story we previously wrote about:

An American schoolteacher sentenced to three years’ probation — to be served in Canada — [was] detained at the border, Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day has confirmed.

Malcolm Watson, who was convicted of a minor sexual offence concerning a 15-year-old girl, was arrested by Canadian border guards while returning from a court appearance Thursday in Buffalo, N.Y.

“We don’t want to see Canada become a haven for pedophiles or anyone else committing a serious crime,” Day said outside the House of Commons.

Ooooh, Canada’s going to get tough on Malcom Watson. Maybe they’ll take away his free health care!
Of course, it didn’t take long for Watson to get off:

An Immigration Review Board official [on Friday] freed Mr. Watson on a $5,000 bond, saying he poses little danger to Canadian society. The 35-year-old, earlier convicted of minor sexual offences in Buffalo and allowed to serve his three-year probation in Canada, is required to reside with his Canadian wife and children in their St. Catharines, Ont., home.

Canadian officials will try to get him shipped out of the country, but it may be an uphill battle:

[I]f a [Canadian] resident [like Watson] is convicted of a crime outside the country, the government must find an equivalent offence under Canadian law, according to Toronto immigration lawyer Lorne Waldman. That could prove tricky in Mr. Watson’s case, because his crime involved his relationship with a 15-year-old girl, and the age of consent in Canada is 14.

Only fourteen? Forum-shopping child molesters, nota bene.
Canada, stop fighting this; you know you want it. And if you’re really well-behaved, we’ll send you Mark Foley after he gets out of reheab.
PM unhappy after U.S. sex offender freed [Toronto Globe and Mail via How Appealing]
Day Says U.S. Sex Offender Arrested at Border [CTV.ca]
Earlier: Because Canada Is Suffering from a Pervert Shortage

musical chairs above the law legal blog above the law legal tabloid above the law legal gossip site.GIFLateral Moves:
Both of today’s moves are in the field of intellectual property law:
* Patent litigator Sandra Bresnick, to Sidley Austin, from Weil, Gotshal & Manges.
* IP transactional lawyer Warren Nachlis, to Jones Day (NY), from Shearman & Sterling.
(Interesting to leave so soon — Nachlis made partner at Shearman only just last year.)
Two NY IP Partners Switch Firms [NYLawyer.com]

After finding out your Favorite Supreme Court Justice (answer: Justice Scalia), we asked about your LEAST Favorite Supreme Court justice. And the result was surprising, at least to us.
Voter turnout was massive, with over 6,000 votes cast. Maybe everyone’s in a voting frame of mind, with Election Day so close. Here’s how you voted:
least favorite supreme court justice poll results.JPG
The “winner”: Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, with a whopping 40 percent of ballots cast. Second place went to Justice David H. Souter, with 19 percent of the vote.
Thank you to the voters — all 6,000 of you. And thanks to everyone who linked to the poll, especially Glenn Reynolds, Ann Althouse, and Jason Harrow (of SCOTUSblog).
We have a few cursory observations on these results, which appear after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “ATL Poll Results: Your LEAST Favorite Supreme Court Justice”

985 fifth avenue.jpgNew York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, soon to be crowned the state’s next governor, has a very wealthy — and very generous — father. Bernard Spitzer, a real estate mogul worth some $500 million, provides his 47-year-old son with free housing.
In Manhattan. On the Upper East Side. On Fifth Avenue. From TaxProf Blog:

Spitzer has lived rent-free with his family at 985 Fifth Ave. for 13 years. The 25-story tower off 79th St. has just two apartments per floor and terraces that look down at the Metropolitan Museum of Art….

Thanks to his dad’s generosity, Spitzer, his wife and three daughters have lived in a home graced with at least three bedrooms, four baths, a balcony, library and sweeping vistas of Central Park….

Vetted by lawyers and accountants, the living arrangement is both lawful and proper, said Darren Dopp, Spitzer’s communications director: The father pays an annual gift tax on the present he gives his son….

The market value of the gift is reported annually on real estate tax filings and on Bernard Spitzer’s tax returns. But citing privacy, Dopp declined to disclose the apartment’s rent, the gift’s value or the amount of the gift tax paid. Three real estate brokers familiar with the building say that a spread of comparable size could lease for $16,000 to $20,000 a month. That puts the gift’s current value at an estimated $192,000 to $240,000 a year.

The Daily News makes 985 Fifth Avenue sound like one of New York’s finest apartment houses. And an annual gift of free rent worth almost a quarter of a million dollars is nothing to scoff at. After all, Fifth Avenue is Fifth Avenue.
But if you’ll allow us to nitpick, nobody would mistake 985 Fifth Avenue for one of the avenue’s “best” buildings (e.g., 820 Fifth Avenue, 834 Fifth Avenue). After all, nine-eighty-five did not make Tom Wolfe’s 1985 list of “Good Buildings” — and this should come as no surprise. It’s not a co-op, but a rental building; it’s not prewar, but from 1968 (a dubious year for residential architecture); and it’s made of yellow brick, not limestone (or even red brick).
How can Eliot Spitzer stand to live in such a déclassé building? Now his disturbingly fervent hunger for the governor’s mansion makes perfect sense.
Of course, there are other lawyers who receive even grander parental largesse on the real estate front. For example, Robert Smit — a partner at Simpson Thacher, where profits per partner averaged $2.37 million in 2005 — lives with his family in his dad’s $29 million mansion. (We assume he lives there for free, but haven’t verified this; if you know, please let us know.)
Eliot Spitzer and the Gift Tax [TaxProf Blog]
Empire of the Son: Spitzer reaps fortune from dad’s real estate smarts [New York Daily News]
985 Fifth Avenue [The Upper East Side Book]
Earlier: Lawyerly Lairs: Professor Smit’s Uptown Mansion

Last week we asked for your input on the most flattering hairstyle for Judge Janice Rogers Brown, of the exceedingly prestigious D.C. Circuit. Judge Brown, a high-powered and conservative jurist, may someday be the first African-American woman to sit on the Supreme Court.
We offered you a choice of two looks: “Bangs Janice” and “Perm Janice.” And “Bangs Janice” won in a landslide, with 92 percent of the vote.*
We can see why. Consider this reader email (with photographic support):

This is an easy one: “Bangs Janice” all the way. With bangs, Judge Brown looks like the hip and attractive comedienne, Wanda Sykes:

janice rogers brown and wanda sykes.JPG

“Perm Janice,” on the other hand, calls to mind a different black woman:

janice rogers brown and aunt jemima.JPG
We agree; Judge Brown should steer clear of that second look. Left-wingers already try to reduce Judge Brown to a racial stereotype (as BlackCommentator.com did when it published an offensive cartoon of her). Judge Brown doesn’t need to help them do it.**
Do you know of a prominent figure within the legal profession who sports two (or more) divergent looks? If so, please let us know. We’re always seeking other candidates to go before the jury in ATL’s Courtroom of Style.
* One reader objected to our hairstyle terminology. But even if our terms were erroneous, we provided photographs to make clear which hairstyle was which. So voters should not have been confused.
** Conservatives were outraged by the JRB cartoon. In the words of Byron York, the cartoon depicted Judge Brown “as a fat black woman with huge lips, an unruly Afro, and an enormous backside.”
Earlier: A Random Friday Poll: The Hairstyles of Judge Janice Rogers Brown

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