October 2014

Former Santa Clara law professor Murdaugh Stuart Madden, Jr. is facing federal child pornography charges. The San Jose Mercury News reports:

A former visiting Santa Clara University Law School instructor faces felony child pornography charges, federal prosecutors said today.
Murdaugh Stuart Madden Jr., could face 10 years in prison and $250,000 in fines if he is convicted on charges filed by the United States Attorney’s office today.
Prosecutors charge that Madden kept child pornography on Dell laptop computers he used for his work at Santa Clara and Pace University in New York.
Officials at Santa Clara refused to comment on the case, other than to say that Madden was an instructor for eight months – September 2005 through April 2006.
It is unclear how many images prosecutors allege Madden kept or how he obtained them.
According to court records, prosecutors believe that Madden received at least some of the illicit images during his time at Santa Clara.

And now she’s disbarred. Convicted in 2005 for conspiracy and providing material support to terrorists, Lynne Stewart was disbarred by the New York Bar yesterday. Her request to voluntarily resign was rejected. From AP via Boston.com:

The appellate panel said Stewart became subject to losing her law license immediately upon being convicted of a felony.
Her request to resign was in a letter dated Nov. 14, 2006, after she was convicted, and therefore could not be accepted, the court said.
Stewart was convicted of one count each of conspiracy to defraud the United States, conspiracy to provide and conceal material support to terrorist activity and providing and concealing material support to terrorist activity. She also was convicted of two counts of making false statements.
The state appellate court said the federal convictions of making a false statement were analogous to a state felony statute against filing a false written statement.
“Accordingly, the federal convictions provide a proper predicate for automatic disbarment,” the appellate judges wrote.

And this from Jurist:

Stewart has insisted that she “is not a traitor” and has said that she was only advocating for her client. She remains free pending appeal of her conviction.

JamesCreightonPIC.jpgIn an homage to the start of the NHL conference semifinals today, the Lawyer of the Day is James Creighton. Creighton, a Canadian lawyer in the late 1800s, helped found and popularize modern ice hockey while he was a law student at McGill University in Montreal. Here is his stub bio from Wikipedia:

James George Alywin Creighton (Born: 1850 in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada – Died: 1930) was one the men originally responsible for the early popularization of ice hockey. Creighton developed the game from a similar game known as shinney in Halifax, where (according to some historians) it was developed out of an Irish game called hurley. In 1873 Creighton moved to Montreal to work and eventually attended McGill University, graduating in 1880 with a law degree. There, on March 3, 1875, the first organized game of ice hockey was played and the game’s popularity grew significantly. He practised law with a firm in Montreal. In 1884 Creighton moved to Ottawa to become a law clerk in the Canadian Senate. He formed a team called the Rideau Hall Rebels, and became friends with teammates William and Arthur Stanley, sons of then Canadian Governor General Lord Stanley.

Creighton would happy to know that his sport has been taken over by the American Southeast (the last two Stanley Cup Champions are the Carolina Hurricanes and the Tampa Bay Lightning). Fortunately for you hockey purists out there, the Southeastern teams have already lost this year, and Canada has two chances (Vancouver and Ottawa) to take the Cup back.

Monica Goodling 5 Monica M Goodling Monica Gooding Alberto Gonzales Above the Law blog.jpgI’m sure Lat will have more to say about this, but I just wanted to report the facts. The vote was 32-6 (2/3 was needed). A separate vote to authorize a subpoena for Goodling passed by voice vote. This from AP via Yahoo!:

The votes instruct a House lawyer to seek an immunity grant from a federal court. The grant would not take effect unless Chairman John Conyers (news, bio, voting record), D-Mich., chooses to issue Goodling a subpoena compelling her to testify, Conyers said.

Goodling and her lawyer have invoked her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, saying they believe Democrats have set a perjury trap for her. Conyers said Wednesday he hopes Goodling changes her mind and voluntarily tells the committee her story.

“I do not propose this step lightly,” Conyers told the panel. “If we learn something new in the course of our investigation … we can always stop the process s before the court issues an order.”

Take that Bill Maher.

kennedy.jpgAnd now back to a more contentious subject: the death penalty. In three opinions issued today, the Supreme Court reversed the convictions of Texas death row inmates.
Each of the cases involved a problem with the lower appellate courts’ application of prior SCOTUS rulings on special jury instructions in death penalty cases. All three decisions were 5-4, with the usual suspects (Roberts, Scalia, Thomas, Alito) in dissent. Kennedy wrote the majority opinion in Smith v. Texas; Stevens wrote the other two, Abdul-Kamir v. Quarterman and Brewer v. Quarterman, which had been orally argued together.
From SCOTUSblog:

In one of two rulings Wednesday on death penalty procedures in Texas, the Supreme Court ruled that Texas’ highest state court wrongly put up a new legal barrier to a death row inmate’s challenge to jury instructions in his sentencing. The 5-4 decision came in the case of Smith v. Texas (05-11304), a case that had been before the Court once before.. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote for the majority.
The Court reversed the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals’ ruling that reinstated the death sentence of a Dallas man, LaRoyce Smith; the state court had applied a new harmless error standard under state law. That was a misinterpretation of what federal law required, the Court concluded.
In the consolidated cases of Abdul-Kabir v. Quarterman (05-11284) and Brewer v. Quarterman (05-11287), the Court in another 5-4 decision found that the Fifth Circuit Court wrongly applied prior rulings on instructions to assure that capital juries give full consideration to any factor that might suggest a death sentence should not be imposed.

I credit Kennedy not so much because he wrote one of the majority opinions, but because he was surely once again the swing vote in what is becoming a heavy trend of 5-4 opinions. So much for Roberts’ goal of a unified court.
How Appealing has links to the opinions here.

friedman_blog_20070424144934.jpgIt’s a little too early for a full-blown abortion debate, so let’s move on to more pedestrian matters, like partner poaching. A few weeks after Mayer Brown decided it needed to fire or demote 45 partners to drive up its stock price, Gary Friedman, who chaired Mayer’s employment practice, has decided he’s got to get the fudge out.
Friedman has been plucked by Weil for their employment litigation practice. Three other Mayer Brown lawyers are making the move with him: Andrew Kofsky, who will join Weil as counsel, and associates Jonathan Shiffman and Jonathan Sokotch.
From the WSJ Law Blog:

Friedman was not one of the 45 demoted or asked to leave. “I was not looking to leave,” Friedman told the Law Blog. “But for this extraordinary opportunity, I would have remained at Mayer, Brown.”

Sounds like the “right thing to say” to us.

Jeffrey Klein, the chair of Weil’s national employment litigation practice, says he poached Friedman. “He was a reluctant bride.”

Mayer Brown declined to comment.

Friedman specializes in defending employment class actions including discrimination and overtime-pay cases. It’s notable that Weil is beefing up in this area, since some top firms shy away from employment law, concluding that it’s not profitable enough. But Klein and Friedman say that employment cases have grown in volume and complexity, because top plaintiffs lawyers have jumped into the field in the wake of a slowdown in securities class actions. “The plaintiffs’ securities litigation bar has . . . pursued this litigation with a vengeance,” Friedman says.

Does it help your stock price if partners start to jump ship?
Mayer Brown Employment Lawyer Jumping to Weil [WSJ Law Blog]
Gary D. Friedman to Join Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP’s Employment Litigation Practice in New York [Weil.com (press release)]

In what appears to be the first response by a state legislature to last week’s Supreme Court decision upholding the partial-birth abortion ban, North Dakota has passed a bill making abortion illegal if and when the Supreme Court overrules Roe v. Wade. (The N.D. Senate Majority leader claims that the bill was not influenced by the recent decision.) From Jurist:

In the event that the US Supreme Court overturns the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, the bill would subject anyone performing an abortion to a prison sentence of up to 5 years, a $5,000 fine, or possibly both. An exception would be made in cases of rape, incest, or where the life of the mother was in danger.
North Dakota has become the second state to pass this type of abortion law; Mississippi approved a similar measure last month.

Isn’t this a little like passing a law explicitly making it legal for police to interrogate suspects without allowing them to ask for an attorney, if and when Miranda v. Arizona is overturned by the Supreme Court? Or like a bill reinstituting segregation immediately upon the Supreme Court’s reversal of Brown v. Board of Education?

scream.jpg* Alaskan attorney survives icy spill. [CNN]
* “Scream” thieves sentenced in Norway court. [
* ABA hosts legal technology expo. [ABA]
* Supreme Court hears arguments in high school sports recruitment case. [Washington Post]
* Timetable of VOIP litigation. [WSJ Law Blog]

nietzsche_1.jpg* There was a time when a TV writer strike meant something, but if recently, you’ve found yourself watching the Pussycat Dolls reality show, you too might welcome a return to more scripted programs. [Los Angeles Times]
* I’d pay for license plates that read “God is Dead”–Nietzsche (front) and “Nietzsche is Dead”–God (back). [Indy Star]
* CBS just defended itself by claiming it can’t be racist since Les Moonves’s wife is Asian. And that they’re upholding free speech or something. [New York Times]
* I would totally convert for non-decrepit, hot media mogul Edgar Bronfman Jr. I wouldn’t even care that he was just an entitled dabbler before he was handed the reins of the Seagram Company and pummeled Napster into submission. [CNN Money]

clarence-thomas-sm.jpgNo one has been quite sure why Justice Clarence Thomas has been recusing himself from Wachovia cases. The mystery is apparently solved; Thomas’s son works at Wachovia Securities. From The Blog of Legal Times:

For the last two years, Justice Clarence Thomas has consistently recused himself in cases in which Wachovia Bank is a party — most notably the landmark decision last week in Watters v. Wachovia Bank, a win for federal regulation of national bank subsidiaries. On Monday, Thomas stepped aside in the denial of review of yet another Wachovia case — as well as in Turnbaugh v. National City Bank of Indiana, which did not involve Wachovia directly but raised the same issue at the Watters case.

Thomas’s financial disclosure form reveals no ownership of Wachovia stock, so what gives? Thomas does not reveal his reasons for recusal in public, but we have just confirmed that Thomas’s son Jamal works at Wachovia Securities, a part of Wachovia Corporation, at its headquarters in Richmond, Virginia. We haven’t been able to learn his title or what area he works in, but that is almost certainly the explanation for his father’s recusal.

In other Justice Thomas news, there is a new biography out entitled Supreme Discomfort: The Divided Soul of Clarence Thomas, by Kevin Merida and Michael Fletcher and published by Doubleday.

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