3rd Circuit

‘If they take my stapler then I’ll set the building on fire…’

* “It’s very hard to copyright a story about an individual growing up in the ghetto and getting involved in crime.” Go Third Circuit, it’s your birthday, we gon’ affirm that like it’s your birthday. [New Jersey Law Journal (reg. req.)]

* I believe you have my stapler? A former Fried Frank staffer has been accused of stealing more than $376K worth of copy machine ink from the firm and selling it on the black market for office supplies. [Am Law Daily]

* Governor Andrew Cuomo nominated Jenny Rivera, a CUNY School of Law professor, to fill a vacant New York Court of Appeals seat. If confirmed, she’ll be the second Hispanic to sit on the court. [New York Law Journal]

* This’ll please the gun nuts: Governor Cuomo’s gun-control bill was passed by the legislature and signed into law, officially making New York the state with the toughest gun restrictions in the nation. [New York Times]

* And this right here is the lawsuit equivalent of half-court heave. A lawyer is suing the San Antonio Spurs because the team’s coach sent all of its best players home to rest without the fans’ prior knowledge. [ESPN]

Judge Martini could probably use a drink right now.

Last Friday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit delivered two stinging benchslaps of Judge William J. Martini (D.N.J.). The benchslaps were delivered in two different cases by two separate three-judge panels, but both opinions vacated rulings by Judge Martini and also directed that the cases be reassigned to new judges on remand.

Ouch. As noted by the Newark Star-Ledger, “[i]t amounted to an extremely rare and harsh rebuke of a well-known federal judge who once served in Congress.” (Before he was appointed to the federal bench by President George W. Bush in 2002, Bill Martini served a single term in the U.S. House of Representatives; he ran for re-election but was defeated.)

What did Judge Martini allegedly do to incur the wrath of the Third Circuit? And what did the opinions have to say about His Honor?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Benchslaps of the Day: A Double Whammy for a District Judge”

* Since you’re so funny, crack some jokes about this one, Obama. Senate Republicans will be filing an amicus brief in support of a challenge to the constitutionality of the President’s recess appointments. [New York Times]

* Thanks to this Third Circuit ruling, you can rest easy knowing that you can rely on the First Amendment to protect your homemade sex tapes from all of those strict porn record-keeping and labeling requirements… for now. [Reuters]

* Due to Kelley Drye’s EEOC settlement, the New York State Bar Association is asking firms to end mandatory retirement policies. Because old folks need to make bank till they croak. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

* The ABA’s Commission on Ethics 20/20 has decided to ditch its proposal to allow limited nonlawyer ownership of law firms. Cue tears and temper tantrums from the likes of Jacoby & Meyers. [Am Law Daily]

* “If I believe that Chris Armstrong is a radical homosexual activist, I have a constitutional right to express that opinion.” Yeah, yeah, yeah. Tell that to the judge who dismissed your suit, Shirvell. [Detroit Free Press]

* Presenting “her royal hotness”: apparently Pippa Middleton has been seen cavorting around France with gun-toting lawyer Romain Rabillard, of Shearman & Sterling. [Daily Mail]

Watch this before Sunday.

* Is New Jersey’s Senator Robert Menendez blocking Patty Shwartz, Obama’s Third Circuit nominee, out of resentment? Time to build yourself a bridge and GTF over it. [New York Times]

* Sullivan & Cromwell took the top spot among law firms in M&A transactions in 2011, with $325.7 billion in deals. You better believe they’re giving out huge spring bonuses. [Bloomberg]

* “No one wants to pay for something that doesn’t pay off.” At least those at the annual meeting of the AALS realize this applies to law school. When will the ABA sign on? [National Law Journal]

* In his first move after being appointed to the CFPB — a so-called valid appointment, mind you — Richard Cordray has launched a program for oversight of non-banks. [Legal Times]

* You can’t bill clients for hookers and porn and then try to get out of it by blaming your mental disorder. Or you can, but it will come back to bite you in the ass. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

* The Firm: from the best sellers list, to the silver screen, and now to the small screen. Look out for Mitch McDeere in his two-hour, television premiere this Sunday on NBC. [Wall Street Journal]

Hold up. How could I be a baby daddy? I haven't hit puberty.

* Sorry, Obama, but Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is alive, well, and doesn’t plan on retiring any time soon. No more Supreme Court appointments for you, buddy boy. [The Oval / USA Today]

* Judge William Adams will not face charges over the beating of his daughter, Hillary Adams, due to the statute of limitations. At least he’ll still have public scrutiny and embarrassment. [Houston Chronicle]

* The Third Circuit has tossed out a $550K fine against CBS for the second time, because really, who wouldn’t want to see a fleeting nipple image belonging to Janet Jackson. [Legal Intelligencer]

* A former Nixon Peabody attorney got probation instead prison for false statements charges, and might even get her law license back. Did she get points for being pretty? [Blog of Legal Times]

* And speaking of being pretty, this lawsuit claims that favoring employees’ diversity over hotness at Panera Bread will allegedly earn you a spot on the unemployment line. [Washington Post]

* Occupy Wall Street protesters better hope that their lawyers aren’t planning to scrawl their pleadings on the bottoms of pizza boxes, because they’re going to trial. [Bloomberg]

* Did Justin Bieber’s alleged baby mama deflower the teen pop star? You better beliebe it! She claims in court documents that their reported encounter was his first time. [New York Post]

Time to put down the gavel and hang up the robe.

We recently covered the Third Circuit’s benchslap of Judge John Fullam, an 89-year-old judge in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. In his opinion in United States v. Higdon, issuing a writ of mandamus and directing that the case mishandled by Judge Fullam be reassigned on remand, Chief Judge Theodore McKee had some harsh words for the aged jurist: “Neither this court, nor any other court, can tolerate a situation where a judge decides to follow his/her own custom and concepts of justice rather than the precedent of the applicable appellate court or the United States Supreme Court. Ours is a nation of laws, not judges.”

At the same time, Chief Judge McKee had some kind words for Judge Fullam, praising him as “a very experienced and hard working jurist [who] has devoted decades of service to the federal bench.” In the comments to our post, some readers interpreted the combination of statements — criticism for Judge Fullam’s mishandling of one case, but compliments for his “decades of service” — as the Third Circuit trying to nudge Judge Fullam into retirement.

Well, it seems to have worked — and it’s apparently the culmination of a long-running effort to get Judge Fullam off the bench….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Musical Chairs: Judge Fullam, Benchslapped and Elderly, Is Stepping Down”

Judge Fullam is a very experienced and hard working jurist and he has devoted decades of service to the federal bench. Nothing we have said in this opinion should detract from that. However, neither this court, nor any other court, can tolerate a situation where a judge decides to follow his/her own custom and concepts of justice rather than the precedent of the applicable appellate court or the United States Supreme Court. Ours is a nation of laws, not judges.

– Chief Judge Theodore McKee (3d Cir.), benchslapping the 89-year-old Judge John Fullam (E.D. Pa.) through issuance of a writ of mandamus, in United States v. Higdon.

Gerald Ung (left) and Edward DiDonato Jr. (right)

In response to our last story about Gerald Ung — the Temple Law student now on trial for attempted murder and aggravated assault (among other charges), after shooting Eddie DiDonato, a former Villanova lacrosse captain and the son of a prominent Fox Rothschild partner — some commenters expressed the view that our coverage was too favorable to the prosecution.

Look — we have no dog in this fight. It seems that the part of the post readers found most objectionable was a blockquote from a source who attended the trial, which we reprinted simply because it was from someone actually present in the courtroom. Sadly, Above the Law doesn’t have a Philadelphia bureau. If you’ve been attending the trial and would like to share your thoughts with us, we’d love to hear from you.

Another reason why the earlier story might have seemed more pro-prosecution is that it was describing the prosecution’s side of the case and the early prosecution witnesses. Now that the trial has been going on for several days, a fuller version of events has emerged. This will culminate tomorrow, when defendant Gerald Ung is expected to take the stand. This is not typical — it happens more on TV and in the movies than in real life — but then again, this is not the typical case. Ung’s defense lawyer, Jack McMahon, may be betting on the ability of his client — a law student, presumably intelligent and articulate — to win over the jury.

Let’s learn more about what’s been going on at the trial over the past few days — and hear some juicy tidbits about defense counsel McMahon….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Commonwealth v. Ung: The Other Side of the Story”

Judge Marjorie Rendell (former First Lady of Pennsylvania).

There’s lots of law-related news coming out of Philadelphia right now.

The lead story on the Philadelphia Inquirer’s website today is about the latest Villanova Law scandal, regarding falsified admissions data being submitted to the ABA. (The article contains a shout-out to ATL, which we appreciate.)

The trial of Gerald Ung, the Temple Law student accused of shooting another young man, is getting underway in Philly this week. Opening arguments are set for this morning. (If you have any tips on the Ung story, please contact us.)

And then there’s the news that has all tongues wagging in the City of Brotherly Love: the split of a big-time Pennsylvania power couple (and a pair of Villanova Law grads, by the way).

Former Governor Edward Rendell, who left the governor’s mansion just last month, and Judge Marjorie Rendell, a prominent judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, are going their separate ways. They announced their separation, after 40 years of marriage, in an email sent to friends….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Separation of Powers: Governor Rendell and Judge Rendell Split”

Facebook’s lawyers have been looking for a rumble over the company’s responsibility to turn over user account information in legal cases. Now they’ve got one, thanks to a California juror and his grandstanding defense attorney.

The case stems from a gang violence criminal trial. Members of the Killa Mobb were being tried for a 2008 attack on a San Francisco man at a gas station. One of the 12 angry apathetic men in the jury box, Arturo Ramirez, posted to Facebook during the course of the trial that it was “boring.” Now the Killa Mobb’s defense attorneys want to get a hold of those postings, and any responses from Ramirez’s friends, to prove that he may have been biased — so the Mobb members can get a new trial.

Facebook refused to turn over Ramirez’s information, citing a 1986 law that protects Americans’ electronic communications. Ramirez originally told the Sacramento Bee that he was willing to turn the status messages over, but that was before he linked up with his own defense attorney, Ken Rosenfeld, who looks like he might like a little media attention. Rosenfeld’s now planning to fight tooth and nail to keep his client’s Facebook privacy settings high…

Continue reading at The Not-So Private Parts….

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