3rd Circuit

Hazleton, Pennsylvania, is a lovely little town (or so Lat tells me — his aunt used to live there). But it’s not bigger than the federal government or the Constitution of the United States of America.

That’s the lesson the Third Circuit handed down today with its decision in the Lozano v. Hazleton case. At issue: Hazleton city ordinances making it illegal for undocumented immigrants to work or even rent a house in Hazleton.

Apparently, the Third Circuit still believes in federal supremacy. From the opinion:

Although our reasoning differs from that of the district court, we agree that the provisions of the ordinances which we have jurisdiction to review are pre-empted by federal immigration law and unconstitutional under the Supremacy Clause.

Did you hear that, Arizona? Your quixotic quest to deal with illegal immigrants without consulting the Constitution is almost over…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Third Circuit Respects Supremacy — A Lesson Arizona Will Soon Learn.”

Alyson Kirleis

There’s a serious gender-based wage gap in the legal profession. Female partners make $66K less than male partners on average. If you’re a female partner who has thought about tackling that gap with a lawsuit, you may be interested in the case of Alyson J. Kirleis.

Kirleis, a shareholder at Dickie McCamey in Pennsylvania, has been pursuing a sexual discrimination suit against her firm for the last four years. From the Legal Intelligencer (via The Careerist):

In the suit, Kirleis accused Dickie McCamey of paying female lawyers less than males and alleged she was told by a male partner that a woman with children should relinquish her partnership and work only part-time.

Kirleis, who has worked at the firm since 1988, also claimed she was told by another male partner that the role of women lawyers was to prepare lawsuits for trials that would be handled by male lawyers. The suit also included allegations that Kirleis has suffered retaliation since her suit was filed, and that Dickie McCamey’s annual Christmas party is effectively closed to women “because of the sexually explicit nature of the entertainment including skits, songs, pornographic materials and props.”

The Legal Intelligencer pointed out that her suit could have broken new legal ground, establishing that “some law firm partners are not equal to their fellow partners and ought to be allowed to pursue employment discrimination claims such as suing for equal pay.”

But the Third Circuit wasn’t on board…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Third Circuit Affirms Dismissal of Female Partner’s Discrimination Case”

Thumbnail image for jackpot slot machine casino.jpg* Legal hiring binge? We like the sound of that! [Washington Post via ABA Journal]
* What were the odds? The Third Circuit upholds the U.S. ban on Internet gambling. [Wall Street Journal (subscription) and Las Vegas Review-Journal]
* Marijuana can make you do dumb things. [Gothamist]
* …But Maryland is kind of okay with it. [Washington Post]
* This guy looks like the type to slap a stranger’s child. He looks like Tom Wilkinson’s evil doppelganger. [CNN]
* Maine voters will get to weigh in on same-sex marriage. [Associated Press]
* Polls close tonight in the ATL Douche Madness Final Four. [Above The Law]

Sports and the Law clip art clipart.jpg* A disappointing ruling from the 3rd Circuit for sports gamblers in Delaware. [USA Today]
* L.A. City Attorney Carmen Trutanich wants to make hanging out illegal. [Los Angeles Times]
* Judge Jed Rakoff is becoming a media darling. Another article singing the BofA-bench-slapping judge’s praises. [New York Times]
* Foley & Lardner sued for allegedly revealing trade secrets. [National Law Journal]
* Connecticut prosecutor John H. Durham has been chosen to lead the Justice Department’s investigation into CIA torture of detainees. [Talking Points Memo]
* Four more years for Bernanke. [Washington Post]

Kozinski.jpgSomeone’s July 4th weekend is off to a good start. Chief Judge Alex Kozinski, of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, has been cleared of misconduct by the panel of Third Circuit judges that was tasked with investigating him. As you may recall, Chief Judge Kozinski called for an investigation of himself, after it was revealed that he had a “website” — which wasn’t really a website, for reasons previously explained by the judge’s wife, Marcy Tiffany — containing some sexually explicit material.

The Third Circuit Judicial Council’s unanimous opinion, authored by Chief Judge Anthony Scirica, is available here (PDF). It was actually filed on June 5, but only made public today. It’s thorough and lengthy, weighing in at 38 pages, and describes in detail the extensive investigation conducted by the council (with the assistance of outside lawyers, from Dechert and Morgan Lewis, and a technology consultant).

To those with a deeper familiarity with the facts of the case, as opposed to just the headlines, Chief Judge Kozinski’s vindication is not surprising. The judge violated no law; rather, the “website” — actually just a private family file server, although imperfectly secured for a period of time, as explained in the opinion — was a personal matter unrelated to his judicial duties. To the extent that the (overblown) public controversy created a problem in an obscenity trial that Judge Kozinski was presiding over at the time, any problem was obviated when the judge recused himself. And let’s not forget that the whole controversy was originally kicked up by a disgruntled litigant, Cyrus Sanai, who tried peddling the story for months before someone finally bit — and who “has been targeting Kozinski for years,” as noted by Ted Frank.

So congratulations, Judge Kozinski, on putting this matter behind you. We look forward to catching up with you at the Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference later this month.

A few updates and links, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Chief Judge Kozinski Cleared of Misconduct By Judicial Panel”

Kozinski.jpgWe have. So, barring major new developments, we’re cutting back on our coverage of the controversy surrounding Chief Judge Alex Kozinski of the Ninth Circuit. As we suggested yesterday, the story is petering out anyway; but if you’re still interested in following it, check out Patterico’s Pontifications, which has been offering excellent, wall-to-wall coverage.
Before we take our leave of this tale, here are a few notable links:
1. Judges Named To Head Kozinski Inquiry [AP]
This is the only real news to emerge since our last post. Chief Justice John Roberts, responding to Chief Judge Kozinski’s request for an investigation, has named five jurists to the investigatory panel: Chief Judge Anthony Scirica, Judge Marjorie Rendell, and Judge Walter Stapleton, of the Third Circuit; Chief Judge Harvey Bartle III (E.D. Pa.); and Chief Judge Garrett Brown Jr. (D.N.J.). This is a solid group of judges; expect their investigation to be thorough and proper.
2. Cyrus Sanai: Kozinski investigation “is part of a litigation strategy” [Overlawyered]
The Kozinski archenemy who tipped off the Los Angeles Times to the judge’s website — L.A. lawyer Cyrus Sanai, who has been feuding with the judge since 2005 — is a real piece of work. At Overlawyered, Ted Frank chronicles how Sanai has been benchslapped by numerous judges, both federal and state, at the trial and appellate levels. Sanai blames the mountain of adverse on rulings on bias. Frank writes:

One has much sympathy for Cyrus Sanai, who has suffered the extraordinary misfortune of four trial judges in three different jurisdictions who are biased against him, and that does not include the appellate judges like the Chief Justice of the Washington State Supreme Court, Gerry Alexander; Washington State Court of Appeals judges Marlin Applewick, Anne Ellington and William Baker; or Judge Kozinski on the Ninth Circuit, all of whom Sanai has accused of bias. We wish that a just result is reached in Sanai’s various appeals, and pray that a just result is reached if a California legal disciplinary body ever decides to investigate what biased judges have been saying about Sanai.

3. Who’s at Fault For the Kozinski Kerfluffle? [Simple Justice]
Scott Greenfield writes:

David Lat, who has feasted on unsubstantiated gossip at Above the Law as well as his blog dedicated to sifting the salacious from the judicious, Underneath Their Robes (where he blogged anonymously as Article III Groupie, or A3G as he came to be known), joins the chorus [of Kozinski defenders]. But does the former AUSA explain his sudden conversion? Isn’t this the guy who is first on line (and online) to publish a smear of any lawyer or judge? In fairness, Lat’s connection to Kozinski is well-known to his long-time followers, but the new reader would be left out in the cold.

As Greenfield suggests, we view our connection to Chief Judge Kozinski as very well-known, and therefore not worth belaboring. But if he wants some sort of formal disclosure, here it is.
Disclosure: We have a great deal of respect and affection for Chief Judge Kozinski, whom we consider a friend. He helped launch our blogging career with his support of our first foray into the blogosphere, Underneath Their Robes (started four years ago this month). Our coverage of him is biased. If you’d like to read harsh personal attacks upon Chief Judge Kozinski, you should look elsewhere.
Above the Law is an independent blog. Unlike MSM-sponsored blogs such as the WSJ or the BLT, ATL makes no claim to “objectivity.” Considering that we opine daily on all sorts of topics, in ways that would be unacceptable for pure news reporters to do, we don’t see how anyone could mistake ATL for an objective news source. But if you want an express disclaimer of objectivity, consider this it.
Finally, we’d like to clarify our views of the “Kozinski Kerfluffle,” as Greenfield aptly dubs it. Consistent with our general antipathy to privacy, we don’t entirely agree with observers who see what Sanai and the L.A. Times did as an egregious privacy violation. On this we agree with Ted Frank:

I don’t think I fully endorse Lessig’s view on this — accessing a directory on a public website may be slightly creepy, but it’s not the same as breaking and entering a house to peer inside the photo albums in the den; it’s not even at the level of obnoxiousness as a guest inspecting the medicine cabinets of a host’s bathroom.

What we do think, however, is that the whole matter has become completely overblown. All it shows is that federal judges enjoy the occasional dirty joke and have risque material on their computers — in other words, “they’re just like us.” Considering that we launched a blog devoted to this very proposition four years ago, we find it hard to get that excited about it now.
4. Defending Judge Kozinski, and Online Privacy [The Lede / NYT]
ATL gets a shout-out from Mike Nizza in the Lede, a New York Times blog, in this concise round-up of the latest developments.
Judges named to head Kozinski inquiry [AP]
Cyrus Sanai: Kozinski investigation “is part of a litigation strategy” [Overlawyered]
Who’s at Fault For the Kozinski Kerfluffle? [Simple Justice]
Defending Judge Kozinski, and Online Privacy [The Lede / New York Times]
Earlier: Prior ATL coverage of Chief Judge Alex Kozinski (scroll down)

Legal%20Eagle%20Wedding%20Watch%20NYT%20wedding%20announcements%20Above%20the%20Law.jpg
Warmest congratulations to our friends Junko Ozao and Jason Choy, whose lovely wedding was written up in this week’s Vows column. Jason is an associate at Kirkland & Ellis, but Junko is a normal person, and that shortcoming cost them a spot in this week’s Legal Eagle Wedding Watch. The news will likely ruin their three-week honeymoon, but such are the ruthless decisions our readers expect LEWW to make.
Here are the six finalists (all lawyers):

1.) Amanda Trivax and Brian Burnovski
2.) Anna Skotko and Ben Vonwiller
3.) Amy Tovar and Benjamin Horwich

More about these legal eagles, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Legal Eagle Wedding Watch 9.30.07: Shall We Dance?”

Chambermaid 2 Saira Rao Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpg(And if you’re REALLY good, we’ll reward you with more Nina Totenberg stories. Ask and you shall receive!)
Another day, another blog post about Chambermaid, the controversial clerkship novel by lawyer-turned-writer Saira Rao. The latest post is by Professor Scott Burris, who clerked for Third Circuit Judge Dolores K. Sloviter — Rao’s former boss, widely rumored to be the basis for the central villain of Chambermaid, the tyrannical Judge Helga Friedman.
But Burris — unlike, say, fellow law prof and ex-Sloviter clerk Mike Rappaport — takes issue with the scuttlebutt equating Sloviter and Friedman:

What I really object to in the whole affair is the way Rao and some of her blogging readers have negotiated the delicate question of Judge Friedman’s correspondence with Judge Sloviter, and the rationale offered in several quarters for “outing” mean judicial bosses….

Aside from a couple of tics, Helga Friendman is not a portrait, nor even a recognizable caricature, of Dolores Sloviter. Hell, I didn’t even recognize Rao’s Center City Philadelphia.

Additional discussion — if this issue doesn’t interest you, just stop reading here — appears after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Chambermaid: ‘Cause We Know You Want Another Post About This”

Chambermaid 2 Saira Rao Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgJust a quick follow-up to our recent post about Saira Rao and Chambermaid, her novel about a law clerk’s challenging year clerking for a federal judicial diva. A tipster writes:

I just left a lunch where Saira Rao spoke to the South Asian Bar Association of Delaware, and she clarified something [from the recent Philadelphia Inquirer article].

I believe the article said something to the effect that she was pushed out of Cleary once people found out what her book was about. [Ed. note: Here's the quote from the Inquirer: "[Rao] left her New York law firm, Cleary Gottlieb, in November when the subject of her book became known, and, she said, the firm made her feel unwelcome.”]

According to her, it appears the opposite was true. She mentioned that the firm was actually accommodating to her needs as a writer and essentially created a new position for her so that she could concentrate more on the book. She also said she received two months off to allow her to finish up some edits on the book as well. She actually said she loved the firm and had a wonderful experience…. [Ed. note: For more, see this comment.]

In addition, she also mentioned that the book was recently optioned to be turned into a television series, so be on the lookout. No word yet on how involved she will be beyond the title of “consultant”.

With respect to the account of Rao’s departure from Cleary, our understanding is that the “firm made her feel unwelcome” statement wasn’t based directly on anything said by Rao herself, but reflected the article writer’s interpretation of events.
We love to engage in juicy speculation about workplace departures as much as (if not more than) the next guy. But it’s best when the scuttlebutt is actually accurate.
Update: We have an email in to Carlin Romano, the Philly Inquirer book critic who wrote the article. We’ll let you now if and when we hear back from him.
Lifetime raises Sunday stakes [Variety]
Earlier: Chambermaid: Judge Sloviter Speaks

Chambermaid 2 Saira Rao Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgToday is our lucky day in terms of media coverage. In addition to the great WaPo shout-out, Above the Law is also mentioned in the Philadelphia Inquirer (front page, above the fold).
The article, by Inquirer book critic Carlin Romano, is all about Chambermaid, the highly entertaining debut novel of Saira Rao, loosely based on her clerkship for Judge Dolores Sloviter of the Third Circuit. You’ve probably already read tons of blog posts and articles about this buzz-generating book.
But this piece is different. It includes some choice comments from Judge Sloviter herself — who, until now, has remained silent about her former clerk’s literary endeavors (as far as we know).
More discussion, after the jump.

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