4th Circuit

Rick Perry is so sad.

* Rick Perry’s primary ballot election law suit in Virginia was unsuccessful, but maybe the Fourth Circuit will help him out on appeal. Or not. At least Huntsman’s out of the race, right? [Bloomberg]

* That didn’t take too long. The National Federation of Independent Business has officially popped the cherry on filing lawsuits challenging Obama’s recess appointments. [Businessweek]

* Even if law schools changed their teaching methods to include more experiential learning opportunities, would anyone care? To that, the latest hiring patterns say: “LOL, srsly?” [National Law Journal]

* Joran van der Sloot has been sentenced to 28 years for the murder of Stephany Flores. Parents will now be able to allow their college-aged kids to spend spring break in Aruba until 2038. [CNN]

* Protip for child predators: claiming that you don’t remember pleading guilty will bring you as much success as your career in children’s balloon entertainment and law — not a lot. [Orlando Sentinel]

* The lawyers at this small firm might quality for senior citizen discount specials, but they’re working hard to put their 161 years of experience to good use. P.S. they’re hiring! [New York Times]

* What did you think of the way Obama was pimping out his reelection jobs bill last night? People were probably more excited about the football game that followed. [Los Angeles Times]

* Congratulations to Stephanie D. Thacker of West Virginia. She was nominated to fill a seat on the Fourth Circuit. If she doesn’t have a family circle, things will go well in her confirmation hearing. [State Journal]

* Money might not grow on trees, but it certainly grows on financial reform legislation. Thanks to the Dodd-Frank Act, the pockets of Biglawyers will continue to be lined with cash for years to come. [New York Times]

* Skinnygirl is supposed to be “the margarita you can trust,” but now the company is facing two class actions. I’ve never tried it (duh), but it’s never good to put your trust in alcohol. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

* If you really want a job, you can start packing for South Dakota. A bit deserted for me. In fact, I think you might need some oxen and a covered wagon to practice out there. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Looks like you really screwed the Cooch. Virginia and its Obamacare challenge got slapped around today by the Fourth Circuit. [Blog of Legal Times]

* Just how rich are the members of SCOTUS? When you’re worth $45M, like RBG, you can afford to fall asleep during the State of the Union address. But you can’t afford such luxuries when you’re still Sonia from the block. [Forbes]

* An interesting read on the Kenneth Moreno case from the perspective of a juror. Buy it on your Kindle and check it on the way home today. [Gothamist]

* What is law school’s dirty little secret? If you have social skills, you don’t need to be in the top ten percent to get a job. Fair warning, because your mileage may vary with this bit of advice. [Law Riot]

* If Texas A&M is actually allowed to join the SEC, fans are going to have to learn how to start talking smack about the Big 12 and buy a pair of jorts stat. [ESPN]

* What a Masshole: sorry, lady, but if seeing your criminal history in print is too upsetting, maybe a career change is in order? No judge is just going to stop the presses for you. [Salem News]

* “Abandon hope, all ye who enter here! Thou art cash cows being led to the $laughter!” Well, if you’re going to riff on my school, at least get your facts straight. We cry in our cars. [LOLawyer]

* No, you cannot change your name to NJWeedman.com. We get it, you smoke two joints before you smoke two joints. But if you lose the domain, your stoner friends would be confused. [Gawker]

For attorneys, missing deadlines is a big no-no. BIG no-no. A Goodyear blimp-sized no-no. People have literally died because of blown deadlines. Cases worth millions of dollars get tossed out because of missed deadlines, even if someone has a decent excuse.

That being so, I do not envy the lawyer who had to tell his client that the 4th Circuit shut down their lawsuit because he didn’t know how to use his Microsoft calendar.

More about the difference between “excusable neglect” and this run-of-the-mill bonehead mistakes after the jump…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “How to Lose a Case With Simple Computer Cluelessness”

I like crusading AGs with names like "Spitzer" more than "Cuccinelli," but that's just me.

Obamacare scored a huge victory today. Not because of an election or an impassioned debate. Not because of a fresh argument or a political compromise. Not even because of a considered legal opinion. No, Obamacare scored a major victory just because the Fourth Circuit panel randomly chosen to hear the challenge to Obamacare, an appeal spearheaded by crusading Virginia attorney general Ken Cuccinelli, will be made up of three judges appointed by Democratic presidents.

And because we live in a country where our judiciary is about as apolitical as a parliamentary house, it’s reasonable to think that at least two of the three judges (two of whom were appointed by Obama himself) will deliver an Obamacare victory.

Does anybody have a problem with that?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Judging Is Just Politics By Other Means”

Jeff Skilling

* Former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling’s appeal was denied by the Fifth Circuit. While he remains the smartest guy in the room, the room consists of him and a half-wit cellmate whose only discernible talent is making Prune-o. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Bruce Fein, an attorney who worked on Clinton’s impeachment and called for Bush’s impeachment as well, has drafted articles of impeachment for Barack Obama. His high crime and misdemeanor? Time theft. [Politico]

* An Ohio man has been charged with a misdemeanor for barking at a police dog. When asked why he was barking at the female dog, the man calmly replied, “Bitch owes me money.” [CBS News]

Raj Rajaratnam

* The government rested its case in the Raj Rajaratnam trial yesterday. Of additional note is the fact that Rajabba sits ten feet behind his defense table, partially obstructed from the jury box. You can’t completely block Rajabba from view. You can only wish to contain him. [New York Times]

* The government has warned attorneys for former Madoff employees not to use money that might be associated with Madoff’s Ponzi scheme. That includes, for their own health, any ass pennies. [ABA Journal]

* The Fourth Circuit rules in favor of a pundit-professor, in a case about the free speech rights of faculty members at public universities. [Chronicle of Higher Education]

* Charlie Sheen is trying to trademark his catchphrases now. He’s overexposed like a frostbitten penis — is there anything funny left to say about him at this point? (We might try; check in later.) [Forbes]

Court clerks in Virginia may be shaking their fists at the Fourth Circuit today. In an interesting ruling on free speech, privacy, and public records, the court ruled that an angry blogger has the right to publish public officials’ and court clerks’ Social Security numbers in order to protest the fact that Virginia puts records online that publish citizens’ social security numbers. We skimmed the opinion, but didn’t see a citation to Hammurabi.

B.J. Ostergren has been writing TheVirginiaWatchdog.com since 2003 to bring attention to the fact that state governments play fast and loose with people’s Social Security numbers when putting land records online. Her advocacy got many of them to actually start attempting to redact SSNs from the documents before putting them online, but the system was still imperfect.

She started posting land records containing unredacted SSNs, which led the state to pass a law in 2008 to make what she was doing illegal. She sued and the courts supports her, though the Fourth Circuit eliminated some conditions imposed by the district court…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Fourth Circuit Decides First Amendment Trumps Social Security Number Privacy”

J. Michael ("Mike") LuttigIn May 2006, then-Judge J. Michael Luttig made major news in the legal world by resigning from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit to become senior vice president and general counsel of aerospace giant Boeing. Luttig served as a Fourth Circuit judge for almost 15 years, during which time he reigned as the #1 feeder judge, sending almost all of his clerks into Supreme Court clerkships, and came extremely close to becoming a justice himself.

Luttig’s resignation from his life-tenured Fourth Circuit judgeship came as a shock to many (and was viewed by some as “taking his toys and going home,” after he got passed over for the SCOTUS seats that ultimately went to John Roberts and Samuel Alito). But Luttig, who’s only 56 — he was appointed to the Fourth Circuit at the tender age of 37 — seems to be enjoying the new challenges of serving as GC of a large public company.

During his four years at Boeing, Luttig has given its in-house ranks a major makeover. He has brought in some top talent, including at least four Supreme Court clerks: John Demers (OT 2005/Scalia), Grant Dixton (OT 2000/Kennedy), Brett Gerry (OT 2000/Kennedy), and Jake Phillips (OT 2004/Scalia). Is there any in-house legal department with more former Supreme Court clerks than Boeing? Don’t forget to count Luttig himself, who clerked for Chief Justice Burger (OT 1983), after clerking for then-Judge Scalia on the D.C. Circuit.

UPDATE: Boeing boasts at least eight (8) SCOTUS clerks. Here are three who were inadvertently omitted from the original version of this post: Bertrand-Marc Allen (OT 2003/Kennedy), Lynda Guild Simpson (OT 1984/Powell), and Eric Wolff (OT 2000/Scalia).

And Luttig has given his net worth a makeover, too. At the time of his May 2006 resignation, federal circuit judges earned $175,100 a year. As executive vice president and general counsel of Boeing — the country’s largest aerospace and defense company, #28 on the Fortune 500 — he makes millions.

Luttig no longer has to worry about covering college expenses for his two kids (which he cited in his resignation letter as a reason for leaving the bench). And this past May, he and his wife, Elizabeth Luttig, bought a fabulous second home in beautiful Kiawah Island, South Carolina.

How much did Mike Luttig pay for his new place? And how does the price tag compare to his in-house compensation at Boeing?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Lawyerly Lairs: Luttig in Lap of Luxury (Plus info about his current compensation.)”

Duke is having a good month. The Blue Devils are heading to the NCAA Final Four this weekend. (Sorry, haters.) And one of the school’s law students, 3L Stephen Rawson, argued before the Fourth Circuit last week.

Like Duke in its Elite Eight game against Baylor, Rawson struggled early on. A few minutes into oral argument, he fainted.

He may have lost consciousness, but he didn’t lose his cool…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Law Student of the Day: Duke 3L Stephen Rawson”

tiny mary j.jpg

* Thailand’s constitutional court decided to disband the country’s ruling party and ban the prime minister from politics for five years. [CNN.com]

* A former federal courts chief is calling for the resignation or impeachment of an appellate judge in California for watching internet porn. In one month, there were 90,000 hits on 1,100 porn sites at the California Judiciary. [Miami Herald]

* Al Franken, the Senate candidate from Minnesota, may appeal to the courts because he argues that 1,000 absentee ballots were wrongly discarded in the recount. [CBS]

* The US Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal from the city of Garden Grove in California that argued that city police should not have to return seized medical marijuana to a chronic pain patient. California’s 4th District Court of Appeal sided with the patient, and now the case is closed, a victory for advocates of medical marijuana use. [The Los Angeles Times]

* At least something is going well for Detroit these days. “U.S. car maker Ford Motor Company Tuesday won its case at a European court over the registration of the word “Fun” as a European trademark.” [CNN]

* Chevron was found not-guilty by a federal court jury in San Francisco; the jury dismissed claims of Nigerian villagers who say they were attacked by company paid soldiers on an an off-shore drilling platform. [Bloomberg]

* Don’t forget, meet the editors is tonight at 6:30 at Professor Thoms’ [Above The Law]

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