5th Circuit

The ongoing court battle over warrantless cell phone location tracking continues and the latest decision is another setback for the Fourth Amendment. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals held that individuals have no reasonable expectation of privacy over their location data. The decision states that location data is a “business record” created by private companies with the implicit consent of cell phone users and therefore are not subject to privacy protections.

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Howard Dean

* Everything’s bigger in Texas, including the legal wrangling: Eric Holder’s use of the VRA’s “bail in” provision to circumvent the SCOTUS ruling in Shelby may prove to be trouble. [National Law Journal]

* The Fifth Circuit upheld warrantless cellphone tracking yesterday, noting that it was “not per se unconstitutional.” We suppose that a per se victory for law enforcement is better than nothing. [New York Times]

* The pretty people at Davis Polk are fighting a $1.4 million suit over a headhunter’s fee with some pretty ugly words, alleging that the filing “fails both as a matter of law and common sense.” [Am Law Daily]

* Howard Dean is rather annoyed that he’s had to go on the defensive about his work for McKenna Long & Aldridge after railing against Obamacare. Ideally, he’d just like to scream and shout about it. [TIME]

* The ABA is concerned about Florida A&M, and sent a second warning about the school’s imminent failure to meet accreditation standards. Well, I’ll be damned, the ABA actually cares. [Orlando Sentinel]

* Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett is suing to prevent a clerk from issuing marriage licenses to gay couples. A silly little lawsuit won’t stop this guy from doing what he thinks is right. [Legal Intelligencer]

Today, the Supreme Court surprisingly ruled 7-1 to vacate the Fifth Circuit in Fisher v. Texas. The opinion was a great big dodge. Anthony Kennedy, writing for the majority, said that the lower court failed to apply “strict scrutiny” to the University of Texas’s admissions policies. Cutting through the legalese, that means the Supreme Court actually upheld the case of Grutter v. Bollinger, which is the controlling case allowing affirmative action in college admissions. While conservative justices indicated that they would have overturned Grutter had they been asked, the majority found that they had not been asked.

If that all sounds like a bunch of legal mumbo jumbo to you that avoids the heart of the issue, you are not a lawyer. You are right, but you aren’t a lawyer.

This is no “victory” for affirmative action. There are still a majority of Supreme Court justices that want, almost desperately, to end racial preferences in college admissions. What the Court did today was threaten colleges and universities that want to use racial preferences to come up with really good justifications for their affirmative action policies. Schools that aren’t really committed to diversity, or that go about achieving diversity in a stupid way, will surely have their programs ruled unconstitutional in the future.

This is, I think, the end of affirmative action as a tool for “racial equality.” But affirmative action as a tool to promote “racial diversity” is alive and well.

Which, all things considered, is just fine by me. I think the Court signaled that it is just no longer buying the old reasons for affirmative action. While the rabid conservatives don’t seem to be wiling to consider any, it looks like moderates like Kennedy may listen to new justifications for using race as a factor in admissions, but you are going to have to convince him….

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* When SCOTUS cases involve public companies and rulings are misinterpreted, it can lead to some pretty volatile stock performance, as was evidenced by yesterday’s highs and lows for Myriad Genetics of BRCA1 patent fame. [Washington Post]

* The ethics complaint against Judge Edith Jones of the Fifth Circuit has been transferred to the D.C. Circuit after receiving a blessing from the Chief Justice of the United States. Uh oh, that’s serious business if Roberts is involved. [Times-Picayune]

* The number of women working in the NLJ 350 is sad. They make up only one-third of all attorneys working in Biglaw, and we’re stuck celebrating the tiniest positive changes. Sigh. [National Law Journal]

* Proskauer Rose’s former CFO, Elly Rosenthal, settled her $10M disability discrimination suit against the firm in anticlimactic fashion, “without costs to any party as against the others.” [Am Law Daily]

* California is obviously trying to one-up New York with this one. In addition to a 50-hour pro bono requirement, they’re pushing for 15 hours of real-world training before bar admission. [The Recorder]

* Try to stop a man from throwing a pie in your husband’s face and in return you’ll be served with your wifely walking papers a few years later. Aww, Rupert Murdoch is such a kind old man. [Bloomberg]

* The first rule of Insider Trading Club is, you do not send discoverable e-mails about Insider Trading Club. [Dealbreaker]

* Arnold & Porter staged a mock Olympics last time around. Now we’re just waiting for the other shoe to drop and we learn that the antitrust group was doping. [Washington Post]

* Georgetown Law student Bindhu Parmathi crowned Miss District of Columbia! She will go on this September to participate in the Miss America pageant (aka “The pageant that Donald Trump doesn’t own). [The Examiner]

* To recap: TSA took the stance that knives should be allowed on planes, but balked at fictional Jedi weapons. Yay America! [Lowering the Bar]

* Illinois passes some of the strictest fracking regulations in the country. That’s a reference to hydraulic fracturing. Not just dropping Battlestar Galactica references. [Breaking Energy]

* Indiana thinks it can discipline lawyers for criticizing a judge via private email. I would say that’s an insane misreading of the law, but I don’t want to get disciplined in Indiana, which sounds like the terrible prequel to Fifty Shades of Grey (affiliate link). [The Indiana Lawyer]

* Five businessmen take off their pants to protest taxes. This is a bad precedent. I don’t want to see any of these Tea Party folks take off their pants. [TaxProf Blog]

* Congrats to ATL reader Alicia Long, as well as co-author Jayne Jones, on publishing their new book Capitol Hell. [Amazon (affiliate links)]

* The Judge Edith Jones incident should raise the national concern to improve diversity on the bench. But it won’t. [Judicial Clerk Review]

* More follow-up on CBS’s improper campaign ad totally objective news documentary “Brooklyn D.A.” [New York Daily News]

* If fans in the front row of your concert start holding out papers for you to grab, DON’T DO IT! Unless you want to get sued. Video after the jump, courtesy of Gawker

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Several organizations filed a Complaint of Judicial Misconduct against Fifth Circuit Judge Edith Jones earlier this week. The complaint charges Judge Jones with a variety of offenses, but the headline-getter is the claim that she made racist remarks during her speech on February 20, 2013, hosted by the University of Pennsylvania’s chapter of the Federalist Society.

With no transcript or recording of the event, the 12-page complaint relies on the affidavits of a few individuals who attended the speech, including Marc Bookman, the Director of the Atlantic Center for Capital Representation. Bookman’s affidavit serves as the primary account, with the other affiants agreeing and adding relatively few details. About a week before the Penn Fed Soc speech, Bookman published an essay in Mother Jones titled “How Crazy Is Too Crazy to Be Executed?”, about Texas murderer Andre Thomas. Whether Bookman intended ahead of time to use his account of the Fed Soc event as the basis of a misconduct complaint or not, he was likely expecting to be offended when he attended a Federalist Society speech called “Federal Death Penalty Review” by a pro-death-penalty, Texas-based judge. Just a guess….

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A gal from the Garden State.

* Meow! An ethics complaint has been filed against Judge Edith Jones, the judicial diva herself, over insensitive comments about race and the death penalty that she made at Penn Law. [San Antonio Express-News]

* In the pissing contest over judicial confirmations, it’s fair to say that Obama’s recent nominees to the D.C. Circuit won’t receive a hearing, much less be confirmed, any time soon. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]

* Nobody likes patent trolls, not even the president. Obama went on the offensive yesterday, promising to curb unwarranted intellectual property litigation filed by pesky profiteers. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

* Speaking of patents, there’s a new exchange being formed for public trading rights. Please welcome the Intellectual Property Exchange International, the first exchange platform of its kind. IP: so hot right now. [DealBook / New York Times]

* After a review of evidence that Colorado movie theater shooting suspect James Holmes was whacked out of his mind at the time of the shooting, he was allowed to enter an insanity plea. [Bloomberg]

* The judge in the Oscar Pistorius case has adjourned the track star’s legal proceedings until August on account of a “trial by media.” We’ll probably continue to speculate about it until then. [New York Times]

* A woman is suing because she got her ass kicked by a gang of hookers at a Florida hotel. She claims the prostitutes thought she was infringing on their territory. Nope — she’s just a Jersey girl. [Fox News]

Ed. note: This is the first installment of Righteous Indignation, one of Above the Law’s new columns for conservative-minded lawyers.

In this new column, I’ll occasionally be weighing in on legal issues from a conservative, right-of-center political perspective. My aim for my contributions is to balance the liberal heft that regularly gets thrown around on the pages of Above the Law. (That’s got to be a metaphorical scale we’re using to do the balancing, if Elie’s on one end and I’m on the other.)

Where am I coming from that I might alter the usual ATL ideological balance?

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The Colonel says ‘leave me out of this.’

We now have judicial notice that making jokes about the president and fried chicken is probably racist.

Granted, “all these years, I thought I liked chicken because it was delicious.” But living up north, it’s pretty well-established that suggesting black people have a predisposition for eating chicken is prima facie racist and likely to start a fight. That’s not because I’m “sensitive” or “playing the race card.” It’s because generalizing about the foods black people eat has been used as a tool for racial stigmatization for a long time in this country.

That history somehow escaped Judge Lynn Hughes.

We’ve written about Hughes before. He’s a guy who can throw a benchslap. He’s also a guy who has been described as “[u]nquestionably the single worst judge in the Southern District of Texas” on The Robing Room (where lawyers can post anonymously about judges).

But one of his flippant remarks to an African-American plaintiff drew the ire of the Fifth Circuit, even as they were affirming his ultimate result.

You know that you have strayed a little too far from the flock when the Fifth Circuit (Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi) is schooling you on racial sensitivity….

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* The Fifth Circuit upheld a federal law banning gun sales to people under 21 years old. Oh! The humanity! What will the nation’s teenagers do without booze or their own guns? [WSJ Law Blog]

* A New York cop is charged with planning to kidnap, cook, and eat 100 women. Gross. I wonder if this will tarnish the NYPD’s sterling reputation. [Daily Intel / New York Magazine]

* Scratching your nuts in public is gross, but it’s not the same as, uh, some other grosser, more illegal activities. It would behoove this woman to learn to recognize the difference. [Legal Juice]

* Should wearing “personality” glasses count against a criminal defendant? I dunno, but as a guy who has to wear glasses I find it bizarre that people choose to wear them as fashion accessories. Might as well wear a useless prosthetic arm too; I hear they’re the next hip trend. [Legal Blog Watch]

* Another intra-family lawsuit: Geoffrey Richards, who teaches at Northwestern Law School, has been sued by his 95-year-old grandfather over a family financial dispute. The grandfather is also calling Richards a “scoundrel” and the “greatest disappointment” in his life. Ouch. [DealBreaker]

* President Obama has endorsed several same-sex marriage ballot proposals. Nice work, Barry. [BuzzFeed]

* Insights and advice for people interested in fashion law (from Ron Coleman and others). [Likelihood of Confusion]

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