5th Circuit

John Yoo Philadelphia.JPG* It sounds like very few protesters greeted John Yoo at Berkeley Law School. Only four were tenacious enough to get arrested. [Associated Press]
* Fen-phen lawyers sentenced to 20 and 25 years, respectively. The judge wants their sentences to deter other lawyers tempted to steal from settlement funds. [Bloomberg]
* Proskauer Rose probably likes this headline. [New York Daily News]
* Nino leads one to believe that empathy is not an important quality in a judge. [New York Times via Daily Beast]
* The 5th Circuit agrees with a Texas school district that has banned “shirts with words.” Are shirts with numbers okay? [Courthouse News Service]
* Michael Jackson’s children have lawyered up. [CNN]
* Nationwide salary cut watch: LA County judges. [Los Angeles Times]
* Why has there been no litigation surge in the recession? [National Law Journal]

financial crime.jpg

* Lawyers are winning in the long rivalry between lawyers and bankers. Endless financial fraud cases make lawyers look ethical. There is another fraud charge in Philadelphia against money manager Joseph Forte. [The Philadelphia Inquirer]

* The SEC is investigating Apple’s disclosures about CEO Steve Jobs’ health, to make sure the company did not mislead investors. [Bloomberg]

* The point man for Madoff’s investor Frank DiPascali will now be the go-to guy for prosecutors investigating the scheme. [The Wall Street Journal]

* Former Enron CEO Jeff Skilling asked the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Apeals to review his 19 convictions. [The Houston Chronicle]

* A Czech businessman settled a suit filed against him by hedge fund Omega advisors, after he alegedly bribed government officials in Azerbaijan, defrauding investors hundreds of millions. [The New York Times]

* In the aftermath of India’s Enron–the Satyam scandal, the Indian government will likely rescue Satyam’s workers from losing their jobs. [Time.com]

* SEC chairman Christopher Cox resigned in the wake of scrutiny of the SEC for failing to investigate allegations in the Madoff scandal. [The Associated Press]

Palin Vogue.JPG* Lehman’s lawyer fees “could reach a record $1.4 billion.”[Bloomberg]

* The RNC spent more than a first-year associate’s salary on clothes for Sarah Palin. So, when you are reading mind-numbing legal documents at midnight tonight and your friends are out partying, just dream of all the snappy red jackets you can buy. [Los Angeles Times]

* Sarah Palin’s $150,000 wardrobe was bad, but it could be worse. A Philadelphia state senator spent roughly 3.5 million dollars of tax payers money to pay personal assistants who “spied on his ex-lovers, chauffeured his children, oversaw mansion renovations, and permormed a myriad of other chores.” [Associated Press]

* The IRS withdrew a $319 million tax assessment on FedEx. [Associated Press]

* Milberg has hired NYU professor Arthur Miller to run its appellate practice. [Bloomberg]

* Recent developments in the U.S. District Court Judge Edward “Naughty” Nottingham may stop him from practicing law in Colorado. [The Rocky Mountain News]

* A former administrative law judge is still trying to sue his dry cleaner for 54 million because they lost his pants. [ABC]

Samuel Kent Judge Samuel B Kent Above the Law blog.jpgMethinks the judge doth protest too much? From the Houston Chronicle:

U.S. District Judge Samuel Kent stood before a fellow federal judge this morning and vehemently proclaimed his innocence of three federal sexual crimes in his indictment.

“I plead absolutely, unequivocally not guilty and look very much forward to a trial on the merits of what I consider flagrant, scurrilous charges,” Kent stated with force to U.S. 5th Circuit Judge Edward Prado.

“For the record I absolutely intend to testify, and we are going to bring a horde of witnesses,” Kent said.

He also promised “a killer alibi,” “a s**tload of exculpatory evidence,” and an exonerating sex tape.
Is it necessary to Mirandize a longtime judge? Better be on the safe side:

Prado frequently said things such as “You pretty well know the routine,” and “As you know, you have the right to remain silent.”

The defendant’s status as a sitting federal judge led to some other, lighter moments. More below the fold.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Judge Kent Objects to His Indictment. Strenuously.”

* Fed cuts fed funds rate by 0.75%, but stocks are still lower. [AP; New York Times; Washington Post]
* Clinton and Obama get snippy with each other in debate, raising questions about each other’s legal work. [Washington Post; New York Times; WSJ Law Blog]
* SCOTUS denies review in gigantic Enron-related investors’ lawsuit. [SCOTUSblog via How Appealing]
* Statutory interpretation makes for strange bedfellows in 5-4 ruling in Ali v. Federal Bureau of Prisons. [SCOTUSblog (PDF) via How Appealing]
* New York City revisits the issue of forced disclosure of calorie counts by restaurants. [AP via Drudge]

Samuel Kent Judge Samuel B Kent Above the Law blog.jpgAs regular ATL readers will recall, Judge Samuel B. Kent (S.D. Texas) is currently on leave from the bench (although still collecting his $165,200 salary). The Fifth Circuit suspended him after allegations of what it described as sexual harassment.
But Judge Kent’s troubles may not be over yet. From the Galveston County Daily News (via How Appealing):

A woman who has accused U.S. District Judge Samuel Kent of unwanted sexual touching will have her case reheard by a disciplinary panel of the 5th Judicial Circuit, her attorney, Rusty Hardin, said late Monday.

Late that afternoon, Hardin gave the panel summaries of interviews his team did of 20 people who have had contact with Kent. Hardin claims those interviews show that Kent has misbehaved toward women since shortly after he was named to the federal bench in Galveston in the early 1990s.

Hardin said he and his client are asking that the panel refer the matter to the Judicial Council of the United States with a recommendation that Kent be impeached.

Additional discussion, plus a reader poll, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Judge Samuel Kent: A Bigger Horndog Than Bill Clinton?”

Samuel Kent Judge Samuel B Kent Above the Law blog.jpgLast week we honored Judge Samuel B. Kent with our prestigious Judge of the Day award, based on his alleged sexual harassment of a court employee. Now the Fifth Circuit Judicial Council has also recognized Judge Kent. From Texas Lawyer:

The Judicial Council of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals [on Friday] issued an order reprimanding and admonishing U.S. District Judge Samuel B. Kent of Galveston. The order relates to a complaint of judicial misconduct lodged against the judge on May 21 alleging sexual harassment toward an employee of the federal judicial system.

A former case manager for Kent, Cathy McBroom, confirms she filed a complaint against the judge. She declines further comment. McBroom currently works in the clerk’s office in the Houston Division of the Southern District of Texas.

You can access the order here (PDF). But as a tipster notes, “All the juicy stuff will ‘not be disclosed.’ No fun at all.”
Fear not, judicial gossip aficionados. The Houston Chronicle has more details:

Kent is accused of harassing and inappropriately touching his 49-year-old case manager in his chambers in March….

On the day of the incident, other employees saw McBroom crying and visibly upset, according to interviews. A few weeks later, McBroom transferred to another federal court job in Houston. McBroom was so shaken by the encounter, “She (was) a basket case,” an acquaintance said.

McBroom has retained Houston attorney Rusty Hardin, who would not comment for now on the particulars of the case.

Not good news for Judge Kent. Hardin is one of Houston’s top trial lawyers.
And this is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Additional allegations against Judge Kent, after the jump.

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Fifth Circuit interior designer Abovethelaw Above the Law tabloid blog.JPGAre you a Texas law firm associate who is sick of tired of working long hours for low pay? Are you looking for a more creative position, one that would offer you more “hands-on” experience?
Then you might be interested in working for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit — still for low pay, but probably for better hours. And we’re not talking about some run-of-the-mill law clerk gig.
The circuit is looking for an in-house interior designer. How fabulous! And no, we’re not joking. Check out the job posting by clicking here (PDF).
Okay, so you don’t have the requested “bachelor’s degree in interior design.” But surely a J.D. from an accredited U.S. law school, plus the requested ability “to move light furniture,” would be just as good.
Yeah, you’d have to move to New Orleans, but that’s not too far — still within the Fifth Circuit. In terms of specific job responsibilities, the most difficult one is probably “procuring furniture and furnishings utilizing federal procurement guidelines.”
That should be construed as “decorating courthouse spaces in halfway decent fashion, using furniture manufactured by federal prison inmates.” And remember — Martha checked out of the Big House a long time ago.
If that’s not worthy of an episode of Top Design, we don’t know what is.
Interior Designer / Space Planner (PDF) [U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit]

Time for a few updates on a subject near and dear to our heart, which we’ve been neglecting as of late: federal judicial nominations. Here’s the latest news:
Jennifer Elrod Judge Jennifer W Elrod Above the Law blog.jpg1. Texas state court judge Jennifer Elrod (at right), whom we previously identified as a possible nominee to the Fifth Circuit (and compared to Jennifer Aniston), has been officially nominated to that court. We’ve heard good things about Judge Elrod and wish her the best of luck in the confirmation process.
2. Connecticut state court judge Vanessa Bryant, discussed previously here, has been confirmed to the District of Connecticut.
3. Earlier this month, the White House sent a raft of judicial nominations over to the Senate. Nothing terribly exciting.
The two most controversial nominees in the bunch: state court judge Janet Neff (D. Mich.), and trial lawyer Richard Honaker (D. Wyo.). They may generate opposition on opposite sides of the aisle. Neff got a lot of grief from the conservative Sen. Sam Brownback for having attended a lesbian commitment ceremony. Honaker may be targeted by liberals for his record of strong opposition to abortion.
Here’s a random bit of trivia about Honaker: he was a Harvard classmate of Al Franken. If Honaker runs into opposition from liberals (despite being a trial lawyer and card-carrying member of ATLA), will Franken testify in his defense before the Senate Judiciary Committee?
(The article also mentions Billy Crystal, but we don’t believe Billy Crystal went to Harvard.)
Update: HA! The Billy Crystal mystery is revealed. Check out this comment.
Nomination Sent to the Senate [WhiteHouse.gov]
Nominations Confirmed [Senate.gov via How Appealing]
Nominations Sent to the Senate [WhiteHouse.gov]
Harris County civil judge nominated to federal bench [Houston Chronicle]
Bush renominates five Michiganians to federal judgeships [Detroit News]
Thomas announces judgeship nomination for Rock Springs lawyer [Casper Star-Tribune via How Appealing]

Vanessa Gilmore Vanessa D Gilmore Judge Above the Law Above the Law judicial diva.jpgIf you’re getting tired of our stories about the DOJ’s Shanetta Cutlar and S&C’s Alexandra Korry, we have a new name to add to our rotation of delightfully high-powered, imperious females. Meet Judge Vanessa D. Gilmore (at right), of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas.

Whisper her name out loud: “Vanessa Gilmore.” Doesn’t it even SOUND diva-licious? If she weren’t a federal judge, couldn’t she be a character on “Dynasty”?

But we have reasons other than the sound of her name for declaring this rather attractive jurist to be a judicial diva. From a helpful tipster:

I’d like to bring another judicial diva to your attention: Judge Vanessa Gilmore of the Southern District of Texas. You probably have already read about Judge Gilmore’s ruling in the Enron broadband case vacating Howard’s conviction. I’m not sure she’s a match for Shanetta Cutlar, but she’s no slouch either when it comes to divadom.

[R]umors about her include:

* She has thrown her keys in open court at an attorney (I believe it might have been an AUSA) for calling her “ma’am”;

* She ordered an AUSA to have John Ashcroft personally write her a letter explaining the DOJ’s reasons for seeking the death penalty against one defendant but not others [the Williams case, discussed in more detail below];

* When she didn’t like the particular font counsel used, she told him that she threw his motion in the trash without reading it, and then she ruled against him;

* During trial she is happy to make findings contrary to stipulations of the parties; and

* She encourages ex parte contact with the court and attempts to prevent record-making: any discovery “motions” must be way of a one-page letter to the court. She will then have a hearing which she considers an “oral motion to compel.” She will happily rule without actually seeing any of the discovery propounded.

More about Judge Gilmore, including a discussion of how she got benchslapped by the Fifth Circuit, after the jump.

P.S. We welcome colorful anecdotes about strong personalities within the legal profession regardless of their race, gender, etc. It just so happens that lately we’ve been getting information about women. If you want to tell us about your workplace abuse at the hands of a man — e.g., Eric Krautheimer, of Brokeback Lawfirm infamy — we’re all ears.

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