6th Circuit

If I were in their role and in their position, I probably wouldn’t understand it either, that a club really can’t attract minority members.

– Judge Gilbert S. Merritt Jr. of the Sixth Circuit, commenting to the New York Times about two of his colleagues on the court — Eric L. Clay and R. Guy Cole Jr., both African-American — and their strong reactions against a bankruptcy judge’s membership in an all-white, all-male country club.

(Judge Merritt is also a member of the Belle Meade Country Club, although an honorary one without voting privileges.)

Does this sign also mean no blacks or women allowed?

It’s the ruling that is splitting the Sixth Circuit apart. A federal bankruptcy judge, George Paine II, belongs to an all-white country club in Nashville. But there is a pesky judicial code of conduct that says that judges “should not hold membership in any organization that practices invidious discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion, or national origin,” according to the New York Times (gavel bang: ABA Journal).

That seems cut and dry to me. An all-white, all-male country club sounds a hell of a lot like an organization practicing “invidious discrimination.” But I’m not on the Sixth Circuit.

And the Sixth Circuit essentially told Judge Paine: guys in my high school used to belong to discriminatory clubs all the time, it was no big deal.

In a 10-8 decision, the circuit decided to allow Paine to continue his membership in the club and on the bankruptcy court.

So that code of judicial conduct means what exactly?

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Why is Bob smiling? Because police now need a warrant to check his email (joke stolen from Julian Sanchez).

Thanks to a huge decision out of the Sixth Circuit, your email and the Fourth Amendment just got better acquainted. The police need to get a warrant to take a peek at the contents of someone’s inbox, writes Judge Danny Boggs — once rumored to be on the SCOTUS shortlist — in the court’s opinion (PDF, via a thrilled EFF).

The court says that the 1986 Stored Communications Act, which grants law enforcement access to email older than 180 days old with a simple subpoena or court order, is unconstitutional, since it enables the police to conduct unreasonable searches.

“This is a very big deal,” writes law professor Paul Ohm. “[T]his is the opinion privacy activists and many legal scholars, myself included, have been waiting and calling for, for more than a decade. It may someday be seen as a watershed moment in the extension of our Constitutional rights to the Internet.”

The case that led to the decision dealt with extensions of a different variety. The defendant that challenged the po-po’s warrantless search of his email is Steven Warshak, the mastermind behind Enzyte, a questionable herbal supplement purported to increase the size of a man’s erection. Sometimes, new constitutional protections pop out of the strangest places…

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* SCOTUS may hear the case of a Texas woman who claims that an extreme religious group forced her to “exorcise her demons”, disturbing her so much that she later attempted suicide. [The Atlanta Journal-Constitution]

* On Wednesday, the federal court in Manhattan will start considering information that will infect the investor’s in Madoff’s Ponzi scheme. Furthermore, Judge Louis L. Stanton of the U.S. District Court will consider whether people who invested in “feeder funds” with other Wall Streeters who invested in Madoff’s fund will be covered under the Securities Investor Protection Corporation–a federal fund that protects investors in cases like these. [The New York Times]

* The federal government announced a settlement over a developers who build projects on wetlands in Michigan’s Midland and Bay counties–a case that has gone on for decades. [The Chicago Tribune]

*Former New York City police Commissioner Bernard Kerick pleaded not guilty in a federal court to charges of tax evasion and corruption. [CNN.com]

* Store vendors angered by department store’s mark-downs may make the stores cover more of the losses. If they succeed, they could get back $ 1.2 billion from Macy’s, Saks Inc., Dillard’s, Nordstrom, Kohl’s and JC Penney. [Bloomberg.com]

* “The 6th Circuit struck down a vehicle safety law in Michigan that banned drivers from hanging any view-obstructing baubles from their rearview mirrors. [Courthouse News Service]

Affirmed race horse racehorse.JPGRecently we’ve been thinking about law-related names for racehorses. The subject came up when we were reading about how Big Brown, the 2008 Kentucky Derby winner, might win the Triple Crown and join the company of Affirmed (pictured) — the last winner of the Triple Crown, in 1978.
Hearing about a racing horse named “Affirmed” led us to start thinking about other legally-themed horse names. A few ideas:
– “Reversed” (or “Reversed and Remanded”)
We liked how it played off of “Affirmed.” But it’s “probably not the kind of message you want to send to the oddsmakers,” said a friend.
– “Cert Denied”
Kinda badass, no? We’ll put it down as a possibility.
– “GVR”
Suggested by another friend, to continue on the Supreme Court disposition theme. “GVR” stands for “Grant, Vacate, and Remand” — which can, depending on the circumstances, be something of a benchslap. But maybe it’s too technical, appreciated only by SCOTUS junkies?
– “Desuetude”
Nominated by a third friend (in the midst of studying for law-school finals). It’s erudite, but a bit short on sex appeal.
Have an idea for a law-related racehorse name, à la Affirmed? If so, feel free to leave it in the comments. If we get enough nominations, maybe we’ll hold a contest. Also, feel free to weigh in on the names previously mentioned, if you strong feelings about any of them.
Update: Please make sure that your nomination complies with these naming rules (posted by a helpful commenter).
Further Update: Okay, we’ve reached the 400-comment mark on this post, so we’re closing the thread. Poll to follow shortly.
More about racehorses and the law, after the jump.

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* Renomination of Steven Bradbury to head OLC seen as diss to Dems. [New York Times]
* Barry Bonds seeks dismissal of perjury charges. Depends on what the meaning of “is” is? [San Francisco Chronicle via How Appealing]
* Senate debates whether to grant phone companies immunity from suits arising out of their helping out on warrantless wiretapping. [Washington Post]
* Former Illinois Gov. George Ryan seeks Supreme Court review of his conviction. [Chicago Tribune via How Appealing]
* Also turning to the SCOTUS: cheeky pro se litigant who forestalled foreclosure for 11 years. [WSJ Law Blog]
* You’ve got mail? Maybe not, at least at the White House, which is having some email archiving problems. [Washington Post]

Sally Hemings horse filly Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgNews of an amusing appellate decision, from that leading source of legal news, ESPN:

A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday that a filly can’t be named “Sally Hemings” after Thomas Jefferson’s most famous slave and reputed lover.

The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati ruled that the Jockey Club can legally bar horse owner Garrett Redmond from naming his 4-year-old horse after Hemings.

We can understand the Sixth Circuit’s reluctance to allow anyone to “ride Sally Hemings.” Thomas Jefferson already tried that, and his historical reputation will never be the same.
But the court’s decision was grounded in law as well as good taste:

Judge Alice Batchelder, writing for the three-judge panel, said Redmond has other options that may be approved by the Jockey Club, which forbids horse owners from using names of famous or notorious people without special permission.

No “famous or notorious” people? So much for Redmond’s fallback option, “Wanda Sykes.”
Did being denied this name of choice have an adverse effect on the horse’s performance? Quite possibly:

The horse, now known as “Awaiting Justice,” ran at Churchill Downs on July 1 and at Ellis Park in Henderson on July 25. She did not finish in the top 3 in either race.

A little more discussion, after the jump.

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We come not to rank on this motion, but to praise it. It’s cute, it’s funny, and it’s appropriate Friday fodder:
In re Azbill 2 bike trip motion Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.JPG
Could one make fun of this hapless husband, for letting his wife drag him on a 350-mile bike tour? Sure. But this motion, while chuckle-worthy in a sitcom sort of way, isn’t TRULY embarrassing to the lawyer in question — unlike, say, moving for an extension on account of “inebriation constituting excusable neglect.”
We hope the court granted the motion, and that Mr. Azbill’s counsel is enjoying the bicycle trip — perhaps taking place as you read this.
Update: A commenter reports: “motion was granted on 7/23. counsel was able to ‘please his wife.’”

A summary of the action, courtesy of Howard Bashman (aka “Ho Bash,” as one commenter dubbed him):

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit holds that the American Civil Liberties Union and its co-plaintiffs lack standing to challenge the National Security Administration’s interception without warrants of certain telephone and email communications…

Circuit Judge Alice M. Batchelder issued the lead opinion, and Circuit Judge Julia Smith Gibbons issued an opinion concurring in the judgment. Judge Gibbons’s opinion begins, “The disposition of all of the plaintiffs’ claims depends upon the single fact that the plaintiffs have failed to provide evidence that they are personally subject to the TSP. Without this evidence, on a motion for summary judgment, the plaintiffs cannot establish standing for any of their claims, constitutional or statutory….”

And Circuit Judge Ronald Lee Gilman dissented. He would hold that the plaintiffs possess standing and that “the [Terrorist Surveillance Program] as originally implemented violated the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978.”

Is this ruling a surprise? Not so much. First, most legal analysts were deeply disappointed by the handiwork of Judge Anna Diggs Taylor (E.D. Mich.), the district judge in this case.
Second, here’s a telling detail from the Sixth Circuit website:
Sixth Circuit website Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpg
Does the Sixth Circuit website always feature a patriotic graphic of the United States filled with a flag pattern? Or is this just a special Fourth of July thing they haven’t gotten around to changing back yet?
ACLU v. NSA [U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit (PDF) via How Appealing]
Many Experts Fault Reasoning Of Judge in Surveillance Ruling [New York Times]

typewriter typewriting keyboard Above the Law.jpg* With tax law, the sky’s the limit. Seriously. [CNN; TaxProf Blog]
* Slow… Typist… Sues… His… Law… School. Must have taken forever to type the complaint (especially with a last name like “Zachariasewycz”). [WSJ Law Blog]
* ACLU seeks disclosure on NSA wiretaps in the Sixth Circuit. [SCOTUSblog]
* Vote Roberts for Chief Justice! [
SCOTUSblog]

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