9th Circuit

Ed. note: We are having an Above the Law retreat this afternoon, so we may be less prolific than usual today. We will return to our regularly scheduled programming tomorrow.

* “I think I am now the hardest-working justice. I wasn’t until David Souter left us.” Justice Ginsburg celebrates her twentieth year on the high bench in true diva style. [USA Today]

* Sorry, EA, the Ninth Circuit thought your First Amendment free expression defense to allegedly stealing college sports players’ likenesses was a load of hooey. [Wall Street Journal]

* “It’s a decision that clearly favors the merchants.” A federal judge gave the Fed a spanking in a ruling on its cap for debit card fees earned by banks after consumer swipes. [DealBook / New York Times]

* “What makes this discriminatory? I don’t think there’s anything in Title 7 that says an employer has to be consistent.” Ropes & Gray’s “token black associate” had his day in court. [National Law Journal]

* The firm that outed J.K. Rowling as author of “The Cuckoo’s Calling” will make a charitable donation as an apology — getting the book to the bestseller’s list wasn’t charitable enough. [New York Times]

* As the bar exam draws to a close today, here’s something to consider: 12,250 people signed up to take the test in New York alone. Are there jobs out there for them? Best of luck! [New York Law Journal]

* The feds want to make a better return on their investment on law student loans. Perhaps it’s time for those good old gainful employment regulations. [Student Loan Ranger / U.S. News & World Report]

* Cleveland kidnapper Ariel Castro is expected to speak at his sentencing hearing today, where a judge will decide if a term of life in prison plus 1,000 years is appropriate punishment for him. [CBS News]

Brian Zulberti

* The number of women arguing before the Supreme Court is still small, but most of its appellate practitioners follow sage advice like this: “Clerk, work, and don’t be a jerk.” [National Law Journal]

* If you were curious about whether gays and lesbians could be excluded from juries on the basis of their sexual orientation, the Ninth Circuit is about to lay down the law. [New York Times]

* Now that the Supreme Court has ruled in Windsor, Cozen O’Connor will be forced to give a deceased partner’s profit-sharing benefits to her wife, and not her parents. [Legal Intelligencer]

* Who are Biglaw’s top innovators of the last 50 years? There are many familiar names, but one of them is near and dear to our own hearts at Above the Law: It’s our managing editor, David Lat. Congratulations! [Am Law Daily]

* If you’re making a career change to go to law school, you should think about why the the hell you’d do such a thing right now — or try to leverage it in applications. [Law Admissions Lowdown / U.S. News]

* In a surprise move, Wendi Murdoch, better known as Rupert Murdoch’s soon-to-be ex-wife, has hired William Zabel to represent her in the divorce. This is going to get very, very messy. [New York Times]

* “Why you mad, bro?” Brian Zulberti, the man with the muscles, is trying to make the most of his 15 minutes of fame. He’s lined up several job interviews, so wish him good luck. [Delaware News Journal]

* This afternoon, O.J. Simpson pleaded with the parole board in Nevada. For now, the Juice is still on ice. [USA Today]

* Four South Korean firms allegedly fixed the price of ramen noodles for over a decade. You mean that s**t can be cheaper? [Courthouse News Service]

* Do you want to make sure the NSA can’t read your email? Join the NSA! [Lowering the Bar]

* Eric Holder is going forward with efforts to halt the new Texas voting requirements pursuant to the bail-in procedure. But how will he ever prove a substantial history of constitutional violations in Texas? [The Volokh Conspiracy]

* The Ninth Circuit has affirmed Judge Dolly Gee’s earlier denial of Fox’s request for a preliminary injunction against Dish Network over its special, ad-skipping DVR. It’s a testament to how much power the networks have thrown around that this is treated like an amazing new technology — I bought an ad-skipping DVR from ReplayTV in 2001. [The Verge]

* Chicagoland preacher facing federal fraud charges announces: “Because of Judge Sharon Coleman’s continual mocking of God’s ecclesiastical order and the sanctity of family/marriage, the wrath of God almighty shall soon visit her home.” Federal authorities were not amused. [Chicago Tribune]

* A NJ state judge declares that Atlantic City casinos can control the weight of its waitresses. Because overweight waitresses are the reason no one goes to Atlantic City anymore. [My Fox NY]

* Noam Scheiber of The New Republic interviewed about his article The Last Days of Big Law, as discussed here. Video after the jump… [Bloomberg Law via YouTube]

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* J.K. Rowling’s outing as The Cuckoo’s Calling (affiliate link) author Robert Galbraith has rendered print copies of the book scarce and a hot collector’s item. Now Rowling is hurling Cruciatus curses at her lawyers as the source of the revelation. [The Guardian]

* The New York Times weighs in on the worth of a law degree debate and makes Elie’s day by labeling him “indomitable.” [DealBook / New York Times]

* After the Ninth Circuit struck a tone of sanity, federal bankruptcy judges in Michigan and Tennessee remind us that law school debt is forever. [The National Law Journal]

* The hottest barristers in London. Meh. Holding out for the hottest solicitors countdown. [Legal Cheek]

* A lawyer should get suspended for smuggling stuff out of prison for a client. But shouldn’t the punishment be a tad more severe for smuggling a HIT LIST out of prison for a client? [Mercury News]

* The Ten Competencies that law schools should teach. I’d add “understanding how to order from Seamless at 4AM,” but otherwise it’s a solid list. [Associate's Mind]

* Penn State has approved a $60 million settlement in the Sandusky cases. Which is less than the football program makes in a year. [Deadspin]

* Apparently, the laws and other conditions surrounding America’s oil industry make it only the fifth friendliest place to extract petroleum in the world. Thanks a bunch you granola-eating socialists. [Breaking Energy]

* It’s not over yet, but the current projection for law school applicants this year is 59,200. My response to those fresh young go-getters after the jump…

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Another week has come and gone. We’re post Independence Day, so strap in for the long grind to Labor Day before you get any rest. If you need a break, I suppose you can take some summers for a 3-hour lunch, assuming anyone still does that.

But the real importance of the week’s end is that it’s time again to compile my look at some notable stories from the week in legal news. Bring on “5 Thing Friday” or “Working for the Weekend” or something like that.

This week, we had Justice Ginsburg’s declaration that she’s not retiring, the Zimmerman trial continued on its tragically absurd course, Vault released its annual law firm rankings, the NFL got burned in court — twice — and Harry Reid figured out that there’s this thing called a filibuster and the Republicans are really good at it…

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* Authorities are exhuming the Boston strangler suspect to attempt to match his DNA with a sample recovered from a victim killed almost 50 years ago, highlighting advances in DNA harvesting technology. In other news, COBRA Command claims that Project: Serpentor is moving along nicely. [NY Times]

* Ninth Circuit Judge William Fletcher dissents in the case of Deere v. Cullen. Judge Fletcher writes: “The majority holds that a judge suffering from dementia may sentence a man to death.” He’s so unreasonable. [PrawfsBlawg]

* The Texas student that Tamara Tabo wrote about this morning, whose arrest for making terrorist threats sparked a Facebook phenomenon, has been released on bail. [The Blaze]

* Kash Hill reports on the decision in the Sarah Jones case. The former cheerleader and current paralegal won $338,000 in her defamation suit. [Forbes]

* The advent of a new job in the field of sex work: The “Coparazzi,” documenting cop mistreatment of sex workers. This job title is offensive because it suggests that the Paparazzi are doing something admirable. [Jezebel]

* An argument for compromising reputation for scholarship money when selecting a law school. As one of the commenters on the article (steponitvelma) put it: “Congratulations. How wonderful.” [The Billfold]

* Women are realizing that husbands are crimping their style. [The Careerist]

* Who is the real John Roberts? Will he forever be known as health care reform’s savior, or the man who disregarded precedent to gut minority voting rights? Hell if we know, so we’ll let you be the judge. [Opinionator / New York Times]

* The man may be a mystery, but one thing’s for sure when it comes to Chief Justice Roberts: it’s fair to say that at this point, he’d sincerely appreciate it if his colleagues would kindly STFU during oral argument. [Big Story / Associated Press]

* Elena Kagan, a justice who was never a judge, is now being praised for her ability to put the law into terms that non-lawyers can understand. That’s a score for law professors everywhere. [New York Times]

* In terms of the Voting Rights Act, while the chances of the current Congress enacting a universal voting law are approximately nil, there are other effective avenues that could be taken. [New York Times]

* On Friday, the Ninth Circuit lifted the stay on gay marriages in California, and less than 24 hours later, Prop 8 supporters filed an emergency motion with SCOTUS to stop all of the weddings. Lovely. [NPR]

* Meanwhile, ex-judge Vaughn Walker thinks Justice Scalia’s having joined the high court’s majority on standing telegraphed the fact that he didn’t have votes to uphold Prop 8 as constitutional. [NPR]

* Rubber stamp this: Judges on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court are so upset that they’re being made out as government patsies that they’re talking to the press about it. [Washington Post]

* Whether you think Chevron is “suing [Patton Boggs] lawyers for litigating” or for promoting fraud that “shocks the conscience,” here’s a summary of what’s going on in an epic case. [Washington Post]

* Got a high-profile criminal defense firm? Look out, because you may have captured Biglaw’s eye. Take, for example, Stillman & Friedman, which will be merging with Ballard Spahr. [New York Times]

* Apparently being in your mid-50s is a “good time to [retire]” for law deans who pull in six figures. Ken Randall, outgoing dean of Alabama Law, says he’s “really ready for the next challenge.” [AL.com]

Kamala D. Harris

Same-sex marriages can legally resume in California as soon as the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals lifts its stay on the District Court Ruling. I ask that the Ninth Circuit lift this stay immediately, because gay and lesbian couples in California have waited long enough for their full civil rights.

– California Attorney General Kamala Harris, calling upon the Ninth Circuit to act sua sponte prior to receiving a mandate from the U.S. Supreme Court, which could take 25 days or more to occur.

(For additional thoughts on the future of gay marriage in California post-Perry, see Marty Lederman and Howard Wasserman.)

But they can do it. Some phone companies, for a fee, actually have a self-serve website where law enforcement can go in, ping your phone, and know exactly where you are. Pretty neat, huh? So anyway, the answer is, kiss it goodbye.

– Chief Judge Alex Kozinski, discussing the state of third-party privacy in the era of technological surveillance. He adds that “the great libertarian conspiracy” could soon be located “right here.”

Regular readers of this blog know that you cannot discharge student loan obligations through bankruptcy absent a showing of undue hardship. If you go broke borrowing money for expensive cars, houses, and monkeys/butlers, no problem, file for bankruptcy and start over. But if you go broke trying to better yourself through education, the government will make you beg and prove that you are sad and hopeless. Wonderful system we’ve got here.

We’ve also talked about how many people who might be eligible for undue hardship on their student debts don’t even try. The system is daunting and complicated, and I’ve argued that prostrating yourself in front of a bankruptcy court and letting them invade your life to the point of telling you how much you should be spending on your cell phone is not something that comes naturally to people with pride and dignity. This might be hard to understand for people who have never been in this situation, but I’d much rather be a “deadbeat” and have my wages garnished with the discretion on how I spend the rest than have some old judge tell me how much money I should be spending on breakfast.

When trying to get your debts discharged through bankruptcy, there seems to be no limit to what a judge can take into account to see if you are really desperate. But a recent Ninth Circuit opinion upholding a discharge by reversing the district court put one boundary on what a court can look at to determine if you’ve tried to pay your debts in “good faith.”

The court can’t look at your household and suggest that you pimp out your wife. So at least that’s something…

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