9th Circuit

* 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…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Non-Sequiturs: 07.18.13″

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…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “5 Stories of the Week: Ginsburg, Football, and More”

* 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…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “In Ruling on Undue Hardship, Court Is Not Allowed To Come Into Your House and Repurpose Your Wife”

* In the Western District of Arkansas, judges have to forfeit judicial immunity to go to the bathroom. So if you want to sue a judge, you need to catch them when their pants are literally down. [Hercules and the Umpire]

* Bowman v. Monsanto… in GIFs! [EffYeahSCOTUS]

* Cooley boy makes good! President Obama nominated Christopher Thomas, a Cooley Law School grad and professor, to the Presidential Commission on Election Administration. [White House]

* A judge threw out the fine against a New York artist as unconstitutionally harsh. The artist took an antenna from the trash and cops impounded his car and fined him $2,000. [Thompson Reuters News & Insight]

* The Ninth Circuit struck down Arizona’s “Fetal Pain” Abortion Ban. Sounds like a viable decision. [PrawfsBlawg]

* Work/life balance is when lawyers with kids throw their childless colleagues under a bus. [Slate]

* If you’re reading transcripts of old trials and think the lawyers of yesteryear were smarter, you’re probably right. Western civilization has gotten dumber since the nineteenth century. The reason is summarized by the video after the jump….

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Abraham Lincoln told a story about a lawyer who tried to establish that a calf had five legs by calling its tail a leg. But the calf had only four legs, Lincoln observed, because calling a tail a leg does not make it so…. Heeding Lincoln’s wisdom, and the requirements of the Copyright Act, we conclude that merely calling someone a copyright owner does not make it so.

– Judge Richard Clifton, writing for a unanimous panel of the Ninth Circuit in Righthaven LLC v. Hoehn.

(Additional commentary about this interesting case, after the jump.)

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Benchslap of the Day: Ninth Circuit Smacks Copyright Trolls”

Just married civil unioned!

* Underneath this jurist’s robe you’ll find a sling. Justice Stephen Breyer had to have shoulder replacement surgery this weekend thanks to his latest bike accident, but he’s expected to make a full recovery. [Associated Press]

* A Ninth Circuit judge has ruled that an assistant federal public defender and her wife are entitled to federal health benefits. Take that, DOMA. [Courthouse News Service]

* Judy Clarke, one of the nation’s best capital defense lawyers, will be joining Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s legal team. She’s pretty good at keeping people alive, but we’ll see how this one goes for her. [Bloomberg]

* The ABA may do away with faculty tenure requirements for accreditation. No security of position? It looks like there’s a storm coming, law professors, so go get your bread and milk! [National Law Journal]

* Prospective law students are being counseled to take advantage of the smaller applicant pool, but it won’t look so small when they can’t get jobs. [Law Admissions Lowdown / U.S. News & World Report]

* “Gay marriage? Hell no, let’s make all marriages civil unions.” Minnesota senators want to put couples on an even playing field — one that isn’t recognized by the government. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]

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