Animal Law

Can you say Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (affiliate link)? I’ll be “fear,” given my generally anxious personality, and Elie can be “loathing,” since he’s so good at it.

Greetings from Sin City. Elie and I are in town for a debate we’re participating in tomorrow on the future of legal education. The debate will take place on Monday at noon in room 102 at UNLV Law School. The event is free and open to the public, and lunch will be provided, so please come if you can. Thanks to the Federalist Society and the American Constitution Society for co-sponsoring. (You can check out the event flyer here.)

While in Las Vegas, in addition to stimulating the local economy by losing money at craps and poker, I paid a visit to the site of a major Above the Law story: the alleged bird beheading that resulted in criminal charges for two Berkeley law students. Here are my observations and photographs….

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* A Charleston School of Law student leader was arrested for stalking. I’m not sure how else Charleston Law students are supposed to get jobs. [Fitsnews]

* I think this is a very poor reading of the history of the Second Amendment that is making the rounds. Sure, having weapons really helped slaveholders, but that’s not “the reason” the Second Amendment was ratified. The founders had better reasons… reasons that have nothing at all to do with the time we live in, but that’s a different story. [Truthout]

* By the way, you saw that Obama nominated a black lawyer for something, right? Since the Republicans in Congress are so concerned about Obama’s record on diverse appointments, I’m sure Todd Jones will be confirmed super quickly. [Daily Beast]

* Should pet owners be allowed to recover for “sentimental value”? A Texas case might answer that question. I’m looking forward to the companion case in Arkansas where pet owners try to recover from loss of consortium. [Adjunct Law Prof Blog]

* I’d be shocked if this Manti Te’o thing doesn’t end up with somebody suing someone for something. [New York Daily News]

* There’s going to be a law and robots conference at Stanford in April. Because we all know how much robots love law. [The Volokh Conspiracy]

Eric Cuellar (left) and Justin Teixeira (right)

Last fall, we started following the sad story of the killing of an exotic bird in Las Vegas. The deed was allegedly committed by Eric Cuellar and Justin Teixeira, a pair of law students at Boalt Hall (UC Berkeley). Last month, the Clark County District Attorney’s Office hit Cuellar and Teixeira with formal charges.

Today brings news that one of them has pleaded guilty. Who pleaded, what offense did he confess to, and what kind of sentence is he receiving?

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It turns out, Mongolia was right.

Back in May, we told you about a lawyer who, on behalf of the president of Mongolia, was involved in his own crusade to stop the auction of precious Tyrannosaurus bones. Lawyer Robert Painter and President Elbegdorj Tsakhia argued that a Tyrannosaurus bataar skeleton had been smuggled out of Mongolia to be sold in America.

Eventually, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara of the S.D.N.Y got involved, on the side of Mongolia. It turns out that this Mongolian dinosaur was just the tip of one man’s international smuggling operation.

That man pleaded guilty yesterday….

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Back in October, we brought you news of some wild and crazy accusations that were lodged against two Boalt Hall law students. Specifically, Eric Cuellar and Justin Teixeira allegedly committed some “fowl play” — the killing of an exotic bird, a helmeted guinea fowl — at the wildlife habitat at the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas.

These guys aren’t going to have a very happy new year, because after more than two months of silence from Clark County District Attorney’s Office following their October arrest, the pair were formally charged yesterday.

What were they charged with, and how much jail time will they face if they’re convicted?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “So Much for Flying South: The Alleged Berkeley Bird Beheaders Have Been Criminally Charged”

RIP, Turk.

* “I’m sorry Ms. Jackson, I am for real. Never meant to make your planet cry, I apologize a trillion times,” is likely what Barack Obama told Lisa Jackson when he found out she was stepping down as EPA administrator. [New York Times]

* Cook County, Illinois, is experiencing problems wherein the kookiest of judges get “electoral mulligans” every six years. Public humiliation and harsh ratings might be a great way to finally put an end to this practice. [Chicago Magazine]

* Another way to get revenge against the schools that screwed grads with their allegedly misleading employment stats: disciplinary action for ethical violations committed by those licensed to practice law. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]

* What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas, unless you’re accused of being a murderer birderer. Boalt Hall law students Justin Teixeira and Eric Cuellar have now been criminally charged for their alleged roles in the decapitation of an exotic bird. [Las Vegas Sun]

* Harvard Law is offering a free online copyright class, and anyone can enroll — even 13-year-olds. This may be your only chance to take a course at an Ivy League school, so hurry up and apply. [National Law Journal]

* George Zimmerman and his lawyer are being sued by a private detective for failure to pay $27K for security services, which included a detailed escape plan to get the murder defendant into a hidey-hole. [Boston Herald]

* L.A. city council voted in favor of banning pet stores. Because walking your dog contributes to childhood obesitywaitwaitwhatthehell? (Elie here: Pet stores contribute proliferation of puppy mills, and puppy mills are evil. People should only acquire pets from reputable breeders, or by opening their hearts to one of the many loving animals at your local animal shelter.) [LA Times via Overlawyered]

* If marijuana gets legalized, will there be a Green Gold Rush? [Daily Beast]

* A Texas high school won’t let students vote for Homecoming unless they wear an electronic tracking chip around their neck. I didn’t realize Minority Report took place in Texas. [CNET]

* A special Halloween version of scary s**t on the internet you maybe should be afraid of. [IT-Lex]

* A bunch of alternate mottos for legal blogs, ATL included. Ours stars — who else? — the Commentariat. Nice work gang. [Legal Blog Watch]

* After the jump, Lee Pacchia speaks with Dan DiPietro of Citibank, who has a watchlist of the Biglaw firms that may fail in the near future….

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At this point, most of our readers have probably heard about the Boalt Hall students facing serious legal problems after allegedly beheading an exotic bird in a Las Vegas hotel. We’ve covered the developing story extensively this week, along with various personal anecdotes about Eric Cuellar and Justin Teixeira’s backgrounds.

One major gap in this crazily unique story, however, is: who was the third man suspected in the crime? Was it another student? A ghost? Or was it, gasp, as our Comment of the Week winner supposes, a well-known Boalt Hall professor…

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Left to right: Eric Cuellar, a mysterious third man, and Justin Teixeira.

It seems that our coverage of Eric Cuellar and Justin Teixeira, two law students at Boalt Hall who have been charged with killing an exotic bird at a Las Vegas casino, has ruffled some feathers. Some readers believe that Cuellar and Teixeira been unfairly maligned in these pages.

In our coverage, we have repeatedly stressed that these two law students remain innocent until proven guilty. We have also cited positive comments about them that we’ve received from sources. For example, correspondents have praised Cuellar to us as “an upstanding guy and an excellent leader” and “a really nice guy.” They described the alleged conduct as out of character for Cuellar.

To some readers, however, these comments have not been enough. They’ve written to us with further testimonials in favor of the defendants, to which we now turn….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “In Defense of the Alleged Berkeley Bird Murderers”

We’ve been carving out a little dinosaur law beat over the last several months, thanks to the contentious auctioning off of a Mongolian Tyrannosaurus bataar skeleton. The auction was interrupted when the Mongolian president’s attorney stood up and shouted, “I’m sorry, I need to interrupt this auction. I have a judge on the phone,” in an unsuccessful attempt to stop the sale.

Unfortunately for the anonymous million-dollar winning bidder, the dinosaur bones are stuck in limbo a little longer. Lawsuits have been flying around in the aftermath of the auction, and yesterday, New York police arrested the archaeologist who allegedly brought the bones to the U.S.

And now, ladies and gentlemen, we are leaving Jurassic Park and entering DaVinci Code Land. Please keep your hands and legs inside the vehicle…

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