David Lat

David Lat is the founder and managing editor of Above the Law. His writing has also appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Observer, Washingtonian magazine, and New York magazine. Prior to ATL, he launched Underneath Their Robes, a blog about federal judges. Before entering the journalism world, he worked as a federal prosecutor in Newark, New Jersey; a litigation associate at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, in New York; and a law clerk to Judge Diarmuid F. O'Scannlain, of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. David graduated from Harvard College and Yale Law School, where he served as an editor of the Yale Law Journal. He has received several awards for his work on ATL, including recognition as one of the American Lawyer’s Top 50 Big Law Innovators of the Last 50 Years; one of the ABA Journal’s Legal Rebels, a group of pioneers within the legal profession; and one of the Fastcase 50, "the fifty most interesting, provocative, and courageous leaders in the world of law, scholarship, and legal technology." You can connect with him on Facebook or Twitter.

Posts by David Lat

Monica Goodling 5 Monica M Goodling Monica Gooding Alberto Gonzales Above the Law blog.jpgSome of you have taken issue with our worship of Monica Goodling, the Justice Department lawyer who finds herself at the center of the firestorm over the U.S. Attorney firings. We’ve praised her as an up-and-coming DOJ diva; but some of you have argued that a true diva wouldn’t take the Fifth.
Fair enough; and normally we might agree. But Goodling isn’t hiding behind the Fifth Amendment like a shrinking violet. Instead, she is invoking it boldly, defiantly. And she’s going on the offensive against the Democrats who have cast aspersions on her simply for availing herself of constitutional protections.
From the Washington Post:

In a letter to House Democrats, Goodling’s attorneys lambasted Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) and his counterpart in the Senate, Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), for questioning whether Goodling was hiding criminal activity by refusing to testify before Congress.

Attorneys John M. Dowd and Jeffrey King wrote that Goodling’s assertion of her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination “can in no way be interpreted to suggest that Ms. Goodling herself participated in any criminal activity.”

“Your and Senator Leahy’s recent suggestions to the contrary are unfortunately reminiscent of Senator Joseph McCarthy, who infamously labeled those who asserted their constitutional right to remain silent before his committee ‘Fifth Amendment Communists,’” the attorneys wrote.

Yeah, that’s kinda awesome. Chairman Conyers, have you no sense of decency?
Attorneys for Gonzales Aide Criticize Congressional Democrats [Washington Post]

moon moons mooning Above the Law legal tabloid blog.jpgWe adore quirky lawsuits brought by high school students against school administrators. There’s something about the high school setting that fosters oddball litigation. E.g., “Bong Hits 4 Jesus”; Gifties v. Tards.
Here’s the latest such tale, from the AP:

A high school senior acknowledges he went too far when he mooned a teacher. But he thinks the decision of school officials to send him to a new school for the rest of the year was too harsh, so his family is suing.

Tyler Tillung, 18, mooned a teacher “suddenly and without thinking about the consequences” in February, according to the lawsuit filed Tuesday. The teacher had declined to let him into a Feb. 21 school lip sync show that was full.

Lip sync shows: not just for show queens. Anyway, here’s the school’s response:

“Without knowing the allegations, we’re confident in the administration’s position on this case,” [School Board Attorney Jim] Robinson said. Palm Harbor principal Herman “Doc” Allen described the mooning as “disgusting” and the teacher as “traumatized.”

Traumatized? From seeing a little teenage ass crack? Seems like an overreaction.
(Unless the kid suffered from this problem. Then all bets are off.)
Fla. student who mooned teacher sues [Associated Press]

Alberto Gonzales 2 Attorney General Alberto R Gonzales Above the Law blog.JPGAttorney General Alberto Gonzales may be slightly more secure in his position these days than in the recent past, when it was looking like “Gonzales” was Spanish for “canned.” But he’s not out of the woods yet — which is why speculation about possible successors continues.
Ben Wittes, writing for TNR Online, has some excellent insights. His overall take:

[B]etween a sinking administration that still demands loyalty above all else and congressional Democrats keen on using their new oversight powers, finding a candidate who satisfies both sides will be hard. The next attorney general must be someone acceptable enough to Democrats not just to get confirmed but to tamp down the fire Gonzales has witlessly set.

But he must also be enough of a conservative to satisfy the White House. And he needs a reputation for probity and moral seriousness sufficient to speak to the public and to Congress with the respect that Gonzales obviously lacks. It’s a tall order–a pinch so tight that it squeezes out almost all of the names being bandied about in public.

Wittes then marches through various possible nominees. Discussion continues, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Possible Replacements for Alberto Gonzales”

Columbia Law School CLS Above the Law blog.jpgAs we previously mentioned, we will be speaking at Columbia Law School next week, at the kind invitation of the Columbia Federalist Society.
Our talk is open to the public, so feel free to stop by if you’re in the area. Here are the details:

Wednesay, April 11, 5:30 PM 6:00 PM
Columbia Law School
Jerome Green Hall, Room 102
435 West 116th St. (at Amsterdam Avenue)

As one CLS student pointed out to us, our talk unfortunately overlaps (in part) with the Harlan Fiske Stone Moot Court finals, scheduled from 4 PM to 6 PM. If you’d like to go to the Moot Court first, please feel free to sneak into our talk late. Needless to say, considering the star-studded bench — which we also plan to watch in action before heading off for our event — we won’t be offended by tardy arrivals.
Update: We’re happy to report that the time of our talk has been changed. We are now speaking at 6 PM, so there’s no need to choose between us and Moot Court.
Hope to see you next week!

Ring the alarm! This just in, from the Harvard Crimson:

Harvard Law Review Above the Law blog.gifThe Harvard Law Review is cited less and less in decisions by federal courts, in keeping with a trend across several major law reviews, according to a study published last month by staff at the Cardozo Law Review of Yeshiva University.

The researchers found that the Harvard journal was cited 4,410 times in federal courts during the 1970s, but only 1,956 in the 1990s, and 937 so far in this decade—despite an increase in the number of cases brought to courts.

It’s ’cause judges are citing Wikipedia so much these days — plus all those darn blogs….
Fewer Cases Cite Harvard Law Review [Harvard Crimson via How Appealing]
When Is It Appropriate to Cite to Wikipedia? [Concurring Opinions]
Courts Citing Blogs [Volokh Conspiracy]

Eric Krautheimer 2 Eric M Krautheimer Aaron Charney Sullivan & Cromwell Above the Law blog.jpgThis is completely unverified — nothing more than total rumor. We’re in the process of following up. But we thought we’d toss it out there, to see if any of you can confirm (or deny).
This is what we’ve heard, from a little bird:

Eric Krautheimer is probably going to be transferred to Sullivan & Cromwell’s L.A. office.”

Because Los Angeles has such different views on gay issues than New York. And out on the distant West Coast, still reachable only by Pony Express, nobody will have heard of this Aaron Charney guy.
As noted, this is UNCONFIRMED. We’ve left messages with Eric Krautheimer, S&C chairman H. Rodgin Cohen, and a firm spokesperson. We haven’t heard back from any of them. But if and when we do, you’ll be the first to know.
Do you have inside information about the truth (or lack thereof) of this item? If so, please email us (subject line: “Eric Krautheimer”). Thanks.
Earlier: Prior ATL coverage of Eric Krautheimer (scroll down)

tweety bird Ruth Bader Ginsburg Justice Ginsburg Above the Law blog.jpgWe’ve been learning all sorts of things about Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg lately. Like her history as a high school cheerleader (which is, by the way, a perilous pursuit).
And now we learn her secret nickname at One First Street. From the Washington Examiner:

Anyone who has seen Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg knows that, although she’s big on law, she’s short on physical stature. Some of the employees who work around her in the Supreme Court Building find her diminutive size rather endearing and have taken to calling her Little Tweety Bird, a moniker they use only within their small circle.

But, lest you think that Ginsburg might rule such a nickname as “out of order,” that same circle insists that it’s a kind nickname, and one meant to reflect the notion that they feel very protective of Ginsburg.

Does that make Justice Scalia into Sylvester the Cat? Probably not. Justices Scalia and Ginsburg are close personal friends. They share a love of opera, and their families sometimes spend New Year’s Eve together.
We nominate Justice Thomas for the role of Sylvester the Cat. In the 1947 cartoon Tweetie Pie, the Sylvester the Cat character went by the name “Thomas.” MEOW!
A nickname for Ginsburg [Washington Examiner / Yeas and Nays]

We don’t write much about American Idol. We leave that subject to the experts, like Ann Althouse.
(You can read Professor Althouse’s take on last night’s show over here. Also, she shares our admiration for Sanjaya Malakar. Read her persuasive defense of Malakar over here.)
Today, however, we have a legal angle for writing about Idol. We have a video clip to pass along.
It’s already been nicely summarized by Vote For the Worst, a website that urges its readers to vote for the Idol that the website creators view as the least talented. So we’ll just quote from their blurb:

This is hysterical. On The O’Reilly Factor, civil litigator Danielle Aidala makes incredibly stupid arguments about how she could sue this website. The arguments are actually even stupider than the rationale from the 12 year olds who write to us, so it’s a pretty funny way to waste five minutes if you’re bored.

And here’s the video. It’s also up on YouTube, where it’s described as follows: “Danielle Aidala is a babe.”
(We agree with that sentiment — which may explain how Aidala wound up on Fox News. Fox seems to specialize in giving airtime to attractive female commentators with, umm, provocative or contrarian views.)
P.S. Danielle Aidala, in case you’re wondering, went to NYU for undergrad and Fordham for law school. Here’s her New York Times wedding announcement. She is not to be confused with Dianna Abdala, of “bla bla bla” fame.

Idiot Lawyer Danielle Aidala Thinks VFTW/Stern Can Be Successfully Sued [VoteForTheWorst.com]
Howard Stern / shock jocks helping Sanjaya stay on the show [YouTube]
“American Idol” — the final 9 [Althouse]
“Malakar is the rare male performer who relies so utterly on styling.” [Althouse]

Monica Goodling 5 Monica M Goodling Monica Gooding Alberto Gonzales Above the Law blog.jpgThe House Democrats just won’t leave Monica Goodling alone. Even after the Justice Department lawyer invoked the Fifth Amendment privilege, the Dems still want to have a little “conversation” with her. From the NYT:

House Democrats on Tuesday requested a private interview with an aide to Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales who has asserted her constitutional right not to testify at a public hearing about the dismissals of United States attorneys.

Representative John Conyers Jr., a Michigan Democrat who is chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, sought the interview in a letter to a lawyer for the aide, Monica Goodling, who is on leave as the Justice Department’s liaison to the White House…. Mr. Conyers’s letter said that House lawyers wanted to question Ms. Goodling to evaluate the legality of her refusal to testify. It said she could not assert the privilege as a blanket justification not to appear.

Look, guys, she’s just not that into you. Can’t you just leave her alone? Go beat up on Kyle Sampson some more — we think he still has some lunch money left in his pockets.
(Our suspicion: Chairman Conyers wants to offer Goodling a babysitting job. ‘Cause John Conyers loves making lawyers babysit his children. He thinks the kids absorb legal knowledge by osmosis. And he’s heard about Goodling’s legendary brownies!)
Meanwhile, over at the WSJ Law Blog, Peter Lattman gets in a cheap double entendre at Monica’s expense:
Monica Goodling Congressional Democrats to Goodling Unzip It Monica M Goodling Above the Law blog.jpg
Are we this poor woman’s only defenders?
Democrats Seek to Interview Gonzales Aide [New York Times]
Congressional Democrats to Goodling: Unzip It! [WSJ Law Blog]
Earlier: Prior ATL coverage of Monica Goodling (scroll down)

Kiwi Camara KAD Camara Above the Law blog.jpgYesterday we issued a request for information about what really happened between controversial legal scholar Kiwi Camara and George Mason University School of Law. GMU was on the verge of hiring Camara, until something weird happened.
Today one of you emailed us the video clip below, and asked: “Could it be because of this video?”
Seriously, we’re pretty sure this video — a promotional spot for the debate team Camara coaches, and NOT a homemade sex video — had no impact upon Camara’s job search. But it’s still weirdly amusing. And we don’t think that Camara, of all people, should be caught on camera saying “Yo whassup!” in an accent reminiscent of the “jive talk” scene from Airplane.






From the description of the clip on Google Video: “Kiwi Camara, Mountain View/Los Altos Debate squad coach acts a little weird…”                

Kiwi Camara Acts A Little Weird [Google Video]
Earlier: Kiwi Camara and GMU Law: What Happened Here?

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