Benchslaps

The record in such cases, although voluminous, often fails to precisely reflect the relationships between the parties and to include the documents (particularly with respect to who owns the loan) that are necessary to evaluate the claims. Such failures are a disservice to both the parties and the court, and, in other circumstances, may undermine a party’s claim or defense. Were I forced to delve fully into the merits of this case, I am not certain that it would be possible to put Humpty Dumpty back together again.

— Chief Judge Joseph Goodwin (S.D.W.Va.), writing about recent cases involving the home loan industry, in Delebreau v. Bayview Loan Servicing, LLC.

Here’s the Ninth Circuit’s certification order, available on the court’s Perry v. Schwarzenegger portal page, and here’s a quick write-up, from Bay City News. Essentially the Ninth Circuit wants the California Supreme Court to decide whether the official proponents of Proposition 8, California’s ban on gay marriage, have standing to defend the initiative’s constitutionality in court, since the public officials who would normally defend it have declined to do so.

In his concurrence to the certification order and per curiam opinion, liberal lion Stephen Reinhardt had catty comments about the litigation skills and strategy of David Boies, Ted Olson, and their colleagues at Boies Schiller and Gibson Dunn….

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Professor Charlie Nesson

Tomorrow, Jammie Thomas-Rasset goes to trial for a third time over her illegal downloads of 24 songs. As we’ve reported before, the music industry is determined to make an example of her, and tomorrow they’ll be fighting over damages the Thomas-Rasset should pay for stealing things valued at $1 on iTunes.

But what should and will happen to Jammie Thomas-Rasset is a substantive discussion for another day. Right now, I want somebody to tell me who holds the Guinness Book of World Records mark for quickest benchslap. Because District Judge Michael Davis just knocked around Harvard Law professor Charlie Nesson so quickly you wonder if the clerk pulled a hamstring trying to get everything filed in the correct chronological order…

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We don’t usually have a lot of time to scour minute orders from the Orange County Superior Court.

But our readers do, and we rely on you guys to bring us the excellent news nobody knows about. Today, a loyal reader sent us some rulings from the Orange County last month. And one ruling caught our eye. We’re going to reprint it below, but scroll to the bottom of page 1 of this document if you want to see it in the original.

But before you look, take a second and think about the etymology of the word “piecemeal.” Don’t Google, just think. Okay, now think about whether it would be appropriate to use the word as a verb.

Okay, now consider what the judge thinks (especially if you are a lawyer in Orange County)…

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It’s hard out here for an immigrant. Arizona has immigrants in the crosshairs, as we all know. Immigrants might also be unable to clerk for federal judges (or at least get paid for it).

And when they commit crimes and get sentenced, immigrants are sometimes subjected to snide remarks by judges. The Seventh Circuit recently vacated a sentence and remanded for resentencing by a different judge, after trial judge Rudolph Randa (E.D. Wis.) made some unfortunate comments in sentencing defendant Jose Figueroa. From the Seventh Circuit opinion, by the fabulous Judge Diane Wood:

During the hearing, the district court digressed to discuss Figueroa’s native Mexico, the immigration status of Figueroa and his sisters, and the conditions and laws in half a dozen other countries—not to mention unnecessary references to Hugo Chávez, Iranian terrorists, and Adolf Hitler’s dog.

Chávez, Iranian terrorists, and Hitler’s dog. Those are all § 3553(a) factors, right?

So how exactly did Judge Randa achieve the impressive feat of working all of these topics into a routine sentencing?

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Call it RICO not so suave. One of the nation’s biggest legal headhunting firms, Major, Lindsey & Africa, is withdrawing its RICO action against a former employee — after a federal judge offered a somewhat snarky assessment of the merits of MLA’s case.

As reported by Leigh Jones over at the National Law Journal, on Thursday attorneys for MLA submitted a notice of dismissal to Judge Colleen McMahon (S.D.N.Y.). The notice declared Major Lindsey’s intent to withdraw its claims against former Sharon Mahn, a former managing director at MLA, without prejudice, in order to bring such claims in arbitration and/or state court.

Perhaps MLA read the writing on the courtroom wall. The move to dismiss came after Judge McMahon ladled out some judicial sauce….

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Back in June, we bestowed Lawyer of the Day honors upon two of the nation’s top litigators: Ted Wells and Martin Flumenbaum, the co-chair and former chair, respectively, of the renowned litigation department at Paul Weiss. Given the sterling reputations of the two lawyers and their firm, it was a surprising development.

We recognized Messrs. Wells and Flumenbaum after a New Jersey judge sanctioned Paul Weiss and its co-counsel — Lowenstein Sandler, one of the Garden State’s leading law firms, and Wells’s former home (before he jumped across the Hudson) — for pursuing a “frivolous” and “ridiculous” legal claim on behalf of billionaire Ronald Perelman against his ex-father-in-law, Robert Cohen.

In June, Judge Ellen Koblitz ordered Paul Weiss and Lowenstein Sandler to pay Cohen’s fees and costs for opposing the claim; she scheduled a hearing to determine the amount. The hearing took place last month, and now we know the amount.

It’s nothing to sneeze at, even for firms as well-heeled as Paul Weiss and Lowenstein. And to add insult to (financial) injury, Judge Koblitz got super-snarky in the opinion setting forth her reasoning….

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I am not the Maytag repairman of federal judges desperately hoping for something to do.

– Nevada Magistrate Judge Peggy Leen, explaining why it took her so long to issue a scathing sanction [PDF] of defense counsel.

(Gavel bang: Las Vegas Review-Journal via ABA Journal.)

I don’t believe you when you say just about anything anymore because I know that you will lie to a court any time it helps you. I know that. I saw you do it. I know you will do that. You have proven that to me beyond a reasonable doubt.

– Chief Judge James Holderman (N.D. Ill.) of Chicago, berating government lawyers — before a unanimous panel of the Seventh Circuit removed him from the case, in the middle of trial. Judge Richard Posner’s opinion cited Judge Holderman’s abuse of discretion and “unreasonable fury toward the prosecutors.”

“The People’s Court” is not a court, body, agency, public servant or other person authorized by law to conduct a proceeding and to administer the oath or cause it to be administered… [T]he statements made on the show have no more probative force than the words of an actor reading from a script in a play.

–Brooklyn judge Francois A. Rivera, in an opinion dismissing testimony given in Judge Marilyn Milian’s courtroom.

(Gavel bang: Yale Law & Technology.)

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