Benchslaps

Judge Fullam is a very experienced and hard working jurist and he has devoted decades of service to the federal bench. Nothing we have said in this opinion should detract from that. However, neither this court, nor any other court, can tolerate a situation where a judge decides to follow his/her own custom and concepts of justice rather than the precedent of the applicable appellate court or the United States Supreme Court. Ours is a nation of laws, not judges.

– Chief Judge Theodore McKee (3d Cir.), benchslapping the 89-year-old Judge John Fullam (E.D. Pa.) through issuance of a writ of mandamus, in United States v. Higdon.

It’s not everyday you get porn, file sharing lawsuits, amateur motions to quash subpoenas, and a federal judge quoting Shakespeare’s King John, all wrapped up in a nice legal bundle of joy.

Here we go, from the beginning:

Chicago attorney John Steele, whose firm website is located at www.WeFightPiracy.com, represents CP Productions, the filmmakers behind — wait for it — Cowgirl Creampie. The movie was part of their website, www.chicasplace.com (obviously NSFW; I can’t believe I just looked that up in Starbucks).

On behalf of his client, Steele sued 300 people who allegedly downloaded and shared the movie via BitTorrent. No one actually knew, however, who these supposed downloaders were. The plaintiffs only had IP addresses — not names, phone numbers or mailing addresses.

Steele subpoenaed various Internet service providers to get the personal data. He spent months unsuccessfully trying to contact all of the defendants, who lived conveniently in a single Chicago apartment building all over the damn country….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Suing Hundreds of Anonymous People Will Not Make You Popular”

We add that the appellants’ brief is rambling, and would be more effective if compressed to 14,000 words.

– Judge Richard Posner, in a benchslap that denied appellants’ motion to file an oversized brief — and summarily affirmed the district court (full opinion here, via How Appealing).


Raj Rajaratnam

* The epic insider trading trial of Raj Rajaratnam got underway today. Bess Levin, of our sister site Dealbreaker, comes up with a (rather hilarious and bizarre) list of possible character witnesses for Raj. [Dealbreaker]

* Speaking of the Rajaratnam trial, who were those mystery men observing the proceedings in the courtroom? [Clusterstock]

* In other insider-trading news, a former Dewey & LeBoeuf associate, Todd Leslie Treadway, has been hit with civil insider-trading charges by the SEC. [National Law Journal via WSJ Law Blog]

* Talk about a benchslap: “Mr. Redlich continues to display an apparent disregard for the time and resources that this court must expend in interpreting his poorly-drafted pleadings and analyzing his sloppily-constructed and thinly-researched memoranda.” [Albany Times-Union]

* Four important lessons, for lawyers and technologists, that can be drawn from Michelangelo’s sculpting of The David. [Ben Kerschberg / Forbes]

* Musical chairs: Sean Patrick Maloney — former aide to Governor Paterson, Governor Spitzer, and President Clinton, and a former candidate for New York Attorney General — joins Orrick from Kirkland. [Orrick (press release)]

* Did you know that March is Women’s History Month? [In Custodia Legis]

* On a more festive note, Happy Mardi Gras! [Twitpic]

* Congratulations to Omar Ha-Redeye of Law Is Cool, winner of the 2010 Blawg Review of the Year. [Blawg Review]

[N]eedless to say, I have not read the nineteenth edition. I have dipped into it, much as one might dip one’s toes in a pail of freezing water. I am put in mind of Mr. Kurtz’s dying words in Heart of Darkness — ‘The horror! The horror!’ — and am tempted to end there.

— Judge Richard Posner, in a scathing Yale Law Journal review of The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation (19th ed.).

(For additional discussion and funny excerpts, see Paul Horwitz, Ilya Somin, and Eugene Volokh.)

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…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Before Thomas-Rassert Gets Tried a Third Time, Charles Nesson Receives ‘Instantaneous’ Benchslap.”

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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