Benchslaps

The court will not countenance the gross overreaching evidenced under the facts and circumstances of this case in which the client is not even being billed for legal services. To move any court to put its imprimatur of approval on such practices is simply intolerable.

– Judge Frank Nervo, denying a Biglaw firm’s request for more than $126,000 in attorneys’ fees in a lawsuit over a $6,400 security deposit. Judge Nervo added that the firm spent “a grossly unnecessary amount of time” on simple tasks, including “research on the most basic and banal legal principles.”

(Which firm was on the receiving end of this benchslap? Find out after the jump, where we’ve posted the full opinion.)

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I join the Order and Judgment. I write separately for a collateral reason. After oral argument I was designated as author. Recently, because he was concerned with the delay in disposition, Judge Kelly reassigned the case and prepared the Order and Judgment. I am solely responsible for, and deeply regret, all delay in resolving this matter.

– Judge Terrence L. O’Brien of the Tenth Circuit, in an oldie but goodie from last year, issuing himself a benchslap for failing to keep on schedule.

(Maybe this is why Judge O’Brien has since taken senior status.)

If you’re interested in the whole opinion, it’s available after the jump…

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* The FBI announces that there will be no criminal charges over the “scandal” in which the IRS gave heightened scrutiny to conservative groups that planned to cynically game the law sought tax exemption for their entirely, in no way political activities. As another faux scandal bites the dust, here’s a good round up of butthurt right-wing editorials. [TaxProf Blog]

* SCOTUS Benchslaps! In a lengthy footnote in Daimler v. Bauman, Justice Ginsburg accuses Justice Sotomayor of misstating the record in the latter’s concurrence. In reading the competing interpretations, it seems as though Justice Sotomayor has the most fair reading, but then again the case is 62 years old, and Justice Ginsburg was probably there when it decided the first time. [Josh Blackman's Blog]

* Investment banks are seeing potential recruits running over to the tech industry. Law firms haven’t felt the same draw, mostly because you got a law degree because you suck at math and science. [Law and More]

* It’s about time Wile E. Coyote fought for his rights against Acme’s wanton disregard for customer safety. [Pentagram]

* An interview with Stephen Neal, the chairman of Cooley LLP, probing why Cooley is such a cool firm (evidenced by their #1 ranking in the ATL Insider Survey). [The Careerist]

* There’s a proposed law in Wisconsin designed to get dads out of child support payments. I know this may come as a shock, but it was written by a millionaire who doesn’t want to pay his court-ordered child support. [Jezebel]

* Well, we suggested the NFL concussion settlement was a bum deal the other day, and apparently Judge Anita Brody agrees, halting the deal. [Bleacher Report]


Judge Martha Craig Daughtrey: Sashay, shante!

[T]he role of the district judge is not to gloss over serious issues for the sake of preventing additional work for the court. Rather, in a criminal trial, the judge is entrusted with the responsibility of ensuring that the constitutional rights of the accused are safeguarded from the whims of public opinion, prejudice, and expediency.

– Judge Martha Craig Daughtrey, in an opinion reprimanding Judge David Dudley Dowd Jr. for failing to remove a juror whose comments gave “some indication that he could not decide the case fairly and impartially” (due to its unsettling subject matter, child pornography).

Earlier: Ouch! So What Does That Make Magistrate Judges?

* Downton Abbey has inspired a new bill making its way through the House of Lords, who apparently watched the show and figured out for the first time that women get screwed by the law of entail. Now if they can just pass a law that would keep Bates out of prison in the first place. [The Atlantic]

* Ben Adlin reminisces about the era when the Supreme Court actually cared about oral arguments. [Summary Judgments]

* An interesting infographic on where Superlawyers went to school. Finally a ranking where NYU can top Yale. [Online Paralegal Programs]

* Another installment of classic ads ruined by lawyers. [Vice]

* Fifth Circuit judges aren’t the only ones to tell their colleagues to shut up; here’s some fun news from the Philippines. [Manila Times]

* French cities have banned performances of a comedian with a history of racking up hate speech fines. I mean, since when has anti-Semitism been a problem in Europe? [Al Jazeera]

* If you think conservative arguments against the Affordable Care Act are dumb, check out liberal columnists arguing that Obama screwed up by not pushing for single-payer. [Lawyers, Guns & Money]

Megyn Kelly

* Watch out, Biglaw, the tax man is coming for you. If this bill goes through, it could put a hurting on partners’ pocketbooks at law firms with more than $10 million in gross receipts. [Blog of Legal Times]

* International firms are just discovering Africa, and are moving quickly to set up shops there. Before opening up your firm, take a quick lesson from DLA Piper: Africa is a continent, not a country. [Am Law Daily]

* Juan Monteverde, one of our Lawyer of the Year nominees, received a very public spanking from Chancellor Leo Strine of the Delaware Court of Chancery over outsized attorneys’ fees in a “dubious” shareholder suit. Ouch, that’s really gotta sting. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]

* Oh mon dieu, BU Law set up an exchange program between a law school and a foreign management school. Students might not get jobs out of it, but at least they’ll get to go to Paris. [National Law Journal]

* Politico has put together a fun little list of the ten journalists to watch in 2014, and a few lawyers made the cut, including Glenn Greenwald, Ronan Farrow, and Megyn Kelly. Congratulations, everyone! [Politico]

Remember the 80s? Big hair, Dynasty, Huey Lewis was popular for some reason. Well, Judge Jed Rakoff remembers the 80s, and he also remembers the way the federal government used to actually investigate and prosecute people who committed massive financial crimes — Mike Milken, Ivan Boesky, Charles Keating, a bevy of other savings and loans kingpins. Good times.

And Judge Rakoff wants to know what happened to prosecuting financial crimes, specifically the sort of fraud that crippled the economy. So he took to the pages of the New York Review of Books to ponder all the financial prosecutions that could have been. And he has some theories about what happened and how prosecutors could do a better job in the future.

It’s a fascinating look at a bunch of ideas that the government is going to totally ignore…

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Sometimes in life you face choices. When faced with a slight, you can either walk away or you can keep it real.

Take the case of this benchslap. The lawyer felt the judge was being unfair because an appearance was scheduled for the date of the office holiday party. He could have just sucked it up, but he decided to “keep it real.”

And like so many of the protagonists of the Dave Chappelle skit of the same name, it ends with an important lesson about what happens when keeping it real goes wrong….

(Please note the UPDATE added below.)

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Chief Judge Kozinski has been feisty with prosecutorial overreach lately. A couple months ago, he snarked his way through an en banc beatdown of a prosecutor who asserted facts not in the record to secure a conviction. He was no doubt hoping to give us an encore performance in a case out of Washington, but his colleagues denied the request for an en banc rehearing.

But that didn’t stop the inimitable jurist from penning a lengthy dissent from the decision leveling harsh criticism at the prosecutor for the “violence done to the Constitution.”

So is the Chief Judge just cranky or was there some real abuse here?

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Wipe that grin off your face, Sam.

I think the tongue-in-cheek answer would be that I was surprised because of how much [Justice Samuel Alito's] done in the way of supporting anti-discrimination laws over the years. But that would be just a facetious comment.

– Judge Harold Baer (S.D.N.Y.), responding to Justice Alito’s criticisms of the practice of encouraging law firms to staff class action suits with women and minority lawyers. Baer went on to sarcastically suggest that Alito lacked “either understanding or interest” in discrimination experienced by these groups.

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