Benchslaps

There’s no love lost between cops and guys in wheelchairs.

You know things are not going well for the police when a judge uses the citation “U.S. Const. amend. IV.” Not a case interpreting the Fourth Amendment, not a scholarly analysis of search and seizure law, just a straight-up shout-out to the plain text of the constitutional prohibition. It kind of tells you where the judge is going.

Today’s installment of “Why Can’t You Just Get A Warrant” comes out of the Montgomery County courthouse near Dayton, Ohio. According to the judge’s order granting a suppression motion, the police subdued a wheelchair-bound paraplegic and searched his home. And by “subdued,” I of course mean: tackled a man in a wheelchair, handcuffed him, then pretended to be worried about the man’s grabbable area.

Fun times…

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Ed. note: This is the latest installment in a series of posts from the ATL Career Center’s team of expert contributors. Today, from Ross Guberman, a look at lawyers’ ethical breaches and their consequences.

Quick: List all the ways you can get into ethical hot water while writing a brief, and then list all the things judges can do to you in return.

Sometimes lawyers go too far, but do judges ever overreact?

I interviewed Judy Fischer, author of Pleasing the Court (affiliate link), on wayward lawyers and the angry judges who penalize them:

In your short and fascinating book, we meet all sorts of wayward attorneys who are in some way punished by courts for something they’ve done in a brief. One attorney called the members of an administrative board “monkeys” and compared their pronouncements to the “grunts and groans of an ape.” Another attorney neglected to mention an unfavorable case even though he himself was counsel in that case. Yet another referred to opposing counsel as “Nazis and redneck pepper-woods.” And various other attorneys drafted a proposed order with a first sentence that’s nearly four pages long, filed a complaint that the court called a “hideous sprawling mess,” cited a dissent as controlling authority, or copied another lawyer’s brief.

When you compare all these alleged ethical breaches with the penalties they provoked, what are a few of the behaviors that seem to irk judges most?

Read more at the ATL Career Center….

Congrats to Judge Edith Jones, one of my favorite judicial divas, for making the list of best benchslaps.

* Professor Josh Blackman has a Christmas gift for you: “The 8 Best Benchslaps of 2012.” See if you can guess who wins the award for lifetime achievement. [Josh Blackman's Blog]

* Speaking of unorthodox law school classes, how would you like to take a course on “Understanding Obama”? [Althouse]

* And speaking of the Instagram controversy, what might happen if the intellectual property issues wind up in the courts? [Associate's Mind]

* The deadline for our holiday card competition has passed; our write-up of the finalists will appear shortly. While you wait, check out this cute non-electronic law firm holiday card. [Ross Fishman]

* Time is running out! We’d love your votes in the ABA Journal’s Blawg 100 (under “News/Analysis”). [ABA Journal]

If you are not a fan of Westboro Baptist Church, check out Anonymous’s declaration of cyber-war against them….

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Don’t be fooled by her smile; Justice Kagan knows how to benchslap.

Don’t be fooled by her smile; Justice Kagan knows how to benchslap.

* Kagan, J., benchslapping. [Josh Blackman's Blog]

* I think I’d get this if I understood gymnastics. [Associate's Mind]

* Some people think IBR is pointless, but if you disagree, check out this petition. [We the People: Your Voice in Government]

* Partner readers, check out this new podcast (featuring law firm consultant Ed Wesemann and yours truly). [Attorney Search Group]

* Our annual Law Revue Video Contest is still a few months away, but if you like making legally themed videos, keep an eye on this contest (more details forthcoming, including info on the prizes). [Federal Bar Association]

* Speaking of contests, we welcome your votes in the ABA Journal’s Blawg 100 (under “News/Analysis”). [ABA Journal]

* And speaking of Above the Law, the deadline for applying for our writer/editor position and our internship is tomorrow — so act now if interested! [Above the Law]

Quit crying, you baby.

If there were such a thing as the perfect benchslap, this would probably be it. It comes from the great state of Texas, where federal judges are prone to calling attorneys stupid attention whores, where invitations to “kindergarten parties” are issued to lawyers who can’t be civil with their adversaries, and where judges order each other to “shut up” in open court.

And now, for your viewing pleasure, we present this gem….

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To be honest, I don’t know if this is a Formula 1 car or an Indy car. Now ask me if I care.

* Judicial benchslap catfight over administrative orders. Man, I didn’t think I could make the word “catfight” sound so unsexy, but there you go. [The Chief Jester]

* Is it a federal crime to read Above the Law at work? If so, download the app. [Workplace Law Prof Blog]

* Speaking of apps, te “App from Hell” would be more interesting if it were actually an app. But hiring Professor Dan Solove to teach your colleagues about privacy is still a good idea. [Teach Privacy]

* A dean of the University of Ottawa Law School wrote an op-ed defending Canadian law schools (which aren’t even as bad as U.S. law schools). Remember when deans didn’t have to defend law schools because there were “jobs” for “new attorneys”? [Canadian Lawyer]

* Here’s an article about Formula 1 racing that you don’t need Google translator to read. [Dealbook]

* Bonus podcast! I mean, Lat did a podcast with the ABA Journal about bonuses, not that there’s a podcast you can listen to in order to get a bonus. [ABA Journal]

* Bonus Lat! I mean, here’s a story about David Lat and the changing coverage of law firms and the legal profession. [Details]

Bryan Garner

How old is “bench slap”? Should I put it in Black’s Law Dictionary? How would you define it?

– Legal writing guru Bryan Garner, editor of Black’s Law Dictionary and co-author (with Justice Scalia) of Reading Law (affiliate links), asking on Twitter about a possible addition to Black’s.

(Information about the origins of “benchslap,” after the jump.)

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Tweet of the Day: Ask Your Co-Author, Justice Scalia; He’s an Expert on Benchslaps!”

* Chief Justice John Roberts gave a Solicitor General’s Office attorney a vicious tongue-lashing for failure to be upfront about policy changes between presidents. Now that’s what we’d call a verbal benchslap! [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

* When asked if they’d be following Cravath’s bonuses, a dozen Am Law 100 firms didn’t even care to respond or discuss the matter. It seems the partners would rather keep their associates squirming with suspense a while longer. [Am Law Daily]

* Watch out, world, because Catholic University of America just hired a Biglaw senior partner to lead its law school. Say hello to Dean Daniel Attridge, formerly managing partner at the D.C. office of Kirkland & Ellis. [National Law Journal]

* A federal judge ordered tobacco companies to disclose in product warnings that they chemically induce smoking addictions to turn a profit, but those fools will keep puffing their cancer sticks anyway. [WSJ Law Blog]

* This just in from Flori-duh: you know you’re probably going to have a bad day in court when the judge won’t declare a mistrial even though the prosecutor technically wasn’t a member of the state Bar. [Miami Herald]

Federal judges don’t always tell lawyers that their writing is crap, but when they do, they’ll do it in a publicly filed court order. Because while judges have got many a tool in their benchslapping arsenal, a public shaming is perhaps the most useful of them all.

Today’s instance of public shaming comes to us courtesy of Judge Steven Merryday (M.D. Fla.), the same fellow who denied a motion to suspend trial in a death penalty case from an attorney who wanted to participate in an Ernest Hemingway look-alike contest.

Let’s jump right in and see what happened, because this judge had a field day with redlining….

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Chancellor Leo E. Strine Jr.

We remind Delaware judges that the obligation to write judicial opinions on the issues presented is not a license to use those opinions as a platform from which to propagate their individual world views on issues not presented. …

To the extent Delaware judges wish to stray beyond those issues and, without making any definitive pronouncements, ruminate on what the proper direction of Delaware law should be, there are appropriate platforms, such as law review articles, the classroom, continuing legal education presentations, and keynote speeches.

– The Delaware Supreme Court, in an en banc decision, stepping away from the case at hand in Gatz Properties v. Auriga Capital to comment on Delaware Court of Chancery Chancellor Leo E. Strine’s tendency to make rather colorful comments and observations in his opinions.

(Continue reading for one of Chancellor Strine’s most recent greatest hits, which came in the form of an awesome courtroom digression.)

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