The guy in today’s story didn’t dress up like Gumby, but it’s still an amazingly stupid disguise.

* Man tried to rob a convenience store so he could go back to prison. And he almost screwed that up… [KMOV]

* The CIA’s former lawyer explains how torture came to be a go-to national policy. According to John Rizzo, author of the forthcoming Company Man (affiliate link), George W. Bush basically had no conception of what was going on, which makes a lot of sense anyway. [The New Yorker]

* Brooklyn Law’s Dean Nick Allard makes predictions for law schools in 2014. “[P]eople will look back at 2014 and say it marked the start of the new world of law: a renaissance where the respect and reputation of lawyers and law schools began to rise by measurable benchmarks.” Go ahead and laugh, I’ll wait. [TaxProf Blog]

* Paul, Weiss picks up tax partner Scott Sontag from Weil Gotshal. (Congrats to both firms, by the way, on tying for the #9 spot in our list of top-ranked law firms for 2013.) [Paul, Weiss]

* Nooooooooooooo! Judge Richard Kopf is ending his blog. [Hercules and the Umpire]

* And the hits keep on coming. Professor Kyle Graham is also leaving the blogosphere. [Non Curat Lex]

* The Ninth Circuit will start streaming all of its oral arguments next week. If you want to help them out, tune in. No promises that the panel will excoriate any prosecutors this time. [Ninth Circuit]

The only thing surprising about the revelation yesterday that the Justice Department seized the phone records of AP reporters, is that anyone still cared enough to express outrage.

In a world where both parties (with the implicit support of almost everyone in the country) gladly support the PATRIOT Act and sternly denounce intelligence leaks as the worst breach of security ever, how can anyone be shocked or dismayed that the Justice Department used its broad investigative powers in an effort to stop a leak?

Conservatives, liberals, and reporters alike have little room to seriously complain…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Why Is Anyone Outraged That the DOJ Spied on the Associated Press?”

Akhil Amar Professor Akhil Reed Amar Above the Law blog.jpg[Ed. note: As we recently mentioned, we're looking for someone to write Morning Docket, on an alternating-week schedule. To those of you who have already applied, thanks for your interest; we'll review the applications and pick a writer this weekend. If you'd like to apply, there's still time -- just follow the application instructions contained in this post (but please note that the gig now comes with pay -- a modest monthly stipend). Thanks.]
* It seems to get worse by the day. The CIA apparently destroyed interrogation tapes while a federal judge was still looking for information about the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah. [New York Times]
* So what exactly are the federal government’s policies on border searches? Two groups sue to find out. [Washington Post]
* We like funny legal ads. But state regulators are not amused. [Wall Street Journal via How Appealing]
* Kibbles ‘n bits ‘n indictments. Two Chinese companies and an American importer are indicted in connection with tainted pet food. [New York Times]
* Professor Akhil Amar (our former con law prof; pictured) will be nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court in the administration of… Mike Gravel! Amar: “I’m not quitting my day job.” [Yale Daily News via How Appealing]
* The latest legal woes of Dickie Scruggs and friends. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Gov. Romney wins Michigan. [CNN]
* Sen. Clinton faces challenge from “uncommitted.” [CNN]
* NV Supreme Court overturns decision allowing Rep. Kucinich to debate. [MSNBC]
* Criminal prosecutions of Blackwater security guards would not be easy. [New York Times]
* Did CIA lawyers and officials implicitly sign off on the destruction of interrogation tapes? [Washington Post]
* Austrian court rules animal rights group can’t have custody of chimp; appeal will be to the European Court of Human Rights. [AP]
* DOJ to investigate Tejada? [New York Times]
* Collected news coverage about yesterday’s Stoneridge decision. [How Appealing (linkwrap)]

* So, it’s gonna be illegal now, which means the CIA can’t do it, right? [Washington Post via How Appealing]
* New Jersey gets rid of the death penalty; now if they could just tackle that disgusting odor. [BBC]
* Prosecutors go 0-1-6 in Sears Tower trial. [CNN]
* Hey, look everybody! International law! They’ve got a court with judges and lawyers and stuff, and they even issue rulings! Just like it’s real! That’s cute. ICJ upholds treaty giving islands to Colombia. [Jurist]
* Hollywood writers take this strike thing up a notch. [AP via Reno Gazette-Journal]

Ok, that’s not exactly right. Technically, he’s not ok with torture, he just defines torture in a manner that allows him to be ok with stuff that most of us would call torture. Would you expect anything less of a CIA lawyer?
John Rizzo, acting GC for the CIA and Bush’s nominee for the permanent job, is facing opposition in the Senate because of his

decision to sign off on the controversial 2002 “Bybee Memo” in which the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) defined torture as physical pain equivalent in “in intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily functions, or even death.”

[Jurist, citations omitted]
Related: Bybee Memo [FindLaw via BBC (PDF)

Lewis Libby Scooter Libby I Lewis Scooter Libby Above the Law Blog.jpgEvery time we step away from our computer, big news breaks. Here’s a thread for discussion of the verdict in the Scooter Libby case.
We’ll update this post with comments and links as we read the coverage.
Okay, so here’s the Washington Post lede (which we like better than the NYT and AP ledes — it’s the most substantive and informative of the three):

A federal jury today convicted I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby of lying about his role in the leak of an undercover CIA officer’s identity, finding the vice president’s former chief of staff guilty of two counts of perjury, one count of making false statements and one count of obstruction of justice, while acquitting him of a single count of lying to the FBI.

It’s a big victory for special counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald (a proud graduate of Regis High School, which is also our alma mater). It’s a blow for Libby’s two talented defense lawyers: Theodore V. Wells Jr., of Paul Weiss, and William Jeffress Jr., of Baker Botts.
(Random digression: Ted Wells was at Lowenstein Sandler in New Jersey for many years, before he was wooed to the other side of the Hudson. Bill Jeffress was previously at the super-elite boutique of Miller Cassidy Larroca & Lewin, which was acquired by Baker Botts.)
During his closing argument, Ted Wells broke down in tears. Now he has real cause for crying.
His client must be even more sad. Per the Post:

Under federal sentencing guidlines, Libby faces a probable prison term of 1 1/2 to three years when he is sentenced by U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton June 5.

Update: As one of you notes, sentencing guru Doug Berman thinks Libby’s sentence could go much higher. See here.
Libby reacted to the verdict stoically. Again from the Post:

As the jury forewoman read each guilty count in a clear, solemn voice, Libby was impassive, remaining seated at the defense table, gazing straight ahead and displaying no visible emotion. His wife, Harriet Grant, sat in the front row with tears in her eyes and was was embraced by friends. Later she hugged each of Libby’s lawyers.

Personally we feel bad for Scooter Libby. Much of his defense rested upon claims of memory lapses, and we know all too well about memory problems. We blame our rapidly deteriorating memory upon blogging, which does strange things to one’s mental architecture, and excessive consumption of artificial sweeteners.
Libby Found Guilty in CIA Leak Case [Washington Post]
Libby Guilty of Lying in C.I.A. Leak Case [New York Times]
Libby Found Guilty in CIA Leak Trial [Associated Press]

William Rehnquist William H Rehnquist William Hubbs Rehnquist Chief Justice Above the Law.jpgWe’re reading Tony Mauro’s super-juicy article as fast as we can. Highlights and discussion will follow shortly.
Okay, we’re done. Here are some excerpts:

The late Chief Justice William Rehnquist’s Senate confirmation battles in 1971 and 1986 were more intense and political than previously known, according to a newly released FBI file that also offers dramatic new details about Rehnquist’s 1981 hospitalization and dependence on a painkiller….

In July 1986, when President Ronald Reagan nominated Rehnquist to be chief justice, the Justice Department asked the FBI to interview witnesses who were preparing to testify that Rehnquist had intimidated minority voters as a Republican Party official in Arizona in the early 1960s. According to a memo in the Rehnquist file, an unnamed FBI official cautioned that the department “should be sensitive to the possibility that Democrats could charge the Republicans of misusing the FBI and intimidating the Democrats’ witnesses.” But then-Assistant Attorney General John Bolton — who more recently served as ambassador to the United Nations — signed off on the request and said he would “accept responsibility should concerns be raised about the role of the FBI.” It is unclear whether the FBI ever interviewed the witnesses.

John Bolton? That guy is everywhere! Did he have the walrus moustache back then?
More discussion — including tales of Rehnquist’s “bizarre ideas and outrageous thoughts,” his paranoia that the CIA was out to get him, and his attempt to escape from a hospital while in pajamas — after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Breaking: Was Chief Justice Rehnquist Addicted to Painkillers?”

musical chairs 2 Above the Law legal blog above the law legal tabloid above the law legal gossip site.GIFNew Partners:
* Proskauer Rose: Fourteen new partners, three new senior counsel. Names here.
* Baker Botts: Eighteen (!) new partners. Names here.
* Wilson Sonsini: Thriteen new partners. Names here.
(Only two members of the class of 1998. How long is the WSGR partner track as a practical matter?)
At Risk:
* Some are speculating that William Haynes II, general counsel to the Department of Defense, will be replaced after CIA Director Robert Gates gets confirmed as Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s successor (as expected).
But with his Fourth Circuit nomination in limbo, where would Haynes go? The Legal Times suggests that he’ll end up with “a high-powered legal job at one of the nation’s top defense contractors,” which sounds likely to us.
* Anthony Lapham, counsel at Goodwin Procter and former general counsel to the CIA, at the age of 70, of a heart attack.
Proskauer Rose Promotes 17 Attorneys [Proskauer Rose LLP]
Baker Botts Announces New Partners for 2007 [Baker Botts LLP]
Firm Names 10 New NY Partners []
Firm Raises 13 to Partnership []
Will the Pentagon’s Top Lawyer Follow Rumsfeld Out the Door? []
Law Blog Obituary: Goodwin Procter’s Anthony Lapham [WSJ Law Blog]
Anthony A. Lapham, 70, Former C.I.A. Lawyer, Dies [New York Times]

* When committing a robbery, try not to target a master of illusion. [CNN]
* Another legal show goes the way of “The Law Firm.” [CNN]
* Dahlia Lithwick begins this article, “Chief Justice John Roberts is the Dr. McDreamy of the federal bench.” [Slate]
* Dismissal sought in the CIA leak case. [AP]
* Justice Kennedy, the likely swing vote in Monday’s decision in Ayers v. Belmontes, also holds the critical vote in deciding the constitutionality of the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act. Here’s some interesting commentary on last week’s oral arguments. [SCOTUSblog]

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