Crime

One thing I remember best from law school. Professor Ron Delisle said, “Justice must not only be done, but must also be seen to be done.” It’s a bit of an unwieldy sentence, but it encompasses some of the most important concepts in a free society.

Like rule of law. No one is above the law.

Like transparency and independence within our justice system. Our trials are, for the most part, held in open court. We have appellate courts to review the work of judges below them. The Prime Minister can’t tell even the lowest judge how to rule on a case.

Like freedom of the press, which provides oversight and an independent voice to challenge those in power who abuse the system.

The system isn’t perfect, but it works pretty darn well most of the time.

Let me ask, how does a country built around those lofty concepts allow lawyers to regulate lawyers?

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It’s officially fall, and beyond the brisk temperatures and ubiquitous pumpkin spice lattes, that means there’s a new crop of television shows all vying for our attention. This season there seems to be a higher rate of shows that use the law or lawyers as a backdrop for the drama, but few have received as much attention (and as many positive reviews) as the Shonda Rhimes/Viola Davis joint effort, “How To Get Away With Murder.” And it makes sense; ABC has pretty much gone all in on Shonda Rhimes as their personal lord and saviour, and the talented Viola Davis has joined the flock of film actresses who’ve decided the best roles are now on the small screen.

But until now I’ve resisted the the urge to watch. I mean, the show is loosely (very, very loosely) based on attending Penn Law and now that it’s over, who really wants to revisit law school? However, when bad weather and a lingering cold conspire to keep me at home all weekend, the siren call of the On Demand listing just proved too much for me to resist…

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Teresa Giudice

For a moment, I thought about probation. For a moment. I need to send a message that it isn’t who you are, how famous you are. If you do something wrong, there will be consequences to pay. Confinement is absolutely necessary in this case.

– Judge Esther Salas of the District of New Jersey, speaking during Real Housewives of New Jersey star Teresa Giudice’s sentencing yesterday afternoon. Giudice was sentenced to serve 15 months in prison, and her husband, Joe Giudice, was sentenced to serve 41 months in prison.


Justice Antonin Scalia

* Justice Scalia spoke at CU-Boulder last night. For his sake, we certainly hope he didn’t speak about any issues that might someday appear before SCOTUS, lest he be asked to recuse. [Boulder Daily Camera via How Appealing]

* Another one bites the dust over at Main Justice: David O’Neil, the head of the criminal division, is stepping down in the wake of the BNP Paribas case, and will likely have many white-shoe law firm suitors. [DealBook / New York Times]

* Fox Rothschild picked up a 18-lawyer boutique firm in Texas, which will serve as the home of its first outpost in the Lone Star State. Energy law, surprisingly, wasn’t the driving factor. [Legal Intelligencer]

* “I have a heart and I have two kids.” That’s a pretty damn good reason for Biglaw attorneys to take a break from their corporate billable hours to represent undocumented children pro bono. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Scott Greenfield reviews Lat’s forthcoming novel, Supreme Ambitions (affiliate link). Of course, in SHG style, it contains a spoiler. Try to skip that clearly marked paragraph. [Simple Justice]

Mike Sorrentino

* Per the First Circuit, plaintiffs who successfully challenge the Defense of Marriage Act in court aren’t entitled to attorneys’ fees. The Department of Justice had no comment. [National Law Journal]

* Florida Coastal Law finished second-to-last in bar passage for the July 2014 exam, with 58% of grads passing. It was one of Florida Coastal’s worst performances to date. [Florida Times-Union]

* ASU Law got a $10M donation, its largest ever. “The remarkable thing about it is we didn’t ask him for it,” says the dean, which is a slightly better response than Drexel’s dean had. [The Republic]

* Much to his defense team’s chagrin, accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s trial will remain in Boston. The media spectacle is set to begin in January 2015. [New York Times]

* Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino of Jersey Shore fame was indicted on tax fraud charges to the tune of $8.9M. He pleaded not guilty yesterday afternoon. There aren’t tanning beds in jail. :( [Asbury Park Press]

Insider trading tastes delicious!

* Politics and Biglaw just don’t mix: House Republicans hired Quinn Emanuel to handle their suit against President Barack Obama after Baker Hostetler withdrew from the representation due to “political pressure” the firm was facing. [Politico]

* The paper and napkin-eating “Middleman” in the post-it note insider trading ring pleaded guilty to securities fraud charges. This might make it difficult for his cohorts to substantiate their not-guilty pleas. [DealBook / New York Times]

* “This is a tale with no shortage of knaves or villains.” If you’re interested in learning about Chevron’s legal wranglings in Ecuador and with plaintiffs attorney Steven Donziger, there are a bunch of interesting new readings for you to peruse. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Crisis in legal education be damned! They may have bad timing, but these law schools are focusing on building bigger and better facilities for students they’re unable to put in their seats. [National Law Journal]

* Ohio law schools have taken a bruising in terms of decreased enrollment, but the University of Toledo has faced the worst of it. With a 25.9% reduction in 1Ls, tuition cuts can only do so much. [Toledo Blade]

There’s a new sheriff in town, and it’s corporate America.

Companies face pressure to make sure their market competitors aren’t getting a jump on them. And, in an effort to do that, some large companies have noticed that if they can get the United States Department of Justice to help, they have a big advantage.

Take, for example, this new blog about black market cigarettes. I heard a radio interview with the guy who writes it — Richard Marianos. He seems very passionate about the problems of black market cigarettes being trafficked on Interstate 95. His blog argues that I-95 is the new tobacco road.

(The old tobacco road, apparently, was Interstate 40 in North Carolina, which didn’t traffic in tobacco but, rather, collegiate sports, but, still, it’s a catchy name for a blog. Both tobacco roads seem to be separate from David Lee Roth’s understanding of the term.)

Marianos explained on the radio that black market cigarettes are a huge problem.

Often, he says, folks who traffic in cigarettes aren’t treated as seriously by judges as people who traffic, say, heroin, even though, when you think about it, they’re both drugs. (Though, of course, at the same time, an outhouse and the Louvre are both buildings, so I’m not sure how far that kind of reasoning goes.) Marianos is outraged that some cigarette traffickers only get probation.

He strongly suggested that black market cigarette sales are being used to fund terrorists.

Normally, when I hear the word “terrorist” I stop thinking and just hope the government throws money at combating whatever is being talked about. So, at first, I though black market cigarettes might be a very serious problem that the government needed to fund a response to.

Until I realized that a Marianos’s blog is another example of a disturbing development that I’ve been seeing in criminal intellectual property cases lately….

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Jodi Arias says, ‘You could own these!’

* If you want to know why Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s summer was “really not fun,” it’s because she spent it reading a book about Justice Antonin Scalia and a book written by Justice John Paul Stevens. [Washington Whispers / U.S. News & World Report]

* “There is less money to pay everybody.” Corporations are shifting more and more of their legal work to their in-house lawyers, and some law firms — especially smaller ones — are feeling the financial squeeze. [WSJ Law Blog]

* If you’ve wanted to know what federal judges discuss during their bathroom breaks, stop wondering, because it’s not that exciting. All they talk about is their “stupid little trials,” and get overheard by jurors and forced into disclosures. [New York Daily News]

* Dewey know why the former leaders of this failed firm want their criminal indictment dismissed? It’s because the case is allegedly based on a “flagrant misunderstanding of the law.” [New York Law Journal]

* If you want to own a “piece of history,” Jodi Arias is auctioning off the glasses she wore during the first phase of her murder trial. She intends to donate the proceeds of the sale to (her own?) charity. [Daily Mail]

Joe Freeman Britt won’t forgive murder. Or, apparently, people who DON’T commit murder.

Well, let’s say, if I was a bully, he is a pussy. How about that? I think Johnson Britt has been hanging around too much with the wine and cheese crowd.

– Former District Attorney Joe Freeman Britt, discussing his successor (and relative), current DA Johnson Britt, because the younger Britt had the audacity to support releasing men that Britt the Elder prosecuted for rape and murder just because the DNA evidence exonerated them. Britt the Younger blames his predecessor’s bullying and browbeating style for hindering the search for truth, such as ignoring the serial rapist living 100 yards from the crime scene. Joe Britt has no time for such cream puff notions. Will Justice Scalia follow Joe Britt’s lead?

* Here’s the international sign for “don’t urinate in public.” Glad to know we needed a sign for this. [National Review]

* An illegal hostile work environment is created when coworkers wear confederate flag T-shirts. Because… obviously it is. Professor Volokh thinks this is unconstitutional. Apparently a document drafted by white slaveholders is set up to protect “broadcasting to black people that they should still be enslaved.” Because… obviously it is. [Volokh Conspiracy / Washington Post]

* Police accidentally killed a crew member for the TV show “Cops” while foiling a robbery. That’s just shocking… the fact that “Cops” is still on the air. [Associated Press via ABC News]

* Practice pointer: Get in the practice of writing non-clients to tell them that they are not, in fact, your clients. People can be crazy stalkers out there and you need to protect your practice. [What About Clients]

* Scheduling trials is like playing musical chairs. Except no matter when the music stops someone’s probably getting screwed. [Katz Justice]

* It turns out that lawyers have a hard time talking to clients about overdue bills. As a lawyer who has literally had state troopers impound a client’s private jet, I don’t understand this. But here are the results of a comprehensive survey on the subject. [Lexis-Nexis]

* If you’re interested in how the “justice gap” functions overseas, here’s a report from the Legal Services Board in the UK. [Red Brick Solutions]

* A Texas man, David Barajas, was acquitted of shooting and killing a drunk driver who had killed the man’s sons. The defense argued that Barajas didn’t kill the guy and that there was little physical evidence tying Barajas to the killing. Atlanta news (specifically WSB-TV) may not quite understand the whole “innocent until proven guilty” thing. Pic after the jump [via Twitter]:

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