Ed. note: We apologize for getting such a late start today, but we were experiencing some technical difficulties. Thanks for being patient with us.
* Barack Obama made some bold statements about marriage equality in his inaugural address, but the jury is still out — literally — on whether he thinks laws banning same-sex couples from marrying are constitutional. [BuzzFeed]
* You can smoke pot for sh*ts and giggles in several states, but the D.C. Circuit is siding with the DEA on this one. Marijuana is still classified as a Schedule I drug in the eyes of the (federal) law. [National Law Journal]
* With claims of prejudicial evidence, Rajat Gupta is trying to get his insider trading conviction overturned. We’ll wait for more on this story from note passer field correspondent, Benula Bensam. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]
* “Why are all high school teachers freaks in the sacks?” Sarah Jones, the cheerleader-cum-sexy teacher, cried over phrases like that yesterday during testimony in her defamation case against The Dirty. [ESPN]
* George W. Huguely V, the UVA lacrosse bro who was convicted of killing his sometimes girlfriend, has got one hell of an appellate lawyer. Perhaps famous litigator Paul Clement is a friend of the family. [Bloomberg]
* “The bottom line is … I’m the 800-pound-gorilla that you want to settle with.” By the way, if you weren’t sure, Howrey’s trustee Allan Diamond wasn’t kidding about suing the firm’s former partners. “Either we’re going to cut deals, or I’m suing you.” [Am Law Daily]
* It takes two to do the partnership tango: in the expansion of its Financial Institutions Group, Goodwin Procter picked up Brynn Peltz, an attorney with more than 20 years’ experience, and an ex-partner at Latham and Clifford Chance. [Fort Mill Times]
* Hello, predictive coding! Goodbye, jobs! Not only can computers do the work of lawyers on the cheap, but they can do it more intelligently, too. Get ready to welcome our new digital overlords. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]
* Another day, another op-ed article about the law school crisis in the pages of the New York Times. But at least this one is about something most can support: changing the third year of law school. [New York Times]
* As it turns out, with 82 applications for the program’s first five spots, there’s actually a demand for Yale Law’s Ph.D. in Law. So much for this being “[t]he worst idea in the history of legal education.” [National Law Journal]
* Linebacker Jonathan Vilma’s defamation suit against NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in connection with Bountygate was dismissed. Wonder when Goodell will suspend Vilma for thinking he could win. [Bloomberg]
* Dewey know how much money this failed firm has run up on its tab for legal advisers since May? It’s quite the pretty penny — $14.8 million — and that amount actually includes some pretty ridiculous fees and charges, like $21,843 for photocopies. [Am Law Daily]
* Everyone’s glad that we didn’t nosedive over the fiscal cliff, but the people who are the most excited about it seem to be Biglaw partners. This wasn’t the best bill, and more uncertainty means more work, which means more money. [National Law Journal]
* It looks like we’re never going to find out what the Justice Department’s legal justification was for the targeted killing of Anwar al-Awlaki, because a federal judge upheld the validity of its secret memo. [New York Times]
* Everyone flipped out over Instagram’s money filter, but they’re keeping relatively quiet about this mandatory arbitration provision. Quick, post some pseudo-legalese on your Facebook wall. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]
* Good news, everyone! Thanks to this ruling, in Virginia, you can be as nasty and negative as you want to be on Yelp without fear that your voice will be censored… kind of like the Above the Law comments. [All Things D]
As a law blog, we write about beauty queens far more than you’d expect, but that’s only because so many of them have gone to law school (DaNae Couch, Texas Tech law student recently crowned as Miss Texas; Adrielle Churchill, Arkansas law student crowned as Miss Arkansas in 2010), enrolled in LL.M. programs (Vasuki Sunkavalli, crowned as Miss India in 2011), or gotten themselves into some serious legal hot water (like Kumari Fulbright, Arizona law student and convicted felon).
Today, we bring you the story of Sheena Monnin, the former holder of the Miss Pennsylvania title. Monnin never went to law school, but she recently had the (dis)pleasure of being schooled in the law by none other than Donald Trump after making some scandalous remarks about the Miss USA pageant on her Facebook page (e.g., that the competition was “fraudulent” and “trashy”). Monnin’s no Miss Congeniality, that’s for sure.
As can be expected, this Janice Dickinson look-alike knew that she wasn’t going to have a very merry Christmas when she found out that she owed The Donald $5 million….
* Munger Tolles & Olson recently announced a new partnership class, 75 percent of which is composed of women. Let’s hear three cheers for diversity in the practice of law! Oh, and uh… congratulations to the lone white guy, too. [The Careerist]
* Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition: in an opinion penned by Judge Richard Posner, a divided three-judge panel of the Seventh Circuit struck down an Illinois law banning the concealed carrying of loaded weapons outside the home. [Bloomberg]
* Holy crap! Law students asked for change, and the Arizona Supreme court is giving them exactly what they wanted, which is impressive. 3Ls will now be able to sit for the February bar exam. [National Law Journal]
* And speaking of Arizona, the Phoenix City Council and state Board of Regents have approved ASU Law’s plans to move its campus, and the city even threw in $12M to sweeten the deal. [Phoenix Business Journal]
* Remember the defamation suit Cooley Law filed against a former student who anonymously criticized the school on his blog? His lawyer will defend his anonymity today in court. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]
* Nevermind the fact that he’s a “person of interest” in a homicide case, because a Guatemalan judge ordered that antivirus mogul John McAfee should be released due to his illegal detention. [Los Angeles Times]
* “Did the imperative use of the F-bomb … threaten judicial authority?” Wow, seriously? This is perhaps the most entertaining question presented for review in a Supreme Court certiorari petition in the history of man. [National Law Journal]
* Boy, Dewey have some expensive paintings for you to buy! This failed firm’s art collection will be hitting the auction block in February, and the entire LeBoeuf lot is supposedly worth $2.3M, but most pieces are pretty damn ugly. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]
* Your employers really don’t want pictures of your office holiday party antics going viral online (but we do). Here are some of the many ways they’ll try to keep you from becoming internet famous. [Corporate Counsel]
* George Zimmerman, the man accused of killing Trayvon Martin, is suing NBCUniversal, alleging that the network and Today show reporters committed serious “journalistic crimes.” [Media Decoder / New York Times]
First amongst weird creation myths is that of the Mbombo god, who is said to have vomited up pretty much all of our world. Similarly, the story of how this website has been… thrown up is worthy of retelling. At its essence, it goes like this: A boy blogs about very sober legal issues in an incredibly earnest way and then the governor of New Jersey tells him to start Above the Law, The End. I may have missed some crucial details and got others flat-out wrong, but I think the kernel of truth is still in there somewhere.
At any rate, that boy was working for the United States Attorney’s office in Newark at the time. Doing anything on the internet, even if it was super-serious and incredibly sincere, could be considered controversial because of the position. The lawyers tasked with working in such a high-profile prosecutorial role must be seen as impartial, lest the cases they take on get tainted by their online presence.
Which is what makes it all the more surprising that history is repeating itself down in New Orleans, where two assistant United States attorneys have become embroiled in scandal after being caught commenting on not just the law in general (like our own dear leader), but the specific cases that came through their office.
It’s almost as if the New Orleans U.S. Attorney’s office is trying to outdo David Lat in some way. Which, I mean, trick please…
* A Las Vegas family court judge has been charged with conspiracy, fraud, and money laundering, for allegedly devising and participating in a $3 million investment fraud scheme. So much for that whole “lest you be judged” thing. [8 News Now]
At least Casey Anthony knows her new venue motion is laughable.
* Hurricane Sandy is set to arrive today, so batten down the hatches, folks! Everything’s closing down for the storm, but please feel free to email us, if your law school or law firm is encouraging you to work. [Washington Post]
* Thanks to the SCOTUS decision in Citizens United, companies can now recommend how their employees should vote, which is “no different from telling your children: ‘Eat your spinach. It’s good for you.’” [New York Times]
* Biglaw firms are re-negotiating their office space leases in an effort to save money. While some firms have already sealed their new real estate deals, others are still on the prowl — but which ones? [Am Law Daily]
* The University of St. Thomas School of Law has a new dean, and it certainly seems like he’s willing to make some waves to help his students. The first step for Robert Vischer? Reducing tuition. [National Law Journal]
* “I don’t think her popularity has improved since the [murder] verdict.” That’s probably why Casey Anthony’s lawyers are desperately trying to get a new venue for Zenaida Gonzalez’s defamation case. [Orlando Sentinel]
* A man divorced his formerly fugly wife (she had $100K in plastic surgery to correct her looks), sued her for luring him into marriage her under false pretenses, and won. Don’t worry, girls, this happened in China. [FOX]
A prominent Manhattan lawyer is suing his own daughter. For libel. Because she allegedly harmed his reputation. By seeking an accounting of her trust fund. Which he set up for her and reportedly administers. Got that?
Yes, Dad v. Daughter. How could something this messed-up not be our Lawsuit of the Day? Especially given the claimed size of the trust fund, stocked with such goodies as Hamptons real estate?
It’s hard to get one’s head around these allegations, but the litigation is for real. Let’s take a look at the competing claims. And how much the trust fund was supposedly worth at one point — we’re talking seven figures here….
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The holiday season is upon us, and yet again, you have no idea what to get for the fickle lawyer in your life. We’re here to help. Even if your bonus check hasn’t arrived yet, any one of the gifts we’ve highlighted here could be a worthy substitute until your employer decides to make it rain.
We’ve got an eclectic selection for you to choose from, so settle in by that stack of documents yet to be reviewed and dig in…
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