Denny Chin

‘You just got trolled so hard, judge.’

Lawsuits and motions filed by serial litigants like Jonathan Lee Riches — the most famous one of them all — typically get passed around by the mainstream media for some laughs, and are then quietly dismissed by the judges unfortunate enough to be assigned the cases.

But this time around, a federal judge was apparently duped by a very peculiar motion that was supposedly submitted on behalf of the man he once sentenced to 150 years in prison. Of course, Judge Denny Chin of the Second Circuit must have thought it was odd that Bernard Madoff claimed “bio-electric sensors” and “voice-to-skull technology” were to blame for influencing the legal proceedings against him, but the good judge issued a real order in the case nonetheless.

What else did this wild motion say, and who was behind the filing?

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One of the interesting concepts in Professor Rosenbaum’s book (affiliate link) is that the law lacks a soul. The law lacks tenderness. The law is objective and cold and inhumane. The law abhors emotion. I don’t think that’s true.

Every time I sentence a defendant, there is a lot of emotion. I think there is a lot of humanity in the law.

– Judge Denny Chin (2d Cir.), quoted in an interesting New York Times article focused on his sentencing practices (back when he was an S.D.N.Y. judge).

Remember that ironic message about the versatility of a law degree?

Now we bring you an ironic message about the value of a law degree….

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Legal Eagle Wedding Watch, like the rest of the nuptial media, is in a state of giddy anticipation over Chelsea Clinton’s upcoming wedding, scheduled for tomorrow in Rhinebeck, NY. We’ll be gobbling up all the juicy details as they leak out, just like the lucky guests will be devouring the vegan and gluten-free fare. Yum!

Chelsea’s big day is one of the social events of the season and is estimated to have up to a $2 million pricetag. This week’s featured weddings may not quite reach that stratospheric territory, but they do have lawyers out the wazoo (unfortunately, neither Chelsea nor her fiancé has a JD; her parents, of course, have two).

Our contestant couples:

1. Farah Peterson and Eugene Sokoloff

2. Julia Lipez and Nolan Reichl

3. Lauren Sasser and Scott McCulloch

Read on for details on these fabulous newlyweds.

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Judge Jed Rakoff: A bank's nightmare?

Since Judge Denny Chin is moving on up to the Second Circuit, the S.D.N.Y. cases pending before him have to be redistributed. Lawyers for Bank of America, which has 15 civil shareholder lawsuits on Chin’s docket, sent the chief judge a letter requesting that the cases be reassigned using a lottery system. As we mentioned in Morning Docket, Cleary Gottlieb, Davis Polk, and Wachtell Lipton all signed the letter.

Why did they need to send this special letter? Because they were scared of B of A landing again in the lap of Judge Jed Rakoff, says the Wall Street Journal:

Judge Rakoff disappointed bank executives last year when he rejected a $30 million settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission, which had charged the bank with misleading shareholders about bonuses paid prior to the Merrill merger. The New York judge reluctantly approved a new $150 million agreement in February but called it “half-baked justice at best.”

One of the pending shareholder cases accuses the bank of failing to “disclose billions in Merrill losses before shareholders approved the deal in December 2008.”

Apparently, the lawyers debated whether or not to name Judge Rakoff in their letter, thus making it clear that he was the particular judge they hoped to avoid. They ultimately decided to name names.

They were successful in steering their cases clear of Rakoff, though the chief judge claims the letter wasn’t a factor in her decision to assign the cases to Judge Kevin Castel (aka the John Gotti judge). How did she decide?

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We have a special place in our hearts for Judge Denny Chin (S.D.N.Y.). Last year, we dressed up as Judge Chin for Halloween (see right). Alas, even though Judge Chin has presided over some major matters — such as the Bernie Madoff case, in which he gave the Ponzi schemer 150 years, and the Google Books settlement talks — we were still mistaken for Judge Lance Ito by several people.

But Judge Chin’s profile is about to increase. Earlier today, by a vote of 98-0, Judge Chin was elevated to the Second Circuit.

The Asian-American community is thrilled. From one Asian ATL reader: “He was confirmed! Amazing and historic!”

But there have been Asian-American federal judges before. And there may be again in the not-too-distant future, depending on what happens to the controversial nomination of Berkeley law professor Goodwin Liu.

What is history-making about Judge Chin’s elevation?

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(As well as Judge Vanaskie, and five new U.S. Attorneys.)

The benefits of approval are bounded only by the limits of human creativity and imagination.


Google, to Judge Denny Chin, in a brief before today’s hearing about Google’s class action settlement with authors and publishers over Google Book Search.

champagne glasses small.jpgAt the end of a wild week that included Blue Monday, terrible (or terrific) Tuesday, and corporate-overlord Thursday (sponsored by Justice Anthony Kennedy), we bring you an unusually strong January edition of LEWW.
It features six lawyers in a wide range of practices: public sector, teaching, Biglaw, nonprofit — even personal injury (or “accident law,” as they apparently call it these days). Here are the lucky finalists:

1. Batsheva From and Michael Altman
2. Abigail Gaunt and Gabriel Feldman
3. Erin Roeder and John Spader III

Read all about these lawyer newlyweds, after the jump.

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David Lat Judge Denny Chin.JPGWhat’s your Halloween costume this year? A slutty nurse? A creepy Notre Dame 1L? Or something far more scary — maybe Bob from Human Resources, the Grim Reaper who takes your Biglaw job away?

This year we decided to dress up as Judge Denny Chin (S.D.N.Y.), recently nominated by President Obama to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. If you’re a criminal, Judge Chin can be quite frightening — he sentenced Bernie Madoff to a whopping 150 years.

And where did we get the idea for our costume? ATL comments (see #2 and #17).

A slideshow of photos showing us in our Judge Chin costume, after the jump.

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Sonnenschein logo.jpg* Earlier this month, we reported that Sonnenschein had made cuts. Of the 30 let go, 10 were income partners. [National Law Journal]
* Republican Congressman Joe Wilson may be the most hated lawyer in the U.S. today after heckling President Obama during his healthcare reform speech. [CNN]
* The income gap is narrowing thanks in part to a fall in PPP. [Wall Street Journal (subscription) via ABA Journal]
* “I don’t have to do anything you say. I’m a law student.” [Wicked Local]
* Federal judge Denny Chin — known for sentencing Bernie Madoff to 150 years, having a theatrical flair, and clocking some decent marathon times — will ascend to an appellate judgeship in New York. [New York Times]

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