Enron

HI-YA! CIVIL RIGHTS CHOP!

* Chief Justice John Roberts appointed Second Circuit Judge José A. Cabranes to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review. Roberts must be happy; few will criticize a moderate. [Washington Post]

* The Department of Justice plans to hire Leslie Caldwell, Morgan Lewis partner and ex-Enron prosecutor, to fill Lanny Breuer’s shoes. Way to leak the news while she’s on vacation. [DealBook / New York Times]

* Tell us again how sequestration isn’t having an impact on the judiciary. Private federal indigent defense attorneys are going to see their already modest rates slashed due to budget cuts. [National Law Journal]

* Sixteen lawyers will receive the New York Law Journal’s Lifetime Achievement Award, and a list like this obviously wouldn’t be complete without the names of some of Biglaw’s best and brightest. Congrats, Rodge! [New York Law Journal]

* Thomas D. Raffaele, the judge who was karate chopped in the throat by a police officer last summer, is now suing over his crushed larynx and similarly squashed constitutional rights. [Courthouse News Service]

* Future gunners, unite! If you’re set on becoming a lawyer, there are things you can do to prepare your law school application, even as a college freshman. [Law Admissions Lowdown / U.S. News & World Report]

* Here’s something to aspire to for the ongoing law school lawsuits: Career Education Corp., a system of for-profit colleges, will pay $10 million to settle a dispute over its inflated job statistics. [Wall Street Journal]

* Penn State University is starting to issue settlement offers to young men who claim they were sexually abused at the hands of Jerry Sandusky, the school’s former assistant football coach. [Legal Intelligencer]

Casey Anthony

* Right about now, the Second Circuit is wondering why authors are suing Google and crying infringement over the Internet company’s e-book project, especially since digitization could benefit so many of them. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

* This is the end of an era of legal battles: Jeffrey Skilling, Enron’s former chief executive officer, is getting a little shaved off the top of his 24-year prison sentence thanks to a deal with the Department of Justice. He’ll be out in 2017. [CNBC]

* Biglaw expected to have a slow start in 2013, but no one expected it to be this slow. The latest Citi report wasn’t exactly encouraging; on average, firms saw a 0.2% increase in revenue during the first quarter. [Am Law Daily]

* In the past decade, the American Bar Association has created six task forces to explore changing the face of legal education as we know it. Funny… nothing’s really changed. [National Law Journal]

* Bail for Ariel Castro, the accused Cleveland kidnapper, has been set at $8 million. “Just think of how many ribs and salsa albums could be bought with that, bro,” said Charles Ramsey. [Chicago Tribune]

* Casey Anthony had a bankruptcy hearing yesterday, but that news was overshadowed because everyone cared more about the girl who wasn’t going to get away with murder. [Orlando Sentinel]

It’s the end of October, and you know what that means: law school finals are lurking. As law students begin to hunker down and make sweet, sweet love to their outlines and flashcards, others are busy thinking up more clever ways to study the same materials.

Visual learners think that drawing pictures will help them cram especially boring law into their brains, but those in the auditory learning crowd know better. And that’s why one law student is writing rap songs about the most boring law of all, Sarbanes-Oxley….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Because Sometimes You Just Need to Rap About the Law”


John Taylor Skilling, the son of former Enron executive Jeff Skilling, was found dead in his apartment in California. The Associated Press says that a bottle of medication was found next to John Skilling, and they report that he had been distraught over a recent breakup with his girlfriend.

His father, Jeffrey Skilling, served as president of Enron. In 2006, Jeff Skilling was convicted after a jury trial of multiple charges arising out of Enron’s collapse, and was sentenced to 24 years in prison. He appealed to the Supreme Court, which vacated part of his conviction in a major ruling on the “honest services” fraud statute, and sent the case back for resentencing.

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financial crime.jpg

* Lawyers are winning in the long rivalry between lawyers and bankers. Endless financial fraud cases make lawyers look ethical. There is another fraud charge in Philadelphia against money manager Joseph Forte. [The Philadelphia Inquirer]

* The SEC is investigating Apple’s disclosures about CEO Steve Jobs’ health, to make sure the company did not mislead investors. [Bloomberg]

* The point man for Madoff’s investor Frank DiPascali will now be the go-to guy for prosecutors investigating the scheme. [The Wall Street Journal]

* Former Enron CEO Jeff Skilling asked the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Apeals to review his 19 convictions. [The Houston Chronicle]

* A Czech businessman settled a suit filed against him by hedge fund Omega advisors, after he alegedly bribed government officials in Azerbaijan, defrauding investors hundreds of millions. [The New York Times]

* In the aftermath of India’s Enron–the Satyam scandal, the Indian government will likely rescue Satyam’s workers from losing their jobs. [Time.com]

* SEC chairman Christopher Cox resigned in the wake of scrutiny of the SEC for failing to investigate allegations in the Madoff scandal. [The Associated Press]

Jose Padilla 2 Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpg* Jose Padilla gets 17 years. [New York Times; Washington Post]
* A merger between Anderson Kill and Reed Smith? Maybe not. But 55 of Anderson Kill’s 126 lawyers have decamped for Reed Smith. [WSJ Law Blog; WSJ Law Blog]
* Ted Frank on yesterday’s Enron cert denial: Extortion, interrupted? [New York Sun]
* China shuts down “real-time” porn site, as part of its crackdown on online porn. [Reuters]
* Law tie (however tenuous) to Heath Ledger story: “Nicole Vaughan, 24, a law student at New York University, was in a seminar about Jesus when someone sent her a message about Mr. Ledger. She checked the Web, then walked to the apartment ‘because of the way our generation is; we sort of feel we’re a part of each other’s lives.’” [New York Times]
* Apparently Bill Clinton enjoys the Yale Law / Harvard Law rivalry: “I kind of like to see Barack and Hillary fight.” [NYDN via Drudge]

* Fed cuts fed funds rate by 0.75%, but stocks are still lower. [AP; New York Times; Washington Post]
* Clinton and Obama get snippy with each other in debate, raising questions about each other’s legal work. [Washington Post; New York Times; WSJ Law Blog]
* SCOTUS denies review in gigantic Enron-related investors’ lawsuit. [SCOTUSblog via How Appealing]
* Statutory interpretation makes for strange bedfellows in 5-4 ruling in Ali v. Federal Bureau of Prisons. [SCOTUSblog (PDF) via How Appealing]
* New York City revisits the issue of forced disclosure of calorie counts by restaurants. [AP via Drudge]

Vanessa Gilmore Vanessa D Gilmore Judge Above the Law Above the Law judicial diva.jpgIf you’re getting tired of our stories about the DOJ’s Shanetta Cutlar and S&C’s Alexandra Korry, we have a new name to add to our rotation of delightfully high-powered, imperious females. Meet Judge Vanessa D. Gilmore (at right), of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas.

Whisper her name out loud: “Vanessa Gilmore.” Doesn’t it even SOUND diva-licious? If she weren’t a federal judge, couldn’t she be a character on “Dynasty”?

But we have reasons other than the sound of her name for declaring this rather attractive jurist to be a judicial diva. From a helpful tipster:

I’d like to bring another judicial diva to your attention: Judge Vanessa Gilmore of the Southern District of Texas. You probably have already read about Judge Gilmore’s ruling in the Enron broadband case vacating Howard’s conviction. I’m not sure she’s a match for Shanetta Cutlar, but she’s no slouch either when it comes to divadom.

[R]umors about her include:

* She has thrown her keys in open court at an attorney (I believe it might have been an AUSA) for calling her “ma’am”;

* She ordered an AUSA to have John Ashcroft personally write her a letter explaining the DOJ’s reasons for seeking the death penalty against one defendant but not others [the Williams case, discussed in more detail below];

* When she didn’t like the particular font counsel used, she told him that she threw his motion in the trash without reading it, and then she ruled against him;

* During trial she is happy to make findings contrary to stipulations of the parties; and

* She encourages ex parte contact with the court and attempts to prevent record-making: any discovery “motions” must be way of a one-page letter to the court. She will then have a hearing which she considers an “oral motion to compel.” She will happily rule without actually seeing any of the discovery propounded.

More about Judge Gilmore, including a discussion of how she got benchslapped by the Fifth Circuit, after the jump.

P.S. We welcome colorful anecdotes about strong personalities within the legal profession regardless of their race, gender, etc. It just so happens that lately we’ve been getting information about women. If you want to tell us about your workplace abuse at the hands of a man — e.g., Eric Krautheimer, of Brokeback Lawfirm infamy — we’re all ears.

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Jack Bauer 24 Kiefer Sutherland.jpg* When you use YouTube to bootleg 24, the terrorists win. [WSJ Law Blog]
* North Carolina doctors refuse to play executioner; executions temporarily blocked. [Jurist]
* Wal-Mart agrees to cough up $33 million for overtime violations. [FindLaw]
* This wasn’t the law already?. [AP via Yahoo!]
* Seven defendants, including the estate of Kenneth Lay, dismissed from Enron shareholder derivative suit. [Jurist]
* Can someone please fix the damn clock in the Lewis Libby courtroom, before every news outlet turns it into a metaphor? [New York Times]

Last year, Jesse Oxfeld — formerly of Gawker, now of New York Magazine — delivered this fun scoop:

Bethany McLean, the Enron-busting Fortune reporter who co-wrote The Smartest Guys in the Room, is dating the man who put Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling away. The fetching, recently divorced McLean, who covered the trial, is now seeing the lead prosecutor in the case, Sean Berkowitz, an assistant U.S. attorney from Chicago. “They started dating after the trial concluded, and after Bethany’s coverage of Enron was complete,” a Time Inc. spokeswoman e-mailed in response to an inquiry to McLean.

None of her fellow Enron-trial reporters question McLean’s professionalism, but post-trial, the relationship did seem unusually chummy. One notes that McLean attended Berkowitz’s birthday party in Chicago, held ten days after the verdict, and she was considered to be notably sympathetic to the prosecution’s case.

If you question the characterization of their relationship as “unusually chummy,” then check out the photograph that appears after the jump.

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