Federal Judges

* “[T]he nation’s last explicit ban of the right to bear arms has bitten the dust.” On Saturday, a federal judge said D.C. couldn’t ban the carrying of guns in public for self-defense. [Legal Times]

* Late on Friday, Florida’s ban on same-sex marriage was tossed by a state judge, making it latest in a string of major legal victories for marriage equality. Congrats, Floridians! [Bloomberg]

* There’s been some new updates in the case of Dan Markel, the young FSU Law professor who was murdered in his own home. We’ll have more on the details police released later today. [CNN]

* “I’ve come to the realization I’d really like to have a paycheck at some point.” Ouch. Law school graduates in Florida are starting to feel the pain of a very tough job market, and they’re not too happy about the situation. [Tampa Bay Times]

* “[T]hey treat us like step children instead of adoptees.” A group of Texas Wesleyan Law graduates have filed a complaint (in vain?) with the ABA in the pursuit of new diplomas from Texas A&M Law. [WFAA 8]

‘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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My experience with federal court is limited to three months externing for a district judge after first year of law school (that and testifying in a homicide case, but that’s another column).  The time was occasionally depressing (can you say “pro se”?), always sobering (you mean the judge is actually going to rely on my legal research??), and ultimately a decent dose of reality after enduring nine months of the alter-world that is being a 1L.

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We overuse the word “childish” when discussing the behavior of lawyers. This dispute though is so utterly childish it can be summed up as “Teacher! Denise swore!” and “But, Dan did it first!”

Rare is the opinion with the word “a**hole” (though without the wusstrisks we use on this site) in the opening sentence. But that’s what you get when a judge levels a benchslap against one side for “intemperate language,” which is apparently a thing that lawyers shouldn’t use.

Now lawyers can be a salty bunch, so it takes a serious outburst to earn the ire of a federal judge. And this woman doesn’t disappoint, allegedly drafting an aggressive email peppered with “intemperate language” combined with shady tactics and outright lying. It’s a cocktail of behavior that deserves consideration if you’re looking for case studies for a professional responsibility course. As the judge writes in his opinion, this is one where the lawyer should have hit “delete” instead of “send.”

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The old ball and chain, dischargeable in bankruptcy only in the most limited of cases. Go ahead, try and prove you’ve got a ‘substantial hardship’ preventing you from paying. We dare you.

* Now that a federal judge has classified California’s death penalty as unconstitutional, it’s only a matter of time before the issue reaches the Supreme Court. We have a feeling the justices will likely roll their eyes. [National Law Journal]

* Word on the street is that Bingham McCutchen has got the urge to merge, and has apparently spoken to a handful of potential partners over the course of the past three months. We’ll have more on these developments later. [Reuters]

* As it turns out, it was neither Wachtell Lipton nor Jenner & Block that managed to snag the coveted GM litigation oversight job. Nice work, Quinn Emanuel — you’re considered a “well-respected outside law firm.” [WSJ Law Blog]

* Congrats, Flori-duh, you did something right. A state court judge has ruled that Florida’s ban on gay marriage violated the U.S. Constitution in the latest post-Windsor victory for equality. Yay! [Bloomberg]

* Thanks to their hundreds of thousands of dollars in law school debt, many graduates are considering declaring bankruptcy. Too bad most won’t be able to get their loans discharged. [Connecticut Law Tribune]

On Tuesday evening, I returned to the offices of Wachtell Lipton, the law firm where I toiled as an associate years ago. Luckily, I wasn’t there to bill hours; instead, I attended a reception marking the launch of a delightful new book, The Mother Court: Tales of Cases that Mattered in America’s Greatest Trial Court (affiliate link).

“The Mother Court” is the nickname for the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, regarded by many as the preeminent federal trial court in the nation. In the book of the same name, James Zirin, a leading litigator who’s now senior counsel in the New York office of Sidley Austin, shares with readers the fascinating history of this top tribunal.

In a review that ran yesterday in the New York Law Journal, Thomas E.L. Dewey hailed the book as a “richly textured, immensely readable overview of the modern history of the Southern District of New York.” Last month, in the New York Review of Books, Judge Jed Rakoff praised Zirin’s “fluid prose and eye for detail.”

What fun tidbits and interesting opinions did James Zirin share in his remarks on Tuesday night?

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Ed. note: This is the latest post by Steve Dykstra, our new columnist covering the Canadian legal market.

I am a Canadian-trained lawyer. I live about five hours away from the Supreme Court of Canada located in Ottawa. I thought it would interesting to see how many justices of the venerable SCC I could name off the top of my head.

I got Beverley McLachlin (the Chief Justice) and Louis LeBel. Two out of nine. I missed Rosalie Abella (whom I’ve met), Marshall Rothstein, Thomas Cromwell, Michael Moldaver, Andromache Karakatsanis, Richard Wagner, and Clément Gascon (the newbie on the court).

Then I tried the current SCOTUS. I got Alito, Ginsburg, Thomas, and Roberts. Four of nine.

I admit, it’s a bit embarrassing that I can name more U.S. justices than Canadian….

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Chief Judge Loretta Preska

According to Black’s Law Dictionary (affiliate link), a judicial diva is “a particularly confident, skilled, and physically attractive female judge.” By this definition, Chief Judge Loretta Preska (S.D.N.Y.) is a judicial diva. She is highly regarded, as both a judge and an administrator, and she never looks anything short of fabulous.

I’ve been fascinated by Judge Preska for years. I had this to say about her back in 2004 at my first website, Underneath Their Robes: “Magnificent. Tall, thin, elegant. Great bone structure, perfectly coiffed silver hair. Note to self: nominate for superhotties contest next year?”

This gorgeous judge now owns a gorgeous apartment. Chief Judge Preska and her husband, a partner at one of the nation’s most profitable law firms, just paid almost $9 million for a penthouse apartment on the Upper East Side….

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* Congrats to William Voge, who was elected as the new chairman of Latham & Watkins. He succeeds Robert Dell in this position, who is one of the Am Law 100’s longest-serving leaders. [Am Law Daily]

* Dewey’s former execs filed a motion to dismiss their criminal charges, lamenting the fact that the Manhattan DA made them “scapegoats” for the total failure of their firm. [DealBook / New York Times]

* A judge banned the Washington Redskins name from his court, proclaiming that the offensively monikered team shall be known only as “the Washington Team” in documents submitted. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid thinks that if it were up to Judge Judy, House Speaker John Boehner’s “show trial” suit against President Obama would be thrown out in “half a second.” Well then. [ABC News]

* A Michigan attorney was arraigned yesterday on a felony charge of homicide-solicitation of murder. It seems that the hired hitman warned his target. He’s not getting a good Yelp review. [UpNorthLive.com]

* If you’re an international student with a foreign law degree trying to get a law degree in the U.S., why the hell would you waste your money on a J.D.? Just get an LL.M. [Law Admissions Lowdown / U.S. News]

* Oh baby8: Nadya Suleman (formally doing business as Octomom) pleaded no contest to welfare fraud charges after she failed to report income from all of her public appearances and porn videos. [Reuters]

Judge Richard KopfNine days ago, Judge Richard Kopf wrote an article about the Supreme Court’s decision in Hobby Lobby that suggested, “[a]s the kids say, it is time for the Court to stfu.” It was a good post, but something that seemed of such little controversy that we relegated it to an in-blurb mention within Non-Sequiturs.

And then all manner of shock and hand-wringing commenced.

It’s not the first time a federal judge received criticism for speaking out. Are jurists like Judge Kopf out of control?

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