Federal Judges

It might interest you to know that if I were still an active justice, I would have joined [Justice Alito's] powerful dissent in the recent case holding that the intentional infliction of severe emotional harm is constitutionally protected speech. The case… involved a verbal assault on the private citizens attending the funeral of their son — a Marine corporal killed in Iraq. To borrow Sam’s phrase, the First Amendment does not transform solemn occasions like funerals into ‘free-fire zones.’

– Justice John Paul Stevens, in a recent speech to the Federal Bar Council in New York City, explaining how he would have voted with Justice Samuel Alito in Snyder v. Phelps (aka the Westboro Baptist Church case).

ALL YOUR DOCS ARE BELONG TO US.

Litigators at large law firms spend an inordinate (and depressing) amount of time on discovery disputes. They bombard poor magistrate judges with motions to compel. They bicker over deposition timing and location. They compile massive privilege logs. They file letter briefs with the court, explaining their entitlement to certain documents that opposing counsel is withholding, without justification.

Partners who work on such matters often say to their associates, “Find me a case in which a judge sanctioned a party for failure to comply with discovery obligations — preferably a case in which the non-compliance is exactly what opposing counsel is doing here, and ideally featuring soaring rhetoric about the importance of following discovery rules.” The associate spends several hours on Westlaw or Lexis, then returns empty-handed; there was nothing quite on-point. There was certainly no soaring rhetoric.

This shouldn’t be surprising. Do you think successful lawyers give up the practice of law in order to keep dealing with discovery-related headaches, for a fraction of what they earned in the private sector? Of course not. Federal district judges prefer to write published opinions about Sexy Constitutional Issues, leaving their magistrates to oversee the discovery playpen. In the rare discovery-related cases that do go up on appeal, federal circuit judges affirm as quickly and summarily as possible, so they can get back to the fun stuff. [FN1]

If you’re a Biglaw litigator searching for a published opinion addressing discovery issues, well, today is your lucky day. Check out this great opinion, just handed down — not by a mere magistrate or district judge, but by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Biglaw Litigators, Rejoice! A Circuit Court Opinion on a Discovery Dispute”

Our buddy, the Honorable Alex Kozinski, is on a roll. On Monday, the chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit benchslapped a pair of wealthy, persistently annoying and mildly famous identical twins.

The same day, he gave a lecture at San Francisco’s Golden Gate University School of Law, where he declared the Internet has killed the First Amendment, or at least made it an anachronism. Heavy stuff.

More on what the judge said about the web’s effect on unsuppressable free speech, journalism and scumbag bloggers, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Did Blogging Kill the First Amendment?”

Judge Eric Melgren (D. Kansas)

A trial was scheduled to start in Kansas federal court on June 14, 2011. Defendants moved for a short continuance because one of their lawyers is expecting his first child on July 3. (The lawyer in question, Bryan Erman, is quite cute — check out that chin dimple.)

Plaintiffs’ counsel objected to the continuance — strenuously. This took Judge Eric Melgren by surprise. And not in a good way.

Judge Melgren granted the continuance — and took the opportunity to benchslap the lawyers who refused to consent….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Federal Judge Benchslaps Plaintiffs’ Counsel: Stop Being Tools”

Although this could change, right now it looks like the federal government is about to shut down (for the first time in 15 years). Here’s an open thread for discussion.

Speaking of shutting down, we’re done for the day. To learn about how the courts and the Department of Justice will (or won’t) be affected by the shutdown, check out the excellent links collected below.

UPDATE: A compromise deal has been reached, averting a shutdown. Yay!

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Federal Government Shutdown: Open Thread”

* The Southern District of New York: gay bench, or the gayest bench? Like fellow S.D.N.Y. nominee Paul Oetken, Alison Nathan is an openly gay lawyer who clerked for SCOTUS and served as an associate White House counsel. [Poliglot / Metro Weekly; Main Justice]

* Maybe this is why Sophia Chua-Rubenfeld decided to leave New Haven and head up to Harvard. [Slate]

* Speaking of the Harvard-bound hottie, if you’re waiting for her to fail at anything, don’t hold your breath. [Disgrasian]

* Dolce & Gabbana say “Ciao!” to Italian tax evasion charges. [Fashionista]

Jeannie Suk

* Belated congratulations to Jeannie Suk, one-half of celebrity couple Feldsuk, who’s now the first Asian-American woman to serve as a tenured professor at Harvard Law School. [The Careerist]

* A cute April Fool’s joke from UT Law: check out the offerings in Dean Larry Sager’s Law Bodega. [Etsy]

* Elsewhere in April Fool’s news, “Dear SCOTUS FOIA Officer”…. [Law Librarian Blog]

* This is not a prank: a full ride to NYU Law. [Vault]

* These lawyerly lovebirds met as 1Ls at Georgetown Law and would love the support of ATL readers in Crate & Barrel’s “ultimate wedding” contest. [Ultimate Wedding Contest / Crate & Barrel]

There’s always something fun going on in the Ninth Circuit. Last week, the Court voted against rehearing en banc in United States v. Alvarez, a case raising the constitutionality of the Stolen Valor Act (a law that essentially criminalizes false claims of military heroism). A divided three-judge panel struck down the Act on First Amendment grounds, and the Ninth Circuit voted against reconsidering that decision en banc.

Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain (disclosure: my former boss) wrote a spirited and persuasive dissent from the denial of rehearing en banc, on behalf of himself and six other judges. The dissenters argued that the Act passes constitutional muster and that the First Amendment does not protect knowingly false statements of fact (subject to certain exceptions not presented by the law). The position that the Stolen Valor Act is constitutional is shared by a number of prominent scholars, including First Amendment guru Eugene Volokh.

But this is far from an open-and-shut case (unlike many of the Ninth Circuit cases that generate dissents from denial of rehearing, which we’ve previously described as the “Bat Signal” flashed by right-of-center Ninth Circuit judges to the Supreme Court when the lefties run amok). On the other side of the Alvarez case was Chief Judge Alex Kozinski — Professor Volokh’s former boss, and a jurist who, like Judge O’Scannlain, is often vindicated by SCOTUS smackdowns of Ninth Circuit liberals.

(Digression: I don’t like it when two of my most favorite federal judges cross swords! It’s like watching a fight between My Two Dads. I’d much rather see the two of them join forces against the Emperor Palpatine and She Who Must Not Be Named.)

Chief Judge Kozinski wrote a rather colorful concurrence to the denial of rehearing en banc. Some hilarious highlights from it, plus a fun movie-related tidbit from His Honor, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “More Fun From Chief Judge Kozinski”

Sotomayor rocks.

Kristine Sims (via ABA Journal).

On what basis can one be confident that law schools acquaint students with prosecutors’ unique obligation under Brady? Whittaker told the jury he did not recall covering Brady in his criminal procedure class in law school. Dubelier’s alma mater, like most other law faculties, does not make criminal procedure a required course. [FN21]

[FN21] See Tulane University Law School, Curriculum, http://www.law.tulane.edu (select “Academics”; select “Curriculum”) (as visited Mar. 21, 2011, and in Clerk of Court’s case file).

– Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, dissenting, in Connick v. Thompson (via Josh Blackman, who provides additional context and excerpts from the opinions; there’s also discussion of the case at Gawker).

In my earlier story about Justice Antonin Scalia’s fender-bender on the George Washington Parkway, I tossed out a question: What kind of car does Justice Scalia drive?

A few years ago, Justice Scalia drove a BMW. Is Nino still partial to Bimmers, or has he switched his automotive allegiances?

Now we know the answer — and more about the accident, including whether Justice Scalia was at fault….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Wheels of Justice (Scalia): Will Nino Fight His Traffic Ticket?”

Page 49 of 771...454647484950515253...77