Federal Judges

* 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.

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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?”

The wheels of justice might have taken a wrong turn today. It seems that Justice Antonin Scalia had some minimum contacts — with another vehicle, on a highway outside D.C.

According to a Supreme Court spokesperson, Justice Scalia was involved in a minor car accident this morning, while heading in to One First Street to hear oral argument in Wal-Mart v. Dukes. The accident took place on the George Washington Parkway (a tricky road to drive on, as I know from my time spent in Washington).

Justice Scalia — my personal favorite among the justices, for his brilliance, wit, colorful personality, and unmatched writing skill — was thankfully not injured. He made it on to the bench in time for the Tuesday oral argument session.

What kind of car does Justice Scalia drive?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Justice Scalia Gets Caught in a Fender-Bender”

There must be no more of this childish abuse…. No more or there will be sanctions. In more than 29 years as a judge, I have never encountered such bickering, quarrelsome lawyers. You are wasting my time and your clients’ money.

– Judge Richard Posner of the Seventh Circuit, sitting by designation as a district judge (N.D. Ill.), ruling on motions in limine in Chamberlain Group, Inc. v. Lear Corp. (PDF).

(The context of this quotation, which contains additional benchslappery, appears below.)

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Quote of the Day: Judge Posner Is Not a Kindergarten Teacher”

Time to put down the gavel and hang up the robe.

We recently covered the Third Circuit’s benchslap of Judge John Fullam, an 89-year-old judge in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. In his opinion in United States v. Higdon, issuing a writ of mandamus and directing that the case mishandled by Judge Fullam be reassigned on remand, Chief Judge Theodore McKee had some harsh words for the aged jurist: “Neither this court, nor any other court, can tolerate a situation where a judge decides to follow his/her own custom and concepts of justice rather than the precedent of the applicable appellate court or the United States Supreme Court. Ours is a nation of laws, not judges.”

At the same time, Chief Judge McKee had some kind words for Judge Fullam, praising him as “a very experienced and hard working jurist [who] has devoted decades of service to the federal bench.” In the comments to our post, some readers interpreted the combination of statements — criticism for Judge Fullam’s mishandling of one case, but compliments for his “decades of service” — as the Third Circuit trying to nudge Judge Fullam into retirement.

Well, it seems to have worked — and it’s apparently the culmination of a long-running effort to get Judge Fullam off the bench….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Musical Chairs: Judge Fullam, Benchslapped and Elderly, Is Stepping Down”

Greco is a menace to his clients and a scofflaw with respect to appellate procedure. The district court may wish to consider whether he should remain a member of its bar. Would-be clients should consider how Greco has treated [his clients] Lee, Washington, and Moore.

– Chief Judge Frank Easterbrook of the Seventh Circuit, benchslapping attorney Michael J. Greco in Lee v. Cook County.

(Additional gems from the opinion — this is just the tip of the iceberg — appear after the jump.)

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Quote(s) of the Day: Oh, professionalism is overrated.
(Or: Mess with the Easterbrook, you get the horns.)

That decision is as inexplicable as it is unexplained. It is reversed.

– opinion of the Supreme Court in Felkner v. Jackson, benchslapping the Ninth Circuit through a unanimous, per curiam reversal of an unpublished memorandum disposition. (For more context, see Josh Blackman or read the SCOTUS opinion.)

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