(A few additional observations, after the jump).
(A few additional observations, after the jump).
If you watched the inauguration ceremonies, whether in person or on television, you may have noticed all nine Supreme Court justices out in force. Supreme fashions generated tons of talk on Twitter, especially Justice Alito’s snazzy sunglasses; Justice Ginsburg’s huge hat, which made her look like a toy soldier; and Justice Breyer and Justice Scalia’s jaunty skullcaps, discussed by Tony Mauro and Josh Blackman (among others). According to Kevin Walsh, Justice Scalia’s was a gift from the St. Thomas More Society of Richmond, Virginia.
That’s on the level of style. What about substance? How will the Supreme Court affect President Obama, and how will President Obama affect the Court, as we enter the 44th president’s second term?
Earlier this week, we wrote about a pair of prominent partners at Skadden Arps who got hit with a big-time benchslap. A federal judge in Chicago issued an order to show cause, requiring the Skadden lawyers to explain why they should not be sanctioned for failing to cite a highly relevant (arguably dispositive) Seventh Circuit case when briefing a motion to dismiss. The judge also set “a status hearing in open court…. [at which the attorneys] are all directed to appear in person.”
The Skadden partners filed a contrite response. They apologized profusely to the court, explained why they viewed the Seventh Circuit as distinguishable, and argued that even though they erred, their conduct didn’t merit sanctions. They announced to the court that they had settled the case in question, with Skadden “contributing to the settlement amount in order to personally redress plaintiffs’ counsel for responding to the motion to dismiss.” (In a classy move, they also extracted their associate from under the bus, explaining that he played no substantive role in the briefing.)
Despite the apology and the settlement, the status hearing went forward as scheduled yesterday. What happened?
On the transactional side, things seem to be going gangbusters for Skadden Arps. As we noted yesterday, the firm took the top spot in three separate rankings of 2012 M&A work. In 2011, a different firm sat atop each set of rankings, but in 2012, Skadden ruled them all.
On the litigation side, though, the new year has brought new headaches for Skadden. Earlier this month, a high-profile partner at the firm, along with another partner and an associate, got hit with a big benchslap. A federal judge issued an order to show cause, asking the Skadden lawyers to explain why they should not be sanctioned, and set “a status hearing in open court…. [at which the attorneys] are all directed to appear in person.” Ouch.
Skadden recently filed its response to the OSC. Let’s review the benchslap, then see what the Skadden lawyers had to say for themselves….
We now have judicial notice that making jokes about the president and fried chicken is probably racist.
Granted, “all these years, I thought I liked chicken because it was delicious.” But living up north, it’s pretty well-established that suggesting black people have a predisposition for eating chicken is prima facie racist and likely to start a fight. That’s not because I’m “sensitive” or “playing the race card.” It’s because generalizing about the foods black people eat has been used as a tool for racial stigmatization for a long time in this country.
That history somehow escaped Judge Lynn Hughes.
We’ve written about Hughes before. He’s a guy who can throw a benchslap. He’s also a guy who has been described as “[u]nquestionably the single worst judge in the Southern District of Texas” on The Robing Room (where lawyers can post anonymously about judges).
But one of his flippant remarks to an African-American plaintiff drew the ire of the Fifth Circuit, even as they were affirming his ultimate result.
You know that you have strayed a little too far from the flock when the Fifth Circuit (Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi) is schooling you on racial sensitivity….
* “Without the formation of character, the rest is futile.” An Article III judge’s take on the law school crisis. [Simple Justice]
* Because nobody likes sloppy seconds, the merger talks between Pillsbury Winthrop and Dickstein Shapiro are now off the table. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]
* David Tresch, an ex-Biglaw CIO, was indicted last week on wire fraud charges. “Bitch better give me back my money,” said Mayer Brown. [ABA Journal]
* Does Jeffrey Toobin understand the Voting Rights Act? This law professor seems skeptical. [PrawfsBlog]
* Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition, because this Saturday is Gun Appreciation Day. Go celebrate your Second Amendment rights — but do it responsibly, please! [Volokh Conspiracy]
* Remember Ryan Chenevert, the young lawyer who took home the title of Cosmo’s Bachelor of the Year for 2012? Check out the very tongue-in-cheek interview this hottie did with 225 Magazine, after the jump….
(Huh? Well, that’s how it appears in the official Supreme Court transcript; obviously something got lost in transcription. We try to make sense of it all, after the jump.)
So I went to the annual conference of the Association of American Law Schools in New Orleans this past weekend. The place was lousy with law school deans and I had a ton of interesting, off-the-record conversations that I can’t report on. I also spent a weekend in New Orleans that involved all sorts of other things I can’t report on. It was fun and informative, you just have to trust me.
One thing I can report on was an AALS panel I attended, “The 75th Anniversary of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure: Looking Back, Looking Ahead.” Now… I know that doesn’t scream “drop your panties,” but the panel was moderated by Arthur Miller. Yeah, that Arthur Miller, the famous law professor who wrote Death of A Civil Procedure Rules Salesman or something. And the all-star panel he was moderating included Justice Antonin Scalia… a person Miller doesn’t really agree with when it comes to rules. I had to go. Literally, I had to.
Unfortunately, the conversation was completely over my head. I’m not embarrassed to say that. Other people in my position may pretend that they got the most out of this discussion between Miller, Scalia, Biglaw partners, district judges, and others who have advised the Rules Committee. To me it sounded like, “TWOMBLY wha wha whaa, but in IQBAL wha wha wha wha! Wha? Given TWOMBLY’s wha and IQBAL’s wha, how could you wha wha whaaa?? [Laughter]”
That doesn’t mean I didn’t learn anything….
* What Dewey know about this failed firm’s bankruptcy case? According to Judge Glenn’s latest order, it seems like D&L’s Chapter 11 plan is on track for confirmation in late February, unless there are objections, of course. [Am Law Daily (sub. req.)]
* The Law School Admission Council is suing California because the state’s legislature banned the practice of alerting schools when applicants had extra time to complete the LSAT. How lovely that LSAC values the ability to discriminate. [National Law Journal]
* “It’s not like we let anybody in the door. We don’t.” Apparently Cooley Law’s new Florida campus has very stringent admissions standards. Oh really? What else is required, aside from a pulse? [Tampa Tribune]
* It’s now too constitutionally risky for cops to get all frisky: a federal judge ordered that the NYPD cease its stock-and-frisk trespass stops without reasonable suspicion of actual trespass. [New York Law Journal]
* Tamara Brady, the lawyer for the accused shooter in the Aurora movie theater massacre, is setting the stage for her client’s diminished capacity defense — because even the mentally ill can buy guns. [Bloomberg]
* Pfc. Bradley Manning of WikiLeaks infamy will receive a reduced sentence if he’s convicted due to his illegal pretrial punishment, like being forced to sleep in the nude. A true hero! [Nation Now / Los Angeles Times]
Above the Law’s 2012 Lawyer of the Year contest is now over. Thanks to everyone who nominated a lawyer; thanks to our finalists, for being such accomplished and interesting individuals; and thanks to all our readers, who picked our victor after two weeks of voting over the holiday season.
Here are ATL’s past Lawyers of the Year:
For 2012, who will join their distinguished ranks? Let’s find out….