Government

When you think of George Hamilton, if at all, you think of the walking precautionary example for artificial tanning. Maybe you think of Tom Hagen’s replacement as the Corleone Family lawyer in Godfather III (if you acknowledge that the movie exists). But there was a time in the 60s when George Hamilton was the bee’s knees and hob-knobbing with the rich and powerful.

And because he was an actor, Lyndon Johnson thought Hamilton was “running around with a bunch of homosexuals,” so the White House set the U.S. Supreme Court and — ironically — J. Edgar Hoover on the case of digging into George Hamilton’s private life. It’s like a “Stars — They’re Just Like Us” feature for the current administration — see, government spied on its people just as much in the 60s as it does today. It’s just back then knowing gay people made you “a potential terrorist” instead of “Bravo’s demographic.”

Thanks to a FOIA request at the heart of an Eastern District of Pennsylvania decision, this is all finally coming to light…

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The Supreme Court of the United States (photo by Drew Havens).

Yesterday, the New York Times ran an article by Adam Liptak on the increasingly suspect “facts” that the Supreme Court cites in some of its opinions. Whether penned by the justices themselves or the little twits who actually do the heavy lifting on the opinion-writing, opinions from the Court have become a veritable wasteland of dubious figures, outlandish claims, and hardcore pornography. Or, rather, just the first two.

Sex-crazed Stephen Breyer, for instance, is said to have relied on a discontinued blog for a statistic related to public libraries. The blog, wackyliberryfacts.blogspot.com, has two posts since 2008 and both have to do with Michael Hutchence’s death. A good read, if maybe a bit too reliant on incorrect lyrics from Suicide Blonde.

On the right side of the Court (and history…?), coozehound Samuel Alito is said to have cited an unreliable fact about background checks done by employers in a 2011 opinion. The fact? That 47 percent of Americans can’t come up with Joe Biden’s name when asked who our Vice President is. Which, as far as I can tell, is a totally true fact! But its connection to background checks is tenuous, if not downright nonexistent.

Given the fact that our nation’s entire legal edifice threatens to crumble under the weight of a thousand erroneous internet “facts,” we’ve decided to help the Court out. Here are five ways the court can get around the shoddy fact-checking in judicial opinions.

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Professor Tim Wu

* Could Columbia law professor Tim Wu become New York’s next lieutenant governor? He has a shot, according to the Times. [New York Times]

* Which same-sex-marriage case is the best vehicle for Supreme Court review? [BuzzFeed]

* A federal judge takes the wheel in steering Detroit into the future. [American Lawyer]

* Is it “shameful” of the ALS Association to attempt to trademark the phrase “ice bucket challenge”? [ABA Journal]

* Jury deliberations are expected to begin today in the corruption trial of former Virginia governor Bob McDonnell. [Washington Post]

* Voter ID laws are back on trial, this time in Texas. [New York Times]

* Speaking of Texas, the state seeks to stay a recent ruling that struck down the requirement that abortion clinics comply with standards for ambulatory surgical centers. [ABA Journal]

In honor of the Simpsons marathon, let’s introduce each of these with a Simpsons quote.

* Dr. Hibbert: And hillbillies want to be called “Sons of the Soil,” but it ain’t gonna happen. — BofA wants that $1.3 billion verdict tossed as “unreasonable.” [Law360]

* Superintendent Chalmers: Oh, I have had it, I have had it with this school, Skinner! The low test scores, class after class of ugly, ugly children! — Suffolk University fired its president just days before school began. I’d like to think it was over their subway ads. In any event, the interim president seems to get the problem: “‘I don’t think there’s growth there,’ he said, referring to [law school] enrollment.” [Boston Globe]

* Homer: Barney’s movie had heart, but “Football in the Groin” had a football in the groin — College football kicked off last night (or Wednesday if we cared about Georgia State), so check in with the lawyer for the USC player who pretended he injured himself saving his nephew’s life. [Deadspin]

* Lionel Hutz: There’s the truth and… the truth! — Bracewell & Giuliani partner, Glenn A. Ballard Jr., got benchslapped in Texas for “an affront to this court, to the other parties and to judicial integrity.” Everything’s bigger in Texas. [Houston Chronicle]

* Chief Wiggum: You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say blah blah blah blah blah blah. — After Philip Seymour Hoffman’s overdose, the police actually arrested a jazz musician. He got no jail time after he hired a new lawyer, Alex Spiro, who went after the cops for taking advantage of his client. [NY Daily News]

* Jimbo: You let me down, man. Now I don’t believe in nothing no more. I’m going to law school. — Professor Campos wonders if American University law school will sue students who drop out or transfer? [Lawyers, Guns & Money]

A Sixth Circuit ruling earlier this week is a victory for critics of federal hate crime legislation, as well as the defendants in the case, a group of Amish men and women who forcibly cut the hair and sheared the beards of their Amish victims. The defendants, members of the Bergholz Amish community, admitted to a series of attacks against other Amish with whom the defendants had longstanding feuds. In the Amish community, men wear long beards and women grow long hair as signs of piety and view voluntarily cutting one’s own hair as a sign of contrition. Cutting another person’s hair is a forceful condemnation of the victim. Prosecutors had argued that the defendants assaulted their victims because of their religious identity. The case is the first appellate case involving a religious hate crime brought under The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009. The statute prohibits “willfully caus[ing] bodily injury to any person . . . because of the actual or perceived . . . religion . . . of [that] person.”

In one of the instances at issue, Martin and Barbara Miller’s children and their children’s spouses cut Barbara’s hair and sheared Martin’s beard. The children insisted at trial that they attacked their parents to punish them for “bad parenting.” The kids thought Martin and Barbara were cruel, punitive, and spiteful as a father and mother. The kids did not argue that Martin and Barbara’s “bad parenting” justified assaulting them. The kids only argued that they didn’t attack their parents because their parents were Amish, or even because they believed that their parents’ bad parenting was a sign of them being lousy at being Amish. Rather, they attacked their parents because they believed that their parents were lousy at being parents.

Assaulting your parents in a way that is particularly hurtful to their religious values is a good way to make clear that you won’t be attending the next family picnic, but is it a good way to commit a federal hate crime?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Splitting Hairs Over Causation: When Is Amish Beard Cutting A Hate Crime?”

Yesterday, a California appellate court overturned the lower court’s dismissal of a malicious prosecution claim against Biglaw mainstay Latham & Watkins. According to the opinion, the lower court was wrong on the statute of limitations, but the opinion also went out of its way to express just how likely the plaintiffs were to prevail on the merits of their claim that Latham doggedly pursued them on a “non-viable” legal theory.

Latham still has an opportunity to defend itself, but the language of this opinion is certainly not encouraging.

The plaintiff already recovered over $1.6 million in fees from Latham’s client, let’s see how they do against the firm…

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Court reporters put up with a lot. Not only are they largely condescended to by the often middling attorneys they deal with every day, but they have to listen intently to everything lawyers say all the time. And when they’ve managed to turn around two days worth of testimony into a transcript by mid-morning the next day, they get a courteous nod and a “what took you so long?”

The job really is its own circle of hell. The sort of thing that might make somebody type “I hate my job” over and over and over again instead of keeping up with the proceedings.

But not every court reporter is a martyr deserving of veneration. If, for example, a court reporting service just didn’t prepare transcripts in criminal cases for months on end, they may earn themselves a hearty benchslapping…

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* Dean Chemerinsky lays out how the Supreme Court is protecting local corruption. It’s what the Framers would have intended. [New York Times]

* In response to the latest article from Professor Michael Krauss, a former student suggests that maybe the so-called “justice gap” is a good thing. It kind of comes down to how much you believe in the efficiency value of the “American Rule.” [That's My Argument]

* The eternal question for female lawyers: do you dye your hair or embrace the gray? [Gray Hair]

* Boston’s drivers suck. [The Faculty Lounge]

* A well-written tribute to a Nashville civil rights lawyer. [Nashville Scene]

* This seems like a place to remind people that David’s going to Houston next month. [Above the Law]

* Here’s a new game to check out. It’s a twisted dirty word game called F**ktionary (affiliate link), so obviously it was made by a lawyer. It’s kind of like Cards Against Humanity meets Scattergories, which is just as fun as it sounds. The promo is after the jump….

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Judge Richard Posner isn’t amused.

As we mentioned in Morning Docket and on Twitter, yesterday’s Seventh Circuit arguments weren’t fun for the defenders of Wisconsin and Indiana’s same-sex marriage bans. The three judges, especially Judge Richard Posner, were tough — very tough.

Chris Geidner of BuzzFeed, a leading chronicler of marriage-equality litigation, described the proceedings as “the most lopsided arguments over marriage bans at a federal appeals court this year.” Ian Millhiser of ThinkProgress called it “a bloodbath.”

That’s no exaggeration. Let’s check out the specifics….

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Burger King bounty for Biglaw.

* Judge Posner dished out a whole lot of benchslaps at yesterday’s Seventh Circuit arguments over Indiana and Wisconsin’s bans on same-sex marriage. [BuzzFeed]

* Major U.S. and Canadian law firms chow down on Burger King’s whopper of a deal with Tim Hortons. [Am Law Daily]

* A recent Delaware court ruling on attorney-client privilege might allow in-house lawyers to speak more freely about wrongdoing at their companies, according to Professor Steven Davidoff Solomon. [DealBook / New York Times]

* The corruption trial of former Virginia governor continues; yesterday Bob McDonnell’s sister took the stand. [Washington Post]

* A favorable evidentiary ruling for Aaron Hernandez. [Fox Sports]

* And good news for Zephyr Teachout and Tim Wu, the two law professors running for governor and lieutenant governor of New York: the Times dissed their opponent, Andrew Cuomo, with a non-endorsement. [New York Times]

* I recently spoke with one of my cousins Joao Atienza of the Cebu Sun Star, about Above the Law and the world of legal blogging. [Cebu Sun Star]

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