Government

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…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Bench Berates Contemptuous Court Reporters Over Tardy Transcripts”

* 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]

When it comes to the debate over the wisdom of going to law school, I fall somewhere in between. I’m not as optimistic as Jordan Weissmann of Slate, but I’m not as pessimistic as Elie Mystal and Joe Patrice, two of my colleagues here at Above the Law.

Back in June, when I reviewed employment data for the law school class of 2013, I sounded some cautiously optimistic notes. I wondered whether a stable job market and shrinking law school classes could produce better employment outcomes for many law grads.

Could the jobs picture be even brighter than “stable”? Check out what looks like a big expansion of the U.S. Department of Justice’s prestigious Attorney General’s Honors Program, along with other opportunities to work as a lawyer for the federal government….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Reminder: DOJ (And Other) Honors Program Applications Are Due Soon”

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

If you just needed the skills to pass the bar, two years would be enough. But if you think of law as a learned profession, then a third year is an opportunity for, on the one hand, public service and practice experience, but on the other, also to take courses that round out the law that you didn’t have time to do.

Two years—it does reduce the respect, the notion that law is a learned profession. You should know a little about legal history, you should know about jurisprudence. [Two years] makes it more of a craft like the training you need to be a good plumber.

– Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, explaining why she thinks law school should remain three years in length, in an interview with the National Law Journal.

Kim Kardashian

* First things first, she’s the realest: In light of the ongoing situation in Ferguson, Missouri, of course Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg acknowledged that we have a “real racial problem” in America. [National Law Journal]

* Cooley Law has experienced legal troubles over its job stats for the past few years, and a great deal of it has been handled by Miller Canfield. It raked in almost $1M from the school from 2011 to 2012. [Am Law Daily]

* Yesterday, a federal judge in Florida struck down the state’s ban on gay marriage as unconstitutional. The latest opinion is one of nineteen in favor of marriage equality. The decision was stayed, but yay for Flori-duh! [CNN]

* Half of Concordia Law’s third-year class will not be returning to school this fall because they’d rather wait to receive word on whether the school will be accredited than waste more of their time there. [Boise State Public Radio]

* Thanks to JudgmentMarketplace.com, a dentist was finally able to collect on a a years-old default judgment against Kim Kardashian — but only because a lawyer bought it from him. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Judge John D. Bates wrote a letter to the Senate Judiciary and Intelligence Committee leadership “on behalf of the Judiciary” explaining why it’s important to keep FISA an opaque Star Chamber. Chief Judge Kozinsky, um, disagrees with that “on behalf” part, and calls out Judge Bates in this letter for mouthing off where he has absolutely no authority. [Just Security]

* The twisted, contradictory, desperate logic behind Halbig. In GIF form!!! [Buzzfeed]

* Two InfiLaw schools, Florida Coastal and our Twitter buddies at Charlotte, are offering refunds to students who perpetually fail the bar as well as a refund to students who don’t get clerkships or externships. That’s nice. A whole $10,000 for failing the bar twice and $2000 for not landing a position. Don’t bother comparing that too how much the students shelled out for their degrees because it’s too depressing. [JD Journal]

* Do you want to know how to survive Biglaw? [2Civility]

* Interesting advice on how to best take advantage of the more informal rules of mediation — let your clients build the narrative. [Katz Justice]

* Judge gives a speech and suggests a woman should become a phone sex operator. That’ll work out well for him. [Journal Gazette]

* Maybe we should be getting law degrees as undergrads? That way we might have minors that employers will care about. [Chronicle of Higher Education]

* Geez, lots of judges in trouble today — here’s an elected judge accused of lying about where she lived to get elected. She denies it, but her filings list three different addresses. Oops. [Times-Picayune]

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