* An updated version of the Twinkie defense? A Kentucky man on trial for murdering his wife plans to blame it on the caffeine. “If this defense works, partners, lock your doors….” [BL1Y]
* Speaking of coffee — for just a dollar a day, less than the cost of your daily Starbucks fix, you can fulfill a poor Bolivian child’s dream of owing you money for the rest of his or her life. [Huffington Post]
* Suing for defamation: it’s just not worth it. Larry Joe Davis, the Florida attorney who sued lawyer-rating website Avvo, is dropping his libel claims. [Avvo Blog]
* If you’re planning to attend tonight’s event at the New York Public Library — featuring Justice Stephen Breyer, who has a new book out, and Jeffrey Rosen — look for me. If you can’t make it in person but are interested in the proceedings, you can watch them over the web. [FORA.tv]
If you happen to be on the frigid East Coast today, currently experiencing the coldest temperatures of the season, grab yourself a cup of cocoa and a copy of the Sunday New York Times. The NYT often has articles of interest to a legal audience, but this weekend’s edition has an especially high number of stories either by or about the boldface names of the legal profession. To wit:
1. Power of Attorney: Questions for John Yoo. Deborah Solomon interviews John Yoo, the Berkeley law professor perhaps most well-known for his authorship of the so-called “torture memos.” Considering her liberal politics and modus operandi as an interviewer — we’ve previously described her as “snarky, cranky, exceedingly direct” — we were expecting her to go to town on Yoo.
But Professor Yoo actually comes across very well in the short Q-and-A (and is looking newly svelte in the accompanying photo). He’s smart, funny, and charming — not a surprise to us, based on our personal interactions with him, but perhaps a surprise to some who know only the cartoon villain depicted by the mainstream media.
2. The 30-Minute Interview: Jonathan L. Mechanic. An interesting interview with real estate super-lawyer Jonathan Mechanic, chairman of the real estate department of Fried Frank (and previously profiled here). We learn that Mechanic, in addition to being a top real estate attorney, is also a real estate investor: he owns retail and commercial properties in Bergen County, NJ (where we grew up).
Three more stories, after the jump.
The upcoming retirement of Justice David Souter has led to lots of speculation about the next Supreme. We held a poll here at ATL, including some of the potential nominees that have been mentioned most often by the legal press. Almost 10,000 ATL readers put Sonia Sotomayor, with 28% of the vote, and Elena Kagan, with 20% of the vote, at the top of their list (see full results after the jump).
Obama says he wants a Supreme with empathy. Given that, Clerquette at Underneath Their Robes asks whether the smart money is on solicitor general and ex-Harvard dean Elena Kagan:
The question of course, is which judicial fox will occupy the Souter seat. As you know, our/ATL’s leaderboard points to General Kagan and Judge Sotomayor as front-runners. But, while some Court-watchers (and POTUS fans) are unabashedly agog at the possibility of the “diversity double” that would be accomplished by Judge Sotomayor’s nomination, a few interesting rumblings to the contrary have emerged. Point I: a number of commenters, including Adam Liptak of the New York Times, have pointed out that the notion of promoting “diversity” amongst the Supremes requires both consideration of personal characteristics and credentials and a good, hard look at the presumptive nominees’ path to power. Given the homogeneity of the current bench, which consists entirely of former federal judges (who are, admittedly, irresistible!), might POTUS seize this opportunity to mix it up a little? He has, after all, identified Justice Earl Warren as his personal judicial dreamboat, citing Justice Warren’s political background and the pragmatism with which it infused his juristic decision-making.
But wait: there’s more! In an article so chock-full of Article III gossip that Clerquette read much of it while breathing into a paper bag (narrowly avoiding a dramatic swoon) esteemed law professor Jeffrey Rosen writes that Judge Sotomayor may not be quite ready for prime time. Although she gets high marks for sass and biographical appeal — not insignificant qualities — Rosen reports that some have raised doubts about her strength on the merits. For example, he writes, many of his sources have “expressed questions about her temperament, her judicial craftsmanship, and most of all, her ability to provide an intellectual counterweight to the conservative justices, as well as a clear liberal alternative.” Gasp! Juicier yet, Rosen quotes a former Second Circuit clerk who opined that Sotomayor was “‘not that smart and kind of a bully on the bench.’” The clerk also noted that Judge Sotomayor had what sound (to this blogress) like patent indicia of divadom: specifically, said the clerk, “She has an inflated opinion of herself, and is domineering during oral arguments, but her questions aren’t penetrating and don’t get to the heart of the issue.”
Wow, Professor Rosen, don’t hold back. Those are strong words, and are getting some strong reactions. Glenn Greenwald at Salon excoriated Rosen for the attack piece.
In our initial post, we proposed an unofficial “David Lat to SCOTUS” campaign. You all came up with some interesting suggestions as well. More speculation on Souter’s replacement, and some dark horse candidates, after the jump.
Okay, so the folks over at TMZ.com don’t chase them around yet. But here at ATL, we adore legal celebrities — and invite you to send in your encounters with them, for our Eyes of the Law sightings column.
Last Friday, for lovers of legal boldface names from the left or the right, William & Mary School of Law was the place to be:
William and Mary Law School (and the College) had a series of speakers of today, all wedged into a very tight schedule. They included:
At noon, former Dean of UC Irvine School of Law Erwin Chemerinsky. Unfortunately, I didn’t go to his talk, so I can’t say whether he talked about the controversy.
At 1 PM, UC Berkley professor (and evil incarnate if you believe some blogs) John Yoo spoke. Yoo said in his introduction that he was being “wedged in” between “the former Dean of UC Irvine” and Stuart Taylor, who was speaking at 2 on his book on the Duke rape case, “Until Proven Innocent.”
We also had a panel on Saturday on “Judicial Modesty,” which included such leading lights as Dahlia Lithwick, Michael McConnell, Carter Phillips and Jeffrey Rosen. See here (PDF).
Quite the weekend for legal geeks! (Er. You know. If I was one of them).
Although this tipster wasn’t at the Chemerinsky talk, other ATL readers were. Check out this video, posted on the blog of the W&M chapter of the American Constitution Society. Isn’t Chemerinsky adorable?
Additional discussion of the Erwin Chemerinsky and John Yoo appearances, after the jump.
We’re stepping away from our computer for bit, to attend an event at Georgetown Law School featuring two of the best writers about the Supreme Court working today: Jan Crawford Greenburg, of ABC News, and Jeffrey Rosen, of The New Republic. It will be moderated by the brilliant Professor Neal Katyal (who also happens to be Jeff Rosen’s brother-in-law).
Both Greenburg and Rosen have just published new books about the Court. Rosen is the author of The Supreme Court: The Personalities and Rivalries that Defined America, and Greenburg is the author of Supreme Conflict.
Before her book was published, we speculated that Jan Crawford Greenburg might unseat Linda Greenhouse as Queen Bee of the SCOTUS press corps. We suggested that the young and attractive Greenburg might play Eve Harrington to Linda Greenhouse’s Margo Channing. In light of the rapturous notices that Supreme Conflict has received, as well as its status as a New York Times-certified bestseller, we feel that our prediction is coming to pass. Watch out, Linda G.!
Some content will be posted while we’re gone. So please do check back soon! Earlier: All About… Jan?
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