The justice system in California suffered a complete meltdown yesterday, and an alleged career criminal who should be in jail is now in the morgue.
Here’s what happened: Bobby Lee Pearson was on trial for burglary in a Fresno County court. The jury was deadlocked. I’ve written before about how our jury system is probably the worst system possible, aside from all the other ones that have been tried.
If the jurors had told Judge W. Kent Hamlin they were deadlocked, he would have declared a mistrial. But there’s no “box” on the verdict form for no verdict, you have to actually tell the judge. This, evidently, confused the s**t out of 12 souls in Fresno. Instead of telling the judge, leaving the form blank, or simply asking for help, the jurors did the dumbest and laziest thing possible, and filled in “not guilty”on the verdict form.
Hamlin read the verdict, and released Pearson. Only later did jurors inform him that they had no freaking idea what they were doing. But it was too late for Pearson.
* The SCOTUS decision in the Pom Wonderful case could have serious repercussions in terms of deceptive labeling litigation under the Lanham Act. Even Justice Kennedy was misled! [Huffington Post]
* Dewey know when to WARN people? This failed firm apparently didn’t, and now it has to pay a $4.5 million class-action settlement to the employees it laid off without adequate notice. [WSJ Law Blog]
* After getting bumped out of the Am Law 100 after a 17-year run, Shook Hardy & Bacon is letting go of three floors of office space it “no longer needs.” Secretaries Paper takes up a lot of room! [Am Law Daily]
* Minutes after this career criminal was released from jail due to his accidental acquittal, he was stabbed to death with a steak knife. But for the jury’s crazy mistake, he would still be alive. Yikes. [Fresno Bee]
* LMU’s Duncan Law, perhaps better known as the little law school that couldn’t, is still trying to get ABA accreditation. At least this time they’ll be able to use law schools’ national decline as a scapegoat. [WBIR]
* Hmm, somebody didn’t review those documents quickly enough: the City of Detroit’s bankruptcy trial has been delayed for about a month’s time by Judge Steven Rhodes because the parties needed additional time to get their acts together. [Bloomberg]
* The NCAA may have lost the battle in the Keller EA Sports video games case with its $20 million settlement offer, but it’s clearly out for blood to win the war in the O’Bannon case with its tough cross-examination tactics for the lead plaintiff. [USA Today]
* GW Law, a school that recently increased its class size by 22 percent and allowed its average LSAT score to slip by two points, yoinked its new dean right out from under Wake Forest’s nose. [GW Hatchet]
* The legal profession isn’t exactly diverse, and law schools want to change that — the more pictures of “diverse” students they can display on their websites, the better. [Law Admissions Lowdown / U.S. News]
* Who really cares what prospective jurors wear when they show up for jury duty? The lawyers arguing that being turned away for wearing sneakers affected their clients’ rights in a case, that’s who. [WSJ Law Blog]
Madonna was supposed to do her civic duty as an American (or is she British these days?) and report for jury duty yesterday. Unfortunately, after galavanting on horses and prancing on beaches all Memorial Day weekend, she mysteriously fell ill.
Madonna took a “Holiday” from jury duty, if you will, and now the commoners are pissed…
* U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara wants to know more about why Governor Andrew Cuomo shut down an anticorruption commission. [New York Times]
* The ABA weighs in on the “unfinished business” controversy affecting bankrupt law firms, their lawyers, and their clients. [WSJ Law Blog]
* Better late than never: students and professors at UC Davis Law are pushing for the posthumous admission to the California bar of Hong Yeng Chang, who was denied a law license in 1890 solely because of his Chinese heritage. [Associated Press; South China Morning Post]
* Speaking of late, a robber sent to prison 13 years late because of a clerical error just got released. [ABA Journal]
* Cheerios is claiming that “Liking” them on Facebook constitutes a waiver of the right to sue. Let’s take this moment to encourage everyone to Like Above the Law on Facebook. [NY Times]
* New study determines that the United States is an oligarchy instead of a democracy. You’re telling me that a government explicitly founded on the principle that only a handful of wealthy men should have a voice grew into an oligarchy? Quelle surprise! [UPI]
* In the continuing saga of NYU’s allegedly shady spending, there are now reports that former NYU Law Dean and current NYU President John Sexton used school funds to convert two apartments into a duplex for his son. His son was married to an NYU Law employee and as I’ve said before, a school located in housing-scarce Manhattan should be able to do something to house professors, but as they say, “the optics” aren’t good. [Chronicle of Higher Education]
* Musings on what it’s like to clerk in the midst of “flyover country” (presumably like my early childhood home of Des Moines). It makes a valiant effort to redeem itself at the end, but this article is exactly why most parts of the country think New Yorkers are elitist dicks. Which, we kind of are, but you don’t want to broadcast that. [Ramblings on Appeal]
* The judge in the New Orleans Affordable Housing case may know the real identity of one of the anonymous commenters in the case. And if one of the anonymous trolls was a federal prosecutor poisoning the well in the case — like everyone suspects — it could aid the defense. [Times-Picayune]
* For those of you across the pond, there’s a one-day event for lawyers on the business case for Corporate Social Responsibility. It’s in England because American companies have already passed on the idea of corporate responsibility. [International Law Society]
A jury trial: “the grand bulwark of our liberties.” Cross-examination: “the greatest legal engine ever invented for the discovery of truth.” I remember these quotes (from Blackstone and Wigmore, respectively) uttered grandly during Evidence or some such class in law school.
Just guessing these maxims aren’t entirely reflective of everyone’s experience. A particularly discouraging example, after the jump….
Duke: national champions when it comes to law school softball.
* According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the legal sector added 2,300 jobs in 2014. Our sincere condolences go out to all those who are still “too overqualified but too under-experienced,” all at the same time, to get hired. [Am Law Daily]
* This lawyer protested jury duty by emailing the judge to say she’d “blame the plaintiff” for making her work nights and weekends for her client, but she can only blame herself for having to spend the night in jail. Oopsie! [Daily Report (reg. req.)]
* “Would it be great if all unpaid internships paid really well? Sure. It would also be great if my dog made breakfast for me every morning, but I am not going to file a lawsuit over it.” Yep. [Los Angeles Times]
* The law school transparency movement has come quite far since its inception, but there’s a lot of room for improvement. Encourage your school to hurry up and “publish what it has at its fingertips.” [Law.com]
* UVA Law held its Softball Invitational this weekend. A Duke Law dude emailed us to say his school sucks at basketball, but it’s awesome at law school softball. Sweet accomplishment, brah. [Newsplex]
* DEA Administrator decides to up the ante on the stupidest argument against marijuana legalization ever: it’s harmful to dogs. The DEA’s plan to ban chocolate is still in draft. [The Volokh Conspiracy / Washington Post]
* Everyone’s up to date on the Florida lawyer and right-wing congressional candidate with the vampiric cosplay rape fantasies, right? Okay good. [Gawker]
* Jurors say police used excessive force but that the beating didn’t injure the plaintiff. In other news, Florida has a senility problem. [The Florida Times-Union]
* Did anybody notice that Chief Justice Roberts — the author of Shelby County — opened McCutcheon by labeling the right to participate in electing leaders as fundamental with absolutely no irony? [Reuters]
* Anti-gay job discrimination may already be illegal. [Slate]
* The bad economy pits criminal defense lawyers against each other. They shouldn’t do that. [Katz Justice]
* The SEC doesn’t have to abide by the Brady rule and Mark Cuban’s not happy about it. [Wall Street Journal]
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