Jury Duty

Next Friday, barring last-minute action from Congress, the series of crippling automatic budget cuts known affectionately as “sequestration” will go into effect, immediately slicing 8.2 percent off non-defense spending for 2013. It’s the continuation of the so-called “fiscal cliff,” which was supposed to hit January 1st, but Congress moved this component to March because two potentially disastrous political showdowns are more fun than one.

If you haven’t heard about the sequestration, here’s a good primer, and you’re officially working too hard.

If sequestration is implemented next week, the likely negative impacts range from knocking expected GDP growth down 10 percent or so in 2013 GDP, to setting back medical science for a generation.

The legal field will be especially hard hit…

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* Lanny Breuer’s resignation from his post as the assistant attorney general for the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice is neither fast nor furious enough for his critics. [Blog of Legal Times]

* “I don’t reimburse for taxi and car services around Manhattan.” Judge Martin Glenn is none too pleased with costly expenses billed to the Dewey & LeBoeuf bankruptcy estate by Togut, Segal & Segal, and he’s started slashing fees left and right. [Am Law Daily]

* The Florida Space Coast School of Law? This totally necessary school has a name that no one will ever be able to make fun of. Please let there be an equally necessary space law concentration. [Daytona Times]

* “Being rude is not illegal,” but thanks to The Dirty, it might have some damning consequences for CDA § 230. Maybe it’s a good thing the jurors in this sexy teacher’s defamation case were deadlocked last night. [KY Post]

* Julie Taymor settled her suit against the producers of Broadway’s musical adaptation of Spider-Man. It turns out all the judge had to do was schedule a trial date to get the parties to turn off the dark litigation. [Bloomberg]

* Here’s an example of legal Kaepernicking: the NFL got to flex its muscles when it strong-armed a football fan into abandoning his trademarks on “Harbowl” and “Harbaugh Bowl” in anticipation of the Super Bowl. [ESPN]

Back in October, I waded into the rough waters of discussing women’s weight issues, and the discrimination that naturally follows. Again, I know that’s not much of a news flash; in a society that’s obsessed with beauty, of course overweight people, women especially (trust me, I’ve been there many a time), are going to be scrutinized and looked down upon with disgust. From what they wear to what they eat, everything they do is viewed with an eye toward absolute repulsion — because honestly, how dare they believe they’re normal. If you’re an overweight woman, your every waking move is going to be stigmatized.

In fact, rather damning character traits are regularly ascribed to overweight people, without any care as to whether those individuals are actually lazy, greedy, or devoid of self control. Ah, stereotypes. Even when they’re completely untrue, they’re so damn hard to shake.

Is it any surprise that these platitudes follow overweight women into the courtroom?

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It’s rare for a lawyer to face criminal charges (even if you might get a different impression based on the content of our pages). It’s rare for a criminal case to go to trial (as opposed to being resolved through a plea agreement). It’s rare for a defendant to take the witness stand at his own trial. And it’s rare for such a defendant to win an acquittal.

But this is exactly what happened in the case of Bryan Brooks, which we covered last month. Brooks went into the courtroom and emerged victorious, but it was not an easy experience. When you’re the defendant as opposed to defense counsel, your life and liberty are on the line. Higher stakes would be hard to imagine.

I recently sat down with Bryan to hear the story of his harrowing journey through the criminal justice system….

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“I don’t know…I can’t figure out any differences between these guys.”

Last night, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney squared off in a town hall debate, a format specifically designed to sway undecided voters because the political media seems obsessed with the idea that low information voters are super awesome and totally deserving of their role driving the political discourse of the most powerful nation on the planet.

As I watched it last night, it struck me that this town hall format is the political equivalent of the jury trial. The process is driven by staunchly undecided people culled from the local population with a moderator on hand primarily to facilitate the flow of information to the pool of lay observers.

But the two Harvard Law grads seeking the highest office in the nation failed some of the cardinal rules of jury trials.

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* Even silly prime-time television shows can raise serious, interesting legal questions. [PrawfsBlawg]

* Joe Biden is hilarious, Paul Ryan is Eddie Haskel, yadda yadda, but let’s not forget that judicial appointments are kind of a big deal here in this election, too. [Volokh Conspiracy]

* For anyone interested in the prestigious Presidential Management Fellowship (PMF) program, check out the new Path to PMF initiative, which will prepare you for the application process. [Path to PMF]

* This judge is upping the ante for prospective jurors who can’t stay off the Google machine. [Tampa Bay Times]

* Go see the America’s Funniest Attorney competition next week AND help fight juvenile diabetes. [Gotham Comedy Club]

* Meet David Lat in the flesh — or at least hear him speak — at UC Hastings on Monday evening. [California Lawyer]

After the jump, check out Lee Pacchia of Bloomberg Law interview the author of Adam Smith, Esq., on the implications of “suicide pricing”….

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I preach all the time how important serving is, so I thought, what better way to put my money where my mouth is.

– Cambria County Judge Linda Fleming, who was called for jury duty last week, for the first time in several decades. She was dismissed before getting seated, but only after watching a juror instructional video — in which she is a guest speaker.

Right on schedule, attorneys representing Samsung have filed an appeal a month after the company’s glorious failure in its IP faceoff against Apple.

Quinn Emanuel, Samsung’s firm, has taken the jury misconduct route as a way to get the $1 billion dollar verdict tossed. How exactly does Samsung argue the jury — which returned a verdict after only two days, and originally tried to award damages on patents that weren’t infringed — screwed up?

Let’s just say loose lips sink ships, and might even scuttle billion-dollar patent verdicts….

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The average person is relatively honest. Why do we create rules that force otherwise honest people to lie?

We do this to many people. Think first about physicians.

For some reason, New Mom and Baby should spend one extra night at the hospital. Mom and Baby are doing fine, but the doctor sees a reason for one more night of rest. What does Doc do?

The insurance company won’t pay for, and Mom can’t afford, an extra night at the hospital, so Doc lies: He falsely notes that Baby is “jaundiced,” which justifies the necessary night at the hospital. The rules have turned Doc into a liar.

I’m sure that’s just the start of what the insurance bureaucracy does to turn honest physicians into routine liars. But I’m thinking today of rules that turn perfectly honest lawyers into liars. Once you start thinking about it, you’ll come up with endless examples . . .

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Better than jail…

* “He’s stupid. I wouldn’t even count him as a Republican.” Many Republican women at the RNC wish that the men like Rep. Todd Akin would just shut up about abortion, rape, and contraception. [Reuters]

* Everything’s bigger in Texas, including the discrimination against minorities. A panel of judges on a D.C. federal court shot down the state’s redistricting plans for lack of compliance with the VRA. [Washington Post]

* A disgruntled Stanford Law graduate’s defamation and retaliation suit against the school was dismissed. Sorry, but it’s highly doubtful that a law professor blacklisted you from getting a job. [National Law Journal]

* “[T]here’s a surplus of attorneys and not enough jobs for it.” Lincoln Memorial’s president admits amid accreditation issues that perhaps it wasn’t the best time to open Duncan Law. [Knoxville News Sentinel]

* “I don’t know if this was worth it, but I did have a good time in Cancun.” Skipping deliberations to go on vacation is a great way to earn yourself a trip to jail, but this girl got lucky. [Proof & Hearsay / Journal Sentinel]

* Continental faces a lawsuit after baggage handlers allegedly removed a sex toy from a passenger’s luggage and taped it outside the bag for the world to see. At least it wasn’t the TSA. [Courthouse News Service]

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