Movies

The Winklevoss twins might be hot -- but their case is not, according to the Ninth Circuit.

If you enjoyed The Social Network, then perhaps you should be grateful to Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss. The lawsuit they filed against Facebook and Facebook’s founder, Mark Zuckerberg, gave rise to excellent entertainment. The movie wouldn’t have been possible without it.

But now the litigation is getting… old. And some people just want the Winklevoss twins to go away. Like three judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

In a ruling handed down today, rejecting the Winklevosses’s effort to overturn an earlier settlement with Facebook and Zuckerberg, the Ninth Circuit dispensed some stinging benchslaps. The opinion contains detailed and erudite analysis of both California contract law and federal securities law, but it can be summarized in four words: “Winklevii, STFU and GTFO.” (Feel free to use that in your headnotes, Westlaw and Lexis.)

Who wrote the opinion? None other than the ever-colorful Chief Judge Alex Kozinski, of course!

Let’s see what His Honor had to say — plus learn about additional Kozinski-related and movie-related news….

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There’s always something fun going on in the Ninth Circuit. Last week, the Court voted against rehearing en banc in United States v. Alvarez, a case raising the constitutionality of the Stolen Valor Act (a law that essentially criminalizes false claims of military heroism). A divided three-judge panel struck down the Act on First Amendment grounds, and the Ninth Circuit voted against reconsidering that decision en banc.

Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain (disclosure: my former boss) wrote a spirited and persuasive dissent from the denial of rehearing en banc, on behalf of himself and six other judges. The dissenters argued that the Act passes constitutional muster and that the First Amendment does not protect knowingly false statements of fact (subject to certain exceptions not presented by the law). The position that the Stolen Valor Act is constitutional is shared by a number of prominent scholars, including First Amendment guru Eugene Volokh.

But this is far from an open-and-shut case (unlike many of the Ninth Circuit cases that generate dissents from denial of rehearing, which we’ve previously described as the “Bat Signal” flashed by right-of-center Ninth Circuit judges to the Supreme Court when the lefties run amok). On the other side of the Alvarez case was Chief Judge Alex Kozinski — Professor Volokh’s former boss, and a jurist who, like Judge O’Scannlain, is often vindicated by SCOTUS smackdowns of Ninth Circuit liberals.

(Digression: I don’t like it when two of my most favorite federal judges cross swords! It’s like watching a fight between My Two Dads. I’d much rather see the two of them join forces against the Emperor Palpatine and She Who Must Not Be Named.)

Chief Judge Kozinski wrote a rather colorful concurrence to the denial of rehearing en banc. Some hilarious highlights from it, plus a fun movie-related tidbit from His Honor, after the jump.

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Were you disappointed by James Franco and Anne Hathaway as Oscars hosts? If so, you weren’t alone. PopEater described their hosting efforts, especially Franco’s, as “a disaster.” The New York Times declared the proceedings to be “downright painful” at points.

Next year, the Academy Awards should go in a different direction. Enough pandering to the youth. For 2012, the Oscars host should be a certain hilarious, older Jewish gentleman, who has been celebrated over the years for his brilliance and wit, and who knows a great deal about movies.

Bring back Billy Crystal? Not a bad idea — but here’s a better one. Bring on Chief Judge Alex Kozinski, of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit!

In addition to his incredible intellect and superb sense of humor, Chief Judge Kozinski has an encyclopedic knowledge of film. Recall his famous ruling in the movie-industry case of United States v. Syufy Enterprises, featuring over 200 film titles woven artfully into the text of his opinion.

Chief Judge Kozinski knows movies, and he loves movies. He goes to the cinema every chance he gets. In fact, His Honor recently sent a movie recommendation my way — and it’s PG-13, in case you’re wondering….

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Ed. note: This is the latest installment of Size Matters, one of Above the Law’s new columns for small-firm lawyers.

As has become my tradition, Sunday night I watched the Academy Awards while drinking an Oscar-themed martini. While watching the three-and-a-half-hour award show, I was reminded of a few life lessons that I have learned about practicing law.

First, as I listened to the kids from P.S. 22 sing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” I remembered that my years at Biglaw have left me dead inside.

Second, as I saw the many beautiful (and not so beautiful) nude dresses, I was reminded of the importance of transparency in the management of a small law firm. Yes, perhaps this analogy is a stretch, but I just wanted to be able to write about the Oscars and my Black Swan-tini….

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Molly Wei

* Professor Larry Lessig’s review of The Social Network. [New Republic]

* Dahlia Lithwick’s review of the big new Brennan biography, by Seth Stern and Stephen Wermiel. [New York Times]

* Molly Wei, one of the two Rutgers students involved in the Tyler Clementi case, feels “attack[ed]” — but she’s hanging in there. [Celebitchy]

* Reports of a hunter’s death may have been greatly exaggerated, but they don’t entitle him to a defamation award. [Courthouse News]

* “Thinking of a Career in Law? Hahaha!” (Or: the U.K. legal market sounds a whole lot like ours.) [Charon QC]

* Can a lawyer use publicly available information on Facebook in a pending case without friending the person? [Adjunct Law Prof Blog]

* Vanderbilt law professor and leading class-action scholar Richard Nagareda, R.I.P. [TortsProf Blog]

You have to hand it to the people at Latham & Watkins. Former employees can bitch and moan all they want about being laid-off, but the firm has a certain kind of “star quality.”

Take this story from this month’s American Lawyer. It turns out that when Oliver Stone needed to figure out what was really going on during the height of the recession, he turned to Latham attorneys Alexander Cohen and Brian Cartwright. The lawyers are at Latham now, but their previous government experience gave Stone the inside knowledge he was looking for.

And because of their efforts, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps will be a much better movie…

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If you’re like most people who have an important drug test coming up — say, for a new law firm job or for probation (kind of the same thing) — you probably prepare by doing things such as guzzling water, sucking pennies, or ladling your roommate’s urine into a pocket flask.

A somewhat less effective way to prepare involves going on a cocaine and amphetamine binge hours before your drug test and hoping for the best. But that didn’t stop Lindsay Lohan from trying last week:

Lindsay Lohan’s probation has been revoked and a bench warrant issued for her arrest…. Although the bench warrant was issued, it’s being held — i.e., on hold — until Friday at 8:30 AM, when Lindsay is ordered to appear in court.

The move by Judge Elden Fox comes after Lindsay failed two drug tests recently … one showed the presence of cocaine and another showed amphetamines.

Under the terms of her probation, Lindsay could get 60 days for her latest misstep, and the bench warrant comes just weeks after Lindsay completed a 14-day jail stint and 23 days in UCLA’s in-patient celebrity-enabling sanctuary rehab for another parole violation.

As an occasional taxpayer (albeit in a different state), I’m annoyed California has to waste precious time and resources monitoring and jailing Lindsay, when they could be doing something useful, like banning Jay Leno. As a lawyer, I’m itching to blame someone or something(s) for her downward spiral, and I have found the proximate clause: her boobs.

Let’s take a closer look…

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The courtroom lends itself to dramatization. A trial has a natural story arc: The adversarial system makes for a clear conflict between characters. There’s a natural end point when both sides rest their cases and the verdict comes down. Plus, lawyers are such loveable characters.

And so there are many great movies and TV shows about lawyers. (Along with some not so great ones.) They can amuse, inspire, terrify, or convince you to go to law school.

The ABA Journal has made a list of the 25 greatest fictional lawyers of all time:

In our survey of this literature of lawyers, however, we feel obliged to recognize a great divide—ante-Atticus and post-Atticus.

From Dick the Butcher’s famous pronouncement to Jack Cade in Shakespeare’s Henry VI, Part 2 — “First thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.” — through Dickens’ Mr. Tulkinghorn and Galsworthy’s Soames Forsyte, literature (with a few exceptions) treated lawyers poorly.

That all changed with Harper Lee’s unflappable, unforgettable Atticus Finch. With Atticus, the lawyer — once the criminal mouthpiece, the country club charlatan, the ambulance-chasing buffoon — was now an instrument of truth, an advocate of justice, the epitome of reason.

Since Finch is a literary lawyer on steroids, they have cut him from the competition. The list is the 25 greatest who are not Atticus Finch. Did your favorite make the list?

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As we noted yesterday, Solicitor General Elena Kagan, on track to be the newest justice of the Supreme Court, apparently hasn’t been bitten by the “Twilight” movies. When Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) tried to get Kagan to weigh in on the case of Edward v. Jacob, Kagan declined — a little forcefully. This won’t help White House efforts to depict the Divine Miss K as a girly girl.

But perhaps other legal types have a weakness for the series of vampire romance films. On Wednesday, the Washington Post had an article on the hard-core “Twilight” fans who came out in force for Tuesday night, post-12 a.m. screenings. Reports the Post:

After “Eclipse” was over, moviegoers gave it mixed reviews.

“It was a lot more frustrating than I thought it was going to be, ” said Bill Murray, 31.

“I thought it was fantastic,” said Gus Golden, 33. “It had a little bit in it for everyone.”

It seemed odd to find thirtysomething men at the midnight screening of a film aimed at teenage girls. To be sure, Robert Pattinson is ridiculously hot, and Taylor Lautner is quite the butterface (butHISface?), with abs that should be illegal under the Model Penal Code (hehe — penal). But then a little bird told us: “Gus Golden and Bill Murray are both rising 3L’s at Georgetown University Law Center.” And suddenly it all made sense.

The “Twilight” films are supposed to be juvenile and insubstantial — not typical cinematic fare for lawyers and law students. But before we started on a post heaping scorn upon these GULC students, and cracking jokes about how a fall from the so-called “T14″ is imminent, we decided to do some digging….

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A tale of three nominees (left to right): John Roberts, Harriet Miers and Samuel Alito.


Last night I headed across town to NYU Law School for a screening of Advise & Dissent, a new documentary about the Supreme Court confirmation process. Here’s a brief description of the film:

ADVISE & DISSENT is the first documentary to go behind the lines and into the trenches of the judicial confirmation wars. SCOTUSblog has called it “a fascinating, balanced insider look,” and Politico named it “a must see.” Timely and timeless, the film illuminates the collision of politics and justice.

Last night’s showing of the movie was followed by a conversation, featuring the following participants:

A report about the movie screening and the panel discussion, after the jump.

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