Old People

It’s been a while since we have had a good ol’ Flori-duh story. I mean, that Miami kid came up with a ridiculous student bill of rights ages ago. We’re all overdue for some Everglades antics.

We’ll need to do a Florida potpourri here, but together these two stories have everything we’ve come to expect from the Sunshine State. We’ve got randomness, violence, crime, and circumstances that would seem improbable anywhere else.

And the fact that this is happening at arguably the top law school in Florida just makes everything so much better. Pass the Tropicana and strap in, for a look at life down in Gatorville

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On Tuesday, Ropes & Gray was sued in Manhattan federal court by a former partner, Patricia A. Martone. Martone’s lawsuit claims age discrimination, sex discrimination, retaliation, and interference with protected retirement benefits in violation of ERISA (the basis for federal jurisdiction in the S.D.N.Y.).

As you might expect from an ex-Ropes partner, Martone has some high-powered counsel: Anne Vladeck, one of New York’s top labor and employment lawyers, widely regarded as the queen of employment discrimination law. Vladeck famously (and successfully) represented Anucha Browne Sanders in her sexual harassment lawsuit against Isiah Thomas and the Knicks.

Patricia Martone is a veteran intellectual-property litigatrix, a specialist in patent litigation, with almost 40 years of practice under her belt. She made partner at Fish & Neave, the well-known patent law firm, in 1983, and then became a Ropes partner in 2005, when Ropes absorbed Fish. She’s now a partner at Morrison & Foerster, which she joined in October 2010.

Why did she leave Ropes? Let’s have a look at Patricia Martone, and her lawsuit….

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Time to put down the gavel and hang up the robe.

We recently covered the Third Circuit’s benchslap of Judge John Fullam, an 89-year-old judge in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. In his opinion in United States v. Higdon, issuing a writ of mandamus and directing that the case mishandled by Judge Fullam be reassigned on remand, Chief Judge Theodore McKee had some harsh words for the aged jurist: “Neither this court, nor any other court, can tolerate a situation where a judge decides to follow his/her own custom and concepts of justice rather than the precedent of the applicable appellate court or the United States Supreme Court. Ours is a nation of laws, not judges.”

At the same time, Chief Judge McKee had some kind words for Judge Fullam, praising him as “a very experienced and hard working jurist [who] has devoted decades of service to the federal bench.” In the comments to our post, some readers interpreted the combination of statements — criticism for Judge Fullam’s mishandling of one case, but compliments for his “decades of service” — as the Third Circuit trying to nudge Judge Fullam into retirement.

Well, it seems to have worked — and it’s apparently the culmination of a long-running effort to get Judge Fullam off the bench….

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Judge Fullam is a very experienced and hard working jurist and he has devoted decades of service to the federal bench. Nothing we have said in this opinion should detract from that. However, neither this court, nor any other court, can tolerate a situation where a judge decides to follow his/her own custom and concepts of justice rather than the precedent of the applicable appellate court or the United States Supreme Court. Ours is a nation of laws, not judges.

– Chief Judge Theodore McKee (3d Cir.), benchslapping the 89-year-old Judge John Fullam (E.D. Pa.) through issuance of a writ of mandamus, in United States v. Higdon.

Ann Althouse

* The town of Sedgwick, Maine, has declared “food sovereignty,” giving its citizens the right “to produce, process, sell, purchase, and consume local foods of their choosing,” without regard to state or federal law. Preemption? The Supremacy Clause? Eat it. [Food Renegade]

* Speaking of chaos, Wisconsin law professor Ann Althouse wonders: “Who will win and who will lose in the recall madness?” [Althouse]

* Elsewhere in the Midwest, a blogger who didn’t commit defamation is nevertheless held liable under alternative theories that media law professor Jane Kirtley describes as “trash torts.” We no like. [Minneapolis Star-Tribune via Consumerist]

Ruth Bader Ginsburg: birthday girl.

* A young couple that has been fined for their noisy kid might take legal action against their homeowners’ association. Do they have a toddler’s leg to stand on? [MyFoxDFW.com]

* Happy Birthday, Justice Ginsburg! You don’t look a day over 78. [Vault]

* We previously mentioned the ATL contest for NCAA picks — click here, join the group “Above the Law Blog” with the password “abovethelaw”, and fill out a bracket — but we also encourage you to join the Dealbreaker contest (which has much nicer prizes). [Dealbreaker]

Ray Carey

You don’t see this everyday. Raymond Carey, a 57-year-old white male partner at Foley & Lardner, is suing the firm, alleging that it paid him less than it would have paid a “female, non-Caucasian, younger partner.”

Sadly, it appears the only evidence Carey has for his claims is that he wasn’t paid as much as he feels he was promised. That’s disappointing. When women, gays, or minorities make discrimination claims, there are usually juicy tidbits about inappropriate jokes and statements made to the alleged victim. But I just read through a 63-page complaint and there wasn’t a single alleged “cracker” joke. Apparently nobody at Foley told Carey he needed to show “more bulge.”

But hey, if the brother’s not getting paid as much as other people in his office, maybe he has a point. And even if you don’t find the complaint particularly salacious, one of Carey’s attached exhibits is the Foley & Lardner partnership agreement….

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Ed. note: This post is by Will Meyerhofer, a former Sullivan & Cromwell attorney turned psychotherapist. He holds degrees from Harvard, NYU Law, and The Hunter College School of Social Work, and he blogs at The People’s Therapist. His new book, Life is a Brief Opportunity for Joy, is available on Amazon.

My client was sitting at her desk, drafting a complicated, rushed memo. The topic was an obscure derivative. She’d worked all weekend, then come in again early. Her head hurt. It was due at 5 p.m. She could barely focus and was feeling panicked. It was 4 p.m.

The phone rang. Not thinking, she picked up and barked her last name, sharply, like the partner she worked for did.

“Jones.”

It was her ninety-two-year-old grandmother.

“How are you, Sweetheart?”

My client couldn’t stop crying.

“All she did was ask how I was,” she told me. “That’s all it took. I fell apart.”

When you enter the world of Biglaw, you pass through a ritual of initiation – LSAT, law school, bar exam, interviews.

Then you enter the bubble…

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Confucius say: "Sit down and watch my home video of my Carnival cruise or I'll sue you."

Chinese New Year is this week (February 3rd). May the year of the rabbit bring you health and good fortune. Holiday preparations are well underway, and hopefully people will take the time to reconnect with family and friends.

And if you don’t visit your parents, they might sue you. A new proposal from the Chinese Civil Affairs Ministry seeks to mandate parental visits from Chinese children. And if the children don’t regularly visit their parents, the parents can sue.

We shouldn’t look at this as a new law: it’s just a modern update on an ancient law. Old people have long tried to find ways of forcing their kids to pay attention to them. Some societies use laws, others use the magical threat of eternal damnation. Some parents merely trust that their own skills in psychological torture will keep the kiddies hanging around on the off chance that one day mommy or daddy will be “proud” of them.

But as modern medicine artificially extends life, every society is wrestling with the problem of what to do with old people nobody cares about anymore. China has a long history of trying to regulate the most intimate of familial interactions, so when you think about it, this proposal isn’t really shocking…

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Judge Wesley Brown will be 104 in June.

When I clerked on the Ninth Circuit years ago, one of the judges on the court at the time was extremely old — and didn’t seem very “with it.” His law clerks seemed to take on a large amount of responsibility. One of his clerks that year, a law school classmate of mine I’ll call “Mary,” would negotiate over the phone with Ninth Circuit judges over how particular cases should come out — a responsibility well beyond the legal research and opinion drafting done by most clerks.

On one occasion, a vote on whether to rehear a case en banc emanated not from the judge’s chambers account, but from Mary’s personal email account. Even more embarrassingly, it was written not on behalf of the judge or the chambers, but in the first person: “I vote YES to rehearing en banc.” A law school classmate of mine who was also clerking for the Ninth that year remarked, “I thought only judges did that. When did Mary get her presidential commission?”

Some of us jokingly referred to that chambers as Weekend at Judgie’s. What appeared to be going on over there reminded us of Justice Thurgood Marshall’s famous quip to his clerks: “If I die, prop me up and keep voting!”

We joked about this delegation of Article III authority to a newly minted law school graduate. But as Joseph Goldstein suggests, in a very interesting article just published by Slate and ProPublica, the issue of superannuated jurists is no laughing matter….

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Please note the headline says “new” evidence. It does not say “good” or “credible” or “definitive” evidence. That’s because the evidence doesn’t really fall into any of those categories. In fact, the headline could have read “F. Lee Bailey Evades Caretakers, Gets to Internet Before Somebody Stops Him.”

But whatever, former Dream Team (and now disbarred) lawyer F. Lee Bailey says he can tell us things about O.J. Simpson that we didn’t know before, things that make O.J. look innocent. And Bailey says that this evidence was not used during O.J.’s trial because of a strategic mistake by the late Johnnie Cochran. That’s right, if Cochran would have just done what Bailey wanted, O.J. Simpson could have been more acquitted! Or something.

Let’s look at what Bailey has to say. It’s one of those things that makes me happy we have “the internet”…

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