On Monday, the Supreme Court ordered a federal trial judge to take a closer look at the murder case against Troy Anthony Davis, a Georgia death row inmate. The SCOTUS directed the district judge to “receive testimony and make findings of fact as to whether evidence that could have been obtained at the time of trial clearly establishes [Davis'] innocence.”
Justice Antonin Scalia, joined by Justice Clarence Thomas, dissented. Justice Scalia questioned the viability of Davis’s claim of actual innocence, then went one step further. Even if Davis might be “actually” innocent, he’s SOL:
This Court has never held that the Constitution forbids the execution of a convicted defendant who has had a full and fair trial but is later able to convince a habeas court that he is “actually” innocent.
This bold pronouncement caught the attention of Professor Alan Dershowitz, back at Justice Scalia’s alma mater, Harvard Law School. From “Scalia’s Catholic Betrayal,” over at The Daily Beast:
Let us be clear precisely what [Scalia's dissent] means. If a defendant were convicted, after a constitutionally unflawed trial, of murdering his wife, and then came to the Supreme Court with his very much alive wife at his side, and sought a new trial based on newly discovered evidence (namely that his wife was alive), these two justices would tell him, in effect: “Look, your wife may be alive as a matter of fact, but as a matter of constitutional law, she’s dead, and as for you, Mr. Innocent Defendant, you’re dead, too, since there is no constitutional right not to be executed merely because you’re innocent.”
It would be shocking enough for any justice of the Supreme Court to issue such a truly outrageous opinion, but it is particularly indefensible for Justices Scalia and Thomas, both of whom claim to be practicing Catholics, bound by the teaching of their church, to do moral justice. Justice Scalia has famously written, in the May 2002 issue of the conservative journal First Things, that if the Constitution compelled him to do something that was absolutely prohibited by mandatory Catholic rules, he would have no choice but to resign from the Supreme Court.
So should Justice Scalia resign? The Dersh isn’t saying that — yet.
But he does have a challenge for Nino.
This past weekend we spent some time in Charlotte, North Carolina, where the houses are big (compared to Manhattan apartments), the downtown is small, and lawyers make time for inspirational lunches with school children. Or so we read in the Charlotte Observer:
It’s not every day that an eighth-grader gets to sit down to lunch with a lawyer, but it happens once a month for nearly 80 Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools students.
CMS’ “Lunch with a Lawyer” program helps middle schoolers who are interested in law careers learn more about the profession by getting to know a lawyer.
The article offers a refreshing take on why people become lawyers. See your profession through the eyes of 12-year-olds, after the jump.
Name partner Jerold Oshinsky is leaving Gilbert Oshinsky for Jenner & Block’s Los Angeles office. Gilbert Oshinsky will now be known as “Gilbert LLP.” According to the firm’s press release, long distance relationships aren’t easy for law firm partners either:
Founding partner and chairman Scott Gilbert announced today that Jerold Oshinsky is leaving the partnership to join the Los Angeles office of Jenner & Block, where he will concentrate on policyholder work and expand Jenner’s West Coast practice. The DC-based law firm’s name will be Gilbert LLP, and the firm will continue to serve its West Coast and other clients from its Washington DC headquarters. “Although our firm has active litigation and other business in most regions of the United States, including California, virtually all of our lawyers are headquartered in Washington, DC. Jerry and we found that, notwithstanding our mutual best efforts, this long-distance relationship was not practical for either of us.”
When Above the Law talked with a spokesperson for Gilbert, the firm again emphasized Oshinsky’s desire to build up his west coast practice. The spokesperson said that there was a logistical issue. Oshinsky’s family lives in L.A. and he didn’t want to continue going back and forth from the west coast to Gilbert’s headquarters in D.C.
Oshinsky will be the only Gilbert lawyer making the move to Jenner & Block.
Oshinsky joined Gilbert just this past October. The move to Jenner ends the delightful firm name abbreviation Scott Gilbert highlighted when Oshinsky came to the firm in October:
[A]s soon as Jerry is able to join the partnership, the firm will be changing its name to Gilbert Oshinsky LLP. This name best reflects our new, or in some cases reestablished, relationship with Jerry, as well as the merger of our two substantial practices. And yes, on several levels, we henceforth will be known as the GO to firm.
It was fun while it lasted.
Read the full Gilbert press release after the jump.
On Monday, SCOTUS ordered a federal judge to consider an innocence claim by death row inmate Troy Davis. The case has sparked serious media coverage.
It has also inspired some not-so serious media coverage. Were SCOTUS to take on the legality of the death penalty, the Onion News Network imagines how each Justice would approach the case:
Ed. note: Welcome to the latest installment of “Notes from the Breadline,” a column by a laid-off lawyer in New York. Prior columns are collected here. You can reach Roxana St. Thomas by email (at email@example.com), follow her on Twitter, or find her on Facebook.
After months of ceaseless rain, August descends languidly. As it wraps the city in its sweaty fist, the prevailing complaint of New Yorkers shifts seamlessly from “When will the sun come out?” to “I’m hot!” Tourists wrinkle their noses at the smell of ripening garbage on Broome Street, and my super takes up a shirtless vigil on the stoop outside our building. At night, the tables outside of neighborhood cafes fill with wilted hipsters, their carefully disheveled hair drooping damply.
“It’s 300 degrees outside,” my friend Bo announces one day on the phone. I am lying on the floor, watching the ceiling fan turn and thinking about the movie Casablanca, in which people managed to maintain their dignity despite heat and oppressive sartorial conventions. “It’s not so bad,” I say absently, watching the cat, who is attempting to drink out of his water dish without standing up. After a moment, he gives up and flops listlessly onto his side.
“Easy for you to say!” Bo snorts. “You don’t know what it’s like to have to dress up in a suit in 300-degree weather.”
I sit up, covered in cat hair, which has adhered itself to my sweaty clothes. I am like a human ice cream cone, I think, topped with particularly unappetizing sprinkles. It occurs to me that I have heard the sentiment that Bo is expressing – the assumption that I am unable to relate to the lives of working folk – several times since this heat wave started.
“Hmphf,” I say indignantly. “I remember exactly what it’s like to wear a suit to work when it’s 300 degrees out. Just because I’m not working right now, it doesn’t mean I can’t relate.”
Despite my protestations, however, I am secretly delighted. I have, I realize, discovered the silver lining in this storm cloud: I may be jobless and increasingly broke, but let’s face it — here in the breadline, every day is casual Friday.
I decide to pay a visit to Lat (who has been busily posting pictures of his sweaty visage on Facebook). I also suspect that his office is cooler than my apartment. At the very least, I can count on a chilly reception from the Fashionista staff, who regard my inelegance with mortified pity.
I arrive to find Lat stalking crabbily around the office with a watering can, looking harried. “What’s the matter?” I ask, flopping into a chair.
“Ugh,” Lat says irritably. “Elie went on vacation and left me to take care of his donut plant.” He pulls out a pair of pruning shears and begins to trim donut holes from its drooping branches. “I have a lot to do, and I’m really not in the mood to garden.”
“What can I do to help?” I ask, filling a cup from the burbling coffee fountain.
We all know that it is difficult to get a job in this legal market. But an advertisement posted on the Minnesota state bar website makes it look like we are just one step away from genetic testing for junior associates. At least in Iowa.
The request for new talent starts off very earnestly:
DECORAH, IA plaintiff firm is seeking a brilliant hardworking lawyer who would rather do research and writing than be in court. Firm practices catastrophic injury, medical malpractice, and wrongful death and is seeking a lawyer licensed or in the process of becoming licensed in Iowa and/or Minnesota willing to get licensed in both with a possibility of Wisconsin and California, who is willing to relocate to Decorah, IA. Position will be handling of the firm’s law and motion, discovery, legal research, and appeals (to work 50 hours per week, full time inside the office to prepare the firm’s trial lawyers who travel and spend most of their time in court). One month paid vacation per year, salary is negotiable and commensurate with experience and qualifications, the firm may be willing to provide housing in Decorah, IA. Writing samples, resume, and examples of briefs and projects worked on is required.
But then this plaintiff’s firm ad becomes … kind of creepy:
Much thought is going to be put into who will fill this very important position with the firm. Persons who are interested are requested to email a personal story of who the applicant is, what his or her political beliefs are, and what they believe about justice and personal injury litigation along with a recent personal and/or family photograph.
Political beliefs? A family photo? You know, this is one time where a little “X law firm is an equal opportunity employer …” tagline would be comforting.
What law firm put this advertisement together? Details after the jump.
* If you’re wondering how Ted Olson wound up representing the plaintiffs in a case challenging California’s ban on same-sex marriage, read this. [New York Times]
* An Oklahoma judge strikes down, on state constitutional grounds, an Oklahoma law requiring ultrasounds before abortions. [Washington Post]
* Microsoft seeks Federal Circuit permission to keep selling Word software, despite an unfavorable ruling. [AP via How Appealing]
* Justice Sotomayor casts her very first SCOTUS vote, dissenting in a death penalty case. [New York Times]
* A reality show contestant is named a “person of interest” in the investigation of a 28-year-old swimsuit model’s death. [Los Angeles Times]
* A Massachusetts man served 22 years on highly questionable child molestation charges; the prosecutor, who “likely engaged in serious misconduct and open bigotry in winning his conviction,” has never been held accountable (and still sits as a judge). [Reason]
The world of contract attorneys isn’t our primary focus around here. We make occasional forays into that territory, but for the most part we leave it to more specialized sites, like Temporary Attorney (aka Tom the Temp).
If the temp-attorney world is your cup of tea, however, then check out this interesting new site, which several ATL readers have emailed us about: Big Debt, Small Law. We reached out to Law Is 4 Losers — the angry author, who still works as a contract attorney (he just finished a New York project for a large national law firm) — and asked him about the site’s origins. He explained:
I was prompted to start the blog for two reasons. First is the membership solicitation from the ABA asking me for $250 in dues and listing all the wonderful things that they’ve been doing of late to “improve” this profession (curiously, outsourcing my job to India via ethics opinion 08-451 was not among them).
Another reason was my recent NYS Law license renewal of $350. There was no waiver provision or extension for unemployed lawyers. [W]e contract attorneys have to pay health insurance, bar dues, CLE fees, and other obligations out of our own pocket. And at the $28 an hour straight-time now offered by NYC Biglaw (or the $40K small firms are paying), this is a hell of a lot of money. Forcing people to choose between their rent and their job is unconscionable….
I hope to warn incoming One L’s and prospective law students about the reality out there behind the slick admissions brochures and silver-tongued charlatan deans who will lie thru their teeth to get their hands on that Sallie Mae loan money. I’d also like to lobby the state bars to offer fee waivers or extensions on dues to unemployed lawyers who can prove financial hardship.
If you’re an associate and feeling sorry for yourself, perhaps because your pay has been cut or layoffs are taking place at your firm, Law Is 4 Losers doesn’t want to hear it:
Bad as things are for associates, they are 100 times worse for doc reviewers. We’ve been losing jobs every few weeks or months ever since leaving law school, having no “careers” to speak of, and also no health insurance, severance, or savings.
His most recent blog post — deeply depressing, but scabrously funny — describes the misery of temping at two of Biglaw’s biggest names: Paul Weiss and Sullivan & Cromwell. And he doesn’t pull his punches.
* Jenny from the block and Sonia from the block, breaking bread. [US Magazine]
* A 6-2 decision in a death penalty case is a bit surprising for the Roberts Court. [True/Slant]
* The pros of going to law school when you are 19. [Anonymous Lawyer]
* Some people won’t give Bob Novak a break, even in death. [Law and More]
* Do email addresses really have a stigma? I guess I’m glad I canceled my CompuServe account. [Let's Talk Turkey]
* What idiot gave Michael Jackson’s doctor the keys to the internet? [Popsquire]
* I think the last thing my father said to me when he dropped me off at college was something like, “No, you guys can keep the liquor. But after that, you guys are on your own, so I suggest you make some friends.” This is more touching. [Tax Prof Blog]
The complete, official list of Supreme Court clerks for October Term 2009 — i.e., the clerks who recently arrived at One First Street — will be released by the Public Information Office shortly, perhaps by the end of this week. We’ve previously listed many of the Court’s OT 2009 law clerks in these pages.
But we didn’t name all of them. Our list didn’t include the hires of newly confirmed Justice Sonia Sotomayor. We understand that Justice Sotomayor has hired all of her clerks for OT 2009 — which makes sense, since she has a lot of work to tackle before the official start of the Term — but no clerks yet for OT 2010. Her OT 2009 clerks started working at the Court yesterday.
We think we know three out of four of them — but we’re not sure. We also have some info about Justice Clarence Thomas’s clerk hiring, but we need to fill in some blanks.
Can you help us? UPDATE: We think we have all four Sotomayor clerks now. ¡Gracias!
But with a hot blonde model as the plaintiff. From our sister site, Fashionista:
Liskula Cohen’s modeled for Versace and Armani and landed international Vogue covers, but recently she’s made less fashionable headlines.
Last year, a doorman smashed her over the head with a vodka bottle, and this year she’s sued Google to reveal the identity of an especially cruel blogger. The both tragic and anonymous person used Google’s blogger.com platform to unleash constant rants about the blond’s imagined sexual habits, but argued in court that the words were “non-actionable opinion and/or hyperbole.”
The holiday season is upon us, and yet again, you have no idea what to get for the fickle lawyer in your life. We’re here to help. Even if your bonus check hasn’t arrived yet, any one of the gifts we’ve highlighted here could be a worthy substitute until your employer decides to make it rain.
We’ve got an eclectic selection for you to choose from, so settle in by that stack of documents yet to be reviewed and dig in…
Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past six years. You can reach them by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
We currently have a very exciting and rare type of in-house opening in China at one of the world’s leading internet and social media companies. Our client is looking for an IP Transactional / TMT / Licensing attorney with 2 to 6 years experience. The new hire will be based in Shenzhen or Shanghai. Mandarin is not required (deal documentation will be in English) but is preferred. A solid reason to be in China and a commitment to that market is required of course. This new hire will likely be US qualified (but could also be qualified in UK or other jurisdictions) and with experience and training at a top law firm’s IP transactional / TMT practice and could be currently at a law firm or in-house. Qualified candidates currently Asia based, Europe based or US based will be considered. The new hire’s supervisors in this technology transactions in-house team are very well regarded US trained IP transactional lawyers, with substantial experience at Silicon Valley firms. The culture and atmosphere in this in-house group and the company in general is entrepreneurial, team oriented, and the work is cutting edge, even for a cutting edge industry. The upside of being in an important strategic in-house position in this fast growing and world leading internet company is of the “sky is the limit” variety. Its a very exciting place to be in China for a rising IP transactional lawyer in our opinion, for many reasons beyond the basic info we can share here in this ad / post. This is a special A+ opportunity.
If your firm is in ‘go’ mode when it comes to recruiting lateral partners with loyal clients, then take this quiz to see how well you measure up. Keep track of your ‘yes’ and ‘no’ responses.
1. Does your firm have a clearly defined strategy of practice groups that are priorities of growth for your office? Nothing gets done by random chance, but with a clear vision for the future. Identify the top practice areas for which you wish to add lateral partners. Seek input from practice group leaders and get specifics on needs, outcomes, and ideal target profiles.
2. In addition to clarifying your firm’s growth strategy, are you still open to the hire of a partner outside of your plan? I’ve made several placements that fit this category. The partner’s practice was not within the strategic growth plan of my client, but once the two parties started talking with each other, we all saw how it could indeed be a seamless fit. Be open to “Opportunistic Hires.” You never know where your next producing partner might come from, so you have to be open to it. I will be the first to admit that there is a quirky element of randomness in recruiting.
The traditional job application and interview process can be impersonal, and applicants often struggle to present themselves as more than just the sum of their GPAs, alma maters, and previous work history. ATL has partnered with ViewYou to help job seekers overcome this challenge. ViewYou NOW Profiles offer a unique way for job seekers to make a personal, memorable connection with prospective employers: introduction videos. These videos allow job candidates to display their personalities, interpersonal skills, and professional interests, creating an eDossier to brand themselves to potential employers all over the world. Check it out today!