That’s the question the Supreme Court answered in the negative today, in Graham v. Florida. The Court’s opinion was by Justice Kennedy, whose vote usually controls on Eighth Amendment issues, and it was joined by the four liberal justices.
The case generated oodles and oodles of pages and a welter of separate opinions. Thankfully, the AP has a fairly clear and concise summary:
The Supreme Court has ruled that teenagers may not be locked up for life without chance of parole if they haven’t killed anyone.
By a 5-4 vote Monday, the court says the Constitution requires that young people serving life sentences must at least be considered for release.
The court ruled in the case of Terrance Graham, who was implicated in armed robberies when he was 16 and 17. Graham, now 22, is in prison in Florida, which holds more than 70 percent of juvenile defendants locked up for life for crimes other than homicide.
Florida: where it’s good to be an old person.
Interestingly enough, Chief Justice John Roberts — not known as a bleeding heart — agreed with the majority as to Terrance Graham specifically. Because he concurred in the judgment, the vote on the disposition of the case was actually 6-3.
The back-and-forth between the majority and the dissent gets quite heated at times. Justice Thomas wrote the main dissent, which Robert Barnes of the Washington Post described as “stinging.” But given the power that Justice Kennedy wields at One First Street, it’s generally unwise to attack him too harshly.
So the most snarky exchange did not involve Justice Kennedy, but took place between Justice Thomas and his soon-to-be-former colleague, Justice Stevens….
Back in February, we wrote about various compensation developments over at Pillsbury Winthrop. At the time, the firm said it was considering moving away from a lockstep model in favor of a more performance-based compensation system.
The firm has not yet killed killed lockstep — a move that has historically generated mixed to negative reviews from associates at other firms. Instead, it has done something that has proven much more popular.
Last month, the Pillsbury dough boy baked up some delicious-smelling pay raises. Nothin’ says lovin’ like money from the oven!
Summer is just around the corner, with Memorial Day just a few weeks away. Summer associates are starting to arrive at law firms. Meanwhile, in government, many law clerks are getting ready to leave chambers. Summer is traditionally the season when clerkships turn over. (At the Supreme Court, July is the magic month for the changing of the guard.)
What does this mean? Well, it means that clerks need to start thinking about their post-clerkship plans. Many will return to law firms where they summered or worked full-time before clerking. But others — such as clerks who got no-offered as summer associates, or who weren’t happy with their prior firms — are looking for new opportunities.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that the job market for law clerks is improving. One friend of mine, who took a second clerkship last year after having a tough time finding a position with a law firm (despite excellent credentials), went back on the job market a few weeks ago — and promptly wound up with three offers.
I’ve had a crush on you for almost twenty years (and you deservedly made fun of me when I got tongue-tied in front of you), but it never seemed appropriate to move on it. Either I was dating someone, or you were in another city…
But now! Our careers seem to have settled in DC. I’m single. Politico and Eliot Spitzer tell me you’re single. We have so much in common: I love the law (even civil procedure!) and can’t get enough of it. I like books and baseball and poker and New York City and Medici pizza. I admire Thurgood Marshall. Like you, I love the Federalist Society. My mother was the first bas mitzvah in her Orthodox synagogue, but I’m relatively non-observant. We disagree on some First Amendment issues, to be sure, but I’ll never ask you to watch a dogfighting video. Ok, you’re smarter than me, but I’m no slouch (like you, I turned down Yale Law), and I’m cool being Mr. Ginsburg to your Ruth Bader if you are.
This is not a joke. I am gaga for Lady KaGa. I understand you have other priorities in the next few weeks, and Andrew Sullivan and Glenn Greenwald would be scandalized if we started dating, but I’ve waited for you this long, I can wait until after the inevitable investiture. Just send me a signal: mention your love of the Mets in your opening statement before the Senate Judiciary Committee, and I’ll know to send you a dinner date invitation for the first Friday in October. We’ll go for Chinese food at a restaurant better than City Lights.
Finally, some suspense for the Kagan hearings: Will she mention the Mets? Tune in and find out.
We interviewed the Craigslist poster about his wacky plan….
Since Judge Denny Chin is moving on up to the Second Circuit, the S.D.N.Y. cases pending before him have to be redistributed. Lawyers for Bank of America, which has 15 civil shareholder lawsuits on Chin’s docket, sent the chief judge a letter requesting that the cases be reassigned using a lottery system. As we mentioned in Morning Docket, Cleary Gottlieb, Davis Polk, and Wachtell Lipton all signed the letter.
Why did they need to send this special letter? Because they were scared of B of A landing again in the lap of Judge Jed Rakoff, says the Wall Street Journal:
Judge Rakoff disappointed bank executives last year when he rejected a $30 million settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission, which had charged the bank with misleading shareholders about bonuses paid prior to the Merrill merger. The New York judge reluctantly approved a new $150 million agreement in February but called it “half-baked justice at best.”
One of the pending shareholder cases accuses the bank of failing to “disclose billions in Merrill losses before shareholders approved the deal in December 2008.”
Apparently, the lawyers debated whether or not to name Judge Rakoff in their letter, thus making it clear that he was the particular judge they hoped to avoid. They ultimately decided to name names.
They were successful in steering their cases clear of Rakoff, though the chief judge claims the letter wasn’t a factor in her decision to assign the cases to Judge Kevin Castel (aka the John Gotti judge). How did she decide?
Moving from sunny California to cold, rainy, snowy Anchorage might make a person a little crazy. A man who went to law school in San Diego might miss lying on the beach, walking the boardwalk, and seeing the city’s good-looking population in skimpy summer clothes. Such a man might find another way to see people in a state of undress, perhaps by planting a hidden camera in his bathroom.
* Will throwing a bunch of lawsuits at the oil spill help plug that leak? [UPI]
* More than 70 plaintiffs’ lawyers wanted leadership positions in the federal lawsuits against Toyota over its sudden-acceleration problems. Twenty one were chosen. [Tennessean]
* “Only 10 of 875 active federal judges are Asian-American” — One of the many reasons Goodwin Liu’s confirmation process is getting so much attention. [Associated Press]
* Lawyers at Cleary Gottlieb, Davis Polk, and Wachtell representing Bank of America are scared of Judge Jed Rakoff. [Wall Street Journal]
* The civil fraud case against Goldman Sachs will be presided over by Judge Barbara Jones, a Robert Morgenthau disciple who sports a red Santa hat at office holiday parties and who set a tough white-collar crime precedent with a 25-year sentence for WorldCom’s former chief, Bernard Ebbers. [Associated Press]
* Citizen journalists lead the media coverage of the murder of D.C. lawyer Robert Wone. [Washington Post]
Ed. note: Law Shucks focuses on life in, and after, BigLaw, including by tracking layoffs, bonuses, and laterals. Above the Law is pleased to bring you this weekly column, which analyzes news at the world’s top law firms.
May is normally a slow month for BigLaw. There’s generally no recruiting going on, as firms prepare for summer associates’ arrivals.
The highlight is Memorial Day weekend, which kicks off the start of summer and ends a long drought of holidays. Partners start thinking about readying their summer retreats over the long weekend.
It’s also a pretty tame time of year for most clients. It’s the middle of the second quarter, and there aren’t a whole lot of seasonal businesses that spike during the period. Annual reports and proxy statements have gone out, and most companies have held their annual shareholder meetings.
This is as close as it gets to "routine."
For BigLaw, routine means malpractice allegations, billion-dollar deals, bailing out Superman, and acting like lawyers are trained to run businesses….
The legal industry is being disrupted at every level by technological advances. While legal tech entrepreneurs and innovators are racing to create a more efficient and productive future, there is widespread indifference on the part of attorneys toward these emerging technologies.
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 seven years. You can reach them by email: email@example.com.
We at Kinney Asia have made a number of FCPA / White Collar US associate placements in Hong Kong / China thus far in 2014. Most of such placements have been commercial litigation associates from major US markets, fluent in Mandarin, switching to FCPA / White Collar litigation. Some have already had FCPA experience, but those are difficult candidates for firms to find (this will change in coming years as US firms are now promoting FCPA / White Collar to their 2L summers who are fluent in Mandarin and have an interest in transferring to China at some point).
Legal Week quoted Kinney’s Head of Asia, Evan Jowers, extensively in the following relevant article here.
There is a new trend in the market, though, where mid-level transactional US associates, fluent in spoken Mandarin and written Chinese, are interviewing for and in some cases landing junior FCPA / White Collar spots in Hong Kong / China at very top tier US firms.
When the LexisNexis Cloud Technology Survey results were reported earlier this year, it showed that attorneys were starting to peer less skeptically into the future, and slowly but surely leaning more toward all the benefits the law cloud has to offer.
Because let’s face it, plenty of attorneys are perhaps a bit too comfortable with their “system” of practice management, which may or may not include neon highlighters, sticky notes, dog-eared file folders, and a word processing program that was last updated when the term “raise the roof” was still de rigueur.