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Rain can provide a romantic backdrop

New York readers can attest to the nasty weather on Monday night. Unfortunately, I had scheduled two blind dates for ATL Courtship Connections that evening. Everyone was wet and not in the good way.

Well, actually, there was some good wetness on one of the dates. One date ended with a make-out session in the rain. That would be the first official first-date kiss in the ATL Courtship Connection series.

I may be as excited as those involved. If this journalism thing doesn’t work out for me, I’m going into matchmaking as a career. Though, admittedly, the second date did not turn out as well as the wet t-shirt one…

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* Susan Finkelstein (pictured), the Philadelphia Phillies fan who offered love for World Series tickets, was convicted for attempted prostitution. [Legal Blog Watch]

* If California legalizes pot, maybe all the voters will get high and support gay marriage. Free love. [True/Slant]

* Can somebody please tell me who the hell Justin Beiber is? [THR Esq.]

* Textbooks should teach, not advocate. [Bell & Bar]

* Class action lawyers make a lot of money. Somewhere a Toyota executive just puked in his mouth. [SSRN: Social Science Research Network]

* High SAT scores make eggs more valuable. [Tax Prof Blog]

* Don’t forget, voting on our March Madness polls continues through the weekend. [Above the Law]

The Supreme Court has yet to decide 56 cases for the October 2009 term. In this installment, we provide predictions for Bilski v. Kappos, American Needle Inc. v. NFL, Free Enterprise Fund and Beckstead and Watts, LLP v. Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, Black v. United States, and Graham v. Florida.

American Needle considers whether the National Football League, its teams, and their licensing agent’s function as a single entity for purposes of the Sherman Act. A majority, 60% of the members of the league are predicting an affirmance of the lower court, at a 95% confidence. The SMRs show a tendency for the liberal justices to join with the conservatives in this decision, with Sotomayor most likely to join in the majority.

Stop the Beach considers the limits on state authority to restore storm-eroded beaches or lakefronts. Eighty-four percent of the members of the league are predicting that the Supreme Court affirms the Florida Supreme Court. In this case, the SMRs show that there is a strong potential for a conservative objection to the majority position, with Thomas possibly being the most vocal objection. This is not a big surprise in light of Justice Thomas’ staunch defense of property rights. The liberal justices are really strong for this case. Though Stevens’ low SMR is due to the fact he has already recused himself from this decision. Though, not everyone has followed this news, and some have cast votes for Stevens.

Predictions for PCAOB, Black, Graham, and Bilski, at JoshBlackman.com.

Many of the things I enjoy in life (smoking, drinking, kicking children who speak out of turn) are either illegal or subject to a sin tax. Luckily, most of the laws against my illegal vices are unenforceable if I commit infractions discretely. (“I don’t know what happened to little Jimmy. He must have fallen onto my foot.”) But I can’t avoid sin taxes — and thus I can’t stand them.

First of all, they are regressive. Secondly, they’re anti-business. So we literally have a tax regime that freedom-loving progressives and money-loving conservatives should hate, and yet sin taxes continue to be an acceptable way for the government to shove its morality down our throats.

The Texas Supreme Court is wrestling with just such a question of morality versus freedom and money. Specifically, it’s a battle between morality and the freedom to stuff money into a g-string. The Austin-American Statesman reports:

Is exotic dancing, performed partially clothed or fully nude, a form of free speech protected by the U.S. Constitution?

Strip club owners insist that it is, and on Thursday they asked the Texas Supreme Court to strike down the state’s $5-per-patron tax as an unconstitutional limit on free expression.

Of course, proponents of the tax can’t just come out and say “we hate men who like to look at nude women.” Check out the hook they’re trying to hang their abuse of legislative power on…

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Judge Shirley Strickland Saffold (aka Lawmiss?)

When weighing in on cases, it’s best for judges to limit their opinions to their Opinions. They’ve been warned before to be careful on Facebook and on blogs they author. But the case of Ohio judge, Shirley Strickland Saffold, shows they should exercise caution with anonymous online commentary as well.

An online commenter named “lawmiss” registered on the Cleveland Plain Dealer website with Judge Saffold’s AOL e-mail address in 2007. Since then, Lawmiss has had some critical things to say on articles about cases that came before Judge Saffold.

In one, Lawmiss threw one of the attorneys defending a bus driver in a vehicular homicide case… well, under the bus. From the Cleveland Plain Dealer:

“Rufus Sims did a disservice to his client,” the Nov. 21, 2009, post reads. “If only he could shut his Amos and Andy style mouth. What makes him think that is [sic] he insults and acts like buffon [sic] that it will cause the judge to think and see it his way. There are so many lawyers that could’ve done a much better job. This was not a tough case, folks. [The bus driver] should’ve hired a lawyer with the experience to truly handle her needs. Amos and Andy, shuffling around did not do it.”

Sims is now appearing before Judge Saffold defending, in the words of one of our tipsters, “the most notorious serial killer in Cleveland history,” Anthony Sowell. Sims is not pleased to see this evidence of possible bias against him.

When accused by the Dealer of making these comments, Judge Saffold threw her daughter under the bus. Sydney Saffold, 23, “a one-time law student” claims she made the comments associated with her mom’s account.

Judge’s children might lie, but a computer’s browser activity history doesn’t…

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The Good Wife is one of the few legal dramas out there that is worth a damn. The writing is good, the situations are believable yet not so realistic as to be boring, and the acting is quality.

The producers of the Good Wife brought their show to the campus of Brooklyn Law School this week. There was much gawking at the show’s stars: Julianna Margulies and Chris Noth. The Brooklyn Daily Eagle reports:

The TV show was filming on the Brooklyn Law School campus this week on Joralemon Street, as well as outside Brooklyn federal court. Students reportedly not only witnessed the legal drama being filmed, but also had a spread of snacks and treats set up for them by the show’s producers. Refreshments had attached notes saying, “Have a good day?” according to the Daily News.

Don’t take candy from strangers. Don’t take candy from strangers!!

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Earlier this month, your Above the Law editors had a little debate about whether attractive people make better lawyers. Apparently a couple of economists asked a similar question a decade ago. Jeff Biddle and Daniel Hamermesh published a paper in the Journal of Labor Economics in 1998 titled Beauty, Productivity, and Discrimination: Lawyers’ Looks and Lucre.

Gavel bang to University of Florida law professor Daniel Sokol, for pointing us in the direction of the article. It’s a fascinating read. We learned that:

* lawyers in the private sector are more attractive than those in the public sector;
* ugly looks-challenged people clerk;
* litigators are the most attractive attorneys, and that regulatory lawyers are the least attractive.
* being really, really, super good-looking makes men more likely to become partners, but makes women less likely to become partners; and
* attractive lawyers bill at higher rates and make more money.

The economists looked at law school graduates from the 1970s and 1980s. They created a control group by focusing on the graduates from just one law school, referred to as “Law School X” in the paper: “a highly selective institution that has typically matriculated and graduated between 300 and 400 students each year.”

We spoke to Professor Hamermesh this week about his research into how being hot helps lawyers’ careers. It’s not hiring partners who are solely to blame for this, though. The selective pressure comes from lawyers’ clients. Hamermesh shared his insights, and also revealed to us which law school provided his lovely guinea pigs…

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For two days now the New York Times has been all over a playground in Bedford-Stuyvesant. People have been very offended by one piece of equipment:

[A]n orange jungle gym adorned with the word “Jail,” a cell door and prison bars has, six years after its installation, set off outrage in the neighborhood and the blogosphere, along with a hasty official response.

I know there’s a NIMBY problem when it comes to building correctional facilities, but this is ridiculous…

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* The state of Maryland and Perdue Chicken are ganging up on the University of Maryland Law School. [Baltimore Sun]

* UConn sued for age discrimination against a 13-year-old. [Associated Press]

* We have a deal for Ground Zero reconstruction! [Daily News]

* What is the proper venue for lawsuits against Toyota? I don’t know, perhaps a court on wheels? [National Law Journal]

* Pope Benedict XVI seemed to know a lot about pedophile priests, but did nothing. Who knew that George Michael was a gospel singer? [New York Times]

ATL’s competition to crown the best city to practice law continues.

In the regional finals in the east and south, D.C. is dominating New York, and Dallas is doing away with Atlanta. Now it’s time for us to turn our sights westward.

This round’s bouts will determine which city in flyover country is the best for lawyers and will finally resolve the NoCal vs SoCal debate. Let’s get to it…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “ATL March Madness: Best City to Practice Law (Regional Finals). West and Midwest.”

* Watching porn on a television in your car could be a crime in New York. So, to be clear, SUVs are for ego masturbation, not the other kind. [Legal Blog Watch]

* When I think of the NCAA, I don’t think of slavery. Serfdom, yes. But slaves weren’t allowed to learn how to read. [Generation J.D.]

* TMZ is allegedly a great place for drug abuse. But I bet they don’t have anything on the rollicking parties going on here at Above the Law. We’re wild. I just had another cup of coffee — at 5:00 p.m. Yeah! [Gawker]

* The recession makes alimony complicated. [Dealbreaker]

* Legal journalists are just like the people they cover — at least when it comes to starting their days. [L.A. Observed]

* A profile of an ATL friend (and past contributor), Ted Frank. [ABA Journal]

Here’s a little rule I just made up: People who do poorly in legal writing at New York Law School should not file pro se complaints against their school. It’s a good rule for people who don’t want to embarrass themselves.

I think I’ll call my brand-new maxim the “Timothy Keefe Rule.” The kid deserves something after getting smacked around by a New York appellate court. Here’s the set up, from the First Department opinion in Keefe v. New York Law School:

Plaintiff, a transfer student at defendant law school, commenced this action alleging, inter alia, that defendant breached an implied contract of good faith and fair dealing with him as a result of a grade he received in his Legal Writing II course. Claiming that he was unfairly disadvantaged because he did not take Legal Writing I at the law school, plaintiff seeks to require the law school to change its grading system from letter grades to pass/fail.

Keefe’s suit was dismissed at the Supreme Court level, and the dismissal was affirmed by the Appellate Division. I sure do hope he tries one more time at the Court of Appeals, because this is the kind of terrible argument I can’t get enough of …

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