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Edward Nottingham Judge Edward W Nottingham Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgLongtime readers will recall that Chief Judge Edward Nottingham (D. Colorado) is no longer eligible for our coveted Judge of the Day prize. After he threatened to call the U.S. Marshals service on a handicapped woman whose handicapped parking spot he stole, a few short months after it was revealed he dropped more than $3,000 at a strip club in two consecutive days — but couldn’t remember doing so, ’cause he was so darn drunk — we decided it wasn’t fair to the rest of the judiciary to leave him in the competition.
That call now appears prescient. From Denver 9 (via the Rocky Mountain News):

[T]he U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit is investigating Chief U.S. District Judge Edward Nottingham for the third time in the past year. He is being investigated for improper judicial conduct after his full name and personal cell phone number appeared on a list of clients from a Denver prostitution business.

The business called Denver Players or Denver Sugar was shut down in January after IRS and Denver Police investigators served search warrants at the brothel on Fillmore Street.

First the prominent governor of a leading state, and now the chief federal judge in a major city. Are high-class call girls a growing trend in the upper echelons of the legal profession?
More details, including the judge’s highly appropriate nickname — no, not “Paulie Walnuts” — after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Chief Judge Nottingham: Putting the ‘Ho’ in Your Honor?”

Supreme Court hallway Above the Law Above the Law Above the Law.JPGOver a month has passed since our last update on Supreme Court clerk hiring. We hear through the grapevine that Justice David H. Souter has finally picked his law clerks for October Term 2008. And we’re guessing that Justice Samuel A. Alito has too (since we’ve known about his first two hires for quite some time).
But we don’t have any names. The SCOTUS clerk Wikipedia page and the Clerkship Notification Blog also have no hard news to pass along.
If you follow SCOTUS clerk hiring, please take a look at the lists after the jump (reprinted from last month’s post). Are you aware of an OT 2008 or OT 2009 clerk who isn’t listed? If so, please contact us, by email (subject line: “Supreme Court clerk hiring”).
You can also post a comment to this post. But we prefer email for this subject, for verification and possible follow-up. Thanks.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Supreme Court Clerk Hiring Watch: Surely They Must Be Done By Now”

We received 1,046 responses to last week’s ATL / Lateral Link survey on vacation time.
Roughly two thirds of respondents reported that their firms offered four weeks of vacation, but sixteen percent are at three-week firms, six percent are at firms with only two weeks of vacation, and a handful are at firms with but a single week. Five percent of respondents are at firms that do not offer vacation time at all, while six percent are at firms that offer more than four weeks.
Among the firms offering four weeks of paid vacation, about a quarter of respondents took at least 20 vacation days, with another twelve percent of respondents taking 16 to 19 vacation days. Another quarter of respondents took between 11 and 15 vacation days. Almost a fifth of respondents, however, took fewer than five vacation days.
At firms offering three weeks of paid vacation, almost a quarter of respondents took at least 15 vacation days, with another seventeen percent of respondents taking 11 to 15 vacation days. Thirty-six percent of respondents, however, took only 6 to 10 vacation days, and thirty-five percent took one week or less.
Roughly two fifths of respondents who didn’t take all their vacations explained that they simply had too much work to get done. Another quarter, however, felt they needed the hours, and about the same number felt uncomfortable taking vacations. Five percent of respondents skipped vacations because they wanted to impress people, and roughly the same number were actually instructed by a partner to stay at the office. Twenty-two percent of respondents actually cancelled vacations last year.
Of course, not every vacation was really a vacation. Roughly 63% of respondents said they did work while on vacation last year.
Will there be better luck this year? Maybe not. Only 37% of respondents said their firms allowed them to roll over unused vacation days. Fifty-one percent were at use-it-or-lose-it firms, and the rest were unsure.

* Spitzer considers resignation. [New York Times]
* NYT slams him. [New York Times]
* Boeing to protest Air Force contract awarded to Northrop and European Airbus maker. [CNN]
* Oklahoma legislator says gay people are worse than terrorists… [CNN Video]
* Sen. Obama: stop calling me veep. [Washington Post]
* Colorado woman to fight fine for dying dog pink. [Local News]

Eliot Spitzer Governor Eliot Spitzer prostitute prostitution Above the Law blog.jpgThere are a few things we could write about right now, but let’s just talk about what everyone is talking about: New York’s prostitute-patronizing governor, Eliot Spitzer. Here’s a fresh thread for discussion (since the old one is already a comments clusterf**k).
From the New York Times (which broke the story):

Gov. Eliot Spitzer, who gained national prominence relentlessly pursuing Wall Street wrongdoing, has been caught on a federal wiretap arranging to meet with a high-priced prostitute at a Washington hotel last month, according to a law enforcement official and a person briefed on the investigation.

The wiretap captured a man identified as Client 9 on a telephone call confirming plans to have a woman travel from New York to Washington, where he had reserved a hotel room, according to an affidavit filed in federal court in Manhattan. The person briefed on the case and the law enforcement official identified Mr. Spitzer as Client 9.

Mr. Spitzer, a first term Democrat, today made a brief public appearance during which he apologized for his behavior, and described it as a “private matter.” He did not address his political future.

For a legal gossip blogger, this is huge: a highly pedigreed lawyer (and former state attorney general), who once had a blindingly bright political future, caught in a prostitution scandal. It would be tough to make this more juicy. Maybe a three-way with Rodge Cohen?
P.S. Bonus question, posed by Lawrence Hurley: Did Governor Spitzer violate the Mann Act?
Update: More details from the FBI affidavit (via MSNBC):

“Kristen” was sent to room 871, which Client 9 was leaving ajar; Client 9 wanted to be reminded of what she looked like and was told “American, petite, very pretty brunette, five feet five inches, and 105 pounds.”

Apparently the session went from 9:36 p.m. [on February 13, the day before Valentine's Day,] when “Kristen” arrived in the room, until 12:02 a.m., although it appears she waited a bit for Client 9.

“Kristen” said the appointment went “very well.”

“Kristen” said “that she liked him and did not think he was difficult.” She collected $4,300 from Client 9.

CNN reports that this $4,300 reflected money Spitzer owed from prior to be applied toward other visits. But escorts who worked for the Emperor’s Club — not to be confused with the heartwarming Kevin Kline film, by the way — did charge hourly rates well into the four-figures. Biglaw partners, eat your hearts out — $1,000 is chump change to these ladies.

“Kristen” and her bosses in New York also discussed Client 9’s sexual preferences and whether he had asked “you to do things that, like, you might not think were safe.”

“Kristen” appears to have been OK with whatever went on in Room 871. “Kristen” stayed overnight in D.C. and took the train back to New York the next day.

Spitzer Is Linked to Prostitution Ring [New York Times]
Did Gov. Spitzer Violate the Mann Act? [Washington Briefs]

We’re offline right now, speaking at Stanford Law School. We’ll be back shortly (and pick up where we left off with the Eliot Spitzer scandal).
In the meantime, check out this funny post by Marc Randazza, about some dubious proposed legislation in Massachusetts that could criminalize certain types of pick-up lines.
Pickup Line Quagmire in Massachusetts [The Legal Satyricon]

animated siren gif animated siren gif animated siren gif drudge report.GIFGuess we picked our Lawyer of the Day too soon.
Update (2:30 PM): Press conference scheduled for 2:15 p.m., but Governor Spitzer is running 15 minutes late. “I don’t blame him,” said Ben Smith of the Politico, interviewed just now on CNN.
Update (2:35 PM): Jeffrey Toobin, who was an HLS classmate of Eliot Spitzer, described the news as “a total shock.” He said Spitzer has been “nothing but a straight arrow” for many years.
Update (2:50 PM): Still no press conference. Brooke Masters, author of Spoiling for a Fight: The Rise of Eliot Spitzer, was just interviewed on CNN. She noted that this scandal comes at a bad time for Spitzer politically, in the wake of last year’s scandal involving his misuse of the State Police for political purposes.
Update (3 PM): We’re stepping away for a bit, to give a talk at Stanford Law School. We’ll be back online as soon as we can. Some content will be posted while we’re gone (material prepared ahead of time, not Spitzer updates).
Developing… Check back for updates.
Spitzer Is Linked to Prostitution Ring [New York TImes]

US News World Report law school rankings ratings Above the Law blog.jpgLast week, we linked to Professor Dan Solove’s spoof of the U.S. News law school rankings. For the record, the magazine has responded (as noted in updates at TaxProf Blog and Concurring Opinions, but not yet in these pages).
Robert Morse, director of data research for U.S. News & World Report, emailed us: “We do get that the ‘secret memo’ was legal/ranking humor. Unfortunately some don’t get it (they think it’s true)….”
Accordingly, he has responded via blog post, over at Morse Code:

“The Official Leaked US News Law School Rankings, Plus Ranking Secrets Revealed!” Not quite. That “secret” memo that appears to have originated on the Concurring Opinions blog doesn’t reveal the new law school rankings, and the accompanying “secret” memo and comments are not those of any U.S. News employee. We’re much funnier.

When are the real new law school rankings coming out? U.S.News & World Report’s new law rankings will be published online on March 28, 2008 on our website in the 2009 edition of America’s Best Graduate Schools. We urge everyone interested in seeing the accurate rankings— and the methodology that was used— to come back to U.S. News the last Friday of this month.

Oooh, exciting. As soon as the new rankings are out, we’ll mention the news here.
About That ‘Secret’ Memo [Morse Code: Inside the College Rankings]
The Official Leaked US News Law School Rankings, Plus Ranking Secrets Revealed! [Concurring Opinions]
Earlier: Oh, So That’s How Those Law School Rankings Work

Arelia Margarita Taveras attorney Arelia Taveras lawyer gambler Above the Law blog.jpgToday’s Lawyer of the Day is, in blackjack parlance, “a natural” — utterly unbeatable. From the New York Post:

A crooked Queens lawyer who bottomed out at the blackjack tables to the tune of $1 million is trying to recoup her losses and then some with a $20 million lawsuit blaming seven casinos for her downward spiral.

Arelia Margarita Taveras, 37 – who represented victims’ families in both the World Trade Center attacks and the Flight 587 crash in the Rockaways – said her gambling problem was so out of control she once spent five straight days at Resorts Casino tables in Atlantic City subsisting on complimentary candy bars and orange juice.

The Corona native and Cardozo Law School graduate was a regular at several gaming palaces – even keeping her dog by her side and brushing her teeth with disposable wipes so she wouldn’t lose her seat.

We commend Ms. Taveras for her chutzpah and ingenuity. Taking a $1 million gambling loss and parlaying it into a $20 million lawsuit is an audacious play. Lemons into lemonade, indeed.
More after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Lawyer of the Day: Arelia Margarita Taveras”

Madonna Like A Prayer Above the Law blog.jpgPalm Sunday is this coming weekend, and Easter isn’t far away. So please indulge us as we go on a little religious digression.
The Vatican just rolled out seven new deadly sins. From the Telegraph:

Failing to recycle plastic bags could find you spending eternity in Hell, the Vatican said after drawing up a list of seven deadly sins for our times.

The seven, which include polluting the environment, were announced by Monsignor Gianfranco Girotti, a close ally of the Pope and the head of the Apostolic Penitentiary, one of the Roman Curia’s main court….

According to Roman Catholic doctrine, mortal sins are a “grave violation of God’s law” and bring about “eternal death” if unrepented by the act of confession.

One ATL reader, who sounds a bit like a sentencing geek, observes: “In addition to providing Nino with a new tranche of doctrinal fodder, it takes the average soft-core sinner right out of sinner-safety-valve territory.”
So what are these seven new, deadly sins?

Mgr Girotti said genetic modification, carrying out experiments on humans, polluting the environment, causing social injustice, causing poverty, becoming obscenely wealthy and taking drugs were all mortal sins.

Some Biglaw partners “carry[] out experiments on humans,” i.e., hapless associates. Some lawyers — e.g., Biglaw partners, top trial lawyers — “becom[e] obscenely wealthy.” Many lawyers, as well as paralegals, “pollut[e] the environment” — remember all the times you didn’t recycle Westlaw print-outs? — and “tak[e] drugs” occasionally (or regularly).
But since not all of you are Roman Catholic, you might not put much stock in the Holy See’s list. So we’ve tried to adapt it, by coming up with a “Seven Deadly Sins” list for law-firm life.
Check it out, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “A Canon Law Digression: Sins 2.0?”

Trojan magnum condom Above the Law blog.jpgCheck out this rather odd appeal from Florida, arising out of a prosecution for sexual assault charges. The defendant was originally charged with three counts of sexual battery, but was convicted on lesser included charges of misdemeanor battery.
One of the issues was whether the trial court should have granted a continuance based on the availability of a defense witness (even though the defense failed to move for a continuance at the time). From the opinion (PDF):

Defense counsel proffered one aspect of the urologist’s testimony: because Tyrrell’s penis was “smaller than average size” it “could not have caused” the injuries that Nurse Gibson observed during the rape exam.

You don’t normally see a man proclaiming his small penis size in public proceedings. But if a teeny weenie is a “get out of jail free” card, expect the defendant to play it. Think of it as the flip side of that Japanese appeal, in which a busty babe overturned her conviction by arguing that she was too well-endowed to fit through a hole she allegedly used to enter a building.
Our tipster described a second strange argument raised by the defense:

[The defense also argued] that the injuries were caused by the victim’s “aggressive” use of a dildo. [The opinion] mentions that the defense lawyer wanted the victim to identify the dildo from a “dildo lineup,” and that the defense attorney “extensively explored” the dildo issue with the victim on cross.

Seriously. The words “dildo lineup” actually appear in the opinion (and not even in scare quotes):

Tyrrell first argues that his “right to due process and right to confront witnesses” was violated because the state did not produce the [sex toys] that were the subject of the July 23 and August 2 orders….

Tyrrell contends that the trial court erred in failing to let him show the victim a dildo lineup.

If that doesn’t violate the Sixth Amendment’s Confrontation Clause, which guarantees a criminal defendant the right “to be confronted with the [dildos] against him,” we don’t know what does.
Tyrrell v. State (PDF) [Florida Fourth District Court of Appeal]

In last week’s ATL / Lateral Link survey results, we explored which practice areas are hottest and slowest in various markets. With real estate and transactional work slowing in many markets, but heating up in Dubai, and some firms expanding into Houston (McDermott), Charlotte (McGuireWoods), Boston (Locke Lord) and the Bay Area (just about everybody) even as others contemplate slowdowns, today’s survey explores your thoughts on relocation.
Update: This survey is now closed. Click here for the results.

Justin Bernold is a Director at Lateral Link, the sponsor of this survey.

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