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Billy Merck here, once again filling in for Lat while he squeezes out some more vacation before the summer gets away from us. We’ll be here today and Laurie Lin will be here tomorrow; Lat’s back next week.
We start today with an update on a case from Georgia with which you’re all probably at least a little familiar. We reported earlier here on the case of Genarlow Wilson, the Georgia man who was sentenced to 10 years in prison for having consensual oral sex with a 15-year-old girl when he was 17 years old. The Georgia statute under which he was convicted has since been amended to make the same offense a misdemeanor, but the change was not made retroactive to Wilson’s case.
On June 11, Wilson’s habeas corpus petition was granted on the basis that the 10-year sentence constituted cruel and unusual punishment; as a result Wilson’s offense was changed to a misdemeanor, he was given credit for the more than two years already served in jail, and he would no longer have to register as a sex offender. Attorney General Thurbert Baker has appealed this decision, drawing criticism from many who question the need to keep Wilson in jail any longer than he has already been there.
Which leads us to the new part of the story. Douglas County District Attorney David McDade, who prosecuted the case against Wilson, has been there every step of the way to ensure not only that Wilson went to jail, but that he stayed there. When the state legislature considered bills last year and this year that would have amended the statute again to make it apply retroactively to Wilson’s case, McDade was there lobbying against the bills.
And evidently, as part of his efforts, McDade has made available to legislators and seemingly anyone else who wanted one copies of the videtape of the sexual encounter that got Wilson convicted. Many in Georgia have begun to question why McDade has been so free with the distribution of the tape, particularly since the distribution, receipt, and possession of it appears to violate Georgia and federal law.
More on McDade’s Nifong-like behavior after the jump.
Attorney general: Wilson ruling could free molesters [Atlanta Journal-Constitution]
Wilson’s legal tactics challenged[Atlanta Journal-Constitution]
Judge says no bond for Genarlow Wilson, cancels hearing[Fulton County Daily Report]
Sharpton embraces relatives at rally for Gernarlow Wilson[Atlanta Journal-Constitution]
State Supreme Court moves up Genarlow Wilson hearing[Atlanta Journal-Constitution]
We’ve appended short updates to the original posts. But in case you didn’t see them, here are postscripts to the stories of two Louisiana lawyers with possibly problematic sexual appetites: Senator David Vitter, and recent UGA law grad Philip Pirie.
With respect to Senator Vitter, a source notes:
Check out this NOLA.com post. The owner of the Canal Street brothel in New Orleans came forward to say David Vitter had been a customer. Apparently she decided to speak out because of the bad press he has been getting. She wanted to clear his name because he was not into drugs, not into kinky sex, was nice to the hookers, etc.
With defenders like this, who needs attackers?
With respect to Philip Pilie, a tipster tells us:
“Apparently Philip is still planning on taking the bar Saturday. He was also engaged. Don’t know if it is still on or not.”
And you thought your bar exam experience was stressful.
Former madam says Vitter was a client at Canal Street brothel [NOLA.com]
Earlier: A Bad Way To Procrastinate While Studying for the Bar
Lawyer of the Day: Sen. David Vitter
A Vitter Video Worth Watching
- Animal Law, Fashion, Federal Judges, Free Speech, Holland & Knight, Kids, Non-Sequiturs, Sports, Violence
* According to a lawsuit filed by fellow blogger David Oscar Markus, you have a First Amendment right to cocks on the internets. [Althouse; Volokh Conspiracy]
* In other odd legal news from Florida, Holland & Knight has discovered a new practice area: “suing Little League back to the Stone Age.” [St. Petersburg Times via Deadspin]
* Still more Florida weirdness. Avoid wearing black in this judge’s courtroom. [Daily Business Review]
* Speaking of fashion, should federal judges be provided with clip-on ties? Sadly, it might mark a style improvement for many. [Underbelly]
The results of our summer fashion polls are in (see our original posts here and here), and the message is loud and clear: ATL readers don’t like arms. You gave emphatic thumbs-down to spaghetti-strap tops for women and short-sleeved dress shirts for men.
The latter was the object of much mockery: “i feel like telling the guys who are wearing them to go back to the appliance store and sell some more ovens,” said one commenter.
More discussion and poll results, after the jump.
Check out the woman at right. She is the Honorable Dolores K. Sloviter, and she sits on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.
Judge Sloviter seems like a kindly old lady, doesn’t she? We’ve seen her on the bench, at multiple oral arguments. Based on her grandmotherly appearance, we once quipped to a colleague: “She seems so nice! When is she going to descend from the bench and feed us homemade cookies?”
Answer: not anytime soon (unless the cookies are laced with arsenic). From one of Judge Sloviter’s former clerks, Professor Mike Rappaport:
In 1985, having just graduated from law school, I arrived for my first day of work as a law clerk to Dolores K. Sloviter of the Third Circuit….
My two co-clerks, who had arrived a week earlier, took me to lunch. I asked how things were going, and they looked kind of uncomfortable. They explained that on their first day, a week earlier, they had gone to lunch with the holdover clerk, and had asked her, almost making small talk, how her year had been. [T]hey listened as she spent the next hour and a half detailing the horrors of the experience, and how she wasn’t sure how she had gotten through it.
That law clerk’s year of hell turned out to be quite similar to our year….
(That’s just an excerpt. You can read the entire post by clicking here.)
But should any of this come as a surprise? As regular ATL readers surely recall, Dolores Sloviter is the alleged inspiration for the nightmarish Judge Helga Friedman, central villain of Saira Rao’s delightful new novel, Chambermaid.
Additional thoughts on hellacious clerkships, plus a call for reader tips, after the jump.
One of the biggest legal and political stories today is the congressional testimony of Sara Taylor, former White House political director. Taylor declined to answer a number of questions, based on executive privilege.
We’ll leave substantive discussion of the Taylor testimony to others, and focus instead on matters of style. From a tipster:
“Check out this photo essay. I don’t mean to sound catty, but shouldn’t she have used Monica Goodling’s stylist?”
Here’s a quick follow-up on yesterday’s Lawyer of the Day — Senator David Vitter (R-LA), who recently confessed to having been a client of the escort service run by the so-called “D.C. Madam,” Deborah Jeane Palfrey.
Check out this video, put together by the TPM crew. These were our favorite parts:
1. Vitter’s daughter: “Way to move it, Dad!”
2. Sen. Vitter: “In life’s most important moments, we’re not Republicans or Democrats. We’re parents.”
Or, more accurately, philandering spouses.
3. The senator’s wife, Wendy Vitter (also noted by various commenters):
“I’m a lot more like Lorena Bobbitt than Hillary. If he does something like that, I’m walking away with one thing, and it’s not alimony, trust me.”
If the Ginsu guy rings your doorbell, Senator Vitter, you’d best send him packing.
Update: Another ex-madam has fingered Sen. Vitter. See here.
Vitter Va-Va-Voom! [TPMtv / Talking Points Memo]
Earlier: Lawyer of the Day: David Vitter
The interesting anecdotes about NPR’s Nina Totenberg, the grande dame of the Supreme Court press corps, continue to fill our inbox. And just as in the case of Peter Barta, it’s fascinating to see how little stories can come together, like pieces of a puzzle, to give you a more complete portrait of a person.
Anyway, here’s the latest gossip about Ms. Nina, from a former neighbor:
True story. Nina Totenberg used to live [a few] blocks away from me on Capitol Hill.
A few years back, she put her house on the market and had an open house. The house was perfectly fine — nothing particularly grand or tacky.
The one thing that stuck out, however, was that she left her nylons hanging to dry in the bathroom. Classy.
- David Boies, Education / Schools, Erwin Chemerinsky, Fabulosity, Federal Judges, Laurence Tribe, Law Professors, Merrick Garland, Peter Barta, Samuel Alito, Supreme Court Clerks, Thomas Goldstein
In a recent post about Peter Barta, the Legal Aid lawyer who allegedly videotaped his female colleagues as they were getting undressed, we ranked on policy debaters.
Maybe we should take it back. From a highly informative reader email:
Not all former policy debaters are creeps. Here’s a list of former policy debaters who are current or future legal rock stars:
Justice Samuel Alito, Judge Merrick Garland, Larry Tribe, Louis Kaplow, Erwin Chemerinsky, NYU President John Sexton, Jonathan Massey, David Boies, Tom Goldstein, Rebecca Tushnet, Annie Kastanek (OT 2007/Kennedy), and John Hughes (OT 2005/Thomas; pictured at right, captured in mid-debate).
Former policy debaters, please accept our apologies. We did extemp and L-D debate in high school, and we generally viewed C-X debaters with suspicion. They struck us as kids who talked reallyreallyfast, warning constantly of nuclear war. But maybe we were wrong.
To paraphrase the “ignorant tipster” from the Oona O’Connell story: “We feel kind of bad that we prejudged them. Sorry to sound like an afterschool special. But you know what? Perhaps we learned a lesson today. Good on you. ‘The more you know.'”
Earlier: Reading the Bartameter (Part 3): What Is Up With Those Policy Debaters?
In the wake of name partner David Bershad’s guilty plea, the schadenfreude over the fall of Milberg Weiss continues.
Even ex-paralegals at Milberg Weiss are getting in on the fun. Check out this excerpt, from a comment posted at Roger Parloff’s blog:
[F]or anyone who argues that theirs were essentially victimless crimes, how about the competitive advantage Milberg Weiss has enjoyed over firms who really are ethically defending the little guy? It was this idea of evening the playing field for investors and consumers that made me excited about working for Milberg Weiss in the first place, and I passed up more lucrative offers from Defense firms because of my desire to be able to look myself in the mirror every morning. Too bad my employers did not have the same commitment to honesty.
Oh, and as an additional note on class, [former name partner Steven] Schulman actually had the nerve to e-mail the entire firm to ask if they wanted to support his children’s private school by buying gingerbread houses decorated by the kids for $200 a pop. And then, the night of the firm Christmas Party, he sent out a second-chance e-mail offering them discounted at $150!
Rumor also has it that if you bought Girl Scout cookies from Schulman’s daughter, he’d reach into this secret safe he had in his office, and kick back half of the cash to you…
Only Mel Weiss can save Milberg Weiss now [Legal Pad / Fortune]
Earlier: Lawyer of the Day: David Bershad