Barry Bonds was convicted of obstruction of justice for giving non-responsive answers to questions in a grand jury. As Judge Fletcher told the government in the oral argument in the 9th Circuit en banc challenge to his conviction, “I find your reading of the [obstruction of justice] statute absolutely alarming.” And for good reason — Judge Fletcher thinks that the government’s interpretation of obstruction of justice would mean that most civil lawyers are felons.
There are a lot of ways to violate federal laws that are related to obstruction of justice. You can lie to a federal agent who is coming to your house to interview you and violate 18 U.S.C. § 1001. You can commit perjury under 18 U.S.C. § 1621. And there are a host of other false statement statutes specific to other regulatory schemes (like false statements in connection with a tax filing, or a health care request for payment, etc.).
All of those laws, though, require that the person who is being prosecuted make a false statement.
Obstruction of justice is different. Instead of having concrete elements like “making a false statement”, obstruction of justice criminalizes willfully “obstruct[ing], imped[ing], or interfer[ing] with” whatever is being allegedly obstructed.
Here, Barry Bonds didn’t make a false statement. Instead, he gave an answer that was non-responsive. The government’s theory was that Barry Bonds didn’t give a responsive answer to a question in order to throw the government off (because, apparently, having the temerity to force an AUSA to listen to questions in a grand jury and ask a follow-up question is the kind of thing that ought to brand you a felon).
And that was “obstructing” the federal law enforcement apparatus.
There are a lot of things wrong with this prosecution. The one I want to focus on is the lengths the federal government will go to in order to protect AUSAs from having to do the same basic work that the rest of the legal community does routinely.
* Much to his defense team’s chagrin, accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s trial will remain in Boston. The media spectacle is set to begin in January 2015. [New York Times]
* Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino of Jersey Shore fame was indicted on tax fraud charges to the tune of $8.9M. He pleaded not guilty yesterday afternoon. There aren’t tanning beds in jail. [Asbury Park Press]
* In case you missed it, Howard Bashman’s announcement of our new partnership. [How Appealing]
* Middle school convinces special needs girl to allow suspected rapist to take her into a bathroom so the school can “catch him redhanded.” She gets raped. Judge dismisses the lawsuit saying he wouldn’t “second-guess” school officials. [Al.com]
If, unfortunately, someone in your family faced catastrophic injuries that you thought had legal issues, they would be on a very, very short list of firms to consider.
– Roger Dennis, dean of the Drexel University’s Thomas R. Kline School of Law. He’s telling the Philadelphia Inquirer about Thomas R. Kline. “Short list,” eh? After Kline donated $50 million and the school scrubbed poor Earle Mack from their letterhead and renamed the school, the best praise the dean can summon is that Kline belongs on a “short list.” Once you rename your law school, you’re already a commercial, so go right ahead and tell the reporter “Thomas R. Kline is the best goddamned lawyer on the planet!”
1. It’s all meant in good fun. Don’t send me nasty emails if you don’t agree with something I write.
2. Read Rule #1 again.
A little background for those of you who don’t know. Lexpert has a methodology for divining the best law firms and lawyers by practice areas. I have no idea what the methodology is and I don’t care. I think all ranking methodologies are next to useless. What is important is once you declare you’re going to rank something, and put those rankings into a glossy magazine, people (lawyers and clients) put some stock into them. Lexpert could use a Capuchin monkey to pick names out of a hat and a lawyer would still brag to her mom if she was named one of Lexpert’s leading attorneys.
Lexpert has four categories: Most Frequently Recommended, Consistently Recommended, Repeatedly Recommended, and Everybody Else. Okay, it doesn’t use Everybody Else, but you get the drift. You’re either in one of the Recommended categories, or you’re on the outside looking in…
Over the last two weeks, I gave a lot of thought to the email that I sent to Stephanie. Even though I do not regret telling her that I am looking for full-time work, I thought that I may have told her too much about my personal situation which might have made her feel awkward. I planned to call her and let her know that things are fine and I was just having one of those days. But before I got the chance, Stephanie called me. She wanted me to schedule a time where I can meet with her and one of her partners to discuss working full-time at her firm.
There are some things you should know about Stephanie and why I hold her in such high regard. She is the managing partner of a highly respected boutique specialty firm. She is charismatic and her knowledge of the law is encyclopedic. Some of the attorneys at her firm have moved on to Biglaw, judicial clerkships, and other prestigious positions. All of her firm’s partners and associates have solid academic and professional backgrounds.
And now she is giving me a chance to work for her.
Could this be the opportunity I have been waiting for? After the jump, I will talk about what I will be doing at Stephanie’s firm and whether this could be the end of the race. Also, read onwards for information about a special federal clerkship opportunity…
In the most Canada news ever, a man has brought a class action suit against the Canadian government for its failure to control the moose population in Newfoundland and Labrador. An appeals court dismissed the claim, but personal injury lawyer Ches Crosbie vows to take his campaign all the way to the Canadian Supreme Court: “The case is unprecedented in many ways… It’s rife with live legal issues for a court of appeal.”
The theory of liability here is that the Canadian government introduced moose to Newfoundland island in 1904 as a source of food. Now their population is out of control, and motorists routinely slam into them and are injured by the large herbivores.
Let’s get this out of the way quickly… the solution is NOT to release an “apex predator” to control the moose population. A prime moose can generally not be messed with by any alpha predator. Top predators will eat some moose calves, but when you get out to check the damage the moose did to your car, the sound of timber wolves closing in around you is not something you are going to want to hear.
Oh, and for the Texans in the audience, shooting them hasn’t really been a successful answer either. Sorry Canada, you have a trophic cascade on your hands, and there is little that can be done about it….
Many people enter the legal profession with the expectation that the public will see them as members of a noble trade to be revered and admired. Unfortunately, that’s simply not the case at all. For every would-be Atticus Finch, there exists an off-color lawyer joke. If you’d call 5,000 dead lawyers at the bottom of the ocean “a good start,” then you’re not alone.
According to a new study, although lawyers are viewed by the public as part of an “envied” profession, no one really likes them. Sure, lawyers may gain a scant amount of respect from some, but when you’re viewed generally as heartless bastards, no one will trust you…
If you’re like me, you’ve been reading Howard Bashman’s excellent appellate litigation blog, How Appealing, for years. When I started to write online more than a decade ago, Howard, a pioneer of legal blogging, was a role model and inspiration. (I pay homage to Howard Bashman and How Appealing with shout-outs in my forthcoming novel.)
Given our longtime admiration of Howard Bashman and How Appealing here at Above the Law, we are absolutely delighted to announce this partnership: effective October 1, 2014, How Appealing will be hosted at howappealing.abovethelaw.com. You can read Howard’s announcement of the affiliation here.
For those of you who love How Appealing and Above the Law as they are, there’s nothing to fear. Howard Bashman will continue to run the web’s top blog devoted to appellate litigation, and we will continue to cover the legal profession here at ATL in our inimitable style. We will display headlines of recent How Appealing posts on ATL, and How Appealing will display headlines of recent ATL posts. The primary change resulting from this partnership will be felt by advertisers, who will now enjoy a broader range of options within the Breaking Media family. If you are interested in advertising on How Appealing, Above the Law, or both, please contact email@example.com.
Given How Appealing’s record of excellence dating back to 2002, we couldn’t be happier with this partnership. We look forward to working with Howard Bashman and How Appealing in the years ahead.
Now, I don’t consider myself the most religious person you’re likely to meet. But I’ve had my fair share of Judeo-Christian indoctrination. And there is one phrase that has always stuck with me: “There but for the grace of God go I.”
Sure, I mostly remember the phrase as my Nana would cluckingly utter it, in a tone that seemed far less Christian than a strict textual interpretation might suggest, but the point remains. Sometimes it is necessary to appreciate the dumb luck and seemingly small and inconsequential decisions that separate your good fortune from those with far less.
That is certainly how I feel about the poor, dumb bastard who had the audacity to take on Biglaw….
* The United States is launching air strikes against ISIS in Syria and Iraq, but some have been compelled to wonder whether it’s legal under international law. Of course it’s legal, under the Rule of ‘MERICA, F*CK YEAH! [BBC]
* Dewey know whether this failed firm’s former COO can get out of paying $9.3M to its bankruptcy trustee? Dewey know whether we’ll ever be able to stop using this pun? Sadly, the answer to both questions is no. [WSJ Law Blog]
* Marc Dreier of the defunct Dreier LLP has been ordered to testify in person in his firm’s bankruptcy case in Manhattan, but he’d rather stay in the comforts of his prison home in Minnesota. Aww. [Bloomberg]
* Dinesh D’Souza won’t have to do hard prison time for his campaign-finance violations. Instead, he’ll be spending eight months in a “community confinement center,” which sounds just peachy. [New York Times]
OmniVere’s delivery of end-to-end technology & data consulting to position the company as a true differentiator in the global legal technology and compliance space.
CHICAGO, IL, September 29, 2014 – OmniVere today announced the creation of the company’s technology & data consulting arm and the addition of several industry-renown experts, including the former co-chairs of Berkeley Research Group’s (BRG’s) Technology Services practice, Liam Ferguson, Rich Finkelman and Courtney Fletcher.
This new consulting practice will provide and expand existing OmniVere eDiscovery consulting services to corporations, law firms and government agencies with a special focus on compliance, information governance and eDiscovery. This addition of this top talent now positions OmniVere as a true industry leader in the technology and data consulting space offering best-in-class end-to-end services.
Ferguson, Finkelman & Fletcher are nationally recognized experts and seasoned veterans in the areas of overall technology, electronic discovery, and structured data. At OmniVere, the team will be focused on all global consulting activities with respect to legal compliance, complex data analytics, business intelligence design and analysis, and electronic discovery service offerings.
The Trust Women conference is an influential gathering that brings together global corporations, lawyers and pioneers in the field of women’s rights. Unlike many other events, Trust Women delegates take action and forge tangible commitments to empower women to know and defend their rights.
This year, the Trust Women conference will take place 18-19 November in London. From women’s economic empowerment to slavery in the supply chain and child labour, this year’s agenda is strong and powerful. Speakers include Professor Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Laureate and founder of the Grameen Bank; Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women; Mary Ellen Iskenderian, President and CEO of Women’s World Banking and many other influential leaders. Find out more about Trust Women here.