Politics

175px-Monica_lewinskyThe Washington Post reported this week that Monica Lewinsky was mistreated by the federal government — and not just by the head of the Executive Branch.

According to the article, a report just became public detailing misconduct by federal law enforcement in the way they approached Lewinsky at the start of her part of the investigation that lead to Clinton’s impeachment.

The report finds that the government’s approach was wrong. Lewinsky shouldn’t have been handled the way the FBI and prosecutor dealt with her.

How did the report reach that conclusion?

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Canada View From Up North As most of the world knows, last week a gunman shot and killed a Canadian soldier as he stood at his post near the National War Memorial in Ottawa. Corporal Nathan Cirillo was standing on guard in honour of his fallen brothers-in-arms when Michael Zehaf-Bibeau shot him with a 30-30 rifle at close range.

Hunters use 30-30s to kill moose.

As ordinary citizens tried heroically to save our soldier’s life, Zehaf-Bibeau rushed over to Parliament Hill, only a few blocks away, bent on destroying more lives. He died in an exchange of gunfire with law enforcement officers, thankfully before he could do further serious harm.

What a horrible day for Canada and an infinitely more horrible day for Corporal Cirillo’s family and friends. Our thoughts and prayers remain with his loved ones.

I apologize, because when a young soldier loses his life, politics should be the last thing on anybody’s mind. But, Corporal Cirillo’s death immediately turned political….

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Supreme Court SCOTUS photo by David Lat* Some observers do not appreciate the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent Delphic pronouncements on a slew of hot-button issues. [New York Times]

* The New York Court of Appeals does international banks a solid — but is it bad policy? [Reuters]

* Fired Canadian radio host Jian Ghomeshi hires Dentons to sue CBC, which dismissed him over allegations of sexual misconduct. [American Lawyer]

* Is post-Citizens United money polluting judicial elections? [New York Times via How Appealing]

* An Englishman sues Sotheby’s, alleging that the auction house negligently failed to inform him that a painting he sold through Sotheby’s was by Caravaggio and worth millions. [BBC]

* If you’re a lawyer looking for extra income, check out Avvo’s new service, which offers consumers on-demand legal advice for a fixed fee. [Law Sites via ABA Journal]

* Is it reversible error for a judge to refuse to ask voir dire questions related to sexual-preference prejudices? [Southern District of Florida via How Appealing]


Righteous-IndignationThis week, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) announced that it accepted a hefty donation from Koch Industries.  According to NACDL, the grant will fund an initiative to better train indigent defenders and study best practices of current state level indigent defense delivery systems.  The organization points out that over 80 percent of criminal defendants must rely on indigent defense systems for representation, though the systems are “chronically underfunded and overburdened and, as result, in many instances are unable to effectively deliver adequate representation.”  NACDL Executive Director Norman L. Reimer also said, “[W]e are honored that while Koch is providing this significant funding to support NACDL’s efforts, Koch is deferring to NACDL’s expertise in this arena for the grant’s effective deployment.”

Koch Industries is, of course, the Kansas-based, privately-held corporation of Charles and David Koch, often known to their many liberal critics as “the Koch Brothers.”  (Sort of like the Wachowski Brothers but with more money and without the transitioning.)  Critics such as Democratic Senate majority leader Harry Reid and increasingly agitated AlterNet writers decry the Kochs, who are reportedly each worth $36 billion, for their donations to the GOP and conservative causes.

So, should we be skeptical of the Kochs’ recent gift to help poor folks get adequate legal representation?  After all, how could a Google search for “Koch Brothers Evil” turn up so many seemingly pertinent results, if they were up to any good?  So, how can an organization like NACDL accept money from the ne’er-do-well billionaires who funneled money into such ultra-conservative, oligarchy-preserving causes as . . . the United Negro College Fund?

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Jonathan Dach

Jonathan Dach

The past few weeks haven’t been much fun for Jonathan Dach. This promising young lawyer, a Yale College (2008) and Yale Law School (2013) graduate, found himself fingered by the Washington Post as the alleged client of a Colombian prostitute.

Why would anyone care about a young man hiring a prostitute in a jurisdiction — Cartagena, Colombia — where prostitution is legal? This allegedly all went down during the visit by President Obama to Colombia in which a bunch of Secret Service agents got in trouble for patronizing prostitutes, so the claim is that the White House protected one of its own — Dach, a White House volunteer at the time, is the son of a big-time Democratic donor — while hanging the Secret Service agents out to dry. And Dach now works at the State Department on a portfolio of women’s issues, which adds to the awkwardness.

But are the allegations even true? Various folks, both within the Yale community and beyond it, are rallying to Dach’s defense — and forcefully denying the claims against him. What do they have to say?

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This is a lawmaker? Like, a person who makes laws? This person has no business anywhere near laws that affect women or other human beings.

Jess McIntosh, a spokeswoman for EMILY’s List, a women’s political action committee, commenting on remarks made by New Hampshire Rep. Steve Vaillancourt about Rep. Ann McLane Kuster’s bid for re-election.

(This weekend, Vaillancourt compared Kuster to an unattractive drag queen in a blog post, further wondering, “Does anyone not believe that Congressman Annie Kuster is as ugly as sin? And I hope I haven’t offended sin.” Ouch.)

The latest batch of presidential papers from the Clinton Administration, recently released to the public, contain some fun nuggets for law nerds. We’ve mentioned a few of them already — e.g., the time that a pre-robescent Elena Kagan, then a White House staffer, dropped the f-bomb in a memo to White House counsel Jack Quinn. Another just came to light today: as reported by Tony Mauro, a pre-robescent John Roberts, then in private practice at Hogan & Hartson, came close to representing President Clinton in the U.S. Supreme Court in Clinton v. Jones.

The papers contain other interesting tidbits too — and some are sad rather than salacious. For example, there’s the story of how a brilliant and distinguished circuit judge came thisclose to landing a seat on the Supreme Court, until health problems derailed his nomination….

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* Zombies responsible for tort. It’s like Walking Dead but with more motion practice. [PrawfsBlawg]

* As much as you hate pocket dialing someone, you don’t hate it as much as these people who pocket dialed 911 while making a drug deal. [Legal Juice]

* Ever wonder why AIG seemed to fare much worse under the bailout than the banks? Perhaps that’s because the government used the AIG bailout to play favorites and help out all their banking buddies. [Medium]

* Here’s one out of left field: Oregon’s first lady had a secret marriage to an 18-year-old immigrant 11 years her junior. Was this a “green card marriage” (i.e., a felony)? My home state doesn’t have great luck with political figures and legal trouble. [Willamette Week]

* Is law one of the most profitable industries for private companies? Of course it is. [Inc.]

* Guess what? Spending decades decrying “for’ners” for stealing hard-earned American cash, people consistently believe we spend tons more on foreign aid than we really do. [The Volokh Conspiracy / Washington Post]

* Legendary plaintiffs’ attorney Fred Levin talks about the ongoing effort to demonize plaintiffs lawyers. Video after the jump…. [Mimesis Law]

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Or at least the Washington Post alleges that one Yale Law student loved a hooker. Why is the Washington Post so interested in how a Yale Law student spends his time and money? Well, because that Yale Law student, Jonathan Dach, was working for the White House and hotel logs indicate he brought a woman back to the Colombia hotel where the president was set to stay. The Post claims that Homeland Security later fingered this woman as a prostitute. Hey, he was injecting his business into the local economy!

Anyway, the Post claims the White House covered this all up. Oh, and later promoted him to a job in the State Department. Which job? Policy advisor in the Office of Global Women’s Issues. [Dramatic Chipmunk]

If the idea of bringing prostitutes to hotels while traveling ahead of the president sounds familiar, it’s because the Secret Service did the same thing ON THE SAME TRIP, and the agents involved were pilloried and fired. So guess who’s really pissed off that the White House stuck its neck out for its own while throwing them under the bus?

Sex, corruption, hypocrisy, oh my! And yet, should anyone even care about this? The answer is “yes,” but not for any of the reasons you’ll hear from the nattering nabobs….

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It has been an intense week in the Lone Star State. A rough week to be Texas Department of Health Commissioner David Lakey, to be sure. When either of the words “abortion” or “Ebola” enter local headlines, it’s not a slow news week. Texas headlines have had both.

On Thursday, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled that the State of Texas can begin implementing controversial parts of HB 2, the law placing new restrictions on the facilities authorized to perform abortions. Though a district court ruled earlier that HB 2 violated some Texas women’s rights by placing an undue burden on their access to abortion, the Fifth Circuit disagreed.

Meanwhile, Texas officials confirmed this week that a man in Dallas is infected with the Ebola virus. Thomas Eric Duncan contracted the deadly disease while in Liberia earlier this month, although his symptoms did not manifest until last week. In Liberia, Duncan reportedly helped care for a neighbor’s daughter who later died of Ebola. A few days later, Duncan boarded flights to Brussels, then Dulles, then Dallas. Nine days after his contact with the infected woman, while visiting Texas, Duncan became ill. And now every person in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex who ate bad sushi this week, or caught a stomach bug, is looking at their symptoms with a whole lot more suspicion and dread than usual. Because this is pretty damned terrifying.

What do abortion and ebola have in common (aside from making David Lakey’s life miserable this week)?

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