This week the Supreme Court, via a one-line order by Justice Anthony Kennedy, dismissed an appeal in Brown v. Plata for want of jurisdiction. Thousands of law students enrolled in Fed Jur and Fed Courts classes this semester may argue that there’s nothing sexy about jurisdiction, even by law’s substantially reduced standards for “sexiness.” The dismissal of Plata, though, has some significant effects for millions of people.
In 2011, the Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 opinion authored by Justice Kennedy that overcrowding in California prisons caused continuing violations of prisoners’ Eighth Amendment rights to adequate health care and that the overcrowding problem required a population limit. (Justice Scalia dissented, joined by Justice Thomas. Justice Alito also dissented, joined by the Chief.) As a result, California Governor Jerry Brown needed to drastically improve prison conditions or drastically reduce the state’s prison population by releasing inmates.
A flurry of state appeals and motions to change the original order ensued. Then, on September 24 of this year, a three-judge panel gave Brown until the end of January to meet its original order to remove more than 9,600 inmates from California prisons by the end of the year, absent successful negotiations with the plaintiffs. In an attempt to sufficiently improve prison conditions, Governor Brown negotiated a deal with legislators to spend $400 million on improvement of health care services to California prisoners, but he believed he needed more time in order to fully comply by the panel’s deadline. He filed an an appeal for a stay with SCOTUS….
* “We’re in uncharted territory right now.” The federal courts made it through the first week of the shutdown, but they’re approaching “here be dragons” land in terms of funding. [National Law Journal]
* “It would be the most interesting case in decades.” Legal experts debate whether President Obama can ignore the debt ceiling for much longer. [New York Times]
* People are getting out of Biglaw while the getting’s good. Reed Smith’s global managing partner is leaving the firm for a general counsel gig after 13 years at the helm. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]
* Law firm leaders met to discuss how to empower women attorneys, and agreed it’s wise to parade them around in front of clients. Getting to work on those clients’ cases is another question. [Blog of Legal Times]
* Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s lawyers want their client’s prison restrictions to be lifted and are raising a slew of constitutional claims. We think the members of his fan club are the only ones feeling sorry for him. [CNN]
* Paul Bergrin, more commonly known as the “Baddest Lawyer in the History of Jersey,” was handed a life sentence yesterday. At least he’ll have street cred with his gen pop friends. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]
* Overrated: Government surveillance is out of control. Underrated: Government spending massive amounts of money making the Army’s Intelligence and Security Command look like the set of Star Trek: The Next Generation is out of control. [Lowering the Bar]
* Helen Wan explains “The 5 Rules Every New Associate Must Know.” Not included: learning all the technical details required to convincingly say your smartphone failed to get that 1 a.m. message. [The Careerist]
* Another post in the fascinating series about creating visual maps of Supreme Court doctrine. It’s like a nerdier version of the The Atlas of Middle-Earth (affiliate link). [PrawfsBlawg]
* Ilya Somin reviews the Supreme Court’s most recent Takings Clause jurisprudence. It’s a lot harder for the government to take your property away. But don’t worry, it’s still really easy to lose all your property to unregulated markets. [The Volokh Conspiracy]
* The Office of the Solicitor General may have inadvertently helped out Frederick Oberlander and Richard Lerner, the two lawyers charged with criminal contempt for talking about a cooperator’s sentence (if you can call a $25,000 fine for admitting to a $40 million fraud a “sentence”) that the feds claim was sealed. [Wise Law NY]
* A somewhat sad art show based on requests from prisoners in solitary. Some beautiful stuff here. Though I’d have expected more “Rita Hayworth” photo requests. [Gawker]
* Former Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. is heading to prison in Alabama for 30 months. Among the items he improperly purchased with campaign funds was a cape. How awesome is that? [Reuters via Yahoo! News]
* The Bureau of Prisons is planning to move its female inmates out of Danbury to convert it to a men’s prison. The author behind Orange Is the New Black has a different plan. [Jezebel]
* Reminiscent of the gun post a while back, more proof that women have all kinds of room to store contraband. [Legal Juice]
* Simpson Thacher lawyers reached some “unsettling conclusions” about the Clinton Foundation. Probably spending too much time with that Lewinsky Foundation. [New York Times]
* You thought there was animosity toward lawyers in the U.S.? Check out how much they hate them across the pond. [Legal Cheek]
* Nepal had actual regulations regarding Yeti killing. When will America join the international community and enact strict protections for Sasquatch? [Lowering the Bar]
* A state bar association is actively discouraging students from going to law school. Which is odd, since the state in question has a top five law school… according to National Jurist. [Associate's Mind]
* A clever Civ Pro class used the system against Howard Wasserman to get an extension on their assignment. I respect Wasserman for crediting the students’ ingenuity, but it would have been a better life lesson if he’d impleaded the Dean for forcing him to have grades in early. Or at least ding the students with a Rule 11 claim. [PrawfsBlawg]
* Inmate forgotten for 22 months in solitary confinement wins $15.5 million reward. Hopefully he’ll be ready in time to protect us from that bioweapon attack from Alcatraz. [CNN]
* In honor of International Women’s Day, enjoy an interview of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. [The New Yorker]
* To follow up on an old story, law grad/convicted sex criminal Chris Dumler is reporting to jail today. [WVIR]
* The Conclave is now set for Tuesday. Place your bets on the new pontiff now! [CNN]
Next Friday, barring last-minute action from Congress, the series of crippling automatic budget cuts known affectionately as “sequestration” will go into effect, immediately slicing 8.2 percent off non-defense spending for 2013. It’s the continuation of the so-called “fiscal cliff,” which was supposed to hit January 1st, but Congress moved this component to March because two potentially disastrous political showdowns are more fun than one.
If you haven’t heard about the sequestration, here’s a good primer, and you’re officially working too hard.
* Seven out of nine sitting Supreme Court justices were silent when it came to the passing of Robert Bork. Justice Antonin Scalia, of course, issued a public statement, as did liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (surprise!). [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]
* No one ever really doubted that it would take an army of Biglaw lawyers from the likes of Sullivan & Cromwell, Shearman & Sterling, and Wachtel Lipton to handle a monumental deal like the proposed $8.2 billion NYSE/ICE merger. [Am Law Daily]
* Can you coach with Nick Saban and be a Miller Canfield partner at the same time? No. But you can sue (and win!) when the firm allegedly forces you out due to its “culture of fear and intimidation.” [Detroit Free Press]
* Peter Madoff was sentenced to ten years in prison for his role in Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme, but the judge will probably let him go to his granddaughter’s bat mitzvah before shipping him to the pokey. [Bloomberg]
* Merry Christmas, now go f**k yourself. A federal judge has given a woman in Louisiana free rein to display holiday lights on her roof in the form of an extended middle finger. God bless America. [CBS 3 Springfield]
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We’ve got an eclectic selection for you to choose from, so settle in by that stack of documents yet to be reviewed and dig in…
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