Richard Posner

A great many of our most polarizing political discussions involve deciding what we should be able to sell. Pot legalization, for instance, is oftentimes framed as a debate over whether we should be able to smoke marijuana cigarettes at our leisure. But that debate’s over. It’s been won by the High Times crowd a thousand times over, no matter how many times a kid gets popped on a possession rap. No, the schism involves the sale of weed. The business of it. News articles about Colorado are less interested in doofuses smoking pot and more interested in the brave, new world of pot dispensaries. The business of America is business and all that.

This weekend brought news of a burgeoning overseas market in human organs. And gay eyeballs. If you can’t see the connection, allow me…

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And you’d think it would be Justice Scalia. But you’d be wrong!

So what darkened this legal luminary?

If you guessed “shadowy intelligence services,” you’re right. Congratulations! ATL would like to send you your prize! You win ███████. Remember to ask for it by name.

Opinions get redacted or sealed all the time, but the latest from the Seventh Circuit is a doozy….

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Judge Richard KopfNine days ago, Judge Richard Kopf wrote an article about the Supreme Court’s decision in Hobby Lobby that suggested, “[a]s the kids say, it is time for the Court to stfu.” It was a good post, but something that seemed of such little controversy that we relegated it to an in-blurb mention within Non-Sequiturs.

And then all manner of shock and hand-wringing commenced.

It’s not the first time a federal judge received criticism for speaking out. Are jurists like Judge Kopf out of control?

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Judge Richard Posner isn’t amused.

Please convey my congratulations to Bryan Garner on inventing a new form of arbitration. Two parties have a dispute; one appoints an arbitrator to resolve the dispute; the other disputant is not consulted. How beautifully that simplifies arbitration! No need for the parties to agree on an arbitrator, or for the American Arbitration Association to list possible arbitrators and the disputants cross out the ones they don’t like.

– Judge Richard Posner of the Seventh Circuit, in response to the latest barb dealt in his long-running dispute with Justice Antonin Scalia of the Supreme Court. In June 2012, Bryan Garner co-authored Reading Law: The Interpretation of Legal Texts (affiliate link) with Scalia, and Posner criticized it for “misrepresent[ing] case rationales.” Garner recently hired Keker & Van Nest partner Steven Hirsch to evaluate those criticisms, saying he wanted an “objective third party.” Posner wasn’t particularly impressed.

Professor Tim Wu

Sometimes what everybody thinks about the law is more important than what the law itself says. I think that’s what’s happened with net neutrality. It’s become a kind of norm of behavior, what you can and can’t appropriately do with the Internet. It’s got to be open.

– Professor Tim Wu of Columbia Law School, subject of a glowing profile in the New York Times for his work in defense of net neutrality.

(Fun tidbits from the profile that gunners and legal nerds will appreciate — specifically, how to land a Supreme Court clerkship with a weak grade in a 1L core class — after the jump.)

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* Abraham Lincoln was a harder working lawyer than you are. [Abraham Lincoln's Almanac Trial]

* Quentin Tarantino has given up the ghost and dropped his suit against Gawker over The Hateful Eight. [The Escapist]

* The people who made stupid toe shoes have settled a big class action. [Deadspin]

* Judge Posner and Justice Scalia haven’t had a public fight in a while. So this lawyer is trying to stir one up. Thanks, buddy! [Legal Times]

* Colorado’s energy industry is suing municipalities creating a patchwork of fracking regulation. As the author notes, “for a state that has boldly snubbed federal law on marijuana policy, such arguments sound a bit hollow.” [Breaking Energy]

* Stop calling on Justice Ginsburg to retire… it’s probably too late for Obama to nominate a replacement anyway. [New Republic]

* Lawyer writes threatening letter to customer who wrote a negative review on Amazon. [Ars Technica]

* Our tipster put it best, “New Show on Bravo: ‘Lowering the NJ Bar.’” [The Star-Ledger]

* A young solicitor known as Mr. Kelly was inspired to release a rap album about how much he hated his training job at a top 10 global firm. His video after the jump…. [Legal Cheek]

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Picture of Banana Lady taken from Judge Posner’s opinion.

As it turns out, it was in fact a banana, and she was absolutely not happy to see Judge Posner.

The ridiculous isn’t entirely new to Judge Posner. He’s seen lawyers treating his courtroom as a schoolyard and issued benchslaps complete with pictures of men burying their heads in sand.

But he doubtless never expected to be writing an opinion chastising a woman in a banana suit….

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Most days, I’m proud of owning my own small law firm. And while technically, I’m not a solo — I’ve had an assistant for over eight years now as well as a revolving crew of of counsel, part-time associates and independent contractors — many of my colleagues lump me and most very small law firms into that category nonetheless. So when other solos act foolishly or unprofessionally, it reflects poorly on the rest of us.

Understand, I’m not picking on solos.  Let’s face it — large law firms are hardly paragons of upstanding conduct; one needn’t look further than the recent Dewey & LeBoeuf scandal as proof. But for whatever reason, when Biglaw behaves badly, that conduct doesn’t diminish the reputation of Biglaw in the eyes of judges and other lawyers as it does for solos.  

So that’s why it bugs me when solos do stupid — and often avoidable — things. Here are my top three peeves:

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The defendants’ appeal brief is a gaunt, pathetic document (there is no reply brief). Minus formal matter, it is only eight and a half pages long. Brevity is the soul of wit, and all that, but still: the first seven and a half pages are simply a recitation of the history of the Georgia lawsuit, the settlement negotiations, and the present suit, along with questionable and irrelevant facts; and the tiny argument section of the brief — 118 words, including citations — states merely, without detail or elaboration, that the defendants do not possess the settlement funds and therefore can’t restore them.

– Judge Richard Posner, in an opinion ripping apart a brief submitted by David Lashgari, a Georgia lawyer attempting to appeal a contempt citation. Posner called Lashgari’s behavior “outrageous,” and his appeal “frivolous,” and issued a show-cause order as to why Lashgari should not be sanctioned.

(Keep reading to see Judge Posner’s entertaining opinion.)

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Who says she’s not a career woman? This is ‘Biglaw partner leaving Ken for her paralegal’ Barbie.

* With the impossible body ideal of Barbie gracing the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Cover, perhaps we should consider the positives that Barbie has contributed to women over the years. Missing is the rare, vacuous “math class is tough” Barbie. [The Careerist]

* A five-year-old writes the cutest response to the IRS. [TaxProf Blog]

* Professor busted for taking upskirt pics. His defense? How else was he going to prove the girls weren’t wearing underwear? Touché. Touché. [The Smoking Gun]

* The reasons to quit your Biglaw job. Now in listicle form! [Buzzfeed]

* The Supreme Court has a chance to take a stand against prosecutorial misconduct. Will they take it? [The Atlantic]

* If you’re violating your probation, be sure to videotape it and post it on YouTube. There’s no way your probation officer will see it. [IT-Lex]

* More insight into the world of contracting and America’s emerging economic model. [Law and More]

* On April 11-12, 2014, the Marquette University Law School will hold a symposium entitled “Judicial Assistants or Junior Judges: the Hiring, Utilization and Influence of Law Clerks.” Our own David Lat will be there, along with such luminaries as Judge Posner, Judge Sykes, Joan Biskupic, and Tony Mauro. [Marquette University Law School]

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