Those law students at Fordham University have a new tidbit to add to their dossier on SCOTUS Justice Antonin Scalia. He made an appearance last night at the Friendship Heights Village Center in Chevy Chase, Maryland, to talk about his book, “Making Your Case: The Art of Persuading Judges.” Politico reports that he gave out some pieces of advice, namely:
“Don’t beat a dead horse.”
“Be brief. And when your time expires, shut up and sit down.”
Avoid acronyms in brief writing and oral arguments.
Lawyers should study a judge’s background and likes and dislikes before they appear in court. “At the very least, these details will humanize the judge before you, so that you will be arguing to a human being instead of a chair.”
That last bit of advice can be taken too far, of course. Nino was annoyed when he found out about Fordham Law’s background research on him earlier this year.
Justice Scalia was willing to add to the files, though, revealing his favorite legal movie. What is it?
Who can forget Quinn Emanuel’s victory in the 17-year-long dispute over the name “Redskins”? Above the Law readers will remember Robert Raskopf’s happy victory email … and the first-year associate who had a problem with the firm’s representation of the Washington Football club. The first year was (eek!) fired for reasons unrelated to his disagreement with the firm’s position.
But is the firm’s position as strong as Raskopf thought? The Blog of the Legal Times reports that the Redskins case has made it all the way to the Supreme Court:
The long-running dispute over the appropriateness of the “Redskins” name for the Washington D.C. NFL football franchise reached the Supreme Court today. Philip Mause, partner at Drinker Biddle & Reath in D.C., representing a group of Native Americans offended by the name, filed a petition for certiorari in the case titled Susan Harjo v. Pro-Football, Inc.
Was Raskopf’s victory email premature? More details, plus an UPDATE about the Native Americans’ game plan if SCOTUS doesn’t want to play, after the jump.
In her excellent interview with Chief Judge Alex Kozinski at the Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference, Solicitor General Elena Kagan poked gentle fun at the controversy surrounding what she should wear while arguing before the Supreme Court, as the first female Solicitor General. She quipped: “That this is the big question of the Washington Supreme Court bar probably tells you something about the Supreme Court bar.”
And yet, despite making light of the issue, Solicitor General Kagan simultaneously built the suspense over what she would wear to One First Street. She deflected Judge Kozinski’s inquiries regarding her attire: “I’ve ostentatiously kept it a secret as to what I’m doing. If I told you, I’d have to shoot you.” (She was willing to admit, under intense questioning from Judge Kozinski, that she would not be arguing in Jimmy Choos.)
On Wednesday, Solicitor General Kagan ended the suspense, when she appeared before the Court to argue the Citizens United case. For recaps of the argument in this important and highly charged case, see Adam Liptak and Dahlia Lithwick.
We’ll focus on what really matters: What did Solicitor General Kagan wear on Wednesday? She eschewed the traditional morning coat, or some feminized version thereof, in favor of a pantsuit.
And that’s where the disagreement begins. Leading Supreme Court correspondents had different takes on its color. Tony Mauro of the Legal Times described it as “a businesslike black pantsuit with an open-collared white blouse.” But Dahlia Lithwick of Slate described it as “a tasteful blue pantsuit.”
So, what color was the Solicitrix General’s pantsuit? We reached out for comment to someone who ought to know: the SG herself.
Sometimes stereotypes are true. Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the Supreme Court’s first Latina justice, loves to dance — and she’s pretty darn good at it, too.
Consider this comment — posted back in May 2005, about then-Judge Sotomayor — from Underneath Their Robes:
In October , attended the wedding of two law school classmate, one of whom (the bride) clerked for Judge Sotomayor. Judge Sotomayor was delightful and gracious — she took the time to introduce herself to the bride’s mother (and invited her to lunch when she was next in NYC to see her daughter). But the best was yet to come.
The Judge is a dancing machine. She danced it up with the groom, the bride, and the bride’s district court judge (Judge Underhill of Connecticut, who is no slouch on the dance floor either). She has mad rhythm. Don’t be fooled by the robes that she’s got!
Indeed. Residents of Washington who were out on the town Monday night were treated to the sight — and sound — of Justice Sotomayor celebrating her Supreme Court appointment, dancing and singing karaoke with family and friends.
An eyewitness (and earwitness) account, plus some grainy video, after the jump.
* Free speech goes head to head with campaign finance laws at the Supreme Court today. [Washington Independent]
* The 9th Circuit ruled that John Ashcroft can be sued by a Muslim man who suffered under the former AG’s anti-terrorism strategies. [Washington Post]
* An Ohio judge makes his scarlet letter neon yellow. [New York Daily News]
* Judges are the ones regulating Wall Street. [Bloomberg]
* An ex-partner in Florida has sued the chairman of his former firm for wrongfully firing him after a confrontation over firm funds being used to support Hillary Clinton, among other misdeeds. [Courthouse News Service]
* In Texas classrooms, Obama is shunned, but Bibles may be a requirement. [Houston Chronicle]
* More retired judges do it for free. Now in North Carolina. [Raleigh News & Observer]
Just a quick follow-up to yesterday’s discussion of whether Justice John Paul Stevens’s failure to hire a full complement of law clerks for October Term 2010 might shed light upon his retirement plans. In today’s New York Times, Adam Liptak has an excellent article on the subject. It begins:
A Supreme Court clerkship is a glittering prize and the ultimate credential in American law, one coveted by the top graduates of the best law schools. Until recently, though, only connoisseurs of ambition and status followed the justices’ hiring process closely.
It turns out those hiring decisions may be a sort of early warning system for hints about the justices’ retirement plans. “We’ve started tracking Supreme Court hiring in real time,” said David Lat, the founder of Above the Law, a legal blog.
Thanks for the shout-out, Mr. Liptak! When it comes to being “connoisseurs of ambition and status,” we plead guilty.
Justice David H. Souter’s failure to hire clerks this spring accurately signaled his decision to step down. On Wednesday, the court confirmed that Justice John Paul Stevens, who is 89, has hired only one clerk, instead of the usual four, for the term starting in October 2010. That ignited speculation that Justice Stevens may be planning to step down next summer.
Some thoughts on what’s going on here, after the jump.
A few weeks ago, we were emailing with one of our sources about an interesting fact we noticed, based on Above the Law’s real-time coverage of Supreme Court clerk hiring. The fact: thus far, Justice John Paul Stevens has hired just one law clerk for October Term 2010 (Sam Erman (Michigan 2007 / Garland)).
We didn’t write about it at the time, because OT 2010 is still a year away, and it seemed a bit speculative to make much of it so far in advance. But others noticed this fact too — and were faster on the trigger about it. Like the AP:
Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens has hired fewer law clerks than usual, generating speculation that the leader of the court’s liberals will retire next year.
If Stevens does step down, he would give President Barack Obama his second high court opening in two years. Obama chose Justice Sonia Sotomayor for the court when Justice David Souter announced his retirement in May.
Souter’s failure to hire clerks was the first signal that he was contemplating leaving the court….
Indeed. We started the speculation about Justice Souter’s retirement back in April 2009, over at Underneath Their Robes, based in part on his lack of law clerk hiring (and based in part on a sighting of him with Senator Pat Leahy).
But back to Justice Stevens:
In response to a question from The Associated Press, Stevens confirmed through a court spokeswoman Tuesday that he has hired only one clerk for the term that begins in October 2010. He is among several justices who typically have hired all four clerks for the following year by now. Information about this advance hiring is not released by the court but is regularly published by some legal blogs.
Cough cough — like Above the Law?
Commentary from expert observers, plus a reader poll, after the jump.
We’ve previously reported on the hiring of Supreme Court law clerks for October Term 2009. Their names appear here (everyone but Justice Sotomayor’s clerks) and here (Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s clerks).
As we mentioned, we weren’t 100 percent certain on the Sotomayor clerks. Happily, as it turns out, our intelligence was correct. Thanks to everyone who shared information with us; we can’t accurately track Supreme Court clerk hiring without your help.
The Public Information Office of the Supreme Court has released the official list of October Term 2009 law clerks, and it matches up with what we’ve reported in these pages. For a copy of the official list, click here to download (as a Word document). (Note that it doesn’t include law school and prior clerkship information, which usually comes in a second, more detailed list.)
Not counting the law clerks’ middle initials, the official list doesn’t contain much information that hasn’t already appeared on ATL — with one exception. We now know that retired Justice David H. Souter’s clerk will be Thomas Pulham, formerly of the D.C. office of Jenner & Block (which has sent a number of its associates into SCOTUS clerkships).
Based on the official list, we’ve made some small tweaks to our list (e.g., changed some maiden names to married names). Check out the final list, a mash-up of the official list with the law school and prior clerkship information that we’ve gathered on our own, after the jump.
On Monday, the Supreme Court ordered a federal trial judge to take a closer look at the murder case against Troy Anthony Davis, a Georgia death row inmate. The SCOTUS directed the district judge to “receive testimony and make findings of fact as to whether evidence that could have been obtained at the time of trial clearly establishes [Davis'] innocence.”
Justice Antonin Scalia, joined by Justice Clarence Thomas, dissented. Justice Scalia questioned the viability of Davis’s claim of actual innocence, then went one step further. Even if Davis might be “actually” innocent, he’s SOL:
This Court has never held that the Constitution forbids the execution of a convicted defendant who has had a full and fair trial but is later able to convince a habeas court that he is “actually” innocent.
This bold pronouncement caught the attention of Professor Alan Dershowitz, back at Justice Scalia’s alma mater, Harvard Law School. From “Scalia’s Catholic Betrayal,” over at The Daily Beast:
Let us be clear precisely what [Scalia's dissent] means. If a defendant were convicted, after a constitutionally unflawed trial, of murdering his wife, and then came to the Supreme Court with his very much alive wife at his side, and sought a new trial based on newly discovered evidence (namely that his wife was alive), these two justices would tell him, in effect: “Look, your wife may be alive as a matter of fact, but as a matter of constitutional law, she’s dead, and as for you, Mr. Innocent Defendant, you’re dead, too, since there is no constitutional right not to be executed merely because you’re innocent.”
It would be shocking enough for any justice of the Supreme Court to issue such a truly outrageous opinion, but it is particularly indefensible for Justices Scalia and Thomas, both of whom claim to be practicing Catholics, bound by the teaching of their church, to do moral justice. Justice Scalia has famously written, in the May 2002 issue of the conservative journal First Things, that if the Constitution compelled him to do something that was absolutely prohibited by mandatory Catholic rules, he would have no choice but to resign from the Supreme Court.
So should Justice Scalia resign? The Dersh isn’t saying that — yet.
But he does have a challenge for Nino.
On Monday, SCOTUS ordered a federal judge to consider an innocence claim by death row inmate Troy Davis. The case has sparked serious media coverage.
It has also inspired some not-so serious media coverage. Were SCOTUS to take on the legality of the death penalty, the Onion News Network imagines how each Justice would approach the case:
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The holiday season is upon us, and yet again, you have no idea what to get for the fickle lawyer in your life. We’re here to help. Even if your bonus check hasn’t arrived yet, any one of the gifts we’ve highlighted here could be a worthy substitute until your employer decides to make it rain.
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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