Screw-Ups

You know that it’s the holiday season when your inbox begins to fill up with holiday cards. Some are cute, some are clever, some are heartfelt, and some come from people and companies you don’t even remember meeting or doing business with.

And even though these people can’t be bothered to spend the time and money necessary to send real holiday cards in the mail, they still took a few minutes out of their day to send an email. At least sending out a holiday card via mass email gives the appearance that the sender cares about you. As many mothers would say, it’s the thought that counts.

So what happens when a law school sends out a holiday card, but completely botches it? This New York law school previously provided walking instructions to its students, but maybe the administration needs instructions on how to send out emails that are a little less insulting….

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How hard is it to write an exam for a course you’ve taught all semester? Seriously, tell me, how hard is it? On a scale of one to ten — ten involving programing a rocket ship, one somewhere around putting on pants in the morning — where does formulating a law school exam rate? A two? Maybe three if you are teaching the course for the first time?

It cannot possibly be so hard that you have to use the same exam over and over again, in the digital age. We’re not talking about something as complicated as the wheel. A law school exam can be reinvented, every year, with subtle and simple changes.

Using the exact same exam is just lazy. There’s no other word for it. LAZY. The high cost of law school is largely attributed to the hefty salaries of law school faculty. The least these people can do is write a novel exam each and every semester that they teach.

And yet during this finals period alone, we’ve got students from three law schools, including two law schools in the top ten, alleging that their professors couldn’t be bothered to come up with fresh exams for this year’s students….

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Of course not! But the headline got your attention, didn’t it? The notion of Judge Richard Posner as being anything other than a genius will certainly make people sit up and take notice. There’s a reason why there’s a Facebook group called Richard Posner for Philosopher King (of which I am a proud member).

It should be noted, however, that Judge Posner’s opinion in Gonzalez-Servin v. Ford Motor Co. was not 100 percent perfect. It initially contained some infelicitous wording — which has since been fixed.

Let’s look at the language that was perhaps imprecise….

UPDATE (4 PM): Additional comment from Judge Posner, added after the jump.

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Judge Matz

[T]his Court is compelled to find that the Government team allowed a key FBI agent to testify untruthfully before the grand jury, inserted material falsehoods into affidavits submitted to magistrate judges in support of applications for search warrants and seizure warrants, improperly reviewed e-mail communications between one Defendant and her lawyer, recklessly failed to comply with its discovery obligations, posed questions to certain witnesses in violation of the Court’s rulings, engaged in questionable behavior during closing argument and even made misrepresentations to the Court.

– Judge A. Howard Matz of the Central District of California, benchslapping federal prosecutors — and vacating the convictions, and dismissing the indictment — in a high-profile Foreign Corrupt Practices Act prosecution. (Gavel bang: Daniel Fisher.)

(Additional links and information about this case — if you do FCPA or white-collar criminal work, this may be of interest to you — after the jump.)

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Here at Above the Law, we regularly cover benchslaps: judges laying the smackdown on poorly performing attorneys. But what about when it’s the judge who says, “I’ve made a tiny huge mistake”?

On Friday, U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh made a significant technological blunder in a patent case between two of Silicon Valley’s heaviest hitters. Yet her mistake is almost quaint. It harkens back to an earlier, simpler time –– like, pre-2006. When legal technology was a bit more primitive, and, more specifically, when the legal profession was still learning to master PDF files.

So, what did she do? Let’s just say she couldn’t keep a secret….

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On Thanksgiving Day, while you were enjoying your turkey (or tofurkey), we wrote about a different bird: namely, the ostrich. In a somewhat snarky opinion, Judge Richard Posner of the Seventh Circuit compared a lawyer appearing before him to an ostrich: “The ostrich is a noble animal, but not a proper model for an appellate advocate. The ‘ostrich-like tactic of pretending that potentially dispositive authority against a litigant’s contention does not exist is as unprofessional as it is pointless.’”

Ouch. Judge Posner even included a photo (above right) of a man in a suit burying his head in the sand.

What did the lawyer in question, David “Mac” McKeand of Houston, have to say for himself? And what did McKeand have to say about Judge Posner?

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Happy Thanksgiving, from your friends at Above the Law. As always, we give thanks to our readers, our tipsters, our advertisers, and even our commenters.

We also give thanks to Judge Richard Posner. This brilliant and hilarious jurist has just given us something to chuckle over as we munch on our Thanksgiving turkey.

This opinion by Judge Posner, handed down yesterday, could be viewed as “giving the bird” to an offending attorney. And the bird in question is not a turkey. Can you guess which bird is involved?

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(And a bonus benchslap from Judge Posner.)

Last night, we asked why the New Jersey Bar results were late. Today, they’re up by candidate ID.

Anything else we can help you with today?

UPDATE (10:50 AM): Remember the NJ woman who passed out cold in the middle of the test? Find out if she passed, after the jump.

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I mean, probably not, but when you are primarily responsible for losing millions and millions of dollars, I suppose anything is possible. And remember Jon Corzine does have a documented case of test-taking anxiety. For all we know, MF Global’s money and the New Jersey bar exams are sitting in a basement somewhere being guarded by Real Housewives who can kill you with the piercing sound of their voices.

It sounds farcical, but something is going on with the New Jersey Bar Exam. The New York results came out weeks ago. Yet we’ve heard nothing from Jersey about their bar results, which generally come out around the same time.

And now New Jersey has gone radio silent. There are no results on their website. We left voicemails with two officials at the New Jersey Board of Law Examiners this afternoon, but they have not returned our calls.

My Corzine theory might be off the wall, but others have some more credible thoughts on why there’s been a delay from the Garden State….

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When a tipster sent us an e-mail with the subject, “Court awards $700,000+ in sanctions for destruction of FB page,” I thought it sounded like it might be interesting. Because hey, that’s a lot of money.

I didn’t realize it would also be one of the most depressing legal news stories I’ve read since this tragic murder-suicide.

The three-quarters-of-a-million-dollar sanction award was levied against the widower of a woman killed in a car accident and the widower’s lawyer. The ruling was an abrupt table-turn for Isaiah Lester, who had previously won a $10 million wrongful death suit against the driver whose truck overturned and killed his wife.

Keep reading for the depressing details….

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