State Judges Are Clowns

Jodi Arias

* Growth was “steady” for New York’s top firms, with Latham & Watkins and Skadden Arps leading the pack in terms of gross revenue — which wasn’t surprising, considering their Am Law 100 gross revenue ranking. [New York Law Journal]

* Dewey know when we’ll be able to stop using this pun? Hmm, at this rate, probably never. Steve Otillar and Citi recently settled their dueling suits over the ex-D&L partner’s capital contribution loan to the failed firm. [Am Law Daily]

* Cahill Gordon was supposed to investigate the Rutgers basketball scandal, but the firm cited a conflict of interest, so Skadden Arps stepped in. [Insert the joke of your choice here. I don't like or watch this sport.] [Reuters]

* Surely you’ve heard about Justice Orie Melvin’s sentence by now. As it turns out, shaming a judge like you’d shame your dog online might not be enforceable… which is too bad. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]

* When we last spoke about “controversial” commencement speakers, we didn’t bring up the fact that Nancy Pelosi would be pulling double duty at UC Davis and Baltimore. Thoughts? [National Law Journal]

* She’s got a death wish: the aggravation phase of the Jodi Arias trial was postponed at the last minute yesterday, and some think it’s because of the interview she gave after the verdict was announced. [CNN]

We’ve received a spate of tips about judges losing their cool lately. Obviously most of them aren’t going around on killing sprees — or maybe they are — but several have plopped themselves into hot water in other ways.

Some argue that judges are overworked, underpaid, and fed up with disrespectful pro se litigants. Maybe, but how does that explain the Vegas judge we recently flagged in Non-Sequiturs for putting a litigant in jail for saying “thank you”? A litigant can’t get much more respectful.

For the judges we’ll profile here, the real culprit might be a potent cocktail of insecurity and a view of the law as their personal plaything….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Judge Not Lest Ye Be Judged (By an Ethics Panel)”

Judge Wade McCree

You must remember Judge Wade McCree. Not only is he the son of the first African-American to be appointed to the Sixth Circuit, but he’s also the man who sent sext messages to his bailiff and had an affair with one of the litigants who appeared before him while he was on the bench. Note that we’re no longer using the word “allegedly” in that sentence.

We now know for sure that McCree — who’s been referred to as Judge McCreep since the media caught wind of his sexual derring-do — was getting down and dirty with the woman who he claimed had been stalking and extorting him, the same woman who shouted from the rooftops that she’d banged McCree’s gavel “[o]n his desk, in the chair, the couch, you name it.”

We know with relative certainty that McCree did all of these things because he just admitted it all in his response to the Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission’s (MJTC) formal complaint.

Let’s see if he’s got any “shame in [his] game” now….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Judge of the Day: Sex Was On the Docket in His Chambers”

My personal favorite: Peepemptory Challenges.

* To those of you who celebrate it, Happy Easter! Welcome the holiday by voting in the ABA Journal’s fifth annual “Peeps in Law” contest. [ABA Journal]

* If law firm brackets aren’t your thing, check out Professor Kyle Graham’s brackets for (1) law school classes and (2) law blogs. I’m thankful for ATL’s #1 seed but terrified by who we’re up against (because they’ve ripped me a new one before). [noncuratlex]

* Sorry, Judge Steiner, you wuz robbed; you should have been our Judge of the Day. It’s tough to top “allegations of a sexual quid pro quo with a female lawyer and the eye-opening confiscation of carpet from [chambers] for forensic analysis.” [OC Weekly]

William Shatner

* “William Shatner’s Seductive Powers Don’t Create a Fiduciary Duty.” Robyn Hagan Cain explains why. [U.S. Second Circuit / FindLaw]

* Citi settles securities cases for $730 million. Matt Levine is not impressed. [Dealbreaker]

* And Ted Frank is incensed by Bernstein Litowitz’s nine-figure fee request. [Point of Law]

* If you’re already depressed by public ignorance about the Supreme Court, don’t look at the responses to question 9 of this opinion poll. [Penn Schoen Berland]

* Steven Harper — author of a new (and very good) book about the legal profession, The Lawyer Bubble (affiliate link) — offers thoughts on the billable hour in the wake of the DLA Piper overbilling allegations. [New York Times]

Remember Judge William M. “Chip” Watkins III? He’s the temperamental West Virginia jurist who was recorded on video yelling at — and we mean literally yelling at, not just “scolding” or “raising his voice at” — a pastor. In another case, Judge Watkins called a woman seeking a protective order against her husband “stupid,” criticizing her for “shooting off [her] fat mouth about what happened.”

Last summer, Judge Watkins was hit with expedited ethics charges. This week, the West Virginia Supreme Court issued its ruling. What do you think happened? Take a guess….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Judge of the Day: Old Yeller Learns His Fate”

The job market sure is rough right now, but the blow job market is an entirely different playing field. If you really want to be counted as one of those employed nine months after graduation, you’ve got to to put up or shut up — or in this case, put out or get out.

It seems that Scott Steiner, a California judge and adjunct law professor at Chapman University School of Law, allegedly decided to trade sex for job placement opportunities. The woman whom he allegedly entered into an affair with eventually landed a position with the Orange County District Attorney’s Office, the place where he used to work. Steiner used to work in the DA’s Gang Unit, but given the allegations here, the good judge may as well have worked in the Gang Bang Unit.

Oh, and we should probably mention that this woman may have been a law student….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “California Judge Accused in ‘Quid Pro Quo’ Sexual Affair… With a Law Student?”

Stroking the gavel of justice?

Don’t come knocking if the jury room is rockin’.

– An instant message that was allegedly sent by Judge Eugenio Mathis to his wife, a court employee, prior to his resignation from the bench.

(The New Mexico Judicial Standards Commission notes that the good judge allegedly engaged in “communications of a sexual nature” with his wife during court proceedings, “including intimations that he had or would be having sexual relations with her during the workday and/or on court premises.” Mathis continues to deny those claims.)

Justice Joan Orie Melvin

Justice Joan Orie Melvin is a member of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. As touted on the court’s website, it is “the highest court in the Commonwealth and the oldest appellate court in the nation.”

Yesterday the court acquired a more dubious distinction: it’s the latest state supreme court to see one of its members convicted of a serious felony. And yes, we mean “latest,” not “only” or “first.” Just last month, for example, former Michigan Supreme Court Justice Diane Hathaway pleaded guilty to federal bank fraud. Here in New York, Chief Judge Sol Wachtler of the Court of Appeals, our state’s highest court, served a prison sentence back in the early 1990s.

(Don’t say I didn’t warn you. Back in 2004, I opined that “state court judges are icky.” Article III all the way, baby.)

Back to Justice Orie Melvin of Pennsylvania. What could send Her Honor from the high court to the big house?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Judge of the Day: From the Bench to the Big House?”

* As President Barack Obama’s position on gay marriage continues to “evolve,” we’re left wondering what exactly Solicitor General Donald Verrilli will say come Supreme Court oral arguments showtime in late March. [New York Times]

* “This is a chilling document.” The moment you’ve been waiting for has arrived: the DOJ memo about the Obama administration’s most secretive and controversial policy, the legal justification of drone strikes against American citizens, was leaked. [NBC News]

* In the litigation blame game, the Department of Justice has a lawsuit cooking against Standard & Poor’s, the supposed “key enablers of the financial meltdown,” over the agency’s mortgage bond ratings. [Reuters]

* Many pieces from Dewey & LeBoeuf’s massive art collection were auctioned off on Friday for $528,120. The failed firm’s creditors must be chomping at the bit as they wait to receive the proceeds. [Blog of Legal Times]

* You must remember Cynthia Brim, the Chicago judge who was declared “legally insane.” She’s too insane to be found guilty of a battery charge, but not quite insane enough to lose her reelection bid. [Chicago Tribune]

* Apologies to those with disabilities in California, but this ruling has given the Law School Admissions Council free reign to continue to flag your applications if you got extra time on the LSAT. [National Law Journal]

* GW Law School is adding a new question to its application to gauge the LGBT status its applicants. Not sure how this will affect cratering applications, but drink more of the Kool Aid if it makes you feel better. [GW Hatchet]

* Here’s some sage advice from our managing editor: “If you’re not okay with working for free, don’t take the internship.” Or, in the alternative, you can sue, and win a fat settlement check. [International Business Times]

Johnny Manziel

Too funny. So it seems that a certain unnamed (very) recent Heisman Trophy winner from a certain unnamed “college” down south of here got a gift from the Ennis P.D. while he was speeding on the 287 bypass yesterday. It appears that even though the OU defense couldn’t stop him, the City of Ennis P.D. is a different story altogether. Time to grow up/slow down young ‘un. You got your whole life/career ahead of you. Gig Em indeed.

I meant to say “allegedly” speeding, my bad.

– Judge Lee Johnson of the Ennis Municipal Court (Texas), commenting on Facebook about Johnny Manziel’s recent brush with the law on the judge’s home turf. Some legal experts believe Johnson’s behavior was unethical.

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