State Judges

* Congratulations on your law degree! Here’s a list of the other professions you can go into, because “being a lawyer” might not be in your future. [Associate's Mind]

* Deleting unhelpful text messages is a poor litigation strategy [IT-Lex]

* Aaron Zelinsky wants your help coming up with legal aptonyms for an upcoming article. Do you not know what an aptonym is? It’s okay, just read his post and he’ll explain it for you. [Concurring Opinions]

* Rand Paul spoke for 13 hours. It only took two sentences to make him stop. Eric Holder has a great ROI. [Balloon-Juice]

* Cleveland Judge Pinkey Carr has issued another sentence making a convict wear a sign in public. [Columbus Dispatch]

* This grammar rant figuratively blew my mind. [3 Geeks and a Law Blog]

There are two schools of thought on drafting a benchslap. One method involves laying out the most egregious behavior of the target right up front to set the tone for the scathing punishment to follow. The other, subtler method involves slow-playing the transgressions in a glorious crescendo of suspect conduct.

Senior Judge Victor Musleh of the 5th Judicial Circuit in Lake County, Florida ascribes to the latter school. When his February 28th order in Wells Fargo v. Granger hit the ATL tips inbox, I thought it was a mild story. But this page-turner of an order raised the stakes with each paragraph….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Slow-Played Benchslap Order Just Keeps Getting Better”

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.)

Earlier this month, we talked about “Punk Defendant” Penelope Soto. Soto was charged with possession of Xanax, and during her arraignment she gave the judge the finger.

Judge Jorge Rodriguez-Chomat cited her for contempt and sentenced her to 30 days in jail.

Soto has cleaned up her act, got her contempt sentence dropped, and appeared in court earlier this week, where she was complimented by a different judge.

And I’ve got to admit, I feel bad about calling her a “punk” in the first place. I now think that she was high during her initial, profane court appearance, and they should have dried her out before sending her up before the judge….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Woman Who Flipped Off A Judge Now Receives Applause From The Bench (And An Apology From Me)”

Texas attorney Ray Marchan (Stanford ’82) has leapt from the Queen Isabella Bridge before turning himself in to federal authorities to serve a 3 1/2 year prison term. Marchan was convicted of six counts of racketeering, conspiracy to commit racketeering, aiding and abetting extortion, and mail fraud in connection with the bribing of former 404th District Judge Abel C. Limas to the tune of over $11,000

At this time, it’s unknown if Marchan was killed in the fall. Investigators are considering the possibility that he used the fall to escape….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Stanford-Educated Attorney Convicted of Racketeering Jumps Off Bridge”

A few weeks ago, a young woman named Penelope Soto became an internet legend after she was caught on camera flipping a Florida judge the bird and telling him to go f**k himself during a court proceeding. Soto’s behavior earned her a 30-day stint in jail for contempt of court, but she apparently changed her ways at a later hearing and convinced the judge to vacate the month-long sentence.

But not all mouthy defendants are so lucky. Some of them do go to jail. Take, for example, the case of Brian Noval, a Florida man who in 2009 called a judge a c*ck — twice. Why do all of these things happen in Florida? Anyway, Noval’s antics were captured on film, and he earned himself 120 days in the pokey for his indiscretions. Noval only served four days of that sentence before the judge decided that this cocky defendant had learned his lesson.

As we all know, the internet is for porn, but it’s also for wonderful videos like these. And thanks to Daniel Tosh of Comedy Central’s Tosh.0, sometimes the stars of embarrassing viral videos are given the chance to redeem themselves on cable television. Ms. Soto hasn’t been given the opportunity to participate in one of these yet, but Noval was featured on the show last night.

For reasons that escape me, we never covered Noval’s incident in 2009, but now that he’s been brought back into the pop culture limelight, we’ve got some funny videos to entertain you with….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Tosh.0 Gives a Rather ‘Cocky’ Defendant a Web Redemption”

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?”

The facts in today’s Supreme Court opinions read like a bloopers reel of our courts system. What do we do when judges are wrong on the law in a criminal case? What if a plaintiff decides, after losing, that he filed in a state court when the state court didn’t have jurisdiction? What if a lawyer doesn’t tell his client that by pleading guilty he’s going to be deported?

As Yakov Smirnoff would say, “What a country!

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Today at the Supreme Court: Mistakes Were Made”

I have to make a public confession:

Ten years ago, I co-authored a book that analyzed in all 50 states the existing analogues to the federal multidistrict litigation process. (Some states have analogues; some do not; some have procedures that serve the same purpose through very different mechanisms.)

Don’t scoff! That book served a public purpose, because the information was not then available anywhere else. And it served a business development purpose: If you work at a large firm, you don’t want to defend one-off product liability cases, because the fees won’t bear the big-firm freight. But you do want to defend those silly products cases the instant they transmogrify into mass torts. What’s the point at which the client knows that it is confronting a truly big and bad mass tort? When it’s defending not only a federal MDL, but statewide coordinated proceedings, too. Presto! Time to retain yours truly, the expert in that untrodden field!

Having written the book, my co-authors and I naturally publicized it. We published articles summarizing the substance of the book; explaining how to draft mini-MDL statutes; and, for publication in specific state bar journals, analyses of the mini-MDL processes available in certain populous states. Although I can’t find an online link to the piece, we wrote in a Ohio bar journal that Ohio was the most populous state not to have a formal procedure for coordinating related lawsuits filed in many counties.

Naturally, this triggered some thought in the Ohio bench and bar about whether the state should catch up with the rest of the world. In 2004, more or less, some judicial committee called to solicit my help (and that of my co-authors) in creating a mini-MDL procedure in Ohio.

That’s when I sinned . . .

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Inside Straight: Forgive Me, Readers, For I Have Sinned”

* What to do when your federal agency’s website has been hacked by Anonymous and you’re unable to post a major report online for public dissemination? Well, just ask a law professor to do it for you on his blog; that’s not embarrassing, not at all. [WSJ Law Blog]

* The many victims of the Deepwater Horizon disaster can now rejoice, because yesterday, Transocean pleaded guilty to violating the Clean Water Act, and will pay the second-largest environmental fine in United States history to the tune of $400 million. [CNN]

* Money takes flight: eleventy billion Biglaw firms are behind the beast that is this awful airline merger, but taking the lead are lawyers from Weil Gotshal for AMR and Latham & Watkins for US Airways. [Am Law Daily]

* After questioning the validity of one of the NBA players union’s contracts, Paul Weiss is withholding details about it thanks to the government’s intrusion. Way to block nepotism’s alleged slam dunk. [New York Times]

* “When is the last time you took the biggest financial institutions on Wall Street to trial?” Elizabeth Warren took the Socratic method to the Senate Banking Committee and she was applauded for it. [National Law Journal]

* If you liked it, then perhaps you should’ve put a ring on it, but not a Tiffany’s diamond engagement ring that you’ve purchased from Costco, because according to this trademark lawsuit, it may be a knockoff. [Bloomberg]

* “We feel very badly for Megan Thode.” A Pennsylvania judge ruled against the Lehigh student who sued over her grade of C+ because let’s be serious, did ANYONE AT ALL really think he wouldn’t do that?! [Morning Call]

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