We’ve previouslywritten about the mailroomof death at Sullivan & Cromwell. To make a long story short (read our prior posts for the full background), a mailroom mix-up at 125 Broad Street caused an Alabama death-row inmate to miss a deadline for filing an appeal. The Eleventh Circuit rejected the condemned man’s attempt to reopen his case.
Rover's last wish was to have his ashes sprinkled over a pile of money.
* Saying your dog ate something isn’t a creative enough excuse these days. Try this instead: “I kept the clients’ missing money in my car, which I left running in the parking lot to keep my dead dog’s ashes from freezing. Someone then stole the car, and now the missing client money is gone forever!” [Canadian Lawyer]
* Next time you feel like kicking the crap out of someone, make sure your twin is there, because there’s a high likelihood that you’ll both get off. [Legal Juice]
* A judge in Louisiana just threw a case out because he didn’t want to catch the flu from a witness. Elie was right: germaphobia is the real contagion! [Lowering the Bar]
* How would Jesus feel about guns in his church? He’d probably change them into dildos and tell the violence-bearers to go f**k themselves. [WSJ Law Blog]
* There’s been a lot of talk about personal branding for lawyers lately. This guy probably has the right idea, but you’ve got to wonder if he really wants to be known as the “Bald Lawyer” for the rest of his life. What happens if he decides to get plugs? [Legal Blog Watch]
The Eleventh Circuit has declared that Obamacare’s individual health care mandate is unconstitutional. Today’s decision will be lauded as a victory for the 26 states, led by Florida, that challenged the law as unconstitutional.
In a 2-1 decision (and the first in which a judge appointed by a Democrat has voted to strike down the mandate), the Eleventh Circuit stated that Congress does not have the power to require all Americans to buy health insurance. The court also ruled, however, that the rest of the law could remain in effect.
The Eleventh Circuit decision comes in the wake of the Sixth Circuit upholding the individual mandate as constitutional (a ruling joined by Judge Jeffrey Sutton, a George W. Bush appointee). The Sixth Circuit case has already been appealed to the Supreme Court. We have a feeling that this case will also be appealed to the Supreme Court, setting quite the stage for a ruling within the next year or so.
Click here to read the Eleventh Circuit’s opinion, and read on for some more interesting facts about the case….
Last year, we covered a mistake made in a death penalty case by the white-shoe firm of Sullivan & Cromwell. It was a noteworthy development because of the rarity of the occurrence — S&C doesn’t often make mistakes, at least not ones as elementary as missing a deadline — and because of the stakes involved.
Well, the stakes are getting higher: S&C is now seeking SC review. The firm wants the Supreme Court to step in and essentially forgive the firm’s error in missing the deadline to file an appeal. Adam Liptak tells the tale, in the New York Times:
Sullivan & Cromwell is a law firm with glittering offices in a dozen cities around the world, and some of its partners charge more than $1,000 an hour. The firm’s paying clients, at least, demand impeccable work.
Cory R. Maples, a death row inmate in Alabama, must have been grateful when lawyers from the firm agreed to represent him without charge. But the assistance he got may turn out to be lethal.
Please note: that last sentence originally appeared in the august pages of the Times. Despite its tabloid tone — we can imagine an announcer for Inside Edition intoning darkly, “the assistance he got may turn out to be lethal” — it did not appear first in Above the Law. [FN1]
So how did S&C put a man’s life in jeopardy? Let’s descend into the mailroom at 125 Broad Street….
More than a decade ago, Cory Maples of Alabama murdered two people. After an evening of heavy drinking, playing pool, and riding around in a friend’s car, Maples killed two friends, shooting them execution-style.
According to court documents, he signed a confession, “stating that he: (1) shot both victims around midnight; (2) had drunk six or seven beers by about 8 p.m., but ‘didn’t feel very drunk’; and (3) did not know why he decided to kill the two men. Faced with this confession, Maples’s trial attorneys argued that Maples was guilty of murder, but not capital murder.”
A jury found Maples guilty and sentenced him to death.
Maples appealed his capital murder conviction with the help of attorneys at Sullivan & Cromwell:
Maples subsequently filed a petition for post-conviction relief pursuant to Alabama Rule of Criminal Procedure 32, claiming, inter alia, that trial counsel was ineffective for failing to investigate or present evidence of: (1) Maples’s mental health history; (2) his intoxication at the time of the crime; and (3) his alcohol and drug history.
The trial court dismissed Maples’ Rule 32 petition, and sent notice of the decision to the attorneys at Sullivan & Cromwell and to local Alabama counsel. There was a 42-day period for filing a notice of appeal, but all the lawyers involved dropped the ball on the case, PepsiCo-style.
So what’s the explanation for S&C’s missing the deadline for filing an appeal?
When Chintan Panchal decided to leave a global BigLaw partnership to start his own firm, he could only hope that he would face the high-quality problem of firm building that many had cautioned him about. Focused on the uncertainty surrounding of a new firm launch, he decided to tackle staffing needs, IT challenges, and financial planning requirements after he had built up his legal practice.
Panchal Associates LLP–a corporate/finance and outside general counsel boutique–was quickly off to a great start. Clients and matters were flying in the door, and Chintan soon had a team of lawyers and staff with a variety of operational needs. To continue building an excellent team and provide them with a competitive benefits package, to expand his physical presence to include a European practice and additional partners, and to scale his operations and IT capabilities to support this growing enterprise brought with it demands of time, money, and expertise. Chintan knew he needed help.
“With the assistance of NexFirm, we have upgraded the capabilities of our firm to meet, and in some cases exceed, the standards we were used to at our former BigLaw firms. Operationally, we can now attract and service clients we didn’t have the bandwidth to support in the past, and continue to build our team with the best and brightest legal talent in the industry,” said Chintan Panchal, adding “It has worked out quite well in our case; NexFirm is an essential partner for us.”
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…
Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past six years. You can reach them by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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