5th Circuit

Righteous-IndignationThe public learned this week that the Judicial Council of the D.C. Circuit dismissed a complaint of judicial misconduct against Judge Edith Jones of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.   The order followed a year-long investigation by Special Counsel Jeffrey Bellin.  The roughly 70-page Report of the Special Committee appears nonpartisan, thorough, and fair.

The complaint stemmed from a lecture Judge Jones gave to the University of Pennsylvania Federalist Society chapter in February 2013.  Among the complainants’ claims was that, during her lecture, Judge Jones suggested she believed that members of certain races were predisposed to commit violent crimes.  With no recording of the event, witnesses disagreed about exactly what she said.  Was she talking about genetic determinism?  Or was she only referring to the objective fact that, for whatever reason, our nation’s prisoners are disproportionately black and Latino?  The subsequent independent investigation concluded that “whatever she said initially, it is clear that Judge Jones used the question-and-answer period to clarify that she did not adhere to such views,” rejecting the complaint’s version of her speech. The D.C. Circuit cleared her of all of the charges of misconduct, including this one.

When the complaint was first filed, I defended Judge Jones. Defending her was relatively easy….

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Judge Edith Jones

I did not say such things because I have never believed them and have never said them.

– Judge Edith Jones of the Fifth Circuit, denying she made offensive comments attributed to her by an ethics complaint. A panel of federal judges dismissed the complaint, but various civil-rights groups and legal ethicists are appealing the dismissal.

Amal Alamuddin Clooney

* The Fifth Circuit is allowing the Texas voter ID law to be enforced during the upcoming election, even though it was recently struck down by a federal judge. After all, “preserving the status quo” is very important down south. [Bloomberg]

* We suppose that’s why the Supreme Court stepped in to make sure that abortion clinics in Texas were allowed to reopen following their shut down. Take that, Fifth Circuit. [New York Times]

* AG Eric Holder is showing off some fancy legal footwork before he walks out the door. Federal prosecutors can no longer ask defendants to waive their IAC claims when pleading guilty. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Davis Polk & Wardwell is a Biglaw firm where hotties roam, and it looks like this top Justice Department prosecutor who started his career there is returning home there to roost. [DealBook / New York Times]

* It’s the debt: With headlines like “Law school applications plummet – at U of L too,” the University of Louisville School of Law can’t even convince alums from its undergrad school to attend. [Courier-Journal]

* Amal Alamuddin changed her name to Amal Clooney on her firm’s website. It’s as if she wants to rub the fact that she’s a human rights lawyer who just got married in everyone’s face. [New York Daily News]


Lindsay Lohan

* This just in: Now that the Fifth Circuit has refused to hear the Texas abortion case en banc, it looks like we may see a viable case about a major social issue being brought to Term before SCOTUS after all. [National Law Journal]

* Skadden came out on top of the Bloomberg, Thomson Reuters, and Mergermarket league tables for the highest transactional value of its mergers and acquisitions deals in 2014. Congrats on kicking the competition’s ass. [Am Law Daily]

* Per HBR Consulting, clients are winning the war when it comes to getting legal services on the cheap. Consider this a “call to action for law firms to reconsider the way they do business.” [WSJ Law Blog]

* The Elon University School of Law is completely revamping its academic offerings in order to offer a law degree that can be earned in 2.5 years, and for about $14,000 less. Nice work! [Triad Business Journal]

* Lindsay Lohan’s attorneys filed an amended complaint in her case against Grand Theft Auto’s publisher, this time going so far as to spell their client’s name correctly. [Hollywood, Esq. / Hollywood Reporter]

* Since SCOTUS punted on same-sex marriage, people in states where gay marriage bans still exist are wondering when it will be their turn. It’s just a waiting game from here on out. [USA Today]

* Babies wait for no one: a pregnant lesbian couple fighting the Texas ban on gay marriage filed an usual request asking that the Fifth Circuit hurry up and schedule arguments. [WSJ Law Blog]

* The “puff, puff, pass” defense? Robel Phillipos, friend of accused Boston bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, claims he was so high during the aftermath he can’t remember a thing. [Bloomberg]

* When should you apply to law school? When you can get into a top school, have clear career objectives, and won’t have to take out loans. You’re preaching to the choir. [Law Admissions Lowdown / U.S. News]

* A Burger King customer is suing because he claims the restaurant’s manager attacked him with a knife and a Taser. This all allegedly happened over some cold onion rings, of course. [New York Daily News]

It has been an intense week in the Lone Star State. A rough week to be Texas Department of Health Commissioner David Lakey, to be sure. When either of the words “abortion” or “Ebola” enter local headlines, it’s not a slow news week. Texas headlines have had both.

On Thursday, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled that the State of Texas can begin implementing controversial parts of HB 2, the law placing new restrictions on the facilities authorized to perform abortions. Though a district court ruled earlier that HB 2 violated some Texas women’s rights by placing an undue burden on their access to abortion, the Fifth Circuit disagreed.

Meanwhile, Texas officials confirmed this week that a man in Dallas is infected with the Ebola virus. Thomas Eric Duncan contracted the deadly disease while in Liberia earlier this month, although his symptoms did not manifest until last week. In Liberia, Duncan reportedly helped care for a neighbor’s daughter who later died of Ebola. A few days later, Duncan boarded flights to Brussels, then Dulles, then Dallas. Nine days after his contact with the infected woman, while visiting Texas, Duncan became ill. And now every person in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex who ate bad sushi this week, or caught a stomach bug, is looking at their symptoms with a whole lot more suspicion and dread than usual. Because this is pretty damned terrifying.

What do abortion and ebola have in common (aside from making David Lakey’s life miserable this week)?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Ebola And Abortion: Two Words No One Likes To Hear But Everyone Can Learn From”

FYI Jami and Therese: On Wednesdays, we wear pink!

* SCOTUS justices added 11 cases to this term’s docket yesterday following their megaconference earlier this week. Alas, no same-sex marriage cases have been added yet. [New York Times]

* The Fifth Circuit allowed Texas to enforce its new abortion clinic restrictions. The only thing that will stop its “devastating impact on abortion access” is SCOTUS intervention. [MSNBC]

* Two more women just joined the ranks of the highest tier of Biglaw firm leadership. Congrats to Jami Wintz McKeon of Morgan Lewis and Therese Pritchard of Bryan Cave. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Gibson Dunn poached a prominent partner from U.K. firm Ashurst following his fall from grace as its leader last year. He’s thrilled to work for “one of the strongest U.S. firms around.” [Am Law Daily]

* The Thomas Jefferson School of Law may be “California’s worst-performing law school,” but it certainly performs well in terms of providing entertainment for those who are big fans of schadenfreude. [City Journal]

* Many schools pay their grads to count them as employed — but not UNC Law. Its career services office is aware that “jobs don’t grow on trees,” but hey, at least they’re trying to be transparent. [Daily Tar Heel]

The latest output from the rage machine is that Justice Ginsburg has to recuse herself from hearing an expected appeal of the Texas abortion regulation that is essentially:

Look, we found a way to ban abortion without saying those words. We’re so f**king clever!

The law is in front of the Fifth Circuit now, but we all know this middle finger to Roe will make it to the Supreme Court eventually. Enter the right-wing punditry eager to drum up controversy in the hopes of removing a reliable liberal justice from the panel. At issue is a recent New Republic interview, where — in between discussing the relative merits of Jazzercise — Justice Ginsburg made the entirely indisputable observation that the law will shut down most abortion clinics in Texas. Oh no! She’s pre-judged the case!

Everyone cool their jets. Justice Ginsburg shouldn’t recuse herself for several reasons…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Stop Your Freakout — Justice Ginsburg Absolutely Shouldn’t Recuse Herself”

There’s not really much to say here. There are just a few things to remember to avoid an embarrassing oral argument. Basically, don’t condescend to the judges on your appellate panel, and try to show up wearing pants (and maybe some socks). Pretty simple, right?

We’ve seen this kind of confrontational tone out of lawyers before, and it never ends well for the attorney. Like when Jones Day’s Matthew Kairis thought it wise to continuously interrupt Judge Posner in Notre Dame v. Sibelius. What happened next was… entirely predictable: Kairis ended up with an earful from Judge Posner about the proper role of an advocate before an appellate panel.

This poor fellow earns the same basic tongue-lashing, just with a different accent…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “How Not To Behave At Oral Argument”

* When it comes to bans on same-sex marriage, for Justice Anthony Kennedy, animus is a “doctrinal silver bullet” — the fact that there was no animus involved in the enactment of many of them may be problematic at the high court. [New York Times]

* Relying on some obscure Supreme Court precedent, the Fifth Circuit saved Mississippi’s lone abortion clinic after striking down as unconstitutional a state law that would have required doctors to have hospital admitting privileges. [National Law Journal]

* Given the situation over at Bingham McCutchen, people are starting to wonder about whether all the guaranteed contracts to members of merger partner McKee Nelson’s partnership helped to shape the firm’s current financial plight. [Am Law Daily]

* Hot on the heels of Cooley Law canceling its first-year class at Ann Arbor and announcing tentative plans to close the campus, the ABA approved the school’s affiliation with Western Michigan. Yay? [MLive.com]

* Here’s one way to become a lawyer without racking up massive amounts of debt: you could try to “read” the law like Abraham Lincoln, and work as a law firm apprentice. That sounds delightful. [New York Times]

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