6th Circuit

A Sixth Circuit ruling earlier this week is a victory for critics of federal hate crime legislation, as well as the defendants in the case, a group of Amish men and women who forcibly cut the hair and sheared the beards of their Amish victims. The defendants, members of the Bergholz Amish community, admitted to a series of attacks against other Amish with whom the defendants had longstanding feuds. In the Amish community, men wear long beards and women grow long hair as signs of piety and view voluntarily cutting one’s own hair as a sign of contrition. Cutting another person’s hair is a forceful condemnation of the victim. Prosecutors had argued that the defendants assaulted their victims because of their religious identity. The case is the first appellate case involving a religious hate crime brought under The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009. The statute prohibits “willfully caus[ing] bodily injury to any person . . . because of the actual or perceived . . . religion . . . of [that] person.”

In one of the instances at issue, Martin and Barbara Miller’s children and their children’s spouses cut Barbara’s hair and sheared Martin’s beard. The children insisted at trial that they attacked their parents to punish them for “bad parenting.” The kids thought Martin and Barbara were cruel, punitive, and spiteful as a father and mother. The kids did not argue that Martin and Barbara’s “bad parenting” justified assaulting them. The kids only argued that they didn’t attack their parents because their parents were Amish, or even because they believed that their parents’ bad parenting was a sign of them being lousy at being Amish. Rather, they attacked their parents because they believed that their parents were lousy at being parents.

Assaulting your parents in a way that is particularly hurtful to their religious values is a good way to make clear that you won’t be attending the next family picnic, but is it a good way to commit a federal hate crime?

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* It’s not that Justice Kennedy cares more about gay rights than women’s rights, it’s that Justice Kennedy understands gay rights better than women’s rights. That’s a much less charitable but shorter read of this insightful piece by a former Kennedy clerk. [Dorf on Law]

* The judge caught making racist and sexist remarks about Charlize Theron’s adoption has been banned from the bench. He wants to be judged on more than this incident. To quote Dr. Hibbert: “And hillbillies want to be called ‘Sons of the Soil’, but it ain’t gonna happen.” [Associated Press via Yahoo! News]

* Adam Carolla is keeping his fight against patent trolls alive. Ziggy socky ziggy socky hoy hoy hoy! [Mashable]

* Yesterday, the man who shot young Renisha McBride for knocking on his door was convicted of second-degree murder. Sadly, it was just one more in a string of cases where some idiot bought into the rhetoric of shooting first and asking questions later that gun lobbyists have pushed for years. [New York Times]

* Here’s something, a former law firm CIO wrote a novella called I Spy, You Spy, We All Spy (affiliate link) based on the allegedly true events of the “law firm spying on its own lawyers, employees and some of its employees’ family members.” Delightful. [Amazon]

* “Why Young Lawyers Shouldn’t Hate Hate Hate Baby Boomers Holding On to Jobs.” OK, I’ll go back to hating them for being the self-absorbed Me Generation that made Gordon Gekko a role model. [Law and More]

* At oral argument in the marriage equality cases, the lawyers and the Sixth Circuit exhibited… a lot of misconceptions. [Constitutional Accountability Center]

* The battle over the EPA’s Carbon rules isn’t over yet. Gear up for a Supreme Court trip. [Breaking Energy]

* Do you need to know how to pronounce the SCOTUS case of Volkswagenwerk Aktiengesellschaft v. Schlunk? There’s an app for that. [Law Technology News]

* When it comes to all of the same-sex marriage cases that are currently before the Sixth Circuit, the deciding vote could be cast by Judge Jeffrey Sutton, a Republican appointee. [National Law Journal]

* Weil Gotshal snagged a partner from right under one of its largest competitor’s noses. Ray Schrock, formerly of Kirkland & Ellis, may someday co-chair Weil’s restructuring group. [WSJ Law Blog]

* “I got the reward that most volunteers get — which is I ended up having to read many, many hundreds of pages.” This Ogletree Deakins partner figured out how to undo Obamacare in his spare time, and all he got were these lousy bifocals. [Greenville News]

* On-campus interviewing season is almost upon us, so we’re going to give you all of the tips you can stomach. Here are a few more ways that you can hit all of your interviews out of the park. [The Careerist]

* Albany Law and the University at Albany are shockingly not already affiliated with each other, but they’re exploring an “operational alliance.” Will that mean fewer faculty buyouts, or…? [Albany Business Review]


* Law student wants some goddamned pizza. [Huffington Post]

* Elie called for ExamSoft to refund the victims in the so-called #Barghazi incident. Now there’s a petition for that. [Change.org]

* Litigiousness: now in infographic form! [Thomas Barry Solicitors]

* In New York, an appellate court upheld a decision requiring a bank to forfeit interest and attorney fees for dragging out a foreclosure settlement conference through 18 court dates spanning 16 months. If you outlaw needlessly dragging out litigation to bully the other side, only outlaws will drag out litigation to bully the other side. [WiseLawNY]

* The importance of the Sarah Jones appeal. [The Legal Blitz]

* If you’re looking for a job, the SEC is announcing a new initiative to hire a bunch of lawyers. Including lawyers from the class of 2015! [USAJobs]

Judge Wade H. McCree

Judge of the Millennium Wade McCree has a special place in our hearts here at Above the Law. The former Wayne County circuit judge had a penchant for disrobing for shirtless selfies and sex in his chambers, and was consequently disrobed by the Michigan Supreme Court.

On Monday, the Sixth Circuit correctly (if you mean “applying the law as it currently exists,” and “incorrectly” if you mean “adopting the better policy”) held that Judge McCree is immune from a civil suit brought by a man McCree slapped with a tether and high child support payments. The man’s complaint is that while Judge McCree was coming down hard on him, Judge McCree was also coming down hard on the child’s mother — specifically sexting her from the bench and carrying on an affair that ultimately ended in an abortion. The man and his lawyer are seeking an appeal to the Supreme Court.

Is absolute judicial immunity a doctrine worth keeping? Probably not…

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Lindsay Lohan

* Law firm mergers are on a record-setting pace, with 39 thus far in 2014. Just one “megamerger” was announced in the second quarter (Patton Boggs / Squire Sanders), but hey, we still have half the year ahead of us. [Am Law Daily]

* It hasn’t been a good week for the Thomas M. Cooley Law School. In addition to all of its enrollment woes, the Sixth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of its defamation suit against Team Strauss/Anziska. [National Law Journal]

* The doctors who spent the month of June evaluating Oscar Pistorius’s mental health found that he was depressed and posed a potential suicide risk. You’d feel the same if you were facing jail time. [CNN]

* Walgreens will give $180,000 to an ex-employee with diabetes as a settlement after the store fired her for eating a $1.39 bag of chips before paying to fend off a low blood sugar attack. [San Francisco Chronicle]

* Lindsay Lohan is suing Rockstar Games over an alleged character likeness in Grand Theft Auto V. To be fair, the character does kind of look like LiLo circa her “Mean Girls” days. [International Business Times]

Sarah Jones

* Judges with daughters are seven percent more likely to support women’s rights than judges with only sons. Alas, Justices Scalia and Alito are impervious to human emotion. [New York Times]

* If you thought Supreme Court justices were “profoundly divided” over issues of law, wait until you see how they differ over the pronunciation of the word “certiorari.” [National Law Journal]

* This year’s summer associate programs sound pretty lame compared to the past: “The emphasis is certainly more on the work than it is on the social events.” All work and no play makes Jack an employed boy at graduation. [Boston Business Journal]

* “I saved the internet today. Your freedom continues.” Fair assessment. Sarah Jones’s win in her defamation case against Nik Richie and TheDirty.com was overturned by the Sixth Circuit. [Courier-Journal]

* If you’re choosing to go against the president’s wishes and apply to law school, here’s how you can leverage your major on all of your applications. [Law Admissions Lowdown / U.S. News & World Report]

* This cowgirl is putting aside her rodeo accomplishments to go to law school. At least she’ll have the experience needed to ride the bucking bronco of the post-recession job market. [Casper Star-Tribune]

Sarah Jones

The issue here is really narrow, it’s about whether or not TheDirty.com is entitled to immunity under the [Communications Decency Act]. [Nik] Richie reviews all the posts. He’s said he’s looking specifically for things that will cause a rise. He wants to put dirt out on the Internet about private people.

Chris Roach, lawyer for Sarah Jones, the former Bengals cheerleader and high school teacher who won a $338,000 judgment after being defamed on Richie’s gossip site, TheDirty.com, commenting on the reasons why he believes Richie will not receive immunity under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. Roach went on to note that his client does not have chlamydia or gonorrhea.

(In 2009, Richie allegedly wrote a post entitled, “The Dirty Bengals Cheerleader,” asking, “Why are high school teachers freaks in the sack?” In that post, a commenter suggested Jones slept with all the members of the Bengals team and had STDs. Jones went on to be convicted on sexual misconduct charges for sleeping with an underage student, and now plans to marry him.)

Several years back, the Washington Post uncovered multiple instances of federal judges committing basic ethical breaches related to ruling on cases despite holding significant financial stakes in one party. It was an embarrassing black eye for the federal judiciary and the legal system altogether. It forced the bench to develop a comprehensive financial reporting system and an automated computer check to avoid any further ethical lapses. Sounded reasonable at the time.

Well, it turns out the computer system doesn’t work.

Or at least it doesn’t work as well as anyone would have hoped. The Center for Public Integrity (CPI) just released a report this morning reflecting their efforts to manually review a sampling of federal court decisions and cross-check those with financial disclosure forms. The report found multiple lapses. The most egregious involved a judge with as much as $100,000 in Johnson & Johnson when he ruled in their favor on an appeal regarding a malfunctioning implant.

But by and large the legal world’s responses to these findings vary from tone-deaf to downright hypocritical….

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* Corporette tackles the thorny question of what to do with your email when you leave a firm. Personally, I used my email to offer my firm’s services to a whole panoply of Nigerian princes on my way out the door, but her advice is good too. [Corporette]

* Cursing out someone in court in a foreign language will not protect you from criminal contempt. Well, my investment in Rosetta Stone Romanian just went down the drain. [Southern District of Florida Blog]

* Requiring wild animals to be microchipped is not a regulatory taking. Besides, as I read this NSA stuff, it seems like we should be more concerned about humans being microchipped than some Ocelot (named Babou, obviously). [IT-Lex]

* This is just awful. There’s no joke here. Well, there is, but I’m not going to make it. [Fox News]

* A little late, but this is a fun April Fools’ Day riff on Biglaw expansion efforts. I’m not saying they’re making fun of DLA Piper, but they’re totally making fun of DLA Piper. [Green Patent Blog]

* If you’re looking for a public records request to make of the City of Philadelphia, try getting every document surrounding the decision to go after unpaid labor at the expense of giving paying work to lawyers. Screenshot here in case they get wise to the bad publicity. [Philadelphia Bar Association]

* Kent Zimmerman discusses how some law firms are finding growth in the challenging market. Check it out after the jump…. [Mimesis]

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