The Constitutional Daily tweeted a very interesting question at me this morning:

Bill removing racist language from AL constitution opposed by black lawmakers – please explain

All right, I’ll put on my “ask a black dude” hat. And I can explain this.

But it’s complicated. And it requires understanding the subtleties of the positions of all parties involved. And it’s hard to really carve out a strident and principled position either way.

So, you know, this is a great conversation to have on the internet….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Can We Whitewash the Alabama Constitution?”

Yesterday, we devoted some coverage to the devastation down in Alabama due to the terrible storms there earlier this week. In the National Law Journal, Karen Sloan has an excellent report about how the tornadoes are affecting operations at the University of Alabama, including its law school.

It appears that the storms affected the college more than the law school. But we are hearing students at Alabama law complaining that Dean Kenneth Randall is pushing too hard to maintain a normal schedule.

We understand that finals at the college have been postponed indefinitely. But at the law school, tests are supposed to resume Monday.

Whether or not that is the correct decision, Dean Randall’s method for communicating his directives has rubbed some students the wrong way…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Alabama Law Dean: Efficient Manager or Callous Task Master?”

Tornadoes don’t get cute names like hurricanes. Unlike volcanoes, tsunamis, and earthquakes there’s really only been one cool disaster movie about tornadoes with halfway decent CGI — and it wasn’t a very good movie because you can’t be a good movie when your main star is Bill Paxton. And since tornadoes mostly strike in the middle of the country instead of densely populated coastal cities, many people take a “meh” approach to these devastating forces of nature. There’s a dismissiveness about these storms; maybe because they form and strike so quickly that it leaves little time for the media to stoke people into a “we’re all gonna die” lather, maybe because the aftermath shots aren’t gruesome enough.

Well, I lived in Indiana for 13 months and I know these suckers are not to be trifled with. Our brothers and sisters down South are dealing with major devastation after yesterday’s storms. People are dead, people are injured, and you need to be able to conduct photosynthesis to generate power.

We don’t know how all these storms are affecting the legal community, or law students (especially in Alabama) who are trying to prepare for finals. That’s the coastal bias right there, if it snows in D.C. there’s information all around about law students fighting off advancing glaciers with naught but Zippos and Bluebooks. But trying to ascertain how the legal community was hit by these storms is like trying is like trying to find a needle in a haystack that was blown over a two mile radius by a tornado.

So let us know how things are going down there. And stay safe.

Hey little dude. FYI, don't go to Alabama.

Yesterday, there was a wonderful story coming out of Kansas Law School (gavel bang: @VaultLaw). A student there is starting the first animal cruelty prosecution clinic in the country. That’s what the scholars call “awesome.” There are simply not enough lawyers who are even familiar with animal cruelty laws. If more people know how to go after people who abuse animals, these criminals are more likely to be identified and punished.

Unfortunately, there’s an email going around a law school down south which will illustrates just how important it is for the new Kansas program to succeed and provide a model for similar initiatives around the country. There are some sick a$$holes out there, and they need to be stopped…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Sicko Mass-Emails Animal Death Fantasy To Law School Classmates”

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….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Sullivan & Cromwell’s Mailroom of Death: A Law Firm’s Error Could Cost a Man His Life”

The last time we had a motion to continue from Alabama, it was lighthearted and funny. A lawyer asked for the continuance in order to attend the ‘Bama/UT BCS Championship game. We know how much Alabamans love their football.

But we also know how much people in Alabama love their Republican talking points. Sure, you’d think it’d be hard to weave a Glen Beck rant into a run-of-the-mill motion to continue. But you’d be misunderestimating the good lawyers in Alabama.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Motion to Continue of the Day: Alabama Lawyers Blame Socialism for Absent Witness”

Sullivan Cromwell LLP new logo Sullcrom.jpgMore 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?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Sullivan & Cromwell’s Life-or-Death Mistake?
Leading law firm blows deadline in death penalty case.

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