Alex Kozinski

* Judge John D. Bates wrote a letter to the Senate Judiciary and Intelligence Committee leadership “on behalf of the Judiciary” explaining why it’s important to keep FISA an opaque Star Chamber. Chief Judge Kozinsky, um, disagrees with that “on behalf” part, and calls out Judge Bates in this letter for mouthing off where he has absolutely no authority. [Just Security]

* The twisted, contradictory, desperate logic behind Halbig. In GIF form!!! [Buzzfeed]

* Two InfiLaw schools, Florida Coastal and our Twitter buddies at Charlotte, are offering refunds to students who perpetually fail the bar as well as a refund to students who don’t get clerkships or externships. That’s nice. A whole $10,000 for failing the bar twice and $2000 for not landing a position. Don’t bother comparing that too how much the students shelled out for their degrees because it’s too depressing. [JD Journal]

* Do you want to know how to survive Biglaw? [2Civility]

* Interesting advice on how to best take advantage of the more informal rules of mediation — let your clients build the narrative. [Katz Justice]

* Judge gives a speech and suggests a woman should become a phone sex operator. That’ll work out well for him. [Journal Gazette]

* Maybe we should be getting law degrees as undergrads? That way we might have minors that employers will care about. [Chronicle of Higher Education]

* Geez, lots of judges in trouble today — here’s an elected judge accused of lying about where she lived to get elected. She denies it, but her filings list three different addresses. Oops. [Times-Picayune]

(c) Image by Juri H. Chinchilla.

On August 7, 1782, near the end of the American Revolution, General George Washington created the Badge of Military Merit, the precursor to the Purple Heart. Today, the Purple Heart is awarded to members of the U.S. armed forces who are wounded or killed in action. This week, On Remand looks back at the Purple Heart’s evolution, and the stories of two men who proudly wore the medal. But had they earned it?

Breaking with the European practice of honoring only high-ranking officers, General Washington recognized that in America “the road to glory in a patriot army and a free country is… open to all.” So, Washington created the “Badge of Military Merit” for remarkable or extraordinarily loyal soldiers. Per Washington’s instructions, the badge depicted a purple heart with lace trimming to be worn over the left breast. After the Revolutionary War, however, the award faded away.

In 1932, to commemorate Washington’s 200th birthday, General Douglas MacArthur revived the Badge of Military Merit as the “Purple Heart.” At that time, injury in battle was just one consideration in awarding the Purple Heart. Later, to distinguish it from another award, physical injury became the Purple Heart’s sole requirement. Yet, some have worn the medal without meeting that requirement….

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* Court needed a Chinese language interpreter. Rather than find a professional legal interpreter, the judge just told the lawyer to head down to the local Chinese restaurant and grab somebody. [Legal Cheek]

* News from former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell’s trial. As one tipster summed up the story: “Hon, I think I dropped my keys under that bus. Would you take a look?” [Slate]

* Everyone concedes Ted Cruz is smart. Why exactly? [Salon]

* A follow-up from a previous story: Connolly, Geaney, Ablitt & Willard shuts down after the foreclosure market that made them turned on them. [Mass Lawyers Weekly (sub. req.)]

* Interesting look at the volume of patent cases throughout history. Check out the troll phenomenon with charts! [Patently-O]

* More folks wasting time complaining about blog posts. [South Florida Lawyers]

* Clint Eastwood talks with Chief Judge Kozinski and Judge Fisher at the Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference. These days it’s exciting whenever Clint isn’t talking to an empty chair. Video embedded below… [YouTube]

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Convicted murderer Joseph Wood’s execution began at 1:52 p.m. yesterday. He was pronounced dead at 3:49 p.m., according to a statement from Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne. Some witnesses insist that Wood continued to gasp for air at least 600 times after he was supposedly fully sedated. Others argue that he was merely snoring. Everyone agrees that the lethal injection process took a lot longer than the expected. Death by lethal injection typically occurs within ten minutes or so.

America has grown accustomed to long delays in carrying out the death penalty. Inmates sit on death row for years, even decades. As Chief Judge Alex Kozinski wrote, “Old age, not execution, is the most serious risk factor for inmates at the San Quentin death row.” We may be used to delays before denizens of death row get to the death chamber, but we have only recently started to see delays once an execution has actually begun….

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Bryan A. Garner

This May, Thomson Reuters published the tenth edition of the estimable Black’s Law Dictionary (affiliate link). The most widely cited legal book in the world, Black’s is a must-have for every lawyer and law student.

Henry Campbell Black published the first edition in 1891. Starting with the publication of the seventh edition in 1995, Black’s has been edited by Professor Bryan A. Garner, the noted lexicographer, legal-writing expert, and author of such books as Garner’s Modern American Usage, Making Your Case: The Art of Persuading Judges, and Reading Law: The Interpretation of Legal Texts (the last two co-authored with Justice Antonin Scalia (affiliate links)).

I met with Garner during his recent visit to New York, where he taught his famous legal-writing course to various law firms and government employers. His voice was hoarse from a summer cold, but he generously soldiered through an interview with the help of some tea. Here’s a (lightly edited and condensed) write-up of our conversation.

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As Chief Judge Alex Kozinski recently wrote, “There is an epidemic of Brady violations abroad in the land. Only judges can put a stop to it.”

But judges need to know about prosecutorial misconduct in order to do anything about it. The public needs to be made aware of this important issue as well.

Last week, I interviewed Sidney Powell, a former federal prosecutor who has written a new book — a book that pulls no punches when it comes to her former colleagues at the U.S. Department of Justice….

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Gwyneth Paltrow, muse of judicial humor.

Dillard, J., consciously uncoupling from the majority opinion.

– Judge Stephen Dillard of the Court of Appeals of Georgia, paying homage to Gwyneth Paltrow on his delightful Twitter feed (which you should definitely follow).

But Judge Dillard used this quip just over Twitter, not in an opinion. The best official case parenthetical of all time, after the jump.

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In our post yesterday about Judge Alex Kozinski’s horrifically bad ruling in favor of Cindy Garcia, an actress who briefly appeared in the infamous YouTube video “Innocence of Muslims,” we also mentioned the astounding gag order that Kozinski placed on Google/YouTube, saying that the company was simply not allowed to tell the world that the video had been ordered censored by a court for at least a week. However, the gag order is so crazy that it seemed worth a second post. It already appears to be a classic First Amendment violation to order Google to take down all copies of the video (and prevent new ones from being uploaded), but Kozinski seems to double the First Amendment problems with that gag order.

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Uhh… my bad.

The big news in “Justice” today is a new report from Professor Samuel R. Gross of the University of Michigan Law School showing that exonerations of convicted criminals are on the rise. Gross used data from the National Registry of Exonerations to determine that 87 prisoners were freed from wrongful convictions last year, the highest number in decades.

In a way, that’s good news. More exonerations suggest that more resources are being spent going back over closed cases and freeing people based on new or better evidence. But the report is also chilling proof that our criminal justice system gets things wrong, all the time, and innocent people go to jail because of it.

Instead of being obsessed with conviction rates, state bars might want to look into prosecutorial f**k-up rates. Because it is better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer…

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Elizabeth Wurtzel

* Elizabeth Wurtzel: “I am a lawyer. The first rule of law: All the promises will be broken. Attorneys could not be in business if people did not fail to do what they agreed to do all the time — and lawyers are very busy.” [Nerve.com]

* Laura Ingraham clerked for SCOTUS, so presumably she knows that Puerto Ricans are American citizens — right? [Media Matters]

* Chief Judge Alex Kozinski, known for zero tolerance of prosecutorial misconduct, has written the foreword to a new book on the subject. [Facebook]

* In addition to the one we mentioned yesterday, here’s another petition for the Obama Administration that’s aimed at addressing the student debt crisis. [WhiteHouse.gov]

* Thomson Reuters Concourse keeps getting bigger and better. [Thomson Reuters]

* Appellate law? In California? What’s not to like? Check out these job openings in the California SG’s office. [California Department of Justice; California Department of Justice]

* Want to know the backstory behind the awesome Jamie Casino Super Bowl ad? Keep reading….

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