Benchslap

On Tuesday, the D.C. Circuit benchslapped a gaggle of lawyers for filing briefs with excessive acronyms. The court’s per curiam order directed the parties to “submit briefs that eliminate uncommon acronyms used in their previously filed final briefs.”

Alas, attempts to comply with this order have raised a new problem — a problem that some readers saw a mile away….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “A Benchslap Postscript: Mo’ Words, Mo’ Problems”

The D.C. Circuit to counsel: readable briefs or GTFO. From an order filed today:

Who are the parties and their counsel? Additional information and the full order, after the jump.

(Also note the UPDATES — in defense of the lawyers, and floating a theory about the judge behind the benchslap — added to the end of this post.)

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Benchslap Of The Day: LMAO At D.C. Cir.”

Or at least his laptop. After a conservative state court judge in Kentucky wrote an op-ed for the local paper arguing that the Supreme Court’s recent rulings on gay marriage didn’t affect the definition of marriage under Kentucky law, a retired federal judge called him on the carpet.

Benchslappery ensued. Let’s take a look….

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Ed. note: This is the latest installment of Righteous Indignation, our new column for conservative-minded lawyers.

On Monday, the Supreme Court decided City of Arlington v. FCC. The question before SCOTUS was whether courts must defer to a federal regulatory agency’s interpretation of a statutory ambiguity even when that ambiguity involves the scope of the agency’s authority — its own jurisdiction.

Justice Scalia wrote for the majority, holding that even in cases such as this one, agencies are entitled to the usual deference established in Chevron U.S.A. Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc. — aka Chevron deference. Chief Justice Roberts dissented, joined by Justices Kennedy and Alito.

The outcome of City of Arlington should be noteworthy to Court watchers — and conservatives in particular — for several reasons. First, the Scalia-Roberts split quiets the simplistic refrain that SCOTUS decides cases down rigid liberal-conservative lines. Second, it highlights an ongoing debate among conservative members of the Court about fundamental issues concerning the separation of powers and constitutional governance. Third, the Scalia and Roberts opinions demonstrate that, far from reserving their barbs for the left, conservatives can be pretty darn snarky amongst themselves.

So, let’s have a closer look….

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Abraham Lincoln told a story about a lawyer who tried to establish that a calf had five legs by calling its tail a leg. But the calf had only four legs, Lincoln observed, because calling a tail a leg does not make it so…. Heeding Lincoln’s wisdom, and the requirements of the Copyright Act, we conclude that merely calling someone a copyright owner does not make it so.

– Judge Richard Clifton, writing for a unanimous panel of the Ninth Circuit in Righthaven LLC v. Hoehn.

(Additional commentary about this interesting case, after the jump.)

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When an opinion opens with a quote from The Wrath of Khan, something is about to happen.

What followed was a straightforward benchslap littered with Star Trek references. More than a little fitting that an opinion about allegedly illegal porn downloads would focus on the pop culture universe most closely associated with 40-year-old virgins.

It’s not the cohesive, brilliant opinion about strip clubs that we recently got out of Judge Fred Biery. Instead, the opinion draws wry smiles for laying out nothing but a string of references to Star Trek seemingly designed just to prove to his fellow nerds that the Judge knows Star Trek.

Which, in a sense, makes this opinion the most “Star Trek” thing ever…

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Don’t try to answer my question with your own question.

– Justice Antonin Scalia, in response to Ted Olson’s attempt to ask the justice a rhetorical question during today’s oral arguments on California’s Proposition 8 at the Supreme Court.

(We’ll have additional analysis of the Hollingsworth v. Perry proceedings later today, courtesy of Michelle Olsen of Appellate Daily. You can follow Michelle’s real-time coverage on Twitter.)

Given the Government’s conduct in this case, the court orders the Government to show cause why it should not be sanctioned under this court’s inherent authority. It seems that sanctions may be needed to motivate VA in the future to treat its commitments and representations to this court and opposing counsel with the seriousness to which they are entitled.

– Judge S. Jay Plager, reprimanding counsel for the Department of Veterans Affairs in National Organization of Veterans Advocates, Inc. v. Secretary of Veterans Affairs (Fed. Cir. Mar 21, 2013), a case concerning the due process rights of veterans seeking benefits.

Debra Milke

We will be appealing this decision to the U.S. Supreme Court. If the Court takes the appeal, I will argue it personally as I have done in two previous cases over the past five months. In my last case, the Supreme Court accepted my argument and overruled the Ninth Circuit’s decision unanimously.

– Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne, commenting on the Ninth Circuit’s grant of federal habeas relief to Debra Milke, who has been on Arizona’s death row for 22 years.

(Why is Milke sometimes called the “Arizona sister” of Casey Anthony? Keep reading….)

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Chief Judge Alex Kozinski speaking at Yale Law School last year.

Perhaps this should be “benchslap of a few days ago,” since it happened last week. But it’s never too late to read about Chief Judge Alex Kozinski, right?

This latest benchslap involves the Ninth Circuit setting aside a murder conviction. So you might expect the benchslap to be coming from a unanimous Supreme Court in a summary reversal.

But no. The benchslap — actually, make that benchslaps, plural — come from the Ninth Circuit. On the receiving end: the police, prosecutors, a state judge, and a federal judge. Names are named.

And I wouldn’t hold my breath while waiting for SCOTUS to reverse. This decision looks pretty safe….

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