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.
Pop quiz, hotshot. A federal judge issues an order to show cause that you should be “sanctioned for repeated failure to prosecute cases” and “barred from practicing in this District.” What do you do? What do you do?
The correct answer begins with “responding,” obviously. And when you’re in trouble over “failure to prosecute,” maybe that should light a fire under you to respond thoroughly and on time.
Yeah… this guy didn’t. Instead he provided a detailed, if legally irrelevant, explanation of how he was just too busy to worry about responding on time. Think of this as “Prelude to a Benchslap”…
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.
The “Angry Police Captain” is one of the premiere cultural archetypes of late 20th Century America. The gruff, by-the-book peace officer asking his roguish subordinate if he realized how many regulations he’d broken or if he understood how many times the mayor had called that day to complain about all the damage from the car chase. At some point in the film, the captain will ask our anti-hero to turn in his badge and gun. Later on, the captain will begrudgingly return them while delivering some version of this speech: “I may not like your methods, but you get results.”
One judge has the first part of this archetype down, labeling a cop “dangerous” and questioning if he, “should not be carrying a gun.” I doubt the judge will have occasion to change his mind about a cop who pulled a gun on his neighbor, and then asked for a restraining order…
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.
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…
* There’s been a changing of the guard at Sidley Austin. Carter Phillips, one of our nation’s preeminent appellate advocates, is now the sole chair of the firm’s executive committee after a one-year stint as co-chair. Congrats! [The Recorder]
* It looks like the trolls attorneys behind Prenda Law got benchslapped in the worst of ways — complete with a multitude of Star Trek references. We’ll likely have more on this later today. [Ars Technica]
* The California Supreme Court just ruined everyone’s high, because it ruled that cities and counties can ban medical marijuana dispensaries. Smoke ‘em while you’ve got ‘em, stoners. [Associated Press]
* Justin Bieber is being sued for copyright infringement, along with his musical mentor, Usher. Tween girl mob: ASSEMBLE! Defend your pop idol’s honor; after all, he just needed somebody to love. [Reuters]
In 2010, police in Des Moines, Washington (fun fact: pronounced “də·moinz,” with a “z” sound at the end, unlike the Iowa version), twice Tasered a 4-year-old Newfoundland dog named Rosie, chased it out of its yard, and then shot it four times — with an ASSAULT RIFLE. This was an act of unchecked police brutality that made the Rodney King cops say, “Hey, hold on now.”
And the city recognized this and offered the dog’s owners $51,000.
But a federal judge jumped in and basically doubled the payout, accused the city’s attorneys of having “terrible writing,” and that’s not even the worst charge he levels….
* Forget playing with Wade. LeBron took his talents to South Beach to avoid tons of state taxes. [The Legal Blitz]
* Steve Susman of Susman Godfrey just completed the 180-mile trek from Houston to Austin by bike. Susman took part in this MS fundraiser with his grown kids and 35 other Susman Godfrey team members. Kudos. (You can donate via the link.) [National MS Society]
* The Obama administration is entering a showdown over its use of the “state secrets” privilege. The government is concerned that if it cannot shield “no-fly list” paperwork, it might chill their frank discussion of racial profiling. [Politico]
* A new in-house tool to replace outside counsel? Sure it may be cheaper, but can a computer get you playoff tickets? [Associate's Mind]
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The holiday season is upon us, and yet again, you have no idea what to get for the fickle lawyer in your life. We’re here to help. Even if your bonus check hasn’t arrived yet, any one of the gifts we’ve highlighted here could be a worthy substitute until your employer decides to make it rain.
We’ve got an eclectic selection for you to choose from, so settle in by that stack of documents yet to be reviewed and dig in…
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