But you need to stay on her good side; if you tick her off, woe unto you. Let’s check out the Beloved World (affiliate link) — of pain — that Her Honor just inflicted on a federal prosecutor down in Texas….
- Attorney Misconduct, Benchslaps, Drugs, Minority Issues, Racism, SCOTUS, Screw-Ups, Sonia Sotomayor, Stephen Breyer, Texas, Trials, U.S. Attorneys Offices
You can do so much with a law degree: securities litigation, real estate, executive compensation, porn production…wait, what?
The Internet, one of the greatest technological achievements in human history, is mostly for porn distribution (not really, but that’s the popular misconception). And if the Internet is littered with copyrightable pornographic material, there’s an opening for attorneys to make some money helping clients go after those who steal that material.
But what if a law firm, operating through shell companies, started making its own porn in order to concoct its own causes of action? I mean, that couldn’t happen, right?
- Attorney Misconduct, Benchslaps, Federal Judges, Legal Ethics, Litigators, Partner Issues, Screw-Ups
Earlier this week, we wrote about a pair of prominent partners at Skadden Arps who got hit with a big-time benchslap. A federal judge in Chicago issued an order to show cause, requiring the Skadden lawyers to explain why they should not be sanctioned for failing to cite a highly relevant (arguably dispositive) Seventh Circuit case when briefing a motion to dismiss. The judge also set “a status hearing in open court…. [at which the attorneys] are all directed to appear in person.”
The Skadden partners filed a contrite response. They apologized profusely to the court, explained why they viewed the Seventh Circuit as distinguishable, and argued that even though they erred, their conduct didn’t merit sanctions. They announced to the court that they had settled the case in question, with Skadden “contributing to the settlement amount in order to personally redress plaintiffs’ counsel for responding to the motion to dismiss.” (In a classy move, they also extracted their associate from under the bus, explaining that he played no substantive role in the briefing.)
Despite the apology and the settlement, the status hearing went forward as scheduled yesterday. What happened?
- Attorney Misconduct, Benchslaps, Federal Judges, Legal Ethics, Litigators, Partner Issues, Screw-Ups, Sheila Birnbaum
On the transactional side, things seem to be going gangbusters for Skadden Arps. As we noted yesterday, the firm took the top spot in three separate rankings of 2012 M&A work. In 2011, a different firm sat atop each set of rankings, but in 2012, Skadden ruled them all.
On the litigation side, though, the new year has brought new headaches for Skadden. Earlier this month, a high-profile partner at the firm, along with another partner and an associate, got hit with a big benchslap. A federal judge issued an order to show cause, asking the Skadden lawyers to explain why they should not be sanctioned, and set “a status hearing in open court…. [at which the attorneys] are all directed to appear in person.” Ouch.
Skadden recently filed its response to the OSC. Let’s review the benchslap, then see what the Skadden lawyers had to say for themselves….
We now have judicial notice that making jokes about the president and fried chicken is probably racist.
Granted, “all these years, I thought I liked chicken because it was delicious.” But living up north, it’s pretty well-established that suggesting black people have a predisposition for eating chicken is prima facie racist and likely to start a fight. That’s not because I’m “sensitive” or “playing the race card.” It’s because generalizing about the foods black people eat has been used as a tool for racial stigmatization for a long time in this country.
That history somehow escaped Judge Lynn Hughes.
We’ve written about Hughes before. He’s a guy who can throw a benchslap. He’s also a guy who has been described as “[u]nquestionably the single worst judge in the Southern District of Texas” on The Robing Room (where lawyers can post anonymously about judges).
But one of his flippant remarks to an African-American plaintiff drew the ire of the Fifth Circuit, even as they were affirming his ultimate result.
You know that you have strayed a little too far from the flock when the Fifth Circuit (Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi) is schooling you on racial sensitivity….
You know things are not going well for the police when a judge uses the citation “U.S. Const. amend. IV.” Not a case interpreting the Fourth Amendment, not a scholarly analysis of search and seizure law, just a straight-up shout-out to the plain text of the constitutional prohibition. It kind of tells you where the judge is going.
Today’s installment of “Why Can’t You Just Get A Warrant” comes out of the Montgomery County courthouse near Dayton, Ohio. According to the judge’s order granting a suppression motion, the police subdued a wheelchair-bound paraplegic and searched his home. And by “subdued,” I of course mean: tackled a man in a wheelchair, handcuffed him, then pretended to be worried about the man’s grabbable area.
Ed. note: This is the latest installment in a series of posts from the ATL Career Center’s team of expert contributors. Today, from Ross Guberman, a look at lawyers’ ethical breaches and their consequences.
Quick: List all the ways you can get into ethical hot water while writing a brief, and then list all the things judges can do to you in return.
Sometimes lawyers go too far, but do judges ever overreact?
In your short and fascinating book, we meet all sorts of wayward attorneys who are in some way punished by courts for something they’ve done in a brief. One attorney called the members of an administrative board “monkeys” and compared their pronouncements to the “grunts and groans of an ape.” Another attorney neglected to mention an unfavorable case even though he himself was counsel in that case. Yet another referred to opposing counsel as “Nazis and redneck pepper-woods.” And various other attorneys drafted a proposed order with a first sentence that’s nearly four pages long, filed a complaint that the court called a “hideous sprawling mess,” cited a dissent as controlling authority, or copied another lawyer’s brief.
When you compare all these alleged ethical breaches with the penalties they provoked, what are a few of the behaviors that seem to irk judges most?
- Benchslaps, Blogging, Edith Jones, Federal Judges, Holidays and Seasons, Intellectual Property, Non-Sequiturs
* Professor Josh Blackman has a Christmas gift for you: “The 8 Best Benchslaps of 2012.” See if you can guess who wins the award for lifetime achievement. [Josh Blackman's Blog]
* Time is running out! We’d love your votes in the ABA Journal’s Blawg 100 (under “News/Analysis”). [ABA Journal]
If you are not a fan of Westboro Baptist Church, check out Anonymous’s declaration of cyber-war against them….
- Benchslaps, Contests, Contracts, Elena Kagan, Job Searches, Non-Sequiturs, SCOTUS, Student Loans, Supreme Court
* Kagan, J., benchslapping. [Josh Blackman's Blog]
* I think I’d get this if I understood gymnastics. [Associate's Mind]
* Our annual Law Revue Video Contest is still a few months away, but if you like making legally themed videos, keep an eye on this contest (more details forthcoming, including info on the prizes). [Federal Bar Association]
* Speaking of contests, we welcome your votes in the ABA Journal’s Blawg 100 (under “News/Analysis”). [ABA Journal]
* And speaking of Above the Law, the deadline for applying for our writer/editor position and our internship is tomorrow — so act now if interested! [Above the Law]