Yes, benchslaps are great fun to read about, especially if you enjoy a little schadenfreude. But benchslaps are not fun to receive — and they’re not always justified.
Because of the prestige of judicial office, judges generally get the benefit of the doubt when dishing out benchslaps. But sometimes judges go too far. For example, some observers felt that Judge Richard Posner crossed the line when interrogating a Jones Day partner during a recent Seventh Circuit argument.
This brings us to today’s benchslap — directed at a lawyer for the federal government, no less. It’s harsh, but is it warranted?
When a divided state Supreme Court issued its opinion, one of the dissenters went further than registering disagreement — he wrote a scathing dissent labeling the majority “untruthful” and guilty of crafting a decision “based solely upon whom they want to win or lose” without regard for the law. This is off-the-rails stuff. And the rest of his opinion only goes further.
Well, this will make for an uncomfortable elevator ride….
From the Above the Law mailbag: “Is ATL ever going to call out Judge Posner for being so needlessly nasty to litigants?”
Ummm, no. I’m a big fan of Judge Richard Posner, who is brilliant and hilarious. (Yes, hilarious — if you doubt that, check out the awesome podcast that he and I did together, which you can download and listen to during your commute or at the gym.)
But in the interest of fairness, I will make this reader’s case. This correspondent cited the recent oral argument in Notre Dame v. Sebelius, which we alluded to yesterday, in which Judge Posner dispensed some benchslaps to Matthew Kairis, head of litigation in the Columbus office of Jones Day. The reader also mentioned the argument on remand in the Conrad Black case, alleging that Posner “was particularly nasty to Miguel Estrada, seemingly piqued that Estrada got him reversed by SCOTUS.”
Let’s focus on the Notre Dame v. Sebelius argument, since it just happened. How bad was it?
* In continuing Seventh Circuit benchslappiness, Judge Richard Posner got feisty with an attorney for Notre Dame who kept interrupting him. If this lawyer keeps it up, Posner’s going to treat his client like Alabama did a year ago. [Chicago Tribune]
* Comcast wants to buy Time Warner, pending DOJ approval. The DOJ wants to talk to Comcast, but they’re only available to talk between 10 and 10:15 on alternating Wednesdays. [ATL Redline]
* California and New Jersey have banned gay conversion therapy programs. Is that the best way to combat these schemes? [New York Times]
* A look at getting started as an entrepreneur. See, there’s hope after bailing on practicing law. [Big Law Rebel]
* Daria Roithmayr of USC Law thinks The Triple Package (affiliate link), the new book by Yale’s Amy Chua and Jed Rubenfeld, doesn’t hold water. I mean, since when are we holding academics to writing “scholarship” as opposed to “controversy bait”? Professors need to eat, after all. [Slate]
* A cop who got in trouble for bashing Obama online thought he was protected by the First Amendment. The court disagreed. [IT-Lex]
* Quinn Emanuel got a pretty harsh benchslap from Judge Paul Grewal over its litigation strategy in the Apple / Samsung case, calling it “650 lawyers wide and one lawyer deep.” Sick burn, Judge. [Courthouse News Service]
* At Cardozo Law, Jordan Belfort’s former lawyer says that the movie Wolf of Wall Street “played down the sex and drugs.” Dear Lord, if that’s the case, Leo’s muse should be happy he’s alive. [DealBook / New York Times]
* “I’ve been around the block. And I’ve never seen an attorney general sanctioned.” Ahh, the rarest rose. Nevada’s AG was sanctioned for failing to provide evidence in a fraud case against a mortgage lender. [Forbes]
* Eighteen people were arrested for their alleged attempts to market and sell Super Bowl “party packs” to football fans. It’s pretty sick, but you’d got to admit that hookers and blow beat wings any day of the week. [Bloomberg]
* Law schools in the Southeast closed their doors because their states were “unequipped for dealing with the roadways.” Send them up here, we’ve got school when there’s a foot of snow. [National Law Journal]
* A recent grad of a “good school” wanted to know how to get a job, so she asked an advice columnist. Here are five of the suggested jobs she probably already applied to and was rejected from. [Fortune]
* The third time’s apparently the charm in Italy: Amanda Knox was convicted of murder, again. Foxy Knoxy must be pissed that her case has turned into an extradition question on an international law exam. [CNN]
The court will not countenance the gross overreaching evidenced under the facts and circumstances of this case in which the client is not even being billed for legal services. To move any court to put its imprimatur of approval on such practices is simply intolerable.
– Judge Frank Nervo, denying a Biglaw firm’s request for more than $126,000 in attorneys’ fees in a lawsuit over a $6,400 security deposit. Judge Nervo added that the firm spent “a grossly unnecessary amount of time” on simple tasks, including “research on the most basic and banal legal principles.”
(Which firm was on the receiving end of this benchslap? Find out after the jump, where we’ve posted the full opinion.)
I join the Order and Judgment. I write separately for a collateral reason. After oral argument I was designated as author. Recently, because he was concerned with the delay in disposition, Judge Kelly reassigned the case and prepared the Order and Judgment. I am solely responsible for, and deeply regret, all delay in resolving this matter.
– Judge Terrence L. O’Brien of the Tenth Circuit, in an oldie but goodie from last year, issuing himself a benchslap for failing to keep on schedule.
(Maybe this is why Judge O’Brien has since taken senior status.)
If you’re interested in the whole opinion, it’s available after the jump…
* The FBI announces that there will be no criminal charges over the “scandal” in which the IRS gave heightened scrutiny to conservative groups that planned to cynically game the law sought tax exemption for their entirely, in no way political activities. As another faux scandal bites the dust, here’s a good round up of butthurt right-wing editorials. [TaxProf Blog]
* SCOTUS Benchslaps! In a lengthy footnote in Daimler v. Bauman, Justice Ginsburg accuses Justice Sotomayor of misstating the record in the latter’s concurrence. In reading the competing interpretations, it seems as though Justice Sotomayor has the most fair reading, but then again the case is 62 years old, and Justice Ginsburg was probably there when it decided the first time. [Josh Blackman's Blog]
* Investment banks are seeing potential recruits running over to the tech industry. Law firms haven’t felt the same draw, mostly because you got a law degree because you suck at math and science. [Law and More]
* It’s about time Wile E. Coyote fought for his rights against Acme’s wanton disregard for customer safety. [Pentagram]
* An interview with Stephen Neal, the chairman of Cooley LLP, probing why Cooley is such a cool firm (evidenced by their #1 ranking in the ATL Insider Survey). [The Careerist]
* There’s a proposed law in Wisconsin designed to get dads out of child support payments. I know this may come as a shock, but it was written by a millionaire who doesn’t want to pay his court-ordered child support. [Jezebel]
* Well, we suggested the NFL concussion settlement was a bum deal the other day, and apparently Judge Anita Brody agrees, halting the deal. [Bleacher Report]
[T]he role of the district judge is not to gloss over serious issues for the sake of preventing additional work for the court. Rather, in a criminal trial, the judge is entrusted with the responsibility of ensuring that the constitutional rights of the accused are safeguarded from the whims of public opinion, prejudice, and expediency.
– Judge Martha Craig Daughtrey, in an opinion reprimanding Judge David Dudley Dowd Jr. for failing to remove a juror whose comments gave “some indication that he could not decide the case fairly and impartially” (due to its unsettling subject matter, child pornography).
Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past seven years. You can reach them by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Regarding trends in lateral US associate hiring in Hong Kong, we of course keep much of what we know off of this blog. Based on placement revenue, though, Kinney is having one of our most successful years ever in Asia. We are helping a number of our law firm clients with M&A, fund formation, cap markets, project finance, FCPA and disputes openings. These are very specific needs in many cases, so a conversation with us before jumping in may be helpful. As always, we like to be sure to get the maximum number of interviews per submission, using a well-informed, highly targeted, and selective approach, taking into account short, medium and long-term career aims.
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The legal industry is being disrupted at every level by technological advances. While legal tech entrepreneurs and innovators are racing to create a more efficient and productive future, there is widespread indifference on the part of attorneys toward these emerging technologies.
When the LexisNexis Cloud Technology Survey results were reported earlier this year, it showed that attorneys were starting to peer less skeptically into the future, and slowly but surely leaning more toward all the benefits the law cloud has to offer.
Because let’s face it, plenty of attorneys are perhaps a bit too comfortable with their “system” of practice management, which may or may not include neon highlighters, sticky notes, dog-eared file folders, and a word processing program that was last updated when the term “raise the roof” was still de rigueur.