Benchslaps

Megyn Kelly

* Watch out, Biglaw, the tax man is coming for you. If this bill goes through, it could put a hurting on partners’ pocketbooks at law firms with more than $10 million in gross receipts. [Blog of Legal Times]

* International firms are just discovering Africa, and are moving quickly to set up shops there. Before opening up your firm, take a quick lesson from DLA Piper: Africa is a continent, not a country. [Am Law Daily]

* Juan Monteverde, one of our Lawyer of the Year nominees, received a very public spanking from Chancellor Leo Strine of the Delaware Court of Chancery over outsized attorneys’ fees in a “dubious” shareholder suit. Ouch, that’s really gotta sting. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]

* Oh mon dieu, BU Law set up an exchange program between a law school and a foreign management school. Students might not get jobs out of it, but at least they’ll get to go to Paris. [National Law Journal]

* Politico has put together a fun little list of the ten journalists to watch in 2014, and a few lawyers made the cut, including Glenn Greenwald, Ronan Farrow, and Megyn Kelly. Congratulations, everyone! [Politico]

Remember the 80s? Big hair, Dynasty, Huey Lewis was popular for some reason. Well, Judge Jed Rakoff remembers the 80s, and he also remembers the way the federal government used to actually investigate and prosecute people who committed massive financial crimes — Mike Milken, Ivan Boesky, Charles Keating, a bevy of other savings and loans kingpins. Good times.

And Judge Rakoff wants to know what happened to prosecuting financial crimes, specifically the sort of fraud that crippled the economy. So he took to the pages of the New York Review of Books to ponder all the financial prosecutions that could have been. And he has some theories about what happened and how prosecutors could do a better job in the future.

It’s a fascinating look at a bunch of ideas that the government is going to totally ignore…

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Sometimes in life you face choices. When faced with a slight, you can either walk away or you can keep it real.

Take the case of this benchslap. The lawyer felt the judge was being unfair because an appearance was scheduled for the date of the office holiday party. He could have just sucked it up, but he decided to “keep it real.”

And like so many of the protagonists of the Dave Chappelle skit of the same name, it ends with an important lesson about what happens when keeping it real goes wrong….

(Please note the UPDATE added below.)

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Chief Judge Kozinski has been feisty with prosecutorial overreach lately. A couple months ago, he snarked his way through an en banc beatdown of a prosecutor who asserted facts not in the record to secure a conviction. He was no doubt hoping to give us an encore performance in a case out of Washington, but his colleagues denied the request for an en banc rehearing.

But that didn’t stop the inimitable jurist from penning a lengthy dissent from the decision leveling harsh criticism at the prosecutor for the “violence done to the Constitution.”

So is the Chief Judge just cranky or was there some real abuse here?

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Wipe that grin off your face, Sam.

I think the tongue-in-cheek answer would be that I was surprised because of how much [Justice Samuel Alito's] done in the way of supporting anti-discrimination laws over the years. But that would be just a facetious comment.

– Judge Harold Baer (S.D.N.Y.), responding to Justice Alito’s criticisms of the practice of encouraging law firms to staff class action suits with women and minority lawyers. Baer went on to sarcastically suggest that Alito lacked “either understanding or interest” in discrimination experienced by these groups.

No one really likes hippies.

In addition to being dirty, they toss out annoying liberal platitudes to mask a self-absorbed worldview based around “freedom” as defined by easy access to drugs and not being hassled by regulators who aren’t cool with a commune squatting in a tenement. They’re like libertarians without showers and with the decency to pretend they care about other people.

But this federal judge hates them a lot more than the average bear. And he hates their lawyer even more…

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* I’ve never heard of a “copyist.” Apparently it’s what you call people who “steal” intellectual property that isn’t actually protected. I’d care, but I’m too busy trying to figure out how The Onion would write this blurb. [You Thought We Wouldn't Notice]

* And now time for your annoying “why do LAWYERS get money instead of PLAINTIFFS??????” post: The Stop-and-Frisk edition. While I wait for some of you to get off the turnip truck, I’ll note that I don’t begrudge the lawyers who helped bring to light the horrible NYPD tactics one cent. [New York Observer]

* Tom Cruise’s lawyer almost got Tom Cruise’s ass beat down by Mark Wahlberg’s fists. [Gawker]

* IED explodes in a district attorney’s office in Oregon. No one was injured. So jokes about Stanford blowing up Oregon’s BCS title chances remain totally appropriate and cool. [ABA Journal]

* Every year, people ask if the February LSAT is “too late” if you want to start law school the next fall. And every year, I want to say “How in the f*** can you not get your s*** together to take the LSAT earlier, but just have to start attending law school as soon as possible?” [LawSchooli.com]

* Will the Ninth Circuit follow up its oral benchslap with a written one? One professor doubts it. [Volokh Conspiracy]

Judge Shira Scheindlin is no Jonathan Martin. When the Second Circuit bullied her off the stop-and-frisk case, she didn’t run crying to her parents. Instead, she’s standing up to the Second Circuit, appealing its ruling that she was improperly biased. She notes that the Second Circuit kicked her off the case sua sponte, without giving her any opportunity to defend or explain herself.

It’s funny… Scheindlin is basically arguing that she got stop-and-frisked by the appellate court. She was walking along, judging her own business, but the Second Circuit jumped to conclusions based on her appearance.

Unfortunately, in my experience, telling the people who stop-and-frisked you that they jumped to a conclusion without probable cause usually doesn’t go well…

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When people in the legal profession screw up in major ways, we are there to chronicle the action, providing entertainment and education (in terms of what not to do). For example, sometimes lawyers volunteer to enlarge the size of opposing counsel’s a-holes — and get canned. Sometimes lawyers bill for 29 hours in a day and get taken to task. Sometimes lawyers blush when they accidentally request a trial “on all the c**ts”.

These things do happen, but they’re usually one-time occurrences that would otherwise be missed by the members of the legal community, if not for our coverage here at Above the Law.

On the other side of the coin, when you screw up so many times that a federal judge feels the need to publicly excoriate you with the ultimate insult — by comparing your work to that of a pro se litigant — maybe it’s time to hang your head in shame for the rest of your days…

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That a major law firm would engage in such shenanigans distresses us. The firm’s argument regarding the amendment to the National Union insurance policy is censurable, and we hereby censure it.

– Judge Richard Posner, writing on behalf of a three-judge panel of the Seventh Circuit, issuing a harsh benchslap to Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft for the firm’s “frivolous interpretation” of an endorsement to its client’s Commercial General Liability insurance policy.

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