Cameras in the courtroom

AlitoIf there is any justice in the world, this will revolutionize the way you consume Supreme Court news. Because the Supreme Court continues to ban video coverage of their proceedings, we’re either left waiting for Lyle to get to a phone or listening to horrible audio clips against a sketch artist’s backdrop.

Now we have a new tool to make Supreme Court coverage downright amazing. Recognizing the power of cat videos on the Internet, HBO’s John Oliver has recreated a Supreme Court oral argument playing audio clips over video of dogs representing the Supreme Court (and a chicken pecking away as the stenographer). The finished product is almost embarrassingly compelling. And Oliver encourages everyone in the media to use his raw footage to create their own SCOTUS coverage, so the ball is in your court, CNN.

Read on to see this work of genius. Come for the oral argument coverage, stay for the point where Justice Alito tries to hump Justice Kagan….

UPDATE (10/21/14, 2:35 p.m.): Check out the part on the next page where these dogs are used to recreate the Hobby Lobby argument. The whole oral argument.

UPDATE (10/25/14, 10:39 a.m.): And now we have them recreating clips from the Aereo argument to highlight how little the Court understands technology. It’s available here.

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One of the things that was always interesting about Biglaw was just how much the skills of senior partners were celebrated, even in the absence of any verification. Or rigorous comparison to their peers, for that matter. Such exaltation of abilities was not limited to individual lawyers, of course, but extended also to practice groups and even other firms. In fact, a fair amount of Biglaw’s “prestige” is pollinated by secondhand anecdotal evidence, many times passed along by people who have either never seen their subjects in action or who are not qualified to distinguish between a great performance and a mediocre one.

Of course, I do not doubt that many, if not the vast majority of, Biglaw reputations are well-earned. For example, even though my knowledge of real estate law is severely limited, I would feel comfortable hiring some of my old colleagues at Greenberg Traurig in New York for real estate help, should I ever be in a position to acquire or dispose of some commercial real estate. I admit that I have no frame of reference, other than reputation and some personal relationships, supporting such a prospective choice. But it is not like I could “shadow” a closing and figure out which set of lawyers is doing a better job anyway. “Wow, those guys really put out a nice refreshment spread in the room with the closing binders” would be the level of my analysis. Probably not a good idea to choose counsel solely on that basis.

Are there other options out there?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Beyond Biglaw: Candid Camera”

Next week, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the Conestoga and Hobby Lobby cases, the high-profile challenges to the Obamacare contraception mandate. Many ordinary citizens wish they could tune in to the arguments on TV, or at least catch clips on the Daily Show nightly news. After all, how else can Americans access this valuable information that could change their lives forever? I mean, without an Upworthy piece or a Buzzfeed listicle?

Of course, serious folks make serious arguments championing televised coverage of Supreme Court arguments. UC Irvine School of Law Dean Erwin Chemerinsky wrote an opinion piece this week, arguing that “[t]here is no excuse for keeping cameras out of the Supreme Court.” (Apparently, Chemerinsky wants cameras in and Justice Ginsburg out, for those keeping track of Chemerinsky’s wish list.) Earlier this month, the Coalition for Court Transparency, a group of press organizations and pro-transparency NGOs, sent a letter to Chief Justice Roberts, urging the Court to permit the video recording and broadcast of its courtroom.

So, what are opponents of cameras at One First Street so scared of? Do they worry that Chief Justice Roberts will start mugging for the camera? That Justice Scalia will insist on an added laugh track? That Justice Kagan will embark on a dangerous juice fast to slim down like a Hollywood starlet? (Actually, it looks like she already has.)

Those are not my concerns, but here is why I still think video coverage of U.S. Supreme Court arguments is a terrible idea….

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* The Coalition for Court Transparency sent a letter to Chief Justice John Roberts, pleading that he allow cameras in the courtroom. Not sure how well this will go over, thanks to last month’s oral arguments interruption by a protestor. [Legal Times]

* Hot on the heels of the news that the firm posted its worst financial performance in six years, Bingham McCutcheon is leaking laterals. Morgan Lewis just poached four lawyers across three cities right out from under the firm’s nose. [Am Law Daily]

* Now that the U.S. News 2015 Law School Rankings are out, here’s Kyle McEntee of Law School Transparency to tell you what’s wrong with them, particularly, that not every school is the “best.” [Law.com]

* If you were a law school dean, we sincerely hope you’d just live with the consequences of an enrollment decline instead of lowering your admission standards to put more asses in seats. [National Law Journal]

* Nancy Grace must defend herself against a defamation suit filed by Michael Skakel. It’s almost fitting that she’d get sued over talking about someone allegedly masturbating in a tree. [Hollywood Reporter]

Stephanie Adams: this Playmate knows the law.

* We’re not sure that the best way to convince the Supreme Court to allow television broadcast coverage of its proceedings is to air commercials on news channels. Even SCOTUS justices fast forward during the commercials. [Legal Times]

* Old farts just wanna have fun: Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens told reporters about a wild night out with the late Justice William Brennan that involved Ginger Rogers and pants that were too big. [National Law Journal]

* When “the only way to be successful [as a first-year associate] is to go into the role expecting to be treated poorly,” it’s no wonder that Biglaw firms continue to fail their women lawyers. [Washington Post]

* Just because you work at a small, boutique, or mid-size firm, it doesn’t mean your bonus bounty will be less than that of your Biglaw brethren. You could actually earn much, much more. [New York Law Journal]

* Yes, you can be fired for being “too cute.” No, it’s not gender discrimination. Sorry, beauties, but being a hottie isn’t protected a characteristic under Title VII, says this Playboy Playmate. [Corporate Counsel]

Last week, we asked readers to submit possible captions for this picture:

On Friday, you voted on the finalists, and now it’s time to announce the winner of our contest…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Caption Contest Winner: The Courtroom Selfie, Caught On Camera”

On Tuesday, we asked readers to submit possible captions for this picture:

Let’s have a look at what our readers came up with, and vote on the finalists…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Caption Contest Finalists: The Courtroom Selfie, Caught On Camera”

Hey guys, we just wanted to let you know that taking selfies isn’t cool anymore. It’s just not. How do we know? A lawyer ruined it. Ugh, lawyers ruin everything.

Case in point: here’s a lawyer trying desperately to take the perfect courtroom selfie…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Caption Contest: The Courtroom Selfie, Caught On Camera”

And no, it’s not about lowering their reversal rate in the Supreme Court. In fact, in recent years the Sixth Circuit has surpassed the Ninth Circuit as the most-reversed appeals court in SCOTUS. (Veteran Supreme Court litigator Tom Goldstein also pointed this out at our ATL reception with him a few weeks ago.)

So how can you help out the Ninth Circuit? It’s a very easy and simple request, sent to us from Chief Judge Alex Kozinski….

(Please note the UPDATE at the end of this post.)

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Marc Randazza

Without access to information, there is no free press. While it was a privilege to argue against Mr. Dershowitz, it was more of an honor to secure a First Amendment win for the press and public.

– First Amendment lawyer Marc Randazza, commenting on his recent win in a case regarding cameras in the courtroom — a win over Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz, who was representing the Las Vegas Sands Corp. (aka billionaire Sheldon Adelson). Randazza also represents Above the Law in various proceedings.

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