Clarence Thomas

Welcome to the latest edition of Above the Law’s Grammer Pole of the Weak, a column where we turn questions of English grammar and usage over to our readers for discussion and debate.

Last week, we found out that 52% of our readers thought it was acceptable to end a sentence with a preposition, but with the caveat that it should be avoided if possible. That’s pretty wishy-washy, folks.

This week, we’re going to focus on an issue with a supreme split in authority, and you’re going to have to choose one side or the other. You’re going to pick Clarence Thomas’ side (you’ll soon see why we wrote it that way), or you’re going to pick David Souter’s side, but that’s it. Ooh, that’s a little possessive….

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Clarence Thomas set the table for the tea party by making originalism fashionable again.

Berkeley Law professor John Yoo, in an interesting Wall Street Journal piece discussing how his former boss, Justice Clarence Thomas, has defended the Constitution and embraced originalism during his twenty years on the high court.

Professor Stephen Smith

Perhaps this is part of some elaborate research project into the workings of the criminal justice system. Professor Stephen F. Smith, who teaches criminal law and criminal procedure at Notre Dame Law School, stands accused of a serious crime.

According to the South Bend Tribune, Professor Smith faces one count of domestic battery, a class D felony. He’s accused of striking and kicking his wife at their home, in an incident that allegedly took place back in June.

Professor Smith doesn’t fit the profile of the typical defendant in a domestic violence case. How many DV defendants have clerked on the U.S. Supreme Court? How many have graduated from Dartmouth College, where Smith served as a trustee, and the University of Virginia School of Law, where he once taught?

After graduating from Dartmouth and UVA Law, Smith clerked on the D.C. Circuit (for Judge David Sentelle) and SCOTUS (for Justice Clarence Thomas). He practiced at Sidley Austin before joining the UVA Law faculty, where he served as John V. Ray Research Professor before moving to Notre Dame. (Query: What prompted Professor Smith to move from UVA to ND?)

Legal pedigrees don’t get much better than this. But enough of Professor Smith’s dazzling résumé. Let’s learn about the lurid allegations against him — and hear from ND law students about a campus controversy he created….

UPDATE: Please note the updates added to the end of this story. Thanks.

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Looks like the joke is on us.

* With a recommendation for dismissal filed, Dominique Strauss-Kahn hopes to bid adieu to his rape charges and say au revoir to our country. [CNN]

* Apparently your law school can still be on the Best Value honor roll even if its bar passage rates suck abysmally. What up CUNY Law. [National Jurist]

* It’ll be awesome if Clarence Thomas speaks during the inevitable Supreme Court oral arguments on Obamacare. Ginni needs to start smacking him around so this happens. [New Yorker]

* Will Booz Allen get hit with a trifecta of gender discrimination lawsuits this summer? Yesterday marked the second one in filed in the past three weeks. [Blog of Legal Times]

* Not sure why trial lawyers are all up in arms about Rick Perry. Is the star of How to Secede from the U.S. Without Really Trying actually going to be a real contender in Election 2012? [POLITICO]

* Living in a complex full of Type A bar examinees (and repeat failures) for five years sounds like a fate worse than death. I’d rather be condemned to the Gulag. [Los Angeles Times]

Now that she has been acquitted of murder and manslaughter charges arising out of the death of her daughter, Caylee Anthony, where will Casey Anthony go next? Given her notoriety, it’s a tough question.

One possible answer: law school. As Ann Finnell, one of Casey Anthony’s lawyers, told People magazine, “She’s been exposed to the criminal justice system, and I think that might be a pursuit of hers.”

So should Casey Anthony go to law school? Many observers, including some of my colleagues here at Above the Law, say that going to law school isn’t a good idea for most people.

But Casey Anthony is no ordinary law student. She is an extraordinary young woman and who has had some extraordinary experiences. Conventional wisdom does not apply to her.

Let’s imagine Casey Anthony’s future legal career….

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I think there is a disease of illiteracy or laziness, because just the commentary will tell you they haven’t read [the opinions they're critiquing]….

You don’t go to a Georgia fan to get commentary on the University of Florida, because it’s not objective commentary. Unfortunately, much of the commentary about the court is from the standpoint of people who have vested interests in particular outcomes, particular policies or particular results. Do you think you are getting an honest assessment?

– Justice Clarence Thomas, in remarks he delivered at the Augusta Bar Association’s Law Day Banquet. (Gavel bang: ABA Journal; see also Morning Docket.)

Ben Stein

* I was just asking myself, “What does Ben Stein think about the Dominique Strauss-Kahn case?” [American Spectator via Daily Intel]

* The perp walk is illegal in France. It’s not clear from this article how the French view the crip walk. [Sacramento Bee]

* Carl Icahn, the Blockbuster bankruptcy, insider-trading charges, and a golden retriever wearing comically huge sunglasses. This story touches on three of those things. [Bloomberg]

* Hogan Lovells fired a partner who falsely claimed $1.6 million in expenses. To put that in perspective, that is $1.6 million more than I have. [Am Law Daily]

* A Brooklyn juror died of a heart attack while listening to testimony. And that’s… sad, I guess. But the story goes on to note that “The juror, who was unemployed, was said to be ‘happy’ to be collecting a check for his service on the case which was expected to go on for about a month.” Man. [New York Post]

* Sammy Alito batted down 10 popular misconceptions about the Supreme Court in a speech on Monday. Chief among these myths is that Justice Sotomayor listens to a lot of Buena Vista Social Club on her Zune. Sonia never really got into that album, Alito noted. [St. Louis Post-Dispatch via ABA Journal]

* Meanwhile, Justice Thomas wondered in a speech whether critics of the Supreme Court suffer from a “disease of illiteracy or laziness.” So is your face, Justice Thomas. So is your face. [Fox News]

* Still more benchslappery, this time from the Second Circuit. Professor Nita Farahany wonders whether Judge Gary Sharpe “may have missed a few important days of his genetics class in high school or in college.” [Law and Biosciences Digest]

* In other federal judicial news: I’ve never bought into the silly claim that Clarence Thomas is the jurisprudential puppet of Antonin Scalia — and Linda Greenhouse’s analysis of the Term thus far confirms CT’s independence from AS. [Opinionator/ New York Times]

* The ability of judges to be funny: AFFIRMED. [Supreme Court of Washington Blog]

* Remember the crazy deposition dispute over the definition of “photocopying” (which we previously linked to)? Here’s some additional background. [Lowering the Bar]

* Lawyers who rap are a dime a dozen; lesbian lawyers who rap are more rare (and more interesting). Meet GW Law alum Amanda Carter, aka “330.” [DCist]

* In other D.C. news, congratulations to the four bloggers behind Who Murdered Robert Wone?, whose sleuthing efforts have just been honored. [Washington City Paper]

* The estate of the defunct Heller Ehrman firm is getting $20 million, courtesy of Bank of America and Citibank. That’s nice. [Am Law Daily]

Were you disappointed by James Franco and Anne Hathaway as Oscars hosts? If so, you weren’t alone. PopEater described their hosting efforts, especially Franco’s, as “a disaster.” The New York Times declared the proceedings to be “downright painful” at points.

Next year, the Academy Awards should go in a different direction. Enough pandering to the youth. For 2012, the Oscars host should be a certain hilarious, older Jewish gentleman, who has been celebrated over the years for his brilliance and wit, and who knows a great deal about movies.

Bring back Billy Crystal? Not a bad idea — but here’s a better one. Bring on Chief Judge Alex Kozinski, of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit!

In addition to his incredible intellect and superb sense of humor, Chief Judge Kozinski has an encyclopedic knowledge of film. Recall his famous ruling in the movie-industry case of United States v. Syufy Enterprises, featuring over 200 film titles woven artfully into the text of his opinion.

Chief Judge Kozinski knows movies, and he loves movies. He goes to the cinema every chance he gets. In fact, His Honor recently sent a movie recommendation my way — and it’s PG-13, in case you’re wondering….

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And what I think is important for you all, is that when you see people standing in defense of what’s right, that you make sure that your voice is not remembered as one of the silent. Because there’s gonna be a day when you’re gonna look around and you’re gonna look at your kids and your grandkids and they’re gonna ask you a question: What happened to the great country that was here when you grew up, and why isn’t it here now, and what did you do?

– Justice Clarence Thomas, in the powerful keynote address he delivered over the weekend at UVA Law, at the 30th annual student symposium of the Federalist Society (Politico via WSJ Law Blog).

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