It used to be, back before 2005, that the federal sentencing guidelines were mandatory. If you were going to be checking into the United States Bureau of Prisons, the sentencing guidelines determined how long your reservation would be for.
And, it used to be, that if you committed a federal crime, and, between when you committed the crime and were sentenced, the sentencing guidelines went up, the judge had to apply the lower sentencing guidelines from when you committed the crime.
To do otherwise would violate the Ex Post Facto clause.
The sentencing guidelines changed, though, with Booker. Now they aren’t mandatory – they’re just something important that a federal judge has to look at and a federal judge may be risking reversal if she doesn’t follow them.
Got that? The guidelines are totally discretionary. But for the appellate review. Also most federal judges follow the guidelines almost every time. But that’s just a coincidence.
So, since the guidelines are no longer mandatory, but, rather, now just followed in the vast majority of cases, what happens to the Ex Post Facto clause?
Justice Kennedy announced the majority opinion in a long anticipated case today. It was met with a blistering dissent by Justice Scalia.
Unfortunately for most Court watchers, it was not the opinion in Fisher v. University of Texas, the latest in the Court’s attempts to resolve whether affirmative action in higher education is constitutional. Some observers expressed annoyance.
Instead, the Supreme Court issued a ruling in Maryland v. King, which Justice Alito previously identified as potentially the most important law enforcement decision in decades. The Court held that the police can take your DNA any time you’ve been arrested for a “serious” crime.
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court released opinions in two habeas cases, McQuiggin v. Perkins and Trevino v. Thaler. The holdings reek of liberal judicial activism, however well-intentioned.
In Perkins, my least favorite of Tuesday’s cases, the Court held that a showing of “actual innocence” is sufficient to circumvent the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act’s (AEDPA) statute of limitations. In effect, a narrow majority decided to judicially amend a validly enacted statute, creating an exception that the majority admits that the statute itself does not contain. On top of that, this particular case may have been a pretty defective vehicle for addressing the limitations question anyway. There’s a pesky matter, discussed at oral argument, about the procedural posture of the case, making it pretty dubious whether the Court should have even gotten to the merits here.
(Cases like Perkins make me want to appropriate my own version of Dan Savage’s “DTMFA” — shorthand for “Dump the Mother-F*cker Already.” Too often, it would be useful to just be able to write “DTMFA” for “DIG the Mother-F*cker Already” for cases that I wish that SCOTUS would dismiss as improvidently granted. But, alas, you probably have to be a syndicated sex columnist for the privilege of coining long-but-useful acronyms.)
* “I don’t know whether the Lord Himself could get confirmed at this point.” It looks like poor Attorney General Eric Holder doesn’t have very many people left to turn to thanks to executive and congressional inaction. [Bloomberg]
* When it comes to recent diversity efforts in Biglaw there’s an ebb, but not really a flow, and it’s all being blamed on the recession. Also, “diversity fatigue” is apparently a thing now. [New York Times]
* The $200 million gender discrimination suit filed against Greenberg Traurig over the firm’s alleged “old boys club” has been settled for an undisclosed amount. You go girl! [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]
* According to Judge Murray Snow, Arizona’s most beloved sheriff, Joe Arpaio, has been violating the constitutional rights of all of the Latinos whom he supposedly “hadn’t” been racially profiling. [Reuters]
* My, how things change: David Blankenhorn, a man who once testified as an expert witness in support of Proposition 8 at trial, has come forward to condemn anti-marriage equality laws. [Los Angeles Times]
* Law schools tend to be “bastions of liberalism,” which makes it hard for students to find intellectual diversity. It’s a good thing we’ve got the Federalist Society to balance things out. [Washington Times]
* People who think Washington needs another law school propose one for students “who can’t afford to … go into debt … to get their legal degree.” This won’t sit well with the legal academy. [News Tribune]
* With Lindsay Lohan stuck in rehab, Amanda Bynes decided it was her turn to go wild. The retired actress says she’s suing the NYPD for unlawful arrest and sexual harassment. [New York Daily News]
* Alton Lemon, the Supreme Court plaintiff behind the eponymous Lemon test, RIP. [New York Times]
Ed. note: This is the latest installment of Righteous Indignation, our new column for conservative-minded lawyers.
On Monday, the Supreme Court decided City of Arlington v. FCC. The question before SCOTUS was whether courts must defer to a federal regulatory agency’s interpretation of a statutory ambiguity even when that ambiguity involves the scope of the agency’s authority — its own jurisdiction.
Justice Scalia wrote for the majority, holding that even in cases such as this one, agencies are entitled to the usual deference established in Chevron U.S.A. Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc. — aka Chevron deference. Chief Justice Roberts dissented, joined by Justices Kennedy and Alito.
The outcome of City of Arlington should be noteworthy to Court watchers — and conservatives in particular — for several reasons. First, the Scalia-Roberts split quiets the simplistic refrain that SCOTUS decides cases down rigid liberal-conservative lines. Second, it highlights an ongoing debate among conservative members of the Court about fundamental issues concerning the separation of powers and constitutional governance. Third, the Scalia and Roberts opinions demonstrate that, far from reserving their barbs for the left, conservatives can be pretty darn snarky amongst themselves.
A few weeks ago, we learned that when it comes to failed professional endeavors, hell hath no fury like a patent attorney scorned. Now we know the same sentiment applies to their failed romantic wranglings.
What would a patent partner do if a summer associate turned away his sexual advances? He’d do what any dork would: in the hopes of ruining her budding career, he’d obtain a movie clip of the girl in a state of undress and pass it around via email to more than 50 Biglaw attorneys.
Of course, this led to a disciplinary action in which the brokenhearted patent practitioner employed some pretty wild defenses, the most entertaining one being that his slut-shaming was beyond ethical reproach because it was constitutionally protected speech….
After a year-long break, we returned to law-related vanity license plates about a week ago. You heeded our call for submissions, and while we’ve been overrun with them, we’re always looking for more photos. If you’re a fan of the Law License Plates series, please send some in via email (subject line: “Vanity License Plate”).
Today, we’ll be taking a look at what some of the lawyers in our nation’s capital have displayed on their vanity plates. Unlike some of the submissions we’ve spoken about in the past, these plates aren’t direct invitations to get rear-ended, but that’s only because they’re too cryptic for laypeople to understand.
Get ready for some constitutional law nerd action….
Cheerleading is a big deal in Texas. It’s the sort of thing that can get you killed if you’re not careful.
So when a bunch of high school cheerleaders started cheering less “Be Aggressive!” and more “Be Not Afraid, the Lord Is With Thee,” it stirred up the usual hornets’ nest of grandstanding atheists and civil libertarians complaining about freedom of religion, and an equal number of grandstanding conservative politicos complaining about the “War on Christians.”
Yesterday, the cheerleaders won their case — at least for now — opening the door to a new batch of inspirational cheers ripped from Christian Mingle ads. After looking at the signs (some pics below), the real issue is not constitutional, but practical: these are just terrible cheers….
In the light of the evolving standards of decency, somehow we at the Supreme Court, we Harvard and Yale lawyers, we somehow can perceive these evolving standards of decency because we learned all this stuff at Harvard Law School.
* The Obama administration asked the Supreme Court to wade into the constitutional contretemps of recess appointments, but if the high court refuses to take up the case, it may be back to the drawing board for the NLRB. [National Law Journal]
* The Am Law 100 law firm rankings are out, and it looks like there’s a new leader of the pack in terms of gross revenue. But which firm could it be? Not Skadden or Baker & McKenzie. We’ll likely have coverage on this later. [American Lawyer]
* Apparently the FBI wanted to continue questioning Dzhokhar Tsarnaev under Miranda’s public-safety exception, but a judge read the accused bomber his rights anyway. [Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)]
* “This case is over. Someone should put it out of its misery.” Be that as it may, New York’s attorney general is desperate to get AIG’s Maurice Greenberg on the stand at trial. [DealBook / New York Times]
* “I have had it with these motherf**king snakes in my motherf**king files!” This spring, clerks in this old Mississippi courthouse are finding more and more snakes filed under “Ssssssss.” [Associated Press]
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: email@example.com.
It’s that time of year again when JDs are starting to apply for 2L summer jobs and 2L summers are deciding which practice area to focus on.
For those JDs with an interest in potentially lateraling to or transferring to Asia in the future, please feel free to reach out to Kinney for advice on firm choices, interviewing and practice choices, relating to future marketability in Asia, or for a general discussion on your particular Asia markets of interest. This is of course a free of cost service for those who some years in the future may be our future industry contacts or perhaps even clients.
For some years now Kinney’s Asia head, Evan Jowers, has been formally advising Harvard Law students with such questions, as the Asia expert in Harvard Law’s “Ask The Experts Market Program” each summer and fall, with podcasts and scheduled phone calls. This has been an enjoyable and productive experience for all involved.
Whether you’re fresh off the bar exam or hitting your stride after hanging a shingle a few years ago, one thing’s for certain: independent attorneys who start a solo or small-law practice live with a certain amount of stress.
Non-attorneys would think the stress comes from preparing for a big trial, deposing a hostile witness, or crafting the perfect contract for a picky client.
But that’s nothing compared to the constant, nagging, real-life kind, the kind you get from the day-to-day grind of being a law-abiding attorney.
Connecticut plaintiffs-side boutique litigation firm (12 lawyers) seeks full-time associate with 2-4 years litigation experience, top tier undergraduate and law school education. Journal or clerkship experience a plus; highest ethical standards and strong work ethic required. Familiarity with Connecticut state court legal practice is preferred, but not required.
The firm handles sophisticated, high-end cases for plaintiffs, including individuals and businesses with significant claims in a wide array of matters. Our cases often have important public policy implications, and are litigated in state and federal courts throughout Connecticut. Representative areas of practice include medical malpractice, catastrophic personal injury, business torts, deceptive trade practices and other complex commercial litigation, and products liability.
Additional information can be located on our website, at www.sgtlaw.com.