Deaths

Righteous-IndignationBrittany Maynard, the 29-year-old woman with terminal brain cancer who announced in a YouTube video that she would end her life on November 1, said this week that she will wait to follow through on her plan. Maynard’s video provoked nationwide debate about end-of-life choices, the role of physicians, and laws that either support or thwart individuals’ deciding to hasten their own deaths with the aid of the medical establishment.

Maynard moved to Oregon after her diagnosis with Stage 4 glioblastoma in order to take advantage of the state’s Death with Dignity law. Oregon is among only five states with similar provisions. Under Oregon’s law, an adult Oregon resident “capable of making and communicating health care decisions for him/herself” who is “diagnosed with a terminal illness that will lead to death within six months” may request a prescription for lethal medication from a licensed Oregon physician. The physician must certify that the patient meets the criteria, then follow a multi-step protocol meant to ensure the patient’s informed consent. Once the patient receives the prescription, she may self-administer the lethal drug at the time and in the manner she chooses.

A majority of Americans appear to support the right of terminally ill individuals to set the terms of their own deaths, including with a doctor’s support. However, even if an individual has a qualified right to determine what happens to her body, up to and including death, laws facilitating physician-assisted death (PAD) still might not be a good idea.

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depressed head in handsSometimes, lawyers struggling with difficult cases resort to the worst when unable to conquer their legal challenges.

Late last week, Calogero Gambino, a 41-year-old associate general counsel at Deutsche Bank, was found dead in his home, hanging from a stairway bannister with a rope around his neck.

Gambino is the second Deutsche Bank executive to commit suicide this year…

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David Foster Wallace

David Foster Wallace died six years ago today, on September 12, 2008. The author of novels such as Infinite Jest, The Pale King, and essay collections such as A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again hanged himself in the garage of his California home. DFW was 46.
David Foster Wallace was a lawyer’s writer, if ever one could use that label without intending insult. DFW was not a lawyer, though he famously became friends and collaborators with legal writing expert Bryan Garner. Garner’s co-author Justice Antonin Scalia is also said to be a fan. Countless attorneys who haven’t cracked a novel in years will brighten at the mention of DFW. Analytical, language-obsessed, and neurotic, he may have captured the modus operandi of many lawyers as well as any novelist or essayist could.

David Foster Wallace, especially for a fiction writer, was logical, analytical. He never quite left behind the mindset of the analytic philosophy student he once was. Wallace’s senior thesis in modal logic was published posthumously. His senior thesis in English became his first published novel, The Broom of the System. He wrote lit for STEM geeks and logic nerds . . . including the many STEM geeks and logic nerds who later ended up in law. (Myself included.)

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Oscar Pistorius

* Following the divisive decision in Shelby County v. Holder, voting rights cases may be heading back to the SCOTUS sooner than we thought. Thanks, Texas and Wisconsin. [USA Today]

* Bienvenidos a Miami? Cities compete to be designated as sites where global arbitration matters are heard. Miami is an up-and-comer, but New York is king. [DealBook / New York Times]

* Thanks to anonymous donors, the reward for info related to FSU Law Professor Dan Markel’s murder has been raised to $25,000. Not a single suspect has been named since his death. [Tallahassee Democrat]

* After losing the Democratic primary to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Professor Zephyr Teachout drank some gin and tonics like a boss before returning to her class at Fordham Law to teach property. [New York Times]

* Try as he might, the Blade Runner just can’t outrun the law: Oscar Pistorius might have been cleared on the murder charge he was facing, but now he’s been found guilty on a culpable homicide charge. [CNN]

Judge Richard Posner

* A unanimous Seventh Circuit panel, in an opinion by Judge Posner, just struck down Wisconsin and Indiana’s bans on same-sex marriage. The result isn’t surprising in light of the blistering benchslaps delivered by Judge Posner at oral argument, but the timing is faster than usual (for a federal appellate opinion in a high-profile case, not for the prolific Posner). [BuzzFeed]

* Bad news for Cahill Gordon: the Third Circuit just revived a fraud case against the high-powered firm and one of its clients, a unit of BASF. [WSJ Law Blog]

* And badder news for BP: a federal judge just concluded that the oil giant was grossly negligent in connection with the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill. [New York Times]

* Freshfields gets fresh talent, adding former Wachtell partner Mitchell Presser and former Skadden partner James Douglas to its ranks. [American Lawyer]

* The dean of Seton Hall Law, Patrick Hobbs, will step down from the deanship at the end of the current academic year. Congratulations to Dean Hobbs on a long and successful tenure. [South Orange Juice]

* And congratulations to John Grisham and Jason Bailey, winners of, respectively, the 2014 Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction and the 2014 ABA Journal/Ross Short Fiction Contest. [ABA Journal]

* Brittany McGrath, Brooklyn Law class of 2014, RIP. [TaxProf Blog]

* Lawyer busted for impersonating a Transformer. On that note, what would be the best name for a Transformer lawyer? Atticus Prime? L-Woods? Paddotron, who transforms into a clock that only measures tenths of an hour? [Jonathan Turley]

* Did you think your studying for the MBE could have used more original songs as study aids? Well, if so, you’re in luck because there’s an app called Study Songs that sets legal rules to music to help you remember. [Bar Exam Toolbox]

* New York courts are getting more and more fed up with the lack of relief available when lenders flaunt the law. [New York Law Journal]

* We’ve talked about litigation financing in the abstract before, but how can litigation financing help injured workers specifically? [LFC360]

* A former U.S. Attorney pleads guilty to not paying his taxes for years. [Las Vegas Review-Journal]

* In sad news, Sher Kung — part of the trial team that took down the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, and recently of Perkins Coie — was killed in a cycling accident on Friday. [Seattle Times]

He was in a wheelchair. Why would he shoot? He could have just hit the man, beat him up.

Anita Johnson, a Miami-area woman, commenting on the killing of an unarmed panhandler in a wheelchair. Miami police have arrested Rodney Louis for allegedly shooting the panhandler before leading the cops on a 20-minute, high-speed chase. I suppose the days when handicapped beggars were merely dragged from their wheeled chariots and assaulted are but a fleeting memory of what America used to be.

Michael Brown, age 18 and a high school graduate, was scheduled to begin college classes on Monday.

He won’t be. He was shot, unarmed with his hands in the air, by police near his apartment on Saturday afternoon. The shooting in Ferguson, Missouri, a mostly black working-class St. Louis suburb of 20,000, has ignited outrage and skepticism of the police’s explanation for the shooting.

As Brown’s mother, Lesley McSpadden, told Steve Giegerich of the St. Louis Post Dispatch, the shooting took place as her son was walking to his grandmother’s residence.

One witness, Piaget Crenshaw, gave this account to Giegerich:

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Robin Williams

* “No person, no matter how high, is above the law.” It would seem Chief Judge John Roberts is unfamiliar with many of the attorneys we write about on a daily basis. [Associated Press]

* Considering many Americans can’t name a single justice, whether the high court issues 9-0 or 5-4 opinions likely matters little, but Cass Sunstein has a study on it. [New York Times]

* Judge Mark Fuller (M.D. AL) spent a night in jail this weekend after an alleged domestic violence incident with his wife. He paid $5,000 bond before he was released. Uhh… Roll Tide? [CNN]

* The ABA moved forward with reforms to help students gain clinical and distance-learning opportunities. Alas, being paid for work was too controversial this time. [National Law Journal]

* A woman who was trapped inside a law firm as a gunman opened fire before killing himself is now suing everyone for damages. You’d probably sue, too — it must’ve been terrifying. [Times-Picayune]

* Robin Williams, the beloved actor who recently played a very disgruntled lawyer, RIP. [ABC News]

Dan Markel

More than a week has passed since our last report on the investigation into the killing of Professor Dan Markel, and there has been disturbingly little progress — or at least publicly disclosed progress — in the inquiry. No arrests have been made, and no suspects have been identified.

But we have do have a few small updates, which we will share with you now. One of them is quite disturbing….

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