The first rule of state court is: you do not talk about state court.
* Foreclosure attorney Bruce Richardson alleges that Hogan Lovells partner David Dunn hit him with a briefcase in front of a court officer. That’s how they roll in state court. (Expect more on this later.) [New York Daily News; New York Post]
* From cop killer to nomination killer: Mumia’s the word that stopped Debo Adegbile’s nomination to lead the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. [Washington Post]
* In happier nomination news, congratulations to former Breyer clerk Vince Chhabria, as well as to Beth Freeman and James Donato, on getting confirmed to the federal bench for the Northern District of California. [San Francisco Chronicle]
A partner working with the Milwaukee law firm of Styles & Pumpian killed himself. That is sad and tragic news for his family. You’d think it would be sad and tragic news for his law firm colleagues, but they didn’t really see it that way. Instead, they took the “He’s dead? More for us!” angle that is more the kind of thing you’d expect from the Donner Party than a group of well-fed lawyers….
Last May, a 26-year-old paralegal by the name of Julia Papazian Law was found dead in the bathtub of her boss and boyfriend, prominent Philadelphia defense attorney A. Charles Peruto Jr. The news set tongues wagging in Philly. It had all the elements of a tabloid tale: a beautiful young woman, a wealthy and successful lawyer, and possible organized-crime connections. (Peruto has represented such prominent alleged Mob figures as Joey Merlino and Nicodemo Scarfo.)
Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams convened a grand jury to investigate Julia Law’s death. This decision did not sit well with Charles Peruto, who claimed that it placed him under a cloud of suspicion that harmed his reputation and his legal practice.
With the grand jury probe concluded, District Attorney Williams made an announcement about its findings. What did he have to say?
I didn’t know Phillip Seymour Hoffman, the gifted and apparently bedeviled actor who died of a heroin overdose this week. I have, however, known more than one friend who died from the same drug. They were middle class, suburban guys, honors students, active in their churches and communities. They would now be in their mid- and late-thirties, had they lived. But they didn’t live.
Even as a growing number of states begin the process of piecemeal decriminalization of marijuana, hard drugs like heroin remain another matter. Many people from both sides of the political spectrum agree that our marijuana laws ought to be radically reformed. I’ve written before about the economics of legalization. Civil libertarians, both right- and left-leaning, argue that prohibition offends principles of personal autonomy. Pot, though, is relatively safe — no more dangerous by most metrics than alcohol or tobacco, for however much that means. The fact that, as a general rule, people don’t die from smoking weed makes decriminalization an easier sell for legal reformers.
Heroin, on the other hand? The Drug Enforcement Administration reports that 3,038 people died of heroin overdoses in 2010, the last year for which the DEA has published statistics. A federal survey suggests that 335,000 people used heroin in the U.S. in the past month. (Compare this to an estimated 19.1 million pot users in the same time span, with nary an overdose among them.) Even when an overdose doesn’t kill, the addiction often leaves the user with an abysmal quality of life. Heroin addiction is also a perniciously treatment-resistant dependency. Abstinence rates for recovering opiate addicts are about 10 percent after one year.
Opioid replacement therapies like methadone offer one possible avenue for recovery from heroin addiction, but they are fraught with a lot of their own problems. Under federal law, methadone must be administered primarily at heavily regulated clinics often located in seedy neighborhoods. Also, methadone is a maintenance drug — instead of using heroin daily, an addict uses methadone daily for the long term. Furthermore, methadone carries its own alarming rate of overdose.
Ibogaine, a Schedule I drug in the United States, is available in many other countries, including Canada, South Africa, the Netherlands, Mexico, Norway, and the U.K. among others, where it is used to treat addiction. Unlike methadone, ibogaine is not a maintenance therapy: addicts typically experience relief after one or two doses. Its efficacy rate is reportedly extremely high. So, why isn’t this potentially life-saving anti-addiction drug available in the United States?
Who’s to blame for the legal unavailability of ibogaine?
In my near 14 years on the bench, this is the first time I can recall this happening.
– Judge Kermit Bye of the Eighth Circuit, in a scathing dissent issued after Missouri executed a death row inmate before the court could finish reviewing his request for a stay. On Wednesday, Missouri executed another death row inmate, this time before the Supreme Court ruled on his request for a stay. The state has executed three inmates in as many months, all while appeals were still pending.
* Hot on the heels of the SCOTUS stay, Utah has ordered its state agencies not to recognize any of the same-sex marriages that took place. Eww, Utah, you are being disgusting right now. [NBC News]
* The eminently quotable Chancellor Leo Strine of the Delaware Court of Chancery has been nominated to serve as chief justice of the state’s highest court. Best of luck with your confirmation! [Chicago Tribune]
* Law firm mergers rose by almost 50 percent after 88 firms joined forces throughout 2013 (a new record, according to Altman Weil). Let’s see if this year’s pace is as frenzied as last year’s. [Am Law Daily]
* The legal profession isn’t very good at diversity, especially in Texas. Here’s a not-so fun fact: just six percent of all equity partners at the largest law firms in Dallas are minorities. [Dallas Business Journal]
* “[I]t was the first time he had ever heard of someone being killed by a pair of underwear.” A man in Oklahoma was tragically killed after becoming the first-ever recipient of a fatal atomic wedgie. [News OK]
* Exciting news: Justice Sonia Sotomayor will be leading the countdown on the New Year’s Eve ball drop in Times Square. She’ll be the first SCOTUS justice to perform the task. You go girl! [New York Times]
* Blank Rome and Nixon Peabody are reportedly in merger talks, but one firm’s managing partner says he “talk[s] to firms all the time,” it’s no big deal. No word on what guys from his high school do. [Reuters]
* Sorry, Quinn Emanuel, but this limited discovery thing is going to happen. Judge Ronnie Abrams recently slapped down the firm’s attempt to appeal her MTD denial in this contract attorney’s suit. [Am Law Daily]
* A state court judge from Texas stands accused of strangling his girlfriend over the balcony of his apartment and threatening to “f**king kill [her].” Romance in Texas has certainly got some of that je ne sais quoi. [Dallas Morning News]
* A legal soap opera? An ex-prosecutor whose relationship with a judge landed her lover in hot water was found dead in her home hours after a judicial misconduct ruling came down. R.I.P. [Reno Gazette-Journal]
* Take a look back at the legal profession’s year that was: from the highest of highs in gay marriages to the lowest of lows in law school enrollment, 2013 was a year for the record books. [National Law Journal]
* Former U.S. Attorney Neil H. MacBride will be joining Davis Polk as a partner in the firm’s white-collar defense practice. Nice work, DPW — he’s actually kind of cute. Earn back that rep! [DealBook / New York Times]
* Matthew Kluger, most recently of Wilson Sonsini, was disbarred in D.C. following his insider trading conviction. His criminal career apparently began while he was still in law school. Sheesh. [Blog of Legal Times]
* Kent Easter, he of the “I am but a spineless shell of a man” defense, was just on the receiving end of a mistrial. It seems the jury was totally deadlocked. Guess they felt bad for him. [Navelgazing / OC Weekly]
* The Iowa Law Student Bar Association supports the school’s decision to cut out-of-state tuition by about $8,000 because to stand against such a measure would be absolutely ridiculous. Congratulations on not being dumb. [Iowa City Press-Citizen]
* Apple won more than $290 million from Samsung in its patent infringement retrial. Siri, tell me what the fifth-largest jury award in the U.S. was in 2013. OMG, I didn’t say delete all my contacts. [Bloomberg]
* The trial for James Holmes, the shooter in the Aurora, Colorado movie theater massacre, was delayed by a judge until further notice. A hearing has been scheduled to reassess the situation in December. [CNN]
* Myrna S. Raeder, renowned expert on evidence and criminal procedure, RIP. [ABA Journal]
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The Trust Women conference is an influential gathering that brings together global corporations, lawyers and pioneers in the field of women’s rights. Unlike many other events, Trust Women delegates take action and forge tangible commitments to empower women to know and defend their rights.
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