Denny Chin

‘You just got trolled so hard, judge.’

Lawsuits and motions filed by serial litigants like Jonathan Lee Riches — the most famous one of them all — typically get passed around by the mainstream media for some laughs, and are then quietly dismissed by the judges unfortunate enough to be assigned the cases.

But this time around, a federal judge was apparently duped by a very peculiar motion that was supposedly submitted on behalf of the man he once sentenced to 150 years in prison. Of course, Judge Denny Chin of the Second Circuit must have thought it was odd that Bernard Madoff claimed “bio-electric sensors” and “voice-to-skull technology” were to blame for influencing the legal proceedings against him, but the good judge issued a real order in the case nonetheless.

What else did this wild motion say, and who was behind the filing?

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* Judge Judy hears a case about Grindr. “Don’t pee on my leg… unless you’re into that.” [Gawker]

* Supreme Court retirements announced! [Legal Times]

* Most criminals don’t walk around in a giant yellow bird costume. This guy is not most criminals. [Lowering the Bar]

* The Washington Post credits blogger Josh Blackman with coining the term “benchslap.” Professor Blackman corrected the author. Let’s get a Kickstarter going to buy her a Black’s Law Dictionary (affiliate link) so she doesn’t make this mistake again. [Washington Post]

* The Chamber of Commerce didn’t win every case this term. But it came awfully close to perfect when it counted. [Constitutional Accountability Center]

* If you’ve been looking to complete your collection of Second Circuit bobbleheads, behold Judge Denny Chin! If this wasn’t sponsored by the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association, I’d worry this pic was a little racist…. [Squareup]

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One of the interesting concepts in Professor Rosenbaum’s book (affiliate link) is that the law lacks a soul. The law lacks tenderness. The law is objective and cold and inhumane. The law abhors emotion. I don’t think that’s true.

Every time I sentence a defendant, there is a lot of emotion. I think there is a lot of humanity in the law.

– Judge Denny Chin (2d Cir.), quoted in an interesting New York Times article focused on his sentencing practices (back when he was an S.D.N.Y. judge).


Chief Judge Alex Kozinski (in 2008 and today)

Chief Judge Alex Kozinski of the Ninth Circuit continues to provide us with awesome anecdotes. Back in July, for example, we related a fun story pertaining to his naturalization as an American citizen.

It was an inspiring immigrant story, but it was primarily of historical interest. Cool as it was, it did not have huge relevance to the day-to-day practice of law.

Our latest law-related tale about Chief Judge Kozinski has practical ramifications. California lawyers, you should keep reading; you never know when this knowledge might come in handy.

Also handy: diet tips from His Honor, who has dropped quite a bit of weight lately….

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Remember that ironic message about the versatility of a law degree?

Now we bring you an ironic message about the value of a law degree….

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Legal Eagle Wedding Watch, like the rest of the nuptial media, is in a state of giddy anticipation over Chelsea Clinton’s upcoming wedding, scheduled for tomorrow in Rhinebeck, NY. We’ll be gobbling up all the juicy details as they leak out, just like the lucky guests will be devouring the vegan and gluten-free fare. Yum!

Chelsea’s big day is one of the social events of the season and is estimated to have up to a $2 million pricetag. This week’s featured weddings may not quite reach that stratospheric territory, but they do have lawyers out the wazoo (unfortunately, neither Chelsea nor her fiancé has a JD; her parents, of course, have two).

Our contestant couples:

1. Farah Peterson and Eugene Sokoloff

2. Julia Lipez and Nolan Reichl

3. Lauren Sasser and Scott McCulloch

Read on for details on these fabulous newlyweds.

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Judge Jed Rakoff: A bank's nightmare?

Since Judge Denny Chin is moving on up to the Second Circuit, the S.D.N.Y. cases pending before him have to be redistributed. Lawyers for Bank of America, which has 15 civil shareholder lawsuits on Chin’s docket, sent the chief judge a letter requesting that the cases be reassigned using a lottery system. As we mentioned in Morning Docket, Cleary Gottlieb, Davis Polk, and Wachtell Lipton all signed the letter.

Why did they need to send this special letter? Because they were scared of B of A landing again in the lap of Judge Jed Rakoff, says the Wall Street Journal:

Judge Rakoff disappointed bank executives last year when he rejected a $30 million settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission, which had charged the bank with misleading shareholders about bonuses paid prior to the Merrill merger. The New York judge reluctantly approved a new $150 million agreement in February but called it “half-baked justice at best.”

One of the pending shareholder cases accuses the bank of failing to “disclose billions in Merrill losses before shareholders approved the deal in December 2008.”

Apparently, the lawyers debated whether or not to name Judge Rakoff in their letter, thus making it clear that he was the particular judge they hoped to avoid. They ultimately decided to name names.

They were successful in steering their cases clear of Rakoff, though the chief judge claims the letter wasn’t a factor in her decision to assign the cases to Judge Kevin Castel (aka the John Gotti judge). How did she decide?

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We have a special place in our hearts for Judge Denny Chin (S.D.N.Y.). Last year, we dressed up as Judge Chin for Halloween (see right). Alas, even though Judge Chin has presided over some major matters — such as the Bernie Madoff case, in which he gave the Ponzi schemer 150 years, and the Google Books settlement talks — we were still mistaken for Judge Lance Ito by several people.

But Judge Chin’s profile is about to increase. Earlier today, by a vote of 98-0, Judge Chin was elevated to the Second Circuit.

The Asian-American community is thrilled. From one Asian ATL reader: “He was confirmed! Amazing and historic!”

But there have been Asian-American federal judges before. And there may be again in the not-too-distant future, depending on what happens to the controversial nomination of Berkeley law professor Goodwin Liu.

What is history-making about Judge Chin’s elevation?

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(As well as Judge Vanaskie, and five new U.S. Attorneys.)

Kimba Wood Judge Kimba M Wood Frank Richardson Above the Law blog.jpgAs we previously mentioned, and as Lawrence Hurley of the Daily Journal reports here, Congress is considering a proposal that would raise federal judges’ salaries by a significant margin. Here’s what the new scale would look like (with current salaries indicated parenthetically):

District Court Judges: $247,800 (up from $165,200)
Court of Appeals Judges: $262,700 ($175,100)
Associate Justices of the Supreme Court: $304,500 ($203,000)
Chief Justice of the United States: $318,200 ($212,100)

This proposal would cost millions in taxpayer dollars. So we have a better solution to the problem of federal judicial pay, which Chief Justice John Roberts has dubbed a “constitutional crisis.”

Here’s our brilliant idea: Require all federal judges to marry rich!

Don’t you just love couples in which one spouse is a judge, with all the power and prestige of judicial office, and the other spouse is rolling in dough? Off the top of our head, we can name a number of federal judges who have married well — or at least wealthy. (Like Judge Kimba Wood, above right, with her well-heeled hubby, Frank Richardson.)

We list some judges who have married into money, and we invite additional examples from you, after the jump.

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Denny Chin Judge Denny Chin Above the Law.jpgTime for a quick break from Biglaw and bonuses. Earlier this week, Judge Denny Chin (S.D.N.Y.) dismissed a lawsuit by a Florida man who blamed the Atkins diet for his heart troubles. As the WSJ Law Blog points out, Judge Chin offered some dieting tips in the opinion:

In a footnote, Judge Chin wrote that he has had success with his own “much simpler diet, which can be described in four words: Run more, eat less.”

We’d like to supplement this coverage. Judge Chin is one of many federal judges who enjoy running, and he runs regularly with his law clerks. They go for a vigorous morning jog through downtown Manhattan or along the Hudson River, then stop for steamed Chinese pork buns on the way back to chambers.

(But given all the weight that Judge Chin has successfully lost since taking up the sport, we’re guessing he consumes the Siu Bao in only moderate quantities.)

Judge Chin took up running only seven years ago. Since then he has completed the New York City marathon four times. How fast was he?

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