Department of Justice
Cranky judge rips federal prosecutors for “ineptitude” in his courtroom.
Being AG is a tough job. How can Loretta Lynch possibly do it all?
Most everyone knows what an elevator speech is: it’s a short, pithy, memorable description of a company’s services. Lawyers have always built their reputations on their expertise, such that the creation of an elevator pitch should be one of the easiest things for an attorney to do; however, many lawyers still stumble over the basic question: “What do you do?”
* Based on reading the oral-argument tea leaves, it sounds like the Supreme Court is about to school the teachers’ unions (and public-sector unions more generally). [How Appealing]
* Ring in the new year by making the register ring: a slew of Biglaw firms have secured (presumably lucrative) engagements working on the proposed $32 billion merger between drug makers Shire Plc and Baxalta Inc. [American Lawyer]
* By a vote of 82-6, and after a wait of more than 400 days, the Senate just confirmed Judge Luis Felipe Restrepo to the Third Circuit, making him the first Hispanic federal judge from Pennsylvania to sit on that court. [Associated Press]
* Good news for fantasy-sports fans: it’s not (yet) “game over” for DraftKings and FanDuel, thanks to a stay issued by a New York appellate court. [Bloomberg News]
* And bad news for student-loan-saddled law grads (like our own Shannon Achimalbe) who were hoping that SCOTUS might make it easier to discharge such debts through bankruptcy. [Wall Street Journal via ABA Journal]
* Does Sean Penn face legal risk for his interview of El Chapo, the infamous Mexican drug lord? [ABA Journal]
* A former federal prosecutor just secured a six-figure settlement and reinstatement from the Justice Department. [National Law Journal]
* U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara — who came so, so close to winning Lawyer of the Year honors — announced that Governor Mario Cuomo is off the legal hook for his controversial shutdown of the Moreland Commission, a panel aimed at investigating public corruption. [Law360]
* Avvo is starting to roll out a service featuring fixed-fee, limited-scope legal services through a network of attorneys (and Bob Ambrogi has the scoop). [Law Sites]
* Professor Peter J. Henning explores the implications of the end of the government case against hedge fund magnate Steve Cohen. [DealBook / New York Times]
What’s in store this year?
* If you haven’t been watching Netflix documentary series Making a Murderer, then you’re missing Dean Strang’s turn on the catwalk. The compassionate defense attorney has turned into an “unlikely sex symbol.” Are you part of the #StrangGang? [The Guardian]
* Sometime later today, President Barack Obama will announce a sweeping package of executive actions related to gun restrictions. Stay tuned, grab your popcorn, and get ready for some hardcore constitutional litigation. [Washington Post]
* Happy New Year! We’re not even a full week into 2016, and the first Biglaw merger has already been announced. Lewis Roca Rothgerber has picked up Christie Parker & Hale, a 40-lawyer Southern California IP boutique. [Big Law Business / Bloomberg BNA]
* Hipsters, thou shall be avenged sevenfold: The Justice Department has filed suit against Volkswagen in the wake of the automaker’s massive emissions scandal. The DOJ is seeking billions in damages over VW’s air-pollution violations. [New York Times]
* According to Ethan Couch’s lawyer, it may be weeks or months before the affluenza teen returns to the United States. A judge issued a temporary stay in his case after Couch argued that being deported from Mexico would somehow violate his civil rights. [CNN]
* Robert Wonsch, an Oklahoma process server, was arrested after allegedly coercing his female clients into performing sex acts in exchange for lowering his fees. He’s now facing several criminal counts. Good Lord, talk about ineffective service of process… [Reuters]
* Dale Bumpers, President Clinton’s impeachment defense lawyer, RIP. [New York Times]
This holiday season, the Office of Personnel Management is giving you the gift of free identity theft monitoring. Yay?
We may get to see just how far the courts are willing to extend the expectation of privacy in public places
The DOJ isn’t having any of your petty concerns.
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And obviously it all has to do with FOIA exposure.
* In September, Fox News anchor Harris Faulkner sued Hasbro over a toy hamster named Harris Faulker, claiming it violated her likeness rights. Hasbro has moved to dismiss the suit by providing a judge with side-by-side photos and a snark-filled filing. [THR, Esq. / Hollywood Reporter]
* Per Gawker’s GC Heather Dietrick, it’s “more likely than not” that the media empire will lose in Hulk Hogan’s case over the release of his sex tape. She doesn’t think it’s likely, however, that the wrestler will get the $100 million in damages he’s seeking. [POLITICO]
* It’s time for a ride at the regulatory rodeo, because for the first time in more than 20 years, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has issued a new operating license for a nuclear power plant. Say hello to Watts Bar Unit 2 in Spring City, Tennessee. [The Verge]
* We mentioned previously that when Apple refused to unlock a defendant’s iPhone for the DOJ, a federal judge wasn’t sure if he had the legal authority to order Apple to do so. As it turns out, Apple’s EULA gives the government the perfect loophole. [Simple Justice]
* In case you missed it last week (we did), LegalZoom has settled its $10.5 million antitrust lawsuit against the North Carolina State Bar. The online legal documentation company will now vet all of its documents with lawyers from North Carolina. [ABA Journal]
* Breaking Media Editor at Large Elie Mystal appeared on The Docket to defend sex offenders’ civil rights on Halloween. His Darth Vader costume is worth seeing. [MSNBC]
The system worked this time, but this is likely the exception that proves the rule.
Missouri is taking some action on the DOJ reports.
The federal government is formally making legal aid a priority.
Jenny Mosier left a high-powered Justice Department job to take on a new and important mission.
* Well, this is one way to deal with the Free the Nipple campaign: ban sideboob and underboob. And while you’re at it, legalize public boners because consistency is hard. Heh. [Vice]
* The Pope’s homelessness chops are on point. [What About Paris?]
* This is the absolute best way to troll prestige whores. [Daily Lawyer Tips]
* Is this the best recommendation letter ever? [Lawyers, Guns & Money]
* This is how bigamy cases go down in the world of Facebook. [Legal Juice]
* Using forensic evidence to document human rights abuses. [Pacific Standard]
* What’s going on with Janet Yellen? [Dealbreaker]
* Interesting to legal nerds (and maybe others). The Justice Department’s very influential Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) — the division that produced the torture memos, among other things — cranks out a lot of law professors. [Yale Journal on Regulation]