Department of Justice

* In a Supreme Court decision split across gender lines, prosecutors can now get a do-over on criminal charges without double jeopardy, even if an otherwise deadlocked jury unanimously rejected them. [New York Times]

* And yet another day ended without a verdict in the John Edwards campaign finance trial, but the jury asked to review every exhibit in the case. The former presidential candidate must feel like he’s being punk’d. [CNN]

* The DOJ found that two prosecutors in the Ted Stevens case committed reckless professional misconduct punishable by unpaid time off. Looks like they’ll be getting an extended Memorial Day break. [Blog of Legal Times]

* Hot on the heels of Obama’s announcement in support of gay marriage, yet another California judge has found that DOMA is unconstitutional (along with a provision of the tax code). [Poliglot / Metro Weekly]

* Occupy Wall Street is suing for $48K over the destruction of the group’s “People’s Library” after their eviction from Zuccotti Park. But let’s get real, who wants used books that reek like patchouli and pot? [Bloomberg]

* More than one million “de facto spouses” in Quebec may soon be automatically married by the state against their will. Imagine how much fun it’ll be to get a divorce from someone you never actually married. [Slate]

* Two waitresses who claim they were fired for complaining about their former employer’s “no fatties” policy will get to bring their $15M lawsuit before a jury. Hopefully Peter Griffin isn’t a juror. [Law & Daily Life / FindLaw]

Yesterday brought some big news out of Chicago. Renowned federal prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald — who successfully prosecuted such figures as Governor George Ryan, Governor Rod Blagojevich, White House adviser Scooter Libby, and media mogul Conrad Black — announced that he will be stepping down as U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois. Fitzgerald’s resignation will take effect on June 30.

I had the pleasure of meeting Pat Fitzgerald in October 2007, when he spoke at our alma mater, Regis High School (which he graduated from before going on to Amherst College and Harvard Law School). During the question-and-answer session for his talk, I alluded to his celebrity status and asked him: “What’s next for Patrick Fitzgerald?” I tossed out several possibilities, such as running for political office or working as a male model (in light of his 2005 designation by People magazine as one of the sexiest men alive).

The straight-laced, self-effacing Fitzgerald — who spent his entire talk discussing cases, saying practically nothing about himself — seemed slightly uncomfortable at having the spotlight on him in such a personal way. He diplomatically dodged my question, saying something about how he was just focused on doing the best job possible as U.S. Attorney. This was very proper of him, even if a bit boring.

My question to him, posed back in 2007, was just a hypothetical. But now it has turned actual: What is Pat Fitzgerald going to do next?

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How... do you keep changing your race?

* Dewey seriously have one chairman again? Good Lord, this law firm is literally falling apart! Martin Bienenstock had “no plans to file bankruptcy” because he knew he was taking the first life raft off this sinking ship. [WSJ Law Blog]

* When Dewey WARN people? When it’s already too late. In case you missed it last night, the firm was served with its first suit following its en-masse layoffs. The more the merrier, because it’s a class action. [Bloomberg; WSJ Law Blog]

* Elizabeth Warren can’t decide whether she’s white or Native American. Apparently it depends on her geographic location, because she was white at UT Law, but a minority while at Penn Law. [Boston Globe]

* Racial profiling still ain’t easy, but Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio “will fight this to the bitter end.” The Department of Justice has filed a civil rights suit against the no-nonsense Sheriff and his department. [Associated Press]

* New Jersey Governor Chris Christie must be gearing up for his inevitable 2016 presidential run, because yesterday he vetoed an online insurance marketplace required by the Affordable Care Act. [New York Times]

* Syracuse Law recently broke ground on a $90M building that will serve as its new home. May political plagiarizers continue to grace the law school’s halls for years and years to come. [National Law Journal]

The [Megaupload] prosecution is a depressing display of abuse of government authority. It’s hard to comprehensively catalog all of the lawless aspects of the US government’s prosecution of Megaupload[.]

– Eric Goldman, Professor at Santa Clara Law and editor of the Technology and Marketing Law Blog, criticizing the government’s prosecution of the infamous cyber locker and its eccentric leader, Kim Dotcom, in a post earlier this week.

(Goldman had a lot to say about the Megaupload case, most of it quite critical of the government. Keep reading to see more of his blunt analysis.)

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Judge Jerry Smith

Above the Law readers weren’t particularly fond of Judge Jerry E. Smith’s “homework assignment” for the U.S. Department of Justice. In a reader poll, about two-thirds of you expressed disapproval of the Fifth Circuit ordering the DOJ to submit a three-page letter discussing judicial review. (The order came in the wake of, and in apparent response to, unfortunate comments on the subject by President Obama.)

But let’s say that you’re among the one-third of readers who view Judge Smith as courageous for calling out a former Con Law professor for making misleading statements about judicial review (statements that, in fairness to the president, he subsequently clarified). Let’s say that you’d like nothing better than to clerk on the Fifth Circuit for Judge Smith.

Well, aspiring law clerks to Judge Smith, there’s something you should know….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Want to Clerk for the Judge Who Took on Obama?”

Remember the homework assignment issued by Judge Jerry Smith of the Fifth Circuit to the U.S. Department of Justice? Earlier this week, Judge Smith ordered the DOJ to file a three-page, single-spaced letter discussing the principles of judicial review, in light of prior comments by President Barack Obama that could be construed as questioning the doctrine.

The response was due today at noon (Houston time) — about 20 minutes ago. It was filed on behalf of the Department by Attorney General Eric Holder.

Let’s take a look, shall we?

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* “I think that you know what the president said … was appropriate.” While the DOJ scrambles to meet Judge Smith’s memo deadline, Attorney General Eric Holder is busy defending Obama’s con law faux pas. [CNN]

* Six more partners have fled from Dewey & LeBoeuf, bringing the grand total of partner defections to at least 46 since January. Good Lord, somebody needs to get this firm a freakin’ tourniquet. [Wall Street Journal]

* Facebook filed a motion to dismiss Paul Ceglia’s ownership claims, but he isn’t going anywhere soon. Ceglia’s got two months to submit expert reports as to the authenticity of his fake contract. [Associated Press]

* Joe Jamail, “America’s richest practicing lawyer,” donated his $3M law library to TSU’s Thurgood Marshall School of Law. Now students can learn more so they don’t have to sue over being graded on a curve. [Fox]

* McDonald’s doesn’t have to worry about its G-rated Happy Meal toys in California anymore. It’s that XXX-rated lawsuit over a former employee’s “Filet-O-Fish” that the company’s really got to keep an eye on. [Reuters]

'I'm so glad the Justice Department respects judicial review!'

The nation recently received a lesson in constitutional law from President Barack Obama (who famously taught Con Law at the University of Chicago). As we mentioned yesterday, President Obama said on Monday that striking down the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, would constitute an “unprecedented, extraordinary step,” amounting to “judicial activism or a lack of judicial restraint — that an unelected group of people would somehow overturn a duly constituted and passed law.”

The problem with this lesson: it wasn’t exactly accurate. Those “unelected” federal judges “overturn … duly constituted and passed law[s]” all the time — well, maybe not all the time, but on occasion, when said laws are inconsistent with the U.S. Constitution. It’s neither “unprecedented” nor “extraordinary,” and it doesn’t amount to judicial activism; rather, it’s called judicial review.

One prominent conservative jurist, Judge Jerry E. Smith of the Fifth Circuit, took it upon himself to set the record straight on this matter….

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From SCOTUS to POTUS?

* Justice Clarence Thomas for president? Hey, it could happen. Lat and Kash’s 2010 proposal is getting a second look. [Daily Beast]

* Speaking of presidents, the Arizona and Michigan primary elections are today. I know folks on the coast often don’t pay too much attention to those middle-of-the-country states, but it will be interesting to see what the Illegal Immigration State and Crippled American Auto State have to say about our ragtag bunch of Republican presidential candidates. [New York Times]

* Emails published yesterday by Wikileaks appear to show that certain Pakistani military intelligence knew where Osama bin Laden was hiding in the months before Seal Team Six raided his garrison and killed him. I hope Wikileaks has juicier material in the pipeline? [Telegraph (U.K.)]

* Congratulations to Tony West, who will become acting associate attorney general, the No. 3 post in the Justice Department. [Chicago Tribune]

* Interesting report on tensions between the White House and the NSA, which has tried to get permission to monitor private web activity, perhaps at the expense of privacy. But Google knows everything you do on your computer, so why shouldn’t the government? [Washington Post]

Did this young soldier aid the enemy?

Bradley Manning, the American traitor or human rights champion depending on your perspective, was back in court yesterday. His court-martial officially began, and he now faces 22 serious charges that could carry a life sentence, if he is convicted.

The 24-year-old Army intelligence analyst allegedly gave more than 700,000 classified documents to Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks. Manning deferred his plea, so he and his attorneys have more time to strategize. Both sides are still working to set a date for trial, but is getting close to do-or-die time for the embattled Manning.

Let’s see the newest details about his case…

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