Department of Justice

Shon Hopwood

* Thanks to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Department of Justice will be declassifying some secret opinions from the FISA Court. We wonder who’ll be hosting the giant redaction party. [Associated Press]

* Morgan Lewis paid out a $1.15 million settlement over unfinished business claims to this defunct firm. Great work, Mr. Diamond, but Howrey going to get the rest to do the same? [Am Law Daily (sub. req.)]

* “[Shon] Hopwood proves that my sentencing instincts suck.” Now that this former bank robber has a clerkship with the D.C. Circuit, the judge who sentenced him is having second thoughts. [The Two-Way / NPR]

* Laptops are useful tools for students in law school classrooms, but they’re also great for checking Above the Law and buying shoes while professors are droning on and on. Apparently we needed a study to confirm this. [National Law Journal (sub. req.)]

* George Zimmerman’s wife filed for divorce, citing “disappointment” as one of her reasons for ending the marriage. Don’t worry, Shellie, half of the nation was disappointed with the verdict too. [Washington Post]

Sergio Garcia (not the racist golfer) has lived in California most of his life. He worked his way through law school and then took and passed the California bar exam on the first try.

Yesterday, the California Supreme Court heard argument on whether Garcia could be admitted to practice law.

Sergio Garcia was brought to the United States when he was 17 months old. The California justices must decide whether an undocumented immigrant can be admitted. The State of California says yes. The Obama Administration says no.

The news coverage of the case implies that California has the equities on its side while the Obama Administration has the law.

It’s a tidy narrative for a story, but the media hasn’t really focused on the briefs, because when you actually unpack the statute the administration cites, it requires tortured mental gymnastics to support rejecting Garcia’s application….

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The third year of law school?

* Biglaw’s billing bonanza: at least 12 firms are advising on the multi-billion dollar deals going on between Microsoft / Nokia and Verizon / Vodafone, and Simpson Thacher landed a seat on both. [Am Law Daily (sub. req.)]

* Standard & Poor’s is now accusing the Department of Justice of filing its $5 billion fraud lawsuit in retaliation for downgrading the country’s credit rating. Aww, we liked the “mere puffery” defense much better. [Reuters]

* The new ABA prez doesn’t think Obama meant what he said about two-year law degrees. He thinks it’s about cost. Gee, the ABA should probably do something about that. [National Law Journal (sub. req.)]

* Meanwhile, New York Law School wants to condense its offerings into a two-year honors program that comes complete with a $50,000 scholarship. Sweet deal if you can get it, but it sounds like most people won’t. [Crain's New York Business]

* Stewart Schwab, the dean of Cornell Law School, will be stepping down at the end of the academic year. The search for someone new to oversee the filming of amateur porn in the library is on. [Cornell Daily Sun]

* Crisis? What crisis? Nothing is f**ked here, dude. Amid plummeting applications, GW Law increased the size of its entering class by about 22 percent. The more lawyers, the better, right? /sarcasm [GW Hatchet]

* Jacked up! Attorneys for NFL player Aaron Hernandez got a stay in the civil suit accusing the athlete of shooting a man in the face until after the athlete’s murder charges have been worked out. [USA Today]

The federal government isn’t exactly in rapid growth mode right now (which may explain the pain of D.C. law firms). But if you’re interested in working for the government, some opportunities still remain.

Take the Honors Program of the U.S. Department of Justice. As noted on the program’s website, “[t]he Attorney General’s Honors Program is the largest and most prestigious federal entry-level attorney hiring program of its kind.”

If you’re a 3L or law clerk who’s interested in the Honors Program, you need to submit your application materials very soon — about a week from now. The Honors Program application deadline is SEPTEMBER 3, 2013 (and note that the Labor Day holiday falls during this period, which could affect your ability to obtain transcripts or contact references). For complete application information and the full hiring timeline, see the DOJ website.

We wish you good luck — because you’ll definitely need it….

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* DOJ busts giant fortune telling ring. You’d think they would have seen that coming. [Lowering the Bar]

* Today’s New York Times points out that Judge Kopf penned an eloquent post regarding his reaction to the news that Shon Hopwood — a man Kopf sentenced to a lengthy prison term — is poised to clerk for Judge Janice Rogers Brown of the D.C. Circuit. Funny, it seems like I read that news before… [New York Times]

* The government just doesn’t know what documents Edward Snowden stole. That’s part of the reason British authorities stopped David Miranda. That and the Brits love irony. [The Volokh Conspiracy]

* The message here is not bad per se, but to all the law school apologists spreading it around based on the quote, “Yeah, I know, the legal market sucks, blah blah blah. But you don’t need thousands of jobs. You just need one,” well, that’s not a sustainable model. For students that is. [Medium]

* In the midst of cracking down on the NYPD, Judge Scheindlin also issued a new opinion on e-Discovery. IT-Lex provides an in-depth review. [IT-Lex]

* Another sign of the discrimination against women in business — women lag far behind in the commission of high-level corporate fraud. [Law and More]

* BP has taken out a full-page ad in the New York Times, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal to complain about how much money they’ve had to spend cleaning up that one time they catastrophically devastated an ecosystem through their own recklessness. It’s the most recent curious PR move on BP’s part…

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Late last week, Michael Brown and 24 of his friends and family met at a Charleston, South Carolina restaurant for a farewell party for his cousin. After waiting about two hours for a table, a shift manager at the Wild Wing Cafe told the party to leave. Did I mention these folks were black? Oh, well, they were black. And why weren’t they getting seated?

According to the shift manager, it was because a white patron felt “threatened” by the group, and the manager felt obliged to respect this woman’s delusion by keeping the black diners waiting in the lobby before ultimately kicking them out.

Cue the Chief Justice: “Things have changed in the South.”

Seriously though, so far this ordeal has elicited calls for a boycott, but legal action has been mostly overlooked, which is odd since the story brings back memories of one of the biggest discrimination suits of the last 20 years…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “South Carolina Restaurant Refuses To Serve Black Patrons — Denny’s Redux”

* Even the election law controversies are bigger in Texas. The Department of Justice is currently planning to intervene in one lawsuit and file another against the Lone Star state over its voter identification law and redistricting plans. [National Law Journal]

* Here’s an especially helpful ruling for people who have been living their lives without landlines (so, basically everyone). You can gratefully thank the Third Circuit for allowing you to block those annoying robocalls on your cellphones. [Legal Intelligencer]

* Well, that was quick — a Biglaw pump and dump, if you will. After only a year, David M. Bernick, former general counsel of Philip Morris, is leaving Boies Schiller and will likely be taking a position at Dechert. [DealBook / New York Times]

* “[L]ife got in the way.” Who really needs loyalty in Biglaw these days? More than half of the nearly 500 associates and counsel who made partner in 2013 started their careers at different firms. [Am Law Daily]

* Another one bites the dust. John McGahren, the New Jersey managing partner of Patton Boggs, just resigned from an office he opened himself after some major attorney downsizing. [New Jersey Law Journal]

* “In a community of 98,000 people and 640,000 partners, it isn’t possible to say there will never be wrongdoing.” Comforting. Microsoft is under the microscope of a federal bribery probe. [Corporate Counsel]

* Ronald Motley, a “charismatic master of the courtroom” who founded Motley Rice, RIP. [WSJ Law Blog]

Last Friday afternoon, we ran a fun little item: a celebrity sighting of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor at the grocery store. Judging from the strong traffic, you enjoyed the story.

So we’re happy to bring you some additional information. As it turns out, the owner of the grocery store in question is an attorney. She left a high-powered legal career to launch her business….

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HI-YA! CIVIL RIGHTS CHOP!

* Chief Justice John Roberts appointed Second Circuit Judge José A. Cabranes to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review. Roberts must be happy; few will criticize a moderate. [Washington Post]

* The Department of Justice plans to hire Leslie Caldwell, Morgan Lewis partner and ex-Enron prosecutor, to fill Lanny Breuer’s shoes. Way to leak the news while she’s on vacation. [DealBook / New York Times]

* Tell us again how sequestration isn’t having an impact on the judiciary. Private federal indigent defense attorneys are going to see their already modest rates slashed due to budget cuts. [National Law Journal]

* Sixteen lawyers will receive the New York Law Journal’s Lifetime Achievement Award, and a list like this obviously wouldn’t be complete without the names of some of Biglaw’s best and brightest. Congrats, Rodge! [New York Law Journal]

* Thomas D. Raffaele, the judge who was karate chopped in the throat by a police officer last summer, is now suing over his crushed larynx and similarly squashed constitutional rights. [Courthouse News Service]

* Future gunners, unite! If you’re set on becoming a lawyer, there are things you can do to prepare your law school application, even as a college freshman. [Law Admissions Lowdown / U.S. News & World Report]

* Here’s something to aspire to for the ongoing law school lawsuits: Career Education Corp., a system of for-profit colleges, will pay $10 million to settle a dispute over its inflated job statistics. [Wall Street Journal]

* Penn State University is starting to issue settlement offers to young men who claim they were sexually abused at the hands of Jerry Sandusky, the school’s former assistant football coach. [Legal Intelligencer]

I support radical reform of our nation’s drug laws not despite my conservative political views, but because of them. Decriminalization efforts support at least three values that mean much to me as a conservative. Decriminalization falls in line with the conservative (or at least libertarian-leaning conservative) emphasis on personal liberty and the rights of individuals to make choices about how they govern themselves, so long as their actions don’t directly harm others. Decriminalization makes good moral sense too, by not vilifying addicts and by not needlessly breaking up families through incarcerating non-violent offenders. Perhaps most significantly, radically reforming current drug laws avoids the economic irresponsibility of America’s failed war on drugs.

This week, of course, Attorney General Eric Holder announced new Justice Department policies for drug prosecutions, while addressing the ABA Annual Meeting in San Francisco. In his speech, Holder proposed tinkering with the application of mandatory minimum sentences for drug-related crimes; modifying the Justice Department’s charging policies “so that certain low-level, nonviolent drug offenders who have no ties to large-scale organizations, gangs, or cartels will no longer be charged with offenses that impose draconian mandatory minimum sentences”; and “taking steps to identify and share best practices for enhancing the use of diversion programs – such as drug treatment and community service initiatives – that can serve as effective alternatives to incarceration.”

I commend Holder’s effort. But as a conservative considering the economics of the drug war, I’m concerned that this new policy neglects one of the most significant reasons why we need much more radical reform than this . . . .

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