Dinosaurs

(c) Image by Juri H. Chinchilla.

One hundred years ago yesterday, Martha, the last passenger pigeon, died at the age of twenty-nine in the Cincinnati Zoo. This week, On Remand looks back at the fate of the passenger pigeon, the legal implications of efforts to resurrect the bird and other extinct species, and the courtroom drama over a Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton.

Passenger pigeons once numbered in the billions and were the most abundant bird in the United States. Seventeenth century observers reported “countless numbers” of passenger pigeons whose massive flocks took hours to pass overhead. But by the early 1900s, no passenger pigeons remained in the wild.  Habitat loss due to deforestation and overhunting hastened the species’ rapid decline. (The sport of trapshooting originally used live passenger pigeons, but later adopted clay pigeons due to the decline and extinction of the bird.) Recognizing the plight of the passenger pigeon and humanity’s role in causing it, late 19th century conservationists and lawmakers made efforts to protect and repopulate the species. But it was too late…

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* When you look back and see only one set of footprints, that was when Jesus was telling you, “Don’t go to law school.” [Law School Lemmings]

* Attention summers! Here’s a cavalcade of advice on not acting like an a**hole. [Corporette]

* ABA committee approves new accreditation standards allowing more students to enter without taking the bar exam. Texas breathes a sigh of relief. [LSAT Blog]

* This is the nerdiest law school final ever. Bravo. [Law and the Multiverse]

* Judge and prosecutor discuss dinosaurs. [New Yorker]

* I know a physician sending sexts while patients are under is serious, but I just can’t help but envision Dr. Nick Riviera. [Seattle Times]

* Law firms are rushing to get into the marriage equality game — but only on one side. [Reuters]

* Here’s a nice little listicle of famous female criminals. Just in time for Orange Is The New Black. [Arrest Records]

* Virginia State Senator resigns and changes the leadership of the Senate to the opposite party. Why would he do this? His daughter isn’t going to get a judgeship out of this or anything is she? [Slate]

* The Republicans are in long-term trouble. Maybe they should consider becoming the “party of innovation.” Apparently regulation is the only thing holding that back. Not investing in education, infrastructure, or having a government hostile to science. [National Review]

* Philip K. Howard, the author of The Rule of Nobody (affiliate link) sat down with Jon Stewart on The Daily Show last night. Video after the jump….

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It turns out, Mongolia was right.

Back in May, we told you about a lawyer who, on behalf of the president of Mongolia, was involved in his own crusade to stop the auction of precious Tyrannosaurus bones. Lawyer Robert Painter and President Elbegdorj Tsakhia argued that a Tyrannosaurus bataar skeleton had been smuggled out of Mongolia to be sold in America.

Eventually, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara of the S.D.N.Y got involved, on the side of Mongolia. It turns out that this Mongolian dinosaur was just the tip of one man’s international smuggling operation.

That man pleaded guilty yesterday….

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We’ve been carving out a little dinosaur law beat over the last several months, thanks to the contentious auctioning off of a Mongolian Tyrannosaurus bataar skeleton. The auction was interrupted when the Mongolian president’s attorney stood up and shouted, “I’m sorry, I need to interrupt this auction. I have a judge on the phone,” in an unsuccessful attempt to stop the sale.

Unfortunately for the anonymous million-dollar winning bidder, the dinosaur bones are stuck in limbo a little longer. Lawsuits have been flying around in the aftermath of the auction, and yesterday, New York police arrested the archaeologist who allegedly brought the bones to the U.S.

And now, ladies and gentlemen, we are leaving Jurassic Park and entering DaVinci Code Land. Please keep your hands and legs inside the vehicle…

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The future of arrest record expungement?

* Contra Costa County prosecutors haven’t gone on strike yet. But they’re still considering it. Are they gonna do something, or just stand there and litigate? [CBS]

* This George Mason law prof really doesn’t want gays to be able to get married. As the ATL CommentBot will undoubtedly note, I disagree with him. But you gotta give Professor Nelson Lund credit for writing a hell of an opening line though. [SCOTUSblog]

* Feminists took back the word “c**t, so why can’t creationists take back dinosaurs? It’s exactly the same… well, not exactly the same thing, but they’re totally similar. [Althouse]

* Successful scapegoat is successful? [Instapundit]

* Why don’t we just do it in the road, driving down the interstate? Someone will be watching us, so we’ll just run them off the road — and threaten them with our pistols! [Legal Juice]

* Yes, but would it be libel if the Men in Black had erased everyone’s memory of the arrest except for the one guy who escaped and is telling the truth but no one else knows or believes it? [Overlawyered]

* After the jump, Professor John Corvino, who was recently interviewed by Lat regarding his new book on same-sex marriage (affiliate link), discusses the definition of marriage (and eats lawyer-flavored guacamole)….

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The battle between Mongolia and a Texas-based auction house over control of rare Tyrannosaurus bones is getting bigger. I’m telling you that when BBC gets around to making the documentary Walking With Dinosaurs And Their Attorneys, you’re going to want to watch it.

Let me bring you up to speed: Last month, Heritage Auctions tried to auction off a rare Tyrannosaurs bataar skeleton. The animal is believed to have lived in what is now Mongolia between 70 and 100 million years ago. And now its bones that are worth an incalculable amount to science can be sold for around a million dollars to private collectors. The auction has been held up though, thanks to a temporary injunction obtained by representatives of Elbegdorj Tsakhia, the president of Mongolia. They claim the skeleton was illegally taken away from Mongolia and want it returned. In response, the long dead Tyrannosaur said “AAAAHHHNNN,” and wondered why the opposable-thumbed ones insist on trying to own nature.

When we last we checked in, Heritage Auctions said it was working with Mongolian authorities to resolve the issue. But now the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York and Homeland Security is involved(!!!).

Man, I wish Michael Crichton was still alive, because Triassic Terrorists is a novel that needs to be written….

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Brett McGurk

* Dewey know how many professional services firms it takes to wind down a Biglaw firm? According to new D&L bankruptcy filings, there are at least eight of them — including Togut Segal & Segal, a leading law firm that reportedly charges $935 an hour. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Despite Barack Obama’s pledge of support, Brett McGurk has withdrawn his name from the White House pool of ambassadorial candidates amid much salacious controversy. Apparently this man knows a lost cause when he sees one. [Washington Post]

* So many DOMA lawsuits, so little time: what’s happening in the six major cases on this statute? The majority are in various stages of appeal, and the world at large is currently awaiting a cert filing to get a final take from the Supreme Court. [Poliglot / Metro Weekly]

* LSAC will now vet incoming law students’ GPAs and LSAT scores. The ABA won’t do it because they need the insurance policy of someone else to blame in case something happens to go wrong. [National Law Journal]

* Stephen McDaniel’s lawyers are expected to ask a judge to reconsider his $850K bond today. If he’s released, it seems like there’s a high probability that he’ll become an ATL commenter. [Macon Telegraph]

* Remember the legal fight over the Tyrannosaurus bataar? Well, now Preet Bharara, the U.S. Attorney for the S.D.N.Y., is on the case, and he wants it to be seized for return to Jurassic Park Mongolia. [New York Observer]

Tyrannosaurus bataar

If you are like me, “archaeologist” sounded like the coolest job in the world when you were a kid. You wanted to be Indiana Jones. You wanted to be Doctor Alan Grant.

At least until you figured out that being an archaeologist means sitting in a desert with a toothbrush wiping sand off of an ancient pile of poop.

But if you bury it in the sand, maybe in 1,000 years even your law degree might be worth something. Lawyers can have a great role to play in which artifacts end up in a museum for the world to see, and which end up in the private collection of some obscenely wealthy person.

And lawyers have a lot to say about which country the treasures of history end up in.

This weekend, a lawyer was on his own crusade to stop the sale of Tyrannosaur bones at auction. That’s right, we’ve got a Dinosuit on our hands. And just to add that international flair, the lawyer was representing the president of Mongolia….

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