Discovery Sanctions

‘Would you like fries with that, Your Honor?’

* With OT 2013 drawing to a close, here’s a nifty chart that shows which Supreme Court justices vote together most and least often. The division is real, people. [The Upshot / New York Times]

* “Not only do they have unique interpretations of the Constitution but they can’t even agree on how to pronounce words.” Listen to our SCOTUS justices flub the word “certiorari.” [Legal Times]

* Quinn Emanuel and Samsung must now pay more than $2M in sanctions to Nokia and Apple after leaking confidential, “attorneys’ eyes only” information in a discovery blunder. Oopsie! [Legal Week]

* “Why can’t you get a real job?” This judge — the same one who sentenced a rapist to just 30 days in prison — told a fast-food worker to get a better job to pay off his restitution more quickly. [Billings Gazette]

* If you think you’ve seen the best of the “Law and ______” classes, you ain’t seen nothing yet. Say hello to some newcomers, like Video Game Law and Law of Robots. Justice Scalia is pissed. [WSJ Law Blog]

Isn’t discovery fun?

You sometimes hear Biglaw litigators complain about courts not publishing enough opinions about discovery issues. Discovery (especially e-discovery) is such a major — and majorly expensive — part of the complex litigation in which large firms specialize, but there aren’t that many decisions on the books over such nuts-and-bolts issues as responsiveness, privilege, and work-product doctrines.

So it’s noteworthy that the Massachusetts Appeals Court just issued an opinion featuring extended discussion of the work-product doctrine. Some Boston Biglaw litigators will surely welcome the additional guidance on this subject.

But not all of Boston Biglaw will be pleased by this decision. Certainly not the major firm that could wind up getting hit with sanctions as a result….

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Kristen Saban

* With Eric Holder questioning his job, and Deval Patrick dining at the White House, perhaps we’ll see our second black attorney general. Or not, because one of the Governor’s aides says he’ll continue his reign as a Masshole. [Washington Times; Buzzfeed]

* When it came to sanctions for discovery violations in the Apple v. Samsung case, this judge was all about pinching pennies. Last week, both Quinn Emanuel and MoFo got taken to task over their apparently “sloppy billing practices.” [The Recorder]

* What’s the most inappropriate thing for a federal judge to say to jurors when delivering the news that a defendant of Asian descent killed herself after testifying? “Sayonara.” Ugh. [Careerist via New York Times]

* “Law school is very unforgiving, but classes must go on.” Law schools in the New York metropolitan area are still trying to make sure their students are safe and sound — and studying, of course. [New York Law Journal]

* Another one bites the dust: Team Strauss/Anziska’s lawsuit against John Marshall Law School over its allegedly phony post-graduate employment statistics has been dismissed with prejudice. [Chicago Tribune]

* Are you ready for some litigation? Lawyers for Nick Saban’s daughter are showing the sorority girl who sued her what it’s like to get rolled by the Alabama tide in a flurry of more than 40 subpoenas. [Times Leader]

* From the White House to the ivory tower: Cass Sunstein is leaving OIRA to return to Harvard Law. Perhaps his thoughts on behavioral economics and public policy will be appreciated in academia. [New York Times]

* It’s too late to apologize this time, Cesar. Greenberg Traurig has been sanctioned in the TD Bank to-do for the firm’s negligent failure to bring forth documents during discovery. [Tampa Bay Business Journal]

* Jared Loughner is reportedly set to plead guilty in the Arizona shooting attack that killed six people, including Judge John Roll, and injured 13, including former Representative Gabrielle Giffords. [Los Angeles Times]

* Lance Armstrong is going for the gold against the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, this time with a bid to Judge Sam Sparks for a restraining order blocking the USADA from forcing the cyclist into binding arbitration. [Bloomberg]

* “[T]his is not the time for us to become an international accrediting agency.” The ABA will remain a faulty U.S. accrediting agency, because the Legal Ed Section voted against accrediting foreign law schools. [ABA Journal]

* Apparently Texas Tech Law has more than beauty queens. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has appointed dean emeritus and current law professor Walter Huffman to the new Defense Legal Policy Board. [KCBD 11]

* Remember Joshua Gomes, the UVA Law student who allegedly broke into the school’s registrar office? As it turns out, there’s no more “allegedly” about it. We’ll likely have more on this news later today. [Daily Progress]

* Law school graduates’ tales of woe are still making headlines in newspapers. Please take heed, 0Ls, and remember that you decided to discount this info if you’re told that you “should have known better.” [Oregonian]

* If you want to eat mor chikin but the thought of supporting Chick-fil-A’s stance on gay marriage is giving you indigestion, now you can eat your fill with the assistance of Ted Frank’s chicken offsets. [Huffington Post]

There is no better way to head into the weekend feeling good about yourself than with a little bit of schadenfreude.

To that end, we have a nice, swift benchslap to the pants from a federal court in California. Even more fun, the receiving attorneys work for a Biglaw firm.

Let’s check out one judge’s reaction to the latest in discovery shenanigans…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Benchslap of the Day: Why, I Oughta!”

* Landmark case alert. This just in from SCOTUS: the separation of church and state even applies to employment discrimination lawsuits. Say hello to the “ministerial exception.” [New York Times]

* Paul Ceglia was fined for ignoring a discovery order. He also has to reimburse Facebook for all of its related, Biglaw legal fees. Here’s looking forward to Ceglia’s bankruptcy filing. [Bloomberg]

* “[D]emand for lawyers is declining,” but we definitely need another law school in Texas. A federal judge quit his job to become the dean of the ten millionth law school in the state. [National Law Journal]

* Joran van der Sloot pleaded guilty to the murder of Stephany Flores yesterday, but we know what most Americans are thinking. WHERE’S THE JUSTICE FOR NATALEE HOLLOWAY?!!?!?!?!! [CNN]

* Proof that Casey Anthony isn’t mentally ill: she’s been thinking of kicking Jose Baez’s limelight-loving, camera-hogging ass to the curb. Time for Cheney Mason’s takeover. [New York Post]

* Lindsay Lohan is being sued for allegedly running over a paparazzo. But really, she should be sued for thinking she can play Elizabeth Taylor. Come on, that’s just not right. [Hollywood Reporter]

* LSAC might start auditing the LSAT scores and GPAs that law schools report to the ABA. Now, which agency is going to handle their too good to be true employment stats? [National Law Journal]

* Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab’s lawyer asked a judge to ban the word “bomb” from his trial. The judge denied it, because, well, he’s called the Underwear Bomber. Duh. [New York Daily News]

* “Don’t sanction me, bro!” Paul Ceglia’s lawyers are begging the court to pass on Gibson Dunn’s request for discovery sanctions after multiple delays. Like. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

* In a continuing battle over the market for slutty children’s dolls, Quinn Emanuel may have scored a big one for Barbie with this tentative ruling to toss MGA’s antitrust suit. [Washington Post]

* Apparently it’s unprofessional to put your colleagues on blast for allegedly having “sexual torture chambers” in their basements. Who knew? [Chicago Tribune]

* It’s also unprofessional to slap a man in the face during a deposition. And to think, this came after a confrontation about the impropriety of finger-pointing. [The State]

Ribs are delicious, but try not to eat your husband's.

* With about 90 vacancies in the federal court system, the Senate approved six for judgeships, including Judge John Roll’s replacement. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

* $400 per wasted hour? That’s not what you’re paying your lawyer. That’s what he’s paying in sanctions for futzing around during depositions. [Daily Business Review]

* Texas Roadhouse: old farts need not apply. Apparently qualifications for working at a chain restaurant now include being young, hot, and chipper. [Los Angeles Times]

* Friendly’s used to be the place where ice cream made the meal, but now it’s the place where ice cream makes you bankrupt. That’s just sad. [Bloomberg]

* Memo to file: the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, not yours. A former model is seeking parole after she chopped up, cooked, and ate her husband. [Daily Mail]

* Derrick Bell, law professor and racial advocate, RIP. [New York Times]

* Steve Jobs, creator of the iPhone, one of the most popular tools for lawyers, RIP. [Apple]

ALL YOUR DOCS ARE BELONG TO US.

Litigators at large law firms spend an inordinate (and depressing) amount of time on discovery disputes. They bombard poor magistrate judges with motions to compel. They bicker over deposition timing and location. They compile massive privilege logs. They file letter briefs with the court, explaining their entitlement to certain documents that opposing counsel is withholding, without justification.

Partners who work on such matters often say to their associates, “Find me a case in which a judge sanctioned a party for failure to comply with discovery obligations — preferably a case in which the non-compliance is exactly what opposing counsel is doing here, and ideally featuring soaring rhetoric about the importance of following discovery rules.” The associate spends several hours on Westlaw or Lexis, then returns empty-handed; there was nothing quite on-point. There was certainly no soaring rhetoric.

This shouldn’t be surprising. Do you think successful lawyers give up the practice of law in order to keep dealing with discovery-related headaches, for a fraction of what they earned in the private sector? Of course not. Federal district judges prefer to write published opinions about Sexy Constitutional Issues, leaving their magistrates to oversee the discovery playpen. In the rare discovery-related cases that do go up on appeal, federal circuit judges affirm as quickly and summarily as possible, so they can get back to the fun stuff. [FN1]

If you’re a Biglaw litigator searching for a published opinion addressing discovery issues, well, today is your lucky day. Check out this great opinion, just handed down — not by a mere magistrate or district judge, but by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit….

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