E.D.N.Y.

* The Kardashians are suing their father’s widow for allegedly trying to exploit his diary — because the Kardashians object to anything exploitative. [Courthouse News Service]

* Judge Edward Korman ruled that the FDA must stop requiring those under 17 years old to present a prescription for the morning after pill. MTV’s programming executives plan to appeal. [Huffington Post]

* Wow. A partner at Alston & Bird decided to take to Facebook to troll a solo practitioner. Because that’s not douchey at all. [Rowland Legal]

* Do litigators really need instruction not to scream at witnesses? [Roll on Friday]

* A school in Massachusetts privatized school lunches, and then that company told its workers to dump the food of students who were in default on their lunch tickets. America! F**k Yeah! [Lawyers, Guns and Money]

* Illegalities sums up the malaise of being a Biglaw associate with this reblog. [Illegalities]

* Target learns the value of editing after labeling plus-sized dresses with the word “Manatee.” [Forbes]

* After the jump, watch Elie discuss his take on Democrats just coming around to supporting gay rights. Maybe McKayla Maroney rubbed off on Elie during their interview, because in this segment, he’s not impressed….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Non-Sequiturs: 04.05.13″

Judge Frederic Block (E.D.N.Y.)

It’s hard out here for authors of judicial memoirs who are not named Sonia Sotomayor. Just ask Judge Frederic Block (E.D.N.Y.), a federal trial judge in Brooklyn since 1994 and the author of an appealing new book, Disrobed: An Inside Look at the Life and Work of a Federal Trial Judge (affiliate link). In Disrobed, Judge Block describes his surprising rise from small-town Long Island lawyer to Article III aristocracy, where he has presided over cases involving the Crown Heights riots, Kitty Genovese, mob boss Peter Gotti, and other headline-making subjects.

The book has received several favorable notices. Writing in the New York Times, Sam Roberts described Disrobed as an “engaging” book that provides “a rare look behind decision-making on the federal bench.” Over at Simple Justice, Scott Greenfield called the memoir a “well-written,” “easy and quick read,” by a “quite well-regarded” judge. I’ve read the book myself, and I concur with Roberts and Greenfield.

But even though the book has sold well, exceeding the expectations of its publisher, Thomson Reuters, Disrobed hasn’t attained the bestselling status of Justice Sotomayor’s My Beloved World (affiliate link). And this makes Judge Block a little sad, as he confessed to me when I recently visited him in chambers.

Especially because Judge Block came painfully close to what would have been a big, big break….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “An Afternoon With Judge Frederic Block, Author of ‘Disrobed’”

Imagine you’re in a negotiation to buy a used car. You use the Blue Book — the Kelley Blue Book, not the legal Bluebook — to set the starting point on the price. You do your research at home based on the blue book that’s online, which says the starting point for the car you want is $10,000.

Then, when you get to the used car dealer, you find out that they have a new blue book, one that just came out that day. It says that the starting point for the car you want is really $12,000.

You’d probably be annoyed, maybe angry. The whole starting point for your conversation about the price of the car changed.

Yet, the dealer could tell you, and you could still agree with him to pay any amount you’d like for the car. The starting point doesn’t necessarily set the ending point.

This was, basically, the situation the Supreme Court was called in to referee in this morning’s oral argument in Peugh v. United States….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Today at the Supreme Court: Moving The Starting Point”

* In the E.D.N.Y., Pitbull prevailed over lovable, legal loser Lindsay Lohan. Lohan’s knack for the epic legal fail carried over to her attorney, Stephanie Ovadia, who was fined $750 for plagiarism by Judge Denis Hurley. [Billboard]

* Charles Fried is pretty sure Senator Ted Cruz is crazy for saying there was only one Republican on the Harvard Law faculty. But the joke’s on Fried… no one considers a Reagan appointee a Republican anymore, you silly goose! [New Yorker]

* Here are some outtakes from Michelle Olsen’s coverage of the D.C. Circuit (the main event, if you will, was published here). Sadly, unlike some outtake reels, the D.C. panel did not address the problem of snow blindness in cats. [Appellate Daily]

* Brian Leiter and Paul Campos had a little dispute. This article sums it up and has some interesting thoughts on just how little law professors care now about their own teaching methods. Don’t read this if you’re averse to honesty. [The Faculty Lounge]

* Fisticuffs erupt over messing with the thermostat. This is an official warning to the other ATL editors if that office is too hot next week… [LegalJuice]

* The whole “publish or perish” racket is rough. Bill Araiza needs a hug. [PrawfsBlawg]

* The ideological center of the U.S. House of Representatives is Staten Island. Woe to the Republic. [New York Daily News]

Judge Wesley Brown will be 104 in June.

When I clerked on the Ninth Circuit years ago, one of the judges on the court at the time was extremely old — and didn’t seem very “with it.” His law clerks seemed to take on a large amount of responsibility. One of his clerks that year, a law school classmate of mine I’ll call “Mary,” would negotiate over the phone with Ninth Circuit judges over how particular cases should come out — a responsibility well beyond the legal research and opinion drafting done by most clerks.

On one occasion, a vote on whether to rehear a case en banc emanated not from the judge’s chambers account, but from Mary’s personal email account. Even more embarrassingly, it was written not on behalf of the judge or the chambers, but in the first person: “I vote YES to rehearing en banc.” A law school classmate of mine who was also clerking for the Ninth that year remarked, “I thought only judges did that. When did Mary get her presidential commission?”

Some of us jokingly referred to that chambers as Weekend at Judgie’s. What appeared to be going on over there reminded us of Justice Thurgood Marshall’s famous quip to his clerks: “If I die, prop me up and keep voting!”

We joked about this delegation of Article III authority to a newly minted law school graduate. But as Joseph Goldstein suggests, in a very interesting article just published by Slate and ProPublica, the issue of superannuated jurists is no laughing matter….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “What Is To Be Done About Super-Old Judges?”

Being a federal prosecutor is a great legal job, but it has its downsides. One of them, at least for me, was the anonymity. In your work as an assistant U.S. attorney, it’s not about you; it’s about the merits of the cases, and seeing that justice is done. That’s public-spirited and all, but it’s not very fabulous (at least not to a shameless attention-seeker like myself).

Given the relative anonymity of being an AUSA, it’s not normal for the New York Post to cover the hiring of any single one. But Tali Farhadian, who’s joining the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of New York (Brooklyn), isn’t your normal AUSA.

How many federal prosecutors are as brilliant, as beautiful, and as filthy rich as Farhadian? And how many are as controversial?

Let’s learn why this lush Persian beauty is so celebrated in some quarters, and so loathed in others. And see some photos, too…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Musical Chairs: A Brooklyn-Bound Beauty”

This must be the most profanity-laced piece of transcript since Aaron Wider’s deposition. It’s the transcript of the sentencing hearing before Judge Frederic Block (E.D.N.Y.) at which Assistant U.S. Attorney Carolyn Pokorny was attacked by the defendant, before the court reporter and defense counsel tackled the assailant.

The transcript was prepared by Ron Tolkin, the court reporter involved in the incident, from an audio recording. Even the heroic Mr. Tolkin can’t simultaneously (1) kick the a** of a kid decades his junior and (2) transcribe the proceedings for posterity.

Excerpts appear below. For the full transcript, see the link at the end of this post.

Victor Wright transcript Above the Law blog.jpg

UPDATE: Another choice excerpt, pointed out by several of you in the comments:

Victor Wright Ron Tolkin Carolyn Pokorny Eastern District New York ATL.jpg

To read the full transcript, click here (PDF). If you do, the “press it in” discussion might be confusing (and sound completely filthy). An E.D.N.Y. source clarifies:

["Pressing it in" refers] to the CSO, Marshalls and Deputy discussing how to activate the panic button. In the old E.D.N.Y. courthouse, you push in, but in the new one, you pull out.

Sentencing Hearing Transcript: United States v. Victor Wright (PDF)

Earlier: Lawyer of the Day: Harry Batchelder (And Court Reporter of the Day: Ron Tolkin)

The Empire State is sending all sorts of craziness our way lately. From the New York — no, not the Washington — Post:

A female federal prosecutor was viciously attacked by a hulking, razor-wielding drug dealer in a Brooklyn courtroom yesterday – and was saved when the thug’s 72-year-old lawyer and others tackled him.

“He was going to slash her throat,” said defense lawyer Harry Batchelder, who, along with a court reporter and two marshals, slammed Victor Wright, 27 [or 37?], to the ground and grabbed an inch-long razor blade from him.

Criminal defense lawyers are badass — even the septuagenarians. And don’t forget the court reporter:

“Why don’t you try me instead of her?” stenographer Ron Tolkin shouted at the cowardly criminal as he leaped on Wright, before the group fell to the ground in a heap.

Both the elderly lawyer and Tolkin, 60, are former military men who served in Vietnam.

And what about Judge Frederic Block (E.D.N.Y.) — what did he do? From Newsday:

Block immediately left the bench after the melee started, and more marshals rushed into the courtroom and helped subdue Wright, court officials said.

That’s too bad. This story would have been perfect with the addition of a black-robed avenger, whacking the criminal into submission with a gavel.

P.S. Despite our admiration for federal judges qua judges, if we needed to be defended against a knife-wielding lunatic, we’d go with a state court judge any day of the week. E.g., Judge Ira Robinson.

RAZOR MANIAC JUMPS FED PROSECUTOR IN COURT [New York Post]
Drug dealer attacks 2 in Brooklyn courtroom [New York Newsday]