* The Eighth Circuit axed a $900K jury award after a lawyer recounted her tale of sexual harassment by a law professor at Drake University Law during closing arguments. Well, that sucks, but we’d really love to know which professor this was. [ABA Journal]
* If flat is the new up, then mergers must be the new growth. The new year is upon us, and law firms are on track to either meet or break the merger record set in 2013. Thus far, 22 firms have announced mergers or acquisitions in 2014. [Washington Post]
* A lawyer in Minnesota who’s been in trouble with the bar quite a few times was recently charged with setting his girlfriend on fire. Yikes, someone’s way too excited about the Fargo mini-series. [Star-Tribune]
* Oscar Pistorius took the stand in his murder trial yesterday, revealing that when he killed his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, he was really trying to protect her. This case gives us the sads. [New York Times]
* Sorry we’re not sorry about the toupee: Paramount wants this Wolf of Wall Street suit dismissed since it’s undeniable the plaintiff was part of “bizarre travesty that was Stratton Oakmont.” [Hollywood Reporter]
In my near 14 years on the bench, this is the first time I can recall this happening.
– Judge Kermit Bye of the Eighth Circuit, in a scathing dissent issued after Missouri executed a death row inmate before the court could finish reviewing his request for a stay. On Wednesday, Missouri executed another death row inmate, this time before the Supreme Court ruled on his request for a stay. The state has executed three inmates in as many months, all while appeals were still pending.
* On this episode of Supreme Court Retirement Watch, we learn that for whatever reason, Justice Breyer is “having the time of his life,” and so once again, all eyes are upon Justice Ginsburg. Maybe in 2015, folks. [The Hill]
* How unusual that a federal judge would see a confirmation in less than three months. If only Chuck Grassley owed favors to all of the nominees. Congratulations to Jane Kelly, now of the Eighth Circuit. [Legal Times]
* Thanks to an unprecedented ruling from Judge Dolly Gee, mentally disabled immigrants facing deportation will receive government-paid legal representation. New law school clinics, assemble! [New York Times]
* “Among the things the ABA is working on, this may be the most important.” Too bad the Task Force on the Future of Education seems to suffer from too many cooks in kitchen. [National Law Journal]
* Another one bites the dust: Team Strauss/Anziska’s lawsuit against Brooklyn Law School over its allegedly phony employment statistics has been dismissed. Sad trombone. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]
* Justin Teixeira, one of the Berkeley law students accused in the Las Vegas bird beheading, waived an evidentiary hearing so the media couldn’t squawk about video images they’d see. [Crimesider / CBS News]
The Eighth Circuit recently backed a Missouri High School in a bullying case against students. Lee’s Summit North High School suspended two boys who created a website to “discuss, satirize, and vent” about their classmates. Apparently the website made sexist and racist comments about some of the other students.
Ooohh. I am shocked, SHOCKED to find out that schoolboys make sexist and racist comments about their classmates.
The boys had filed for a preliminary injunction that would stay their 180-day suspension, which was granted by a lower court. But the Eighth Circuit denied the injunction on the grounds that the boys’ website was unlikely to be viewed as protected speech. That’s because their speech caused a “substantial disruption” to the educational environment at the school.
What was the nature of the disruption? Apparently two teachers described the day that the website went viral within the school as the “most disruptive day they had experienced in their careers.”
So, for those playing along at home, your right to protected speech ends approximately at the point that public school teachers can’t establish classroom order over a cacophony of “OMG, did U C this” texts, or something….
* Good news, everyone! According to Citi’s Managing Partner Confidence Index survey, firm leaders are feeling pessimistic about their business due to an overall lack of confidence in the economy. [Am Law Daily]
* Per the Ninth Circuit, an Idaho statute that essentially criminalizes medication-induced abortions imposes an undue burden on a woman’s ability to terminate her pregnancy. Really? You don’t say. [Bloomberg]
* Kiwi Camara’s circuitous route to SCOTUS: thanks to the Eighth Circuit, Jammie Thomas-Rasset started and ended her journey with $222K damages for copyright infringement. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]
* Was Barack Obama ever offered a tenured position on the faculty at University of Chicago Law School? Absolutely not, says longtime law professor Richard Epstein — and he was never a “constitutional law professor” either. [Daily Caller]
* “Fashion law is a real career choice,” says Gibson Dunn partner Lois Herzeca. This niche practice area is one of the hottest new trends in the fashion world, and it’s not likely to go out of style any time soon. [Reuters]
* Your clawback suit is a wonderland? John Mayer was named as a defendant in a suit filed by trustees seeking to recover money paid out by Ponzi schemer Darren Berg. [Bankruptcy Beat / Wall Street Journal]
* J. Christopher Stevens, UC Hastings Law grad and U.S. Ambassador to Libya, RIP. [CNN]
* You don’t necessarily have to agree with what Chief Justice John Roberts did with respect to his health care opinion, but you’ve got to admit that it was an act of statesmanship that will forever define his legacy on the Court. [New York Times]
* CNN, one of the world’s most reliable news networks, reports that no many legal scholars were surprised unsurprised by yesterday’s Supreme Court decision to strike down uphold the Individual Broccoli Mandate Affordable Care Act. [CNN]
* Word to the wise: don’t get cocky over in the Eighth Circuit, because apparently boosting the length of a prison term based on whether or not a defendant is smiling at sentencing is not considered an abuse of discretion. [National Law Journal]
* Dewey know why the number of law firm mergers and acquisitions in the United States dropped during the second quarter? Truth be told, they’re all scared, because “[n]obody wants to wind up with a lemon.” [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]
* George Zimmerman, the man charged in Trayvon Martin’s death, is returning to court today to try to get himself released on bond… again. Let’s give him some credit, because he sure is tenacious. [ABC News]
* Listen, it’s not an easy thing to perform an exorcism these days. Sometimes a priest really just needs to kiss and caress the demon out of your body — a sexorcism, if you will. Nothing to sue over, nothing at all. [MSNBC]
Conservative law professors need help. They don’t want to admit it because conservative orthodoxy holds that the only people who can ask for help in this country are small businessmen and the institution of marriage, but make no mistake, conservatives who want to get a tenure-track job in legal academia need a leg up. That’s because they’ve been discriminated against, both currently and historically. Law school faculties are thought to be a bastion of liberalism, and the problem has gotten so bad that conservative law profs probably need a “plus-factor” in order to overcome this ingrained systemic bias.
Diversity is important in law schools, and if we’re going to have an intellectually diverse faculty, we need to find a way to integrate more conservatives into teaching positions, even if that means a qualified, liberal law professor loses his or her “spot” on the tenure track for a colleague that leans a little harder to the right.
I’d be all for that. But conservatives can’t admit that they made need a diversity program to combat generations of systemic selection bias. So instead, they’re just going to bitch about the fundamental unfairness. Or fire off employment discrimination lawsuits….
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