Federal Judges

Abraham Lincoln told a story about a lawyer who tried to establish that a calf had five legs by calling its tail a leg. But the calf had only four legs, Lincoln observed, because calling a tail a leg does not make it so…. Heeding Lincoln’s wisdom, and the requirements of the Copyright Act, we conclude that merely calling someone a copyright owner does not make it so.

– Judge Richard Clifton, writing for a unanimous panel of the Ninth Circuit in Righthaven LLC v. Hoehn.

(Additional commentary about this interesting case, after the jump.)

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More trustworthy than any SCOTUS justice.

I suppose that’s a rhetorical question. When you live in a nation that’s been reduced to an army of mindless reality-TV-watching drones, it’s not exactly surprising that the average citizen is more inclined to trust a television judge than a jurist who’s been appointed to the highest court in the land.

We care more about the matching camouflage wedding couture Honey Boo Boo’s parents, Mama June and Sugar Bear, wore when they tied the knot this past weekend than the next round of controversial decisions that will be soon be handed down by the Supreme Court. We care more about the Kimye baby bump than the very existence of the Supreme Court, much less the names of the justices sitting on its esteemed bench.

No one who’s been paying any attention is taken aback by the fact that Americans care more about the people they see on television on a daily basis than names they once read in a textbook. That’s why the results of the latest Reader’s Digest Trust Poll as to this country’s judges are expected, and sad, and not at all surprising….

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Casey Anthony

* “Is there a public interest in unwanted pregnancies … that can often result in abortions?” The judge who ordered that Plan B be made available to all women regardless of age is pissed at the DOJ. [The Caucus / New York Times]

* Mary Jo White, the littlest litigatrix, will “review” the Securities and Exchange Commission’s policy of allowing financial firms to settle civil suits without affirming or denying culpability, but for now, she’s defending it. [Reuters]

* Dewey know what this failed firm is supposed to pay its advisers for work done during the first nine months of its bankruptcy proceedings? We certainly do, and it’s quite the pretty penny. [Am Law Daily]

* In a round of musical chairs that started at Weil Gotshal, Cadwalader just lost the co-chairs of its bankruptcy practice and another bankruptcy partner to O’Melveny. [DealBook / New York Times]

* Another day, another law school comparison website. Take a look at Law Jobs: By the Numbers, which includes a formula from the laughable National Jurist rankings system. [National Law Journal]

* In a move that shocked absolutely no one, attorneys for Colorado movie theater shooting suspect James Holmes announced they will enter a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity for their client. [CNN]

* From the “hindsight is 20/20″ file: the judge who presided over the Casey Anthony trial thinks there was enough evidence to convict the ex-MILF. He also likened Jose Baez to a used car salesman. [AP]

* Check out Logan Beirne’s book (affiliate link). Even when sensationalizing George Washington’s rise from general to president, attention must be paid to the rule of law. [Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)]

When an opinion opens with a quote from The Wrath of Khan, something is about to happen.

What followed was a straightforward benchslap littered with Star Trek references. More than a little fitting that an opinion about allegedly illegal porn downloads would focus on the pop culture universe most closely associated with 40-year-old virgins.

It’s not the cohesive, brilliant opinion about strip clubs that we recently got out of Judge Fred Biery. Instead, the opinion draws wry smiles for laying out nothing but a string of references to Star Trek seemingly designed just to prove to his fellow nerds that the Judge knows Star Trek.

Which, in a sense, makes this opinion the most “Star Trek” thing ever…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Prenda Boldly Benchslapped Where No One Has Gone Before”

A minor scandal is brewing in Las Vegas. In a city known for its impeccable ethics and strictly above-board dealings, the legal community is astir over suggestions that a nominee to the federal bench earned her nomination by engineering a windfall for her political sponsor, Senator Harry Reid, with conveniently-timed donations from her law partners.

At what point does sucking up to politicians cross into the appearance of impropriety for prospective federal judges, and how much should the rest of us care?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The High Price of the Federal Bench”

* There’s been a changing of the guard at Sidley Austin. Carter Phillips, one of our nation’s preeminent appellate advocates, is now the sole chair of the firm’s executive committee after a one-year stint as co-chair. Congrats! [The Recorder]

* You should really try to make the most of your summers during law school, even after your first year. Because duh, in case you weren’t aware, it’ll probably help you to get a job later on. [Law Admissions Lowdown / U.S. News & World Report]

* It looks like the trolls attorneys behind Prenda Law got benchslapped in the worst of ways — complete with a multitude of Star Trek references. We’ll likely have more on this later today. [Ars Technica]

* The California Supreme Court just ruined everyone’s high, because it ruled that cities and counties can ban medical marijuana dispensaries. Smoke ‘em while you’ve got ‘em, stoners. [Associated Press]

* Justin Bieber is being sued for copyright infringement, along with his musical mentor, Usher. Tween girl mob: ASSEMBLE! Defend your pop idol’s honor; after all, he just needed somebody to love. [Reuters]

* The Obama administration asked the Supreme Court to wade into the constitutional contretemps of recess appointments, but if the high court refuses to take up the case, it may be back to the drawing board for the NLRB. [National Law Journal]

* The Am Law 100 law firm rankings are out, and it looks like there’s a new leader of the pack in terms of gross revenue. But which firm could it be? Not Skadden or Baker & McKenzie. We’ll likely have coverage on this later. [American Lawyer]

* Apparently the FBI wanted to continue questioning Dzhokhar Tsarnaev under Miranda’s public-safety exception, but a judge read the accused bomber his rights anyway. [Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)]

* “This case is over. Someone should put it out of its misery.” Be that as it may, New York’s attorney general is desperate to get AIG’s Maurice Greenberg on the stand at trial. [DealBook / New York Times]

* “I have had it with these motherf**king snakes in my motherf**king files!” This spring, clerks in this old Mississippi courthouse are finding more and more snakes filed under “Ssssssss.” [Associated Press]

Party on, Justice Breyer.

* 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]

Sequestration has government lawyers going on mandatory furloughs and facing ethical dilemmas. But the federal bench has cause to bust out the bubbly.

On Monday, the Supreme Court took a pass on an appeal from the Federal Circuit that ordered the government to pay cost-of-living adjustments to six federal judges that the feds routinely stiffed over the last 20 years or so.

Sure, right now this only applies to the six judges who sued, but it’s only a matter of time before a huge swath of the federal judiciary takes the government to court.

How big of a pay day are we looking at?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Mandatory Budget Cuts? Not For Federal Judges!”

* Federal judges are going to keep getting their cost of living raises. Sequestration be damned! [CBS DC]

* Florida passes “anti-Sharia law” law. Accidentally outlaws Jewish divorce instead. [Gawker]

* Why are people so stupid? Legal threat based on the name of a blog. Not the actual content, just the name. In a related note, we’d like to let everyone know that if we write about you, you are not, in fact, “above the law.” [Popehat]

* This is curious. Convicted of stealing $1 million dollars and walking away without jail time. And no written opinion to explain it. Moral of the story? Commit your crimes in Judge Carney’s court. [Navelgazing / OC Weekly]

* You’ve got to move fast if you want to take the profit off a disaster. Best part? A tipster says the explosion pictured isn’t even of the fertilizer plant explosion. [Baron & Budd]

* Newsmax videoed an interview with Logan Beirne, author of Blood of Tyrants: George Washington & the Forging of the Presidency (affiliate link). Apparently, George Washington was a badass. No kidding. [Newsmax]

* Well you must have expected something like this. Michael Shannon delivers a dramatic reading of the sorority girl’s memorable cease and desist letter….

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