Federal Judges

Back in 2010, we presented our readers with one of life’s great unanswered questions: is cheerleading a sport?

This important question was asked of Judge Stefan R. Underhill of Connecticut, when the women’s volleyball team of Quinnipiac University sued in an effort to stop the school from dissolving the team, alleging Title IX violations. Quinnipiac claimed that it made up the loss of the volleyball team with opportunities in other sports, including more than two dozen positions on the school’s cheerleading team.

But much to the chagrin of cheer moms everywhere (yes, that’s a thing, and soon there will even be a reality TV show about them), Judge Underhill ruled that cheerleading is an activity, and not a sport.

But did you think that cheerleaders — and their university funders — would just give up the fight? Think again, because they pledged to fight, fight, fight with all their might, all the way up to the Second Circuit.

What news does the Second Circuit have for us on this issue today?

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As we mentioned yesterday in Morning Docket, Judge Marcia Gail Cooke (S.D. Fla.) recently issued an omnibus order on multiple motions for sanctions in the high-profile case of Coquina Investments v. TD Bank. The plaintiff, Coquina Investments, moved for sanctions related to various alleged discovery violations.

At a contempt hearing held back in May, Judge Cooke heard testimony from employees of TD Bank and current and former lawyers from Greenberg Traurig, which previously represented the bank. She took the matter under advisement — but not before saying things like, “It is hard for me to describe in words the difficulty throughout this trial related to documents and discovery.”

Now Her Honor has ruled. What did she decide?

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Scalia to Posner: You're not the boss of me!

Over the years, Judge Richard Posner (7th Cir.) has sent a number of his clerks to the chambers of Justice Antonin Scalia. Query whether Judge Posner’s record as a feeder judge to Justice Scalia will be impaired by the recent sniping between them (or by Judge Posner’s ideological drift; as he recently told NPR, he has grown less conservative “since the Republican Party started becoming goofy”).

Last month, Judge Posner expressed misgivings over Justice Scalia’s impassioned dissent in Arizona v. United States, a high-profile case about immigration. Judge Posner questioned the “famously outspoken” justice’s decision to include complaints about illegal immigrants in his dissent, suggesting that such discussion might be more appropriate for a campaign ad than a judicial opinion.

In a recent interview, Justice Scalia benchslapped back — hard. What did he have to say?

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There are wiser career moves than suing the U.S. Marshals.

Do you remember Benula Bensam? You probably don’t. She was the student at Cardozo Law School who spent part of her summer watching the Rajat Gupta trial. She was reprimanded for sending notes to Judge Jed Rakoff (S.D.N.Y.), including some that questioned Rakoff’s rulings. Such behavior could be seen as an attempt to improperly influence a judge, and so Rakoff had the U.S. Marshals bring her before him, and he told her to cut it out.

Yeah, you remember her now. It was a humorous story about a law student who was maybe a little bit overzealous.

But now Bensam is taking things to the next level. Instead of quietly learning her lesson and getting ready for next semester, the Cardozo student has decided to sue a whole slew of people. She claims that U.S. Marshals didn’t return her cell phone — before they returned her cell phone — and so she’s suing the Marshals, courthouse security, the U.S. Attorney for the S.D.N.Y., and several other defendants. In the process of suing, she’s also revealing how she had what I’d call a bit of a nutty outside the courthouse.

This complaint is just going to do wonders for her Google footprint….

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Last summer, the Thomas M. Cooley Law School was hit with a class action lawsuit over the school’s allegedly deceptive post-graduate employment data. The case was filed by plaintiffs’ lawyers Jesse Strauss and David Anziska. In October 2011, Cooley Law filed a motion to dismiss that claim, adopting a “blame the ABA” theory in defense of its employment statistics.

On June 5, lawyers ventured to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan to argue the merits of the case. Although Judge Gordon Quist sided with the Cooley grads on several issues, he noted that they faced an “uphill battle” on some of their other allegations. And now, before hordes of Cooley graduates sit down to take the bar examination, we’ve got news on whether the class action suit survived that motion.

What result? The class action lawsuit filed by Team Strauss/Anziska against Cooley Law over its allegedly deceptive employment statistics has been dismissed….

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D&L's former partner settlement.

* Our thoughts and prayers go out to the people of Aurora, Colorado. [CNN]

* Dewey know why the deadline for agreeing to a proposed $103.6M settlement for former D&L partners has been pushed back? It looks like these people are still unhappy with the very thought of parting with their money. [Am Law Daily]

* Four judicial nominees were approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee to fill federal district court positions in California, New York, and Pennsylvania. Now it’s time to hurry up and wait for a final vote on the Senate floor. [National Law Journal]

* “This is a garden variety sex harassment case.” That may be true, but when you’re dealing with a high-profile venture capital firm, and the plaintiff is an ex-Biglaw associate, you’re probably going to get some really bad press. [Washington Post]

* Opening statements in Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s racial discrimination trial were heard yesterday. Even “America’s Toughest Sheriff” might cower in light of plaintiff representation by Covington & Burling and the ACLU. [CNN]

* Washburn University School of Law is planning to build a new facility for $40M. Unfortunately, the school will never be able to amass the funds needed to kill all the gunners, but we can still dream. [Kansas City Star]

* Bankruptcy blues: “No one is getting a free pass.” Howrey going to start clawing back all of that money from our former partners and their new firms? Dewey even want to get started with this failed firm’s D&L defectors? [Am Law Daily (sub. req.)]

* Way to show that you’ve got some Seoul: Ropes & Gray, Sheppard Mullin, and Clifford Chance were the first Biglaw firms to receive approval from the Korean Ministry of Justice to open the first foreign firm offices in South Korea. [Legal Week]

* This is supposed to represent an improvement? Pretty disappointing. The percentage of women holding state court judgeships increased by a whopping 0.7 percent over last year’s numbers. [National Law Journal]

* Throw your birth control pills in the air like confetti, because a judge tossed a lawsuit filed by seven states that tried to block the Affordable Care Act’s mandatory contraception coverage provision. [Lincoln Journal Star]

* “[S]omewhere along the way the guy forgot to tell the seller that he was working with the buyer.” Duane Morris was sued for negligence and breach of fiduciary duty for more than $192M. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

* Please don’t Google me, bitches. Brandon Hamilton, Louisville Law’s ex-assistant dean for admissions, resigned Monday after overpromising $2.4M in scholarship money to incoming law students. [Courier-Journal]

* A New Hampshire college is offering free tuition to students in their junior year if they combine their senior year with their first year at the Massachusetts School of Law. The catch? Mass Law is unaccredited. [NHPR]

Last month, we reported on the continued unraveling of the Law Clerk Hiring Plan (hereinafter “the Plan”). We cited, as evidence, the recent announcement by Georgetown University Law Center that it would be diverging in certain respects from the Plan.

Now another top law school — a top, top law school, one that sends many of its graduates into clerkships — has joined Georgetown in departing from the Plan. And the school’s dean has offered a full-throated defense of the decision to diverge.

Which school are we talking about? And is its argument persuasive?

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Big Bay Boom

* What kind of a Dewey pun will be used later today when we discuss this global “clawback” deal for former D&L partners? I dunno, but “Dewey know how f**ked we are?” seems rather appropriate at this point. [Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)]

* Judge Lucy Koh recused herself from a Facebook privacy lawsuit without providing a reason for doing so. Given that a petition to impeach her popped up online, she probably doesn’t want to piss off any other tech companies right now. [Reuters]

* Mississippi: a state where legislators want to protect women from unscrupulous abortion practitioners their own choices about their bodies. A judge has extended a temporary order to allow the state’s only abortion clinic to remain open. [CNN]

* Good news, everyone! Median starting salaries for recent law school graduates are no longer in the six-figure range due to an “erosion in Biglaw jobs.” Still think you’re going to make big bucks? [ABA Journal]

* A San Diego, California fireworks fiasco that lasted all of 15 seconds yielded not only a bunch of fabulously entertaining YouTube videos, but also great lawsuit fodder for environmental groups. [National Law Journal]

* Note to unemployed law school graduates in New Jersey: selling black-market kidneys isn’t a half-bad career choice, because if you get caught, you’ll likely only be sentenced to 30 months in prison. [Bloomberg]

Over the past few days, we’ve received numerous emails from our readers asking about the fate of the Clerkship Scramble. This website, a popular read among the clerkship-crazed (we count ourselves in this camp), went offline sometime last week, on or about July 4. If you go to its former address, you’ll encounter this message: “Sorry, the blog at clerkshipscramble.blogspot.com has been removed. This address is not available for new blogs.” The site archives are gone, and they don’t seem to be available via Google Cache either (at least not on a comprehensive basis).

The Clerkship Scramble has been gone for just about a week, and readers already miss it. Fans have described it to us as “very useful,” “a promising site that filled a much-needed information gap,” “the best unofficial resource for law students applying to clerkships,” and “so good!” The site maintained data about clerkship placement rates by law school, compiled rankings of Supreme Court feeder judges, offered advice about the application process, and broke clerkship-related news (such as Georgetown Law’s decision to abandon the Law Clerk Hiring Plan).

So what happened to the Clerkship Scramble?

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