Fifth Circuit

Several organizations filed a Complaint of Judicial Misconduct against Fifth Circuit Judge Edith Jones earlier this week. The complaint charges Judge Jones with a variety of offenses, but the headline-getter is the claim that she made racist remarks during her speech on February 20, 2013, hosted by the University of Pennsylvania’s chapter of the Federalist Society.

With no transcript or recording of the event, the 12-page complaint relies on the affidavits of a few individuals who attended the speech, including Marc Bookman, the Director of the Atlantic Center for Capital Representation. Bookman’s affidavit serves as the primary account, with the other affiants agreeing and adding relatively few details. About a week before the Penn Fed Soc speech, Bookman published an essay in Mother Jones titled “How Crazy Is Too Crazy to Be Executed?”, about Texas murderer Andre Thomas. Whether Bookman intended ahead of time to use his account of the Fed Soc event as the basis of a misconduct complaint or not, he was likely expecting to be offended when he attended a Federalist Society speech called “Federal Death Penalty Review” by a pro-death-penalty, Texas-based judge. Just a guess….

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A gal from the Garden State.

* Meow! An ethics complaint has been filed against Judge Edith Jones, the judicial diva herself, over insensitive comments about race and the death penalty that she made at Penn Law. [San Antonio Express-News]

* In the pissing contest over judicial confirmations, it’s fair to say that Obama’s recent nominees to the D.C. Circuit won’t receive a hearing, much less be confirmed, any time soon. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]

* Nobody likes patent trolls, not even the president. Obama went on the offensive yesterday, promising to curb unwarranted intellectual property litigation filed by pesky profiteers. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

* Speaking of patents, there’s a new exchange being formed for public trading rights. Please welcome the Intellectual Property Exchange International, the first exchange platform of its kind. IP: so hot right now. [DealBook / New York Times]

* After a review of evidence that Colorado movie theater shooting suspect James Holmes was whacked out of his mind at the time of the shooting, he was allowed to enter an insanity plea. [Bloomberg]

* The judge in the Oscar Pistorius case has adjourned the track star’s legal proceedings until August on account of a “trial by media.” We’ll probably continue to speculate about it until then. [New York Times]

* A woman is suing because she got her ass kicked by a gang of hookers at a Florida hotel. She claims the prostitutes thought she was infringing on their territory. Nope — she’s just a Jersey girl. [Fox News]

Ed. note: This is the first installment of Righteous Indignation, one of Above the Law’s new columns for conservative-minded lawyers.

In this new column, I’ll occasionally be weighing in on legal issues from a conservative, right-of-center political perspective. My aim for my contributions is to balance the liberal heft that regularly gets thrown around on the pages of Above the Law. (That’s got to be a metaphorical scale we’re using to do the balancing, if Elie’s on one end and I’m on the other.)

Where am I coming from that I might alter the usual ATL ideological balance?

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The Colonel says ‘leave me out of this.’

We now have judicial notice that making jokes about the president and fried chicken is probably racist.

Granted, “all these years, I thought I liked chicken because it was delicious.” But living up north, it’s pretty well-established that suggesting black people have a predisposition for eating chicken is prima facie racist and likely to start a fight. That’s not because I’m “sensitive” or “playing the race card.” It’s because generalizing about the foods black people eat has been used as a tool for racial stigmatization for a long time in this country.

That history somehow escaped Judge Lynn Hughes.

We’ve written about Hughes before. He’s a guy who can throw a benchslap. He’s also a guy who has been described as “[u]nquestionably the single worst judge in the Southern District of Texas” on The Robing Room (where lawyers can post anonymously about judges).

But one of his flippant remarks to an African-American plaintiff drew the ire of the Fifth Circuit, even as they were affirming his ultimate result.

You know that you have strayed a little too far from the flock when the Fifth Circuit (Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi) is schooling you on racial sensitivity….

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* The Fifth Circuit upheld a federal law banning gun sales to people under 21 years old. Oh! The humanity! What will the nation’s teenagers do without booze or their own guns? [WSJ Law Blog]

* A New York cop is charged with planning to kidnap, cook, and eat 100 women. Gross. I wonder if this will tarnish the NYPD’s sterling reputation. [Daily Intel / New York Magazine]

* Scratching your nuts in public is gross, but it’s not the same as, uh, some other grosser, more illegal activities. It would behoove this woman to learn to recognize the difference. [Legal Juice]

* Should wearing “personality” glasses count against a criminal defendant? I dunno, but as a guy who has to wear glasses I find it bizarre that people choose to wear them as fashion accessories. Might as well wear a useless prosthetic arm too; I hear they’re the next hip trend. [Legal Blog Watch]

* Another intra-family lawsuit: Geoffrey Richards, who teaches at Northwestern Law School, has been sued by his 95-year-old grandfather over a family financial dispute. The grandfather is also calling Richards a “scoundrel” and the “greatest disappointment” in his life. Ouch. [DealBreaker]

* President Obama has endorsed several same-sex marriage ballot proposals. Nice work, Barry. [BuzzFeed]

* Insights and advice for people interested in fashion law (from Ron Coleman and others). [Likelihood of Confusion]

* Chief Judge Edith Jones of the Fifth Circuit, the judicial diva herself, will be stepping down from her role at the head of the bench earlier than expected, due to “family issues.” Perhaps she told someone to “shut up” too many times? [Tex Parte Blog]

* Apple asked U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh to deny Samsung’s request that she bar all further communication with trial jurors, because the company claims it wants “equal access to information” (aka jury foreman Velvin Hogan). [Bloomberg]

* “[T]here’s no way to preserve the definition of marriage [as one man and one woman] other than by preserving the definition. It becomes somewhat circular.” That, and you rely on law from 1885. Argh! [BuzzFeed]

* ASU Law wants to move from Tempe to Phoenix, and to make it financially feasible, the school may increase enrollment and raise tuition. Sound like a good idea, prospective law students cash cows? [Arizona Republic]

* Now compare/contrast: Stanford Law had to dip into its coffers to come up with the cash to cover its financial aid promises this year, but the school isn’t cutting out a dime that’s owed to students. [National Law Journal]

* Massachusetts appealed the Michelle Kosilek sex-change ruling. The state claims it provided “adequate medical care,” but it’s questionable whether that was the case if the prisoner tried to castrate herself. [CNN]

* Tully Rinckey, a midsize firm, is planning to open an office in Buffalo, New York, so it sent out recruitment letters to 5,469 attorneys in the region. Unemployed law grads: open the letter, it’s not a bill! [Buffalo News]

Coming soon: Chadbourne & Parke!

* It seems that the good people at Chadbourne & Parke won’t wind up homeless after all — or maybe they will. The firm is taking over Dewey’s old digs at 1301 Avenue of the Americas. How ominous! [Reuters]

* The Fifth Circuit gave Texas a stay on a decision that blocked enforcement of the state’s third-party voter registration law. Well, on the bright side, at least the Lone Star state isn’t getting its ass completely kicked in the courts this election season. [Bloomberg]

* While Jerry Sandusky awaits his sentencing on 45 counts of child sexual abuse, his attorney Joe Amendola is contemplating grounds for an appeal. Seriously? It seems to be time for yet another 1-800-REALITY check, my friend. [Centre Daily Times]

* Remember the Texas family law judge who got caught beating his daughter in a viral video? An ethics panel issued him a “public warning” as punishment — he didn’t even get a reprimand. Sigh. [Houston Chronicle]

* The DOJ has asked for permission to intervene in a class-action suit against LSAC that alleges an epic fail on organization’s part when it comes to accommodating LSAT exam takers with disabilities. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Bucky Askew, a former adviser to the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, has moved on to bigger and better things. He’s now a trustee of the National Conference of Bar Examiners. [ABA Journal]

Yep, you read that correctly. A vampire high priest, who just so happens to be an inmate serving a life sentence in Texas, has lost a civil rights case on appeal to the Fifth Circuit. Apparently prison officials weren’t allowing him to perform the ritualistic rites involved in the practice of his vampiric religion.

If this had happened on an episode of True Blood, you can bet your ass that this sh*t would not stand in Bon Temps….

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Not the alleged hot-dog hooker.

* While Dewey’s former culture gets roasted on a spit, and the seemingly unending drama gets turned into a montage of living lawyer jokes, we’re still waiting for the final punchline. [New York Times; Wall Street Journal]

* Don Verrilli tried so hard, and got so far (depending on who you ask), but in the end, it doesn’t even matter. When Linkin Park lyrics apply to your oral argument skills, you know you’re kind of screwed. [New York Times]

* The 9/11 arraignments went off without a hitch this weekend. And by that, we mean that it was a 13 hour hearing filled multiple interruptions, and grandstanding about “appropriate” courtroom fashion. [Fox News]

* In a “re-re-reversal,” Judge Jerry Smith, on a three-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit, reinstated Planned Parenthood’s injunction against Texas without even so much as a homework assignment. [Dallas Observer]

* The It Gets Worse Project: if you thought that the Law School Transparency debt figures were scary before, then take a look at them now. Six figures of debt just got a lot harder to swallow. [National Law Journal]

* Scalia gets busted on a case of hot-dog hooking. No, not that Scalia. A woman from Long Island has been accused, for the second time, of selling swallowing foot-longs in the back of her food truck. [New York Post]

Judge Jerry Smith

Above the Law readers weren’t particularly fond of Judge Jerry E. Smith’s “homework assignment” for the U.S. Department of Justice. In a reader poll, about two-thirds of you expressed disapproval of the Fifth Circuit ordering the DOJ to submit a three-page letter discussing judicial review. (The order came in the wake of, and in apparent response to, unfortunate comments on the subject by President Obama.)

But let’s say that you’re among the one-third of readers who view Judge Smith as courageous for calling out a former Con Law professor for making misleading statements about judicial review (statements that, in fairness to the president, he subsequently clarified). Let’s say that you’d like nothing better than to clerk on the Fifth Circuit for Judge Smith.

Well, aspiring law clerks to Judge Smith, there’s something you should know….

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