Freedom of Information Act

‘Go pound sand, POTUS.’

Is it the law that the state of Virginia cannot do anything that’s pointless? Only the federal government can do stuff that’s pointless?

– Justice Antonin Scalia, commenting during oral arguments in McBurney v. Young on a Virginia FOIA law that favors requests from state residents.

‘I never look at those rankings.’

* Hey, “regular students” with “regular backgrounds,” you may be able to get a job as a SCOTUS clerk, because Justice Clarence Thomas is the Supreme Court’s honey badger in that he doesn’t give a sh*t about rankings. [Seattle Post-Intelligencer]

* Because $1.05 bill wasn’t quite enough, Apple is asking for additional damages in its patent war lawsuit against Samsung. Ohh, come on, Judge Koh, it’s just an extra $535 million. Everyone else is doing it, come on. Just give us the money. [Bloomberg]

* The D.C. Circuit suit about White House visitor logs is kind of like a recurring issue we see with law schools, in that transparency here means “[w]e will disclose what records we want you to see.” [National Law Journal]

* Skadden is teaming up with local legal aid groups to start a pro bono initiative in D.C. We hear they’ll be handing out gift cards as a show of appreciation to those who sign up. [Capital Business / Washington Post]

* Sumner Redstone recently donated $18M to BU Law. Will his successor be as charitable? From Columbia Law to Shearman & Sterling to media mogul: meet Philippe Dauman, CEO of Viacom. [New York Times]

* “The employment statistics really are the collective impact of individual choices.” And one of them was attending law school anyway, despite all of the negative media attention they’ve received. [Cincinnati Enquirer]

* Remember the Harvard Law student who ran for Student Government President and pledged to resign after rewriting the organization’s constitution? Well, he graduated, but at least he got a draft in. [Harvard Crimson]

Way back in 2008, I noted with skepticism the University of Michigan’s “Wolverine Scholars” Program. I wasn’t the only one. The initiative allowed Michigan undergraduates with very high GPAs to get into Michigan Law without having to take the LSAT.

The program seemed like a pretty obvious attempt to game the U.S. News rankings. It’s so obvious that the now disgraced former Dean of Admissions for Illinois Law, Paul Pless, who had a similar program at his school, had this to say about it:

I started a new program for U of I undergrads to apply in their junior year and we don’t require the LSAT. We have additional essays and an interview instead. That way, I can trap about 20 of the little bastards with high GPA’s that count and no LSAT score to count against my median. It is quite ingenious.

Pless was talking about Illinois’s iLeap program, which was substantially similar to the Wolverine Scholars program at Michigan.

The Pless quote came out earlier this month, as the admissions director was being ushered under the bus by Illinois Law as the “lone gunman” for its embarrassing admissions scandal.

With the spotlight on a Big Ten school that manipulated admissions statistics for years, Michigan very quietly canceled its Wolverine Scholar Program.

There’s been much less fanfare about the end of the program than there was about its start. In fact, we obtained FOIA documents that contain various emails from Michigan Law Dean Evan Caminker and Dean of Admissions Sarah Zearfoss.

They talk about the program, and the how “the blogs” are covering it….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Life and Death of the Michigan ‘Wolverine Scholars’ Program”


* We expected this would happen. The Osama Bin Laden death photos have been FOIA’d. [The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times]

* Some Biglaw firms are freezing associate pay? Blimey! [Roll On Friday]

* What is Monica Goodling — now known as Monica Krempasky, since her 2008 marriage to RedState founder Michael Krempasky — up to these days? (Hint: three disobedient dogs may have “a Monica problem.”) [TPM Muckraker]

* Forget about peep-toe shoes. What do we think of hats, lady lawyers? [The Careerist]

* Sam Glover asks: “Can mentoring be replaced by blogs and social networks?” [Lawyerist]

* Today is Friday the 13th. We’re so glad this week is over — and it seems that we’re not alone. [What About Clients?]

* Good news for jobless 3Ls: you can now avail yourself of JD Match, the new career service founded by law-firm consultant and blogger Bruce MacEwen (previously mentioned here). [Adam Smith, Esq.]

Where's the BLOOD?

Everybody has an opinion on whether or not the Obama administration should release kill shots of Osama bin Laden. It’s a tough question. And there are intelligent ways to disagree with the president’s opinion (see Jon Stewart’s impassioned plea). Or you could just call the president a pussy accuse the president of “pussyfooting” on Twitter, because that shows real leadership.

Those are fine responses for former half-term governors and pundits in the public eye. But lawyers are going about the picture issue in a much more interesting manner. Before asking if Obama “should” release the Osama photos, lawyers are wondering “does he have to,” if served with a FOIA request.

It depends, but the question itself is a helpful reminder that we are a nation of laws…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Want Osama Pictures? Better Ask A Lawyer.”

Southwestern Bell payphone with new AT&T signage

Not human enough to warrant 'personal privacy'

There’s some good news this week for those people whose blood boils at the mention of Citizens United. The Supreme Court proved that it is not always sympathetic to the rights of corporations — and is even willing to have some fun at their expense.

Chief Justice John Roberts penned a tongue-in-cheek opinion lambasting AT&T lawyers’ legal reasoning that has Dahlia Lithwick at Slate asking whether Roberts is the funniest justice ever. (Cue a scowl here from the legions of Scalia lovers in the audience.)

The case at the heart of the hilarity is FCC v. AT&T. The telephone company was involved in a billing practices investigation in 2004, in which it paid a $500,000 fine but admitted no wrongdoing. Some clever rivals at CompTel — a trade association representing some of AT&T’s competitors — wanted to take advantage of FOIA to get documents from the investigation and find out more about AT&T’s inner workings and alleged wrongdoing.

AT&T claimed protection under the Freedom of Information Act’s “personal privacy” exemption. A lower court was sympathetic to AT&T: “Corporations, like human beings, face public embarrassment, harassment and stigma” when they get involved with investigations by authorities. In other words: artificial persons have feelings too!

The Supreme Court did not agree. John Roberts whipped out a can of dictionary definitions to explain why corporations aren’t entitled to “personal privacy.”

Read on at Forbes….