Jed Rakoff

“Come on Judge Rakoff, it’s nap time over here!”

You don’t want to live in a town where the police and the mob work together.

In a completely unrelated note, today the Second Circuit heard arguments from the SEC — the federal agency statutorily charged to enforce the nation’s securities laws — and Citigroup — a company targeted for securities laws violations that it refuses to admit or deny committing — on the SAME SIDE.

This should be a red flag.

They wanted the Second Circuit to spank Judge Jed Rakoff for having the audacity to ask the SEC to kindly do its job. The nerve of some people.

Well, securities law may not be as sexy as drone strikes, but I watched the SEC try to pull off just as naked an executive power grab.

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It looks like a silly marginal tax increase on the personal incomes of the top 2 percent is the last thing the barons of Wall Street need to worry about. President Obama is sending a new sheriff into the regulatory fray.

Dealbook reports that Obama will nominate former U.S. Attorney Mary Jo White to head the Securities and Exchange Commission. Sending in White to the SEC is a little bit like calling the Wolf to drive home your blood-soaked vehicle. It’s a bold move for an agency that is often overwhelmed by the impressive lawyers marshaled on behalf of the financial industry in defense of their most complex transactions.

Unlike Elizabeth Warren (bless her heart), Mary Jo White is no academic, she’s a hard-nosed litigator. And she might be exactly what the SEC needs…

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The year is quickly drawing to a close, but we have unfinished business to conduct here at Above the Law. Come on, people, we still have to crown our Lawyer of the Year for 2012.

Thank you to everyone who responded to our call for nominations, in the comments or via email. We’ve narrowed down the nominees to a field of nine (although you’ll see only eight options in the poll because one is a joint nomination). As in past years, the contenders run the gamut from distinguished to despicable.

And the nominees are….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Above the Law’s 2012 Lawyer of the Year Competition: The Finalists!”

Now that classes are back in session, I really hope some professor at Cardozo Law School pulls Benula Bensam aside and tells her that her keeping the story about her passing notes to Judge Jed Rakoff (S.D.N.Y.) alive is probably not helping her chances of securing a legal job.

You’ll remember Bensam as the student who got reprimanded for passing notes to Judge Rakoff during the Rajat Gupta trial. She went on to sue federal prosecutors and marshals for a number of claims arising out of largely standard courthouse security protocols. As we’ve previously discussed, upon leaving the courthouse Bensam wanted her cell phone back and had problems getting it.

Judge Andrew L. Carter (S.D.N.Y.) kicked most of Bensam’s case today, but he did give her leave to file an amended complaint on one issue.

For her sake, I hope she doesn’t take it…

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It’s time to announce the winner of July’s Lawyer of the Month competition. Last month, we had a potpourri of lawyers allegedly behaving badly for readers to choose from. In the end, there was one clear winner, who stole more than 50 percent of the total vote.

Let’s find out who took home the honorific of Lawyer of the Month — and while we’re at it, let’s pray that she doesn’t sue us. Noticing a trend here, readers? Our LOTM winners sure are overly litigious….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “July Lawyer of the Month: Girls Just Wanna Have ‘Fun’”

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….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Some Law Students Learn From Their Mistakes; Others Sue The U.S. Marshals Over A Cell Phone”

* Have you ever wondered why Justice Clarence Thomas hasn’t spoken during oral arguments before SCOTUS in more than six years? It’s probably because he hates them so much that he thinks we should “do away” with them entirely. [Charlotte Observer]

* Former Solicitor General Paul Clement, he of unparalleled oral advocacy skills, claims that there’s “no magic formula for time management” — but having a superior legal mind certainly helps the situation when preparing for argument. [Appellate Daily]

* It’s “highly likely” that Rajat Gupta will won’t take the witness stand to testify in his own defense at his insider-trading trial. Query what Benula Bensam would have written to Judge Rakoff about that. [Los Angeles Times]

* If you’re thinking of hopping on the “blame the ABA” bandwagon in defense of your employment statistics, think again. A federal judge rejected Cooley Law’s argument on that front last week. [National Law Journal]

* Meanwhile, Cooley “isn’t interested in reducing the size of its entering class on the basis of the perceived benefit to society,” but at least ten other schools will be reducing class sizes. [Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)]

* A judge denied Jerry Sandusky’s motion to dismiss the charges against him. The former football coach clearly needed 1-800-REALITY check if he seriously thought that his request was going to be granted. [CNN]

* If you’re planning on living rent-free in New York City for almost a decade, make sure you’re doing it in a building that isn’t up to code. You’ll never be evicted thanks to this Court of Appeals ruling. [New York Times]

A couple of interesting things have happened since we started doing Comment of the Week:

1) Some commenters have raised their game.
2) None of the winners have claimed their T-shirts.

They’re really good T-shirts, people! Cotton. Classy. Hand stitched by Cooley grads. Win one and you’ll see.

This week, I decided to simply take the most liked comment from the most commented story. Occasionally, even a whimsical comment authoritarian should give the people what they want….

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It's the summer, put your hand down.

It’s hard out there for a law student who can’t find a summer job.

Back in the before times, the summer was this excellent opportunity to make a little bit of money and, more importantly, secure legal employment for after graduation. Now, things are worse. For those who have a summer associate position, the program involves ten weeks of stress, hoping that you don’t screw up your offer while also praying you like the people you work with because there is no 3L hiring market.

For those who are unemployed, I mean, honestly, spending a summer getting drunk and playing SWTOR is probably as good as anything else you can do.

Whatever you do, you probably don’t want to end up like this student. The rule for law students over the summer is very simple: first, do no harm….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Unemployed Cardozo Gunner Receives Public Lesson From Jed Rakoff”

Judge Jed Rakoff

It is commonplace for settlements to include no binding admission of liability. A settlement is by definition a compromise. We know of no precedent that supports the proposition that a settlement will not be found to be fair, adequate, reasonable, or in the public interest unless liability has been conceded or proved and is embodied in the judgment. We doubt whether it lies within a court’s proper discretion to reject a settlement on the basis that liability has not been conclusively determined.

Having considered the various explanations given by the district court for its refusal to permit the settlement, we conclude that the S.E.C. and Citigroup have a strong likelihood of success in their joint effort to overturn the district court’s ruling.

– A panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, in a per curiam opinion granting a stay pending appeal in the SEC’s case against Citigroup.

(A quick refresher on this case, after the jump.)

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