Jed S. Rakoff

Remember the 80s? Big hair, Dynasty, Huey Lewis was popular for some reason. Well, Judge Jed Rakoff remembers the 80s, and he also remembers the way the federal government used to actually investigate and prosecute people who committed massive financial crimes — Mike Milken, Ivan Boesky, Charles Keating, a bevy of other savings and loans kingpins. Good times.

And Judge Rakoff wants to know what happened to prosecuting financial crimes, specifically the sort of fraud that crippled the economy. So he took to the pages of the New York Review of Books to ponder all the financial prosecutions that could have been. And he has some theories about what happened and how prosecutors could do a better job in the future.

It’s a fascinating look at a bunch of ideas that the government is going to totally ignore…

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These are trying times for clerkship applicants. The Law Clerk Hiring Plan is pretty much dead, at least in its strictest version, and it seems like every judge is going his or her own way.

The best applicants can hope for, in the absence of any standardized approach to law clerk hiring, is transparency. Ideally judges should provide clear and comprehensive information about their own particular approaches to hiring clerks. Thanks to this nifty thing called the internet, it’s not that hard.

As in many things, the Southern District of New York provides a model for other courts to follow….

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Judge Jed Rakoff

The trustee… having for more than three years issued empty threats to seek a halt to the attorney general’s suit, has lost his right to complain. Even on the merits, moreover, his bluster proves to be without substance.

– Judge Jed Rakoff (S.D.N.Y.), issuing a harsh benchslap to Irving Picard, the trustee involved in the Bernie Madoff case, for trying to block a settlement he wasn’t involved in between J. Ezra Merkin and New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

In her bestselling memoir, My Beloved World (affiliate link), Justice Sonia Sotomayor recounts her journey from the projects of the South Bronx to the bench of the United States Supreme Court. Given that background, one would expect Justice Sotomayor to have a weak spot for young women who make it to One First Street from improbable places.

So it makes perfect sense that Justice Sotomayor has hired the first-ever Brooklyn Law School graduate to serve as a Supreme Court law clerk: Sparkle Sooknanan, a 2010 graduate of BLS who is currently an appellate attorney at the Justice Department. We’ve heard Sooknanan described as “an awesome human being” and “brilliant” — and with a name like “Sparkle,” the brilliance must be literal.

Sparkle isn’t the only bright young lawyer to claim a shiny new credential for the résumé. Read on for additional news of Supreme Court clerk hiring….

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* This guy could teach a master class in how to stand by your (wo)man. Mary Jo White’s husband, John White, will relinquish his equity partner status at Cravath upon her confirmation as the head of the Securities and Exchange Commission. [Am Law Daily]

* Macho, macho man: it looks like we’ll never know if Dechert actually has a “macho culture,” because the FMLA and paternity leave case that questioned the very existence of this Biglaw subculture was settled out of court. [National Law Journal]

* Why you gotta go and ruin Valentine’s Day for everyone at O’Melveny and Akin Gump? Apple’s request to speed up the Greenlight Capital case was approved, with arguments now scheduled for February 19. [CNET]

* Despite her nomination being crapped on by the Senate, Jenny Rivera, the CUNY School of Law professor, was recently confirmed as an associate judge of the New York Court of Appeals. [New York Law Journal]

* Remember the lawyer who sued Westlaw and Lexis for copyright infringement? Judge Jed Rakoff dismissed it for reasons yet to be disclosed, but probably for legal dumbassery. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

* “Behold, the instrument of your liberation!” Survivors of the Aurora movie massacre are being harassed by conspiracy theorists, and the DA asked the judge to scrub their names from the record. [Courthouse News]

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….

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* 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]

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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* Due process, judicial process, yeah, yeah, same difference. Not so, says Attorney General Eric Holder — especially when it comes to assassinating killing Americans abroad. [Blog of Legal Times]

* Now that BP has settled claims made by private sector plaintiffs, state and federal government lawyers are getting ready to wait “months, not weeks” for their new trial date. [Financial Times]

* Newt Gingrich wants his “Eye of the Tiger” copyright infringement suit to be dismissed. Listen, judge, if he can’t play this song, we won’t get our moon base or cheaper gas. [The Caucus / New York Times]

* As if being a Mets fan wasn’t bad enough on its own, Judge Jed Rakoff has struck again. He refused to dismiss Irving Picard’s lawsuit, and now the team’s owners must go to trial over millions. [Businessweek]

* Lawyers from Milberg will be joining Paul Ceglia’s legal team. They must not have checked this dude’s Facebook timeline — this is the the fifth firm to sign up for a Gibson Dunn sucker punch. [Bloomberg]

* Thanks to a decision by a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit, Jared Loughner will continue to be forcibly medicated. What better way to restore him to competency than to shove pills down his throat? [Reuters]

Where would lawyers be without open (and absurdly expensive) access to Westlaw and Lexis-Nexis for legal research? They’d have to trudge down to the closest law library and read real books made of paper. They’d have to head over to the courthouse and pull actual files with non-electronic documents inside of them. In a time where legal texts are used solely for decorative bookshelf purposes, that is just too much to ask.

But that is the behavior that two lawyers would expect of their professional colleagues. As we mentioned in Morning Docket, they claim that the legal database providers have been engaging in “unabashed wholesale copying of thousands of copyright-protected works created by, and owned by, the attorneys and law firms who authored them.”

Do they have any chance of winning their class action copyright suit?

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