Legal Ethics

Righteous-IndignationThe public learned this week that the Judicial Council of the D.C. Circuit dismissed a complaint of judicial misconduct against Judge Edith Jones of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.   The order followed a year-long investigation by Special Counsel Jeffrey Bellin.  The roughly 70-page Report of the Special Committee appears nonpartisan, thorough, and fair.

The complaint stemmed from a lecture Judge Jones gave to the University of Pennsylvania Federalist Society chapter in February 2013.  Among the complainants’ claims was that, during her lecture, Judge Jones suggested she believed that members of certain races were predisposed to commit violent crimes.  With no recording of the event, witnesses disagreed about exactly what she said.  Was she talking about genetic determinism?  Or was she only referring to the objective fact that, for whatever reason, our nation’s prisoners are disproportionately black and Latino?  The subsequent independent investigation concluded that “whatever she said initially, it is clear that Judge Jones used the question-and-answer period to clarify that she did not adhere to such views,” rejecting the complaint’s version of her speech. The D.C. Circuit cleared her of all of the charges of misconduct, including this one.

When the complaint was first filed, I defended Judge Jones. Defending her was relatively easy….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “How Edith Jones Helped Prove Eric Holder Right: Lessons I Learned About Race After Defending A Judge Accused Of Racism”

Blogging TypewriterEugene Volokh points our attention to yet another bizarre copyright case, Denison v. Larkin, in which lawyer Joanne Denison argued that the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission (IARDC) infringed on her copyrights by using portions of her own blog as evidence against her during a disciplinary proceeding.

Not surprisingly, the court soundly rejected this particular interpretation of copyright law….

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Judge Edith Jones

I did not say such things because I have never believed them and have never said them.

– Judge Edith Jones of the Fifth Circuit, denying she made offensive comments attributed to her by an ethics complaint. A panel of federal judges dismissed the complaint, but various civil-rights groups and legal ethicists are appealing the dismissal.


Buck up, Professor. Your hero Nietzsche always says, ‘That which does not kill us makes us stronger.’

* Remember that whole Brian Leiter kerfuffle? Well he’s gone. The world (of philosophy rankings) was not ready for one as beautiful as thee. [Daily Nous]

* Before They Were Famous: Newly released documents reveal a pre-SCOTUS Justice Kagan writing memos admitting that she “really f**ked up” and “God, do I feel like an idiot.” At least she understood how she made her 1L class feel when she was a professor. [Josh Blackman's Blog]

* A lawsuit over who owns the word “how.” Can’t make this up. [Chronicle of Higher Education]

* How do we know that driverless cars are going to be wonderful for human society? Because they will be absolutely horrible for lawyers and insurers. [Legal Funding Central]

* This guy explains what everyone should understand before going to law school by walking through his decision to not to go to law school despite gaining admission to some T14 heavies. He gives ATL a shout. We hear you buddy, congratulations on your decision. [Chronicle Vitae]

* A Delaware attorney sued for allegedly aiding and abetting a fraudulent emerald salvage operation. Kind of “X marks the disbarment.” [Delaware Online]

* Exxon won an arbitration and got $1.6B from cash-strapped Venezuela, but wanted $14.7B. Poor Exxon, they face so many struggles. [Bloomberg h/t Breaking Energy]

* The D.C. Bar Association is hosting a “Go Formal For Justice” event to raise money for its many programs to help, directly or indirectly, the indigent. [D.C. Bar Foundation]

One thing I remember best from law school. Professor Ron Delisle said, “Justice must not only be done, but must also be seen to be done.” It’s a bit of an unwieldy sentence, but it encompasses some of the most important concepts in a free society.

Like rule of law. No one is above the law.

Like transparency and independence within our justice system. Our trials are, for the most part, held in open court. We have appellate courts to review the work of judges below them. The Prime Minister can’t tell even the lowest judge how to rule on a case.

Like freedom of the press, which provides oversight and an independent voice to challenge those in power who abuse the system.

The system isn’t perfect, but it works pretty darn well most of the time.

Let me ask, how does a country built around those lofty concepts allow lawyers to regulate lawyers?

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Justice Joan Orie Melvin

* How are Nevada and Idaho officials reacting to yesterday’s Ninth Circuit ruling striking down gay marriage bans in those states, and how soon might marriages get underway? [BuzzFeed]

* In other LGBT legal news, New York City is likely to make it easier for transgender individuals to amend their birth certificates. [New York Times]

* Good news for Joan Orie Melvin, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court justice turned convicted felon: her unorthodox sentence has been stayed (again). [How Appealing]

* Eduardo Leite, who has led Baker & McKenzie since 2010, gets another two years at the helm of Biglaw’s biggest firm. [American Lawyer]

* Cravath associate Micaela McMurrough scores a victory in tax court for artists. [New York Times]

* The ABA has issued a new opinion addressing ethical issues raised during the sale of a law practice. [American Bar Association]

* Why do lawyers blog? Tim Baran of Rocket Matter talks to 23 of us. [Legal Productivity]

Teresa and Joe Giudice

* Real Housewives of Cell Block D. Joe Giudice sentenced to 41 months. [Fox News]

* New practice area in Alabama: Fetus lawyer. There’s potential there, but is it viable? [Slate]

* The Supreme Court is going to hear a prison litigation case. Here’s why that’s important. [Constitutional Accountability Center]

* Apparently no one is able to hear this case. [The Times-Picayune]

* Police arrest guy who beat up the man who shot his 16-year-old cousin. Because nobody likes Batman. [DNA Info]

* The DJ behind Good Morning Vietnam was a lawyer? Interesting. Well, he’s not a lawyer any more. Disbarred! [Law Profession Blog]

* At what point is it off-limits to talk about sex appeal? Vivia Chen explores this issue after she got some hefty blowback for following President Obama’s lead and commenting on the beauty of California Attorney General Kamala Harris. [The Careerist]

* Eliot Spitzer’s madame is sentenced to 2 years for selling prescription pills. She was offering some quality stuff, like, 7 diamonds level stuff. [Daily Mail]

* Lawyer for celebrities exposed in the naked photo hacking scandal known as The Fappening is threatening to sue Google for $100 million. The Fappening? Really? That’s what we’re calling this? [dlisted]

* We welcome Howard Bashman to his new homepage! [How Appealing / Above the Law]

* An ode to Brian Leiter to the tune of the Beach Boys’ “I Get Around.” [Philosophy Metablog]

* “Lawyers have a powerful voice in the American legal system, government, and news and entertainment businesses. But do they make their contributions to society while impaired?” You’re goddamned right we do! [SSRN]

* For example, a Louisville lawyer was arrested for allegedly surfing the web while driving drunk. Who says solo practitioners can’t multitask. [WDRB]

* Is litigation finance a loan or an investment? Perhaps tax law holds the answer. [LFC 360]

* Former St. Louis Mayor Freeman Bosley Jr. had his law license suspended indefinitely. Apparently his trust account was bouncing checks. This suspension has ramifications for a much bigger case — Bosley had been representing Dorian Johnson, an eyewitness to the Michael Brown killing. [Missouri Lawyers Weekly (sub. req.); St. Louis Post-Dispatch]

* Hasbro thinks that owning Scrabble means they own the English language. [Slate]

* Congratulations to legal communications specialists Infinite PR, who just merged with UK outfit Spada to expand their business across the pond. [PR Week]

There is something admittedly odd about judges on Twitter. The stereotypical judge is stuffy, technologically challenged, and light on personality. Twitter, in contrast, is informal, tech-driven, and brimming over with quirkiness and individuality.

There are, to be sure, virtues to the traditional vision of the judge (well, maybe not the lack of tech savvy, but the other attributes). Judges who are formal, dry, and tight-lipped off the bench convey a strong sense of objectivity to the public and to the litigants who appear before them. These judges might not have much personality, but presumably they don’t have personal biases that would interfere with the impartial administration of justice. You might not want to have a beer with such judges, but you would want them handling your case.

So judicial tweeting might be unusual. Does that make it problematic? Should we have new judicial ethics rules to rein in judges on social media?

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* Former Connecticut Governor John G. Rowland, convicted of corruption. [New York Times]

* Who is Justice Ginsburg talking to? [PrawfsBlawg]

* The new Apple operating system is designed to thwart search warrants. That sounds… interesting. [The Volokh Conspiracy / Washington Post]

* The Bali suitcase murder suspect hired a lawyer for her fetus. [Slate]

* Here’s an idea: take your client’s settlement money and then just… disappear with it. There’s no way the cops will come looking for you. [Albuquerque Journal]

* Was it a crime when a porn producer outed one of its stars as Miss Teen Delaware, or just unethical? [Full Disclosure]

* Young lawyer contemplating a lawsuit after his $3,000 watch was stolen at a security checkpoint. Perhaps it’s time to invest in a Swatch. [Missouri Lawyers Weekly]

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