Louisiana

This week, a Louisiana court became the first federal district court to uphold a state ban on same-sex marriage since the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in U.S. v. Windsor. Judge Martin Feldman of the Eastern District of Louisiana granted the state’s motion for summary judgment in Robicheaux v. Caldwell. Finding that the claims of same-sex couples did not implicate a fundamental right triggering heightened scrutiny of the state law, he applied rational basis review to the challenge. Judge Feldman rejected arguments that sexual orientation warrants intermediate or heightened scrutiny based on the Supreme Court’s ruling in Windsor, as well as Equal Protection arguments against the Louisiana ban based on sex discrimination.

“Many states have democratically chosen to recognize same-sex marriage,” he writes. “But until recent years, it had no place at all in this nation’s history and tradition. Public attitude might be becoming more diverse, but any right to same-sex marriage is not yet so entrenched as to be fundamental. There is simply no fundamental right, historically or traditionally, to same-sex marriage.”

American attitudes about LGBT people have changed. The fight for same-sex marriage has come far, fast. African Americans, women, disabled people, and members of other disenfranchised groups should envy the speed with which the LGBT community has achieved so much success. Not only have laws changed, but popular moral sensibilities have changed as well. In 2008, opposing marriage equality would put you in the company of most California voters. In 2014, expressing moral opposition to homosexuality can get you in big trouble. You can even face retroactive stigma — Brendan Eich, the former CEO of Mozilla who was ousted in 2014 because of his support of California’s Prop 8 in 2008, can attest to that.

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Matthew Edward Alexander

According to news reports, another lawyer’s career may be over before it even started.

As we mentioned earlier today, on Tuesday evening, a Texas law student was arrested on some very serious charges: attempted murder and arson. The warrants stemmed from a single incident that allegedly occurred in Louisiana.

Details on the crime are scant at this point, but we do know where the accused goes — or perhaps went — to law school…

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Thomas “Haller” Jackson IV

Imagine this. You graduate from law school with a 4.0, the first person in your school’s history to do so. While in law school, you serve as editor-in-chief of the law review, win the moot court competition, and get a Ph.D.

You clerk for a federal appellate judge, followed by another circuit judge — this time a prominent feeder judge to the U.S. Supreme Court. You work as an associate at an elite law firm in a major city. You then return to your hometown and clerk for not one but two federal district court judges, to round out your already amazing résumé with some time in the trial court trenches.

And then you… get a Supreme Court clerkship? Or get charged with attempted aggravated rape and solicitation of a young child….

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Remember a couple of months ago when a local radio host accused a cab driver of taking lewd video of her? Remember how I reflexively took the side of the local celeb, a woman accusing a big bad man of inappropriate sexual conduct?

I might have gotten that a bit wrong. Authorities have now dropped the charges against the cab driver and accused the woman of making the whole thing up.

Yeah…

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Cab drivers are trusted with a sacred responsibility in our society. They must drive our drunkest and most helpless citizens home when these individuals are well past the point of being able to take care of themselves. Cabbies are the modern Charon, ferrying souls across the river Budweiser so that they arrive safely to their appointed hangovers from hell.

Cabbies who violate this trust should be hunted down and punished with the full force of the law. If you can’t trust an immigrant stranger to take care of you and your belongings when you are too drunk to stand, let alone defend yourself, then the whole system breaks down.

A lawyer and local New Orleans celebrity got drunk and sloppy coming home from Bourbon Street. She alleges that her cab driver took advantage of her by recording upskirt pictures of her and her junk, then tried to extort her for money in exchange for the photos.

I know what you’re all thinking: “Why can’t this kind of thing happen to Nancy Grace?” Sometimes life’s not fair. But despite her embarrassment, this attorney did the right thing and went to the police, and now the cabbie is under arrest…

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Thank God for lunch breaks.

It appears that a lone gunman fired on a law office that was somehow involved in a personal injury case that was dismissed over a year ago. No lawyers were in the office at the time. The gunman, after shooting through the door to get into the office, fired multiple shots in the building before turning the gun on himself.

A Redditor whose mother works for the law office posted pictures of the damage and the crime scene. It appears that most of the firm’s employees were out to lunch…

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* For any Catholics hitting up PaddyPower to lay down money on the conclave, you’ve probably had some restless nights wondering if Pope Gregory XIV’s edict per the Ius Decretalium still applies. It doesn’t. That’s a load off. [Canon Law Blog]

* A number of strip clubs are challenging San Antonio’s new regulations. One key to their argument: “the presentation of expressive dance performances is a beneficial social activity which creates an improved self image for the dancer….” Yeah, good luck with that argument. [KEGL]

* If you’re looking for emotional distress damages, maybe lay off the “I’m just embarrassed to be seen with him now” arguments. [Lowering the Bar]

* To challenge the law letting the government tap your communications in secret, you need to have full knowledge that the secret recording is happening. Thanks Joseph Heller. [Volokh Conspiracy]

* Lindsay Lohan can’t catch a break with her legal counsel. Hey, LiLo! Next time check Avvo to find a higher rated lawyer. [Perez Hilton]

* The new Copyright Alert System goes into effect, allowing copyright holders to make your service provider slow your Internet to a crawl if you’re identified as a repeat violator. I don’t see what the big deal is, but then again, I’m still using a Prodigy account. [Gawker]

* MC Hammer is softening, but still a tad miffed after police booked him for an expired registration after he told them, “U Can’t Touch This.” [Los Angeles Times]

* Are you kidding? University of North Carolina’s “Honor Court” is threatening to expel a student for “intimidating” her attacker by discussing that she was raped — without identifying her attacker. This is why North Carolina can’t have nice things. [Feministing]

* Seven out of nine sitting Supreme Court justices were silent when it came to the passing of Robert Bork. Justice Antonin Scalia, of course, issued a public statement, as did liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (surprise!). [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]

* No one ever really doubted that it would take an army of Biglaw lawyers from the likes of Sullivan & Cromwell, Shearman & Sterling, and Wachtel Lipton to handle a monumental deal like the proposed $8.2 billion NYSE/ICE merger. [Am Law Daily]

* Can you coach with Nick Saban and be a Miller Canfield partner at the same time? No. But you can sue (and win!) when the firm allegedly forces you out due to its “culture of fear and intimidation.” [Detroit Free Press]

* Justice Rolando Acosta, who wrote the opinion upholding the dismissal of the class action case against NYLS, rates well among his peers as a nominee for the New York Court of Appeals. [New York Law Journal]

* Peter Madoff was sentenced to ten years in prison for his role in Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme, but the judge will probably let him go to his granddaughter’s bat mitzvah before shipping him to the pokey. [Bloomberg]

* Merry Christmas, now go f**k yourself. A federal judge has given a woman in Louisiana free rein to display holiday lights on her roof in the form of an extended middle finger. God bless America. [CBS 3 Springfield]

Catch Me If You Can is a fun movie. Tom Hanks has a delightful Boston accent that really captures the “Jesus Christ, I can’t believe people talk like this” aspect of the sounds. Leonardo DiCaprio’s portrayal of teenage con-man Frank Abagnale Jr. is fun and entertaining. And there’s a Chris Walken sighting.

In the movie, Hanks’s FBI Agent, Carl Hanratty, chases after Abagnale as he forges checks, degrees, and a number of professions. One thing Hanratty can’t figure out is how Agagnale “faked” his way through the Louisiana Bar Exam and gained legal credentials. When Hanratty finally collars Abagnale (SPOILER ALERT: this movie came out in 2002), the con man revels that he didn’t “cheat” on the bar exam, he just studied “for two weeks and passed.”

For many lawyers, this was an anticlimactic end to a running joke in the movie. With all due respect to people who can’t pass the Louisiana bar, passing the Louisiana bar is not particularly hard (despite the test’s unusual length and civil-law components). I don’t know if you can do it in two weeks. But in a month? In six weeks? Even without going to law school, I’m not sure there is a bar exam in the country that is so hard that a reasonably intelligent person couldn’t pass it with intense study over a few months. Again, they’re not really teaching you what you need to do as a lawyer in law school, they’re just messing with how you think.

It turns out that the real life Frank Abagnale Jr. passed the LA Bar on his third try. But there wasn’t any deception involved, he eventually just passed the test. Once he earned the credentials, Abagnale says that pretending to be a lawyer was one of the easiest things to fake.

He’s not wrong…

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* “Did the imperative use of the F-bomb … threaten judicial authority?” Wow, seriously? This is perhaps the most entertaining question presented for review in a Supreme Court certiorari petition in the history of man. [National Law Journal]

* Boy, Dewey have some expensive paintings for you to buy! This failed firm’s art collection will be hitting the auction block in February, and the entire LeBoeuf lot is supposedly worth $2.3M, but most pieces are pretty damn ugly. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]

* When anonymous commenting goes wronger-er: Jim Letten, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana, has resigned amid the scandal caused by his underlings’ obnoxious comments. [Times-Picayune]

* Your employers really don’t want pictures of your office holiday party antics going viral online (but we do). Here are some of the many ways they’ll try to keep you from becoming internet famous. [Corporate Counsel]

* George Zimmerman, the man accused of killing Trayvon Martin, is suing NBCUniversal, alleging that the network and Today show reporters committed serious “journalistic crimes.” [Media Decoder / New York Times]

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