Ninth Circuit

But they can do it. Some phone companies, for a fee, actually have a self-serve website where law enforcement can go in, ping your phone, and know exactly where you are. Pretty neat, huh? So anyway, the answer is, kiss it goodbye.

– Chief Judge Alex Kozinski, discussing the state of third-party privacy in the era of technological surveillance. He adds that “the great libertarian conspiracy” could soon be located “right here.”

Regular readers of this blog know that you cannot discharge student loan obligations through bankruptcy absent a showing of undue hardship. If you go broke borrowing money for expensive cars, houses, and monkeys/butlers, no problem, file for bankruptcy and start over. But if you go broke trying to better yourself through education, the government will make you beg and prove that you are sad and hopeless. Wonderful system we’ve got here.

We’ve also talked about how many people who might be eligible for undue hardship on their student debts don’t even try. The system is daunting and complicated, and I’ve argued that prostrating yourself in front of a bankruptcy court and letting them invade your life to the point of telling you how much you should be spending on your cell phone is not something that comes naturally to people with pride and dignity. This might be hard to understand for people who have never been in this situation, but I’d much rather be a “deadbeat” and have my wages garnished with the discretion on how I spend the rest than have some old judge tell me how much money I should be spending on breakfast.

When trying to get your debts discharged through bankruptcy, there seems to be no limit to what a judge can take into account to see if you are really desperate. But a recent Ninth Circuit opinion upholding a discharge by reversing the district court put one boundary on what a court can look at to determine if you’ve tried to pay your debts in “good faith.”

The court can’t look at your household and suggest that you pimp out your wife. So at least that’s something…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “In Ruling on Undue Hardship, Court Is Not Allowed To Come Into Your House and Repurpose Your Wife”

* In the Western District of Arkansas, judges have to forfeit judicial immunity to go to the bathroom. So if you want to sue a judge, you need to catch them when their pants are literally down. [Hercules and the Umpire]

* Bowman v. Monsanto… in GIFs! [EffYeahSCOTUS]

* Cooley boy makes good! President Obama nominated Christopher Thomas, a Cooley Law School grad and professor, to the Presidential Commission on Election Administration. [White House]

* A judge threw out the fine against a New York artist as unconstitutionally harsh. The artist took an antenna from the trash and cops impounded his car and fined him $2,000. [Thompson Reuters News & Insight]

* The Ninth Circuit struck down Arizona’s “Fetal Pain” Abortion Ban. Sounds like a viable decision. [PrawfsBlawg]

* Work/life balance is when lawyers with kids throw their childless colleagues under a bus. [Slate]

* If you’re reading transcripts of old trials and think the lawyers of yesteryear were smarter, you’re probably right. Western civilization has gotten dumber since the nineteenth century. The reason is summarized by the video after the jump….

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Abraham Lincoln told a story about a lawyer who tried to establish that a calf had five legs by calling its tail a leg. But the calf had only four legs, Lincoln observed, because calling a tail a leg does not make it so…. Heeding Lincoln’s wisdom, and the requirements of the Copyright Act, we conclude that merely calling someone a copyright owner does not make it so.

– Judge Richard Clifton, writing for a unanimous panel of the Ninth Circuit in Righthaven LLC v. Hoehn.

(Additional commentary about this interesting case, after the jump.)

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Just married civil unioned!

* Underneath this jurist’s robe you’ll find a sling. Justice Stephen Breyer had to have shoulder replacement surgery this weekend thanks to his latest bike accident, but he’s expected to make a full recovery. [Associated Press]

* A Ninth Circuit judge has ruled that an assistant federal public defender and her wife are entitled to federal health benefits. Take that, DOMA. [Courthouse News Service]

* Judy Clarke, one of the nation’s best capital defense lawyers, will be joining Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s legal team. She’s pretty good at keeping people alive, but we’ll see how this one goes for her. [Bloomberg]

* The ABA may do away with faculty tenure requirements for accreditation. No security of position? It looks like there’s a storm coming, law professors, so go get your bread and milk! [National Law Journal]

* Prospective law students are being counseled to take advantage of the smaller applicant pool, but it won’t look so small when they can’t get jobs. [Law Admissions Lowdown / U.S. News & World Report]

* “Gay marriage? Hell no, let’s make all marriages civil unions.” Minnesota senators want to put couples on an even playing field — one that isn’t recognized by the government. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]

In 2010, police in Des Moines, Washington (fun fact: pronounced “də·moinz,” with a “z” sound at the end, unlike the Iowa version), twice Tasered a 4-year-old Newfoundland dog named Rosie, chased it out of its yard, and then shot it four times — with an ASSAULT RIFLE. This was an act of unchecked police brutality that made the Rodney King cops say, “Hey, hold on now.”

And the city recognized this and offered the dog’s owners $51,000.

But a federal judge jumped in and basically doubled the payout, accused the city’s attorneys of having “terrible writing,” and that’s not even the worst charge he levels….

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Chief Judge Alex Kozinski speaking at Yale Law School last year.

Perhaps this should be “benchslap of a few days ago,” since it happened last week. But it’s never too late to read about Chief Judge Alex Kozinski, right?

This latest benchslap involves the Ninth Circuit setting aside a murder conviction. So you might expect the benchslap to be coming from a unanimous Supreme Court in a summary reversal.

But no. The benchslap — actually, make that benchslaps, plural — come from the Ninth Circuit. On the receiving end: the police, prosecutors, a state judge, and a federal judge. Names are named.

And I wouldn’t hold my breath while waiting for SCOTUS to reverse. This decision looks pretty safe….

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* Michigan will assume control of Detroit pursuant to the state’s controversial “Emergency Manager Law.” How controversial? Michigan voters went to the polls to repeal the law last year… and the legislature said no. There’s a fitting symmetry that a law that denies the democratic rights of the people exists only because the legislature trampled on the democratic rights of the people. [WXYZ]

* A Harvard Law grad opens an e-commerce lingerie startup. The hook for her bra business is in-home fittings. Perfect for the cross-dresser who hates prying eyes. [Forbes]

* Rutgers-Newark and Rutgers-Camden have announced that they will merge into a single law school named “Rutgers School of Law” effective Fall 2014. The new school accomplishes the important goal of removing the words “Newark” and “Camden” from promotional materials. [TaxProf Blog]

* Professor Eugene Kontorovich explains how Chief Judge Kozinski’s piracy ruling actually advanced the liberal causes of the Law of the Sea and expanding the scope of the Alien Tort Statute. Yeah, but it also doomed us to destruction if Captain Kirk can’t get his act together in this new timeline. [Volokh Conspiracy]

* The producers of The Bachelor may need better lawyers. After they settled a claim with blogger Reality Steve, barring him from contacting cast and crew for spoilers, he’s publishing spoilers again. Reality Steve’s defense? The settlement agreement was silent on the matter of cast and crew contacting him. Touché. Reality Steve wins a one-on-one this week. [IT-Lex.org]

* Sometimes you just need to call the other player’s bluff. Right-wing legislators in Utah loudly parroted talk-radio scripts calling for Utah to reject federal grant money. Democrats in Utah agreed and voted to reject federal grants. Then Republicans started to panic. [Utah Political Report]

* Jon Stewart calls for the drowning of legal journalist Peter Lattman for being a wizard. Video after the jump….

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Whenever a decision opens with the line, “[y]ou don’t need a peg leg or an eye patch,” you know you’re in for some fun.

In this case, the always colorful Judge Kozinski provides an entire opinion about piracy months before International Talk Like a Pirate Day. This time the pirates are whaling protestors from the Animal Planet series Whale Wars, and the Ninth Circuit thinks they need to leave some poor Japanese whalers alone.

In the process, Judge Kozinski delivers a scathing benchslap to the lower court judge who just so happens to have a much more famous brother (and niece).

Who is it? Batten down the hatches and let’s find out….

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‘That’s just our special sauce!’

* Six Supreme Court justices attended last night’s State of the Union address, and although it was all hugs and kisses and handshakes to start off with, some looked as if they were due for naptime by its end (coughRBGcough). [Blog of Legal Times]

* It’s a clash of the Biglaw titans! In a face off between legal heavyweights, the Second Circuit has set aside time to hear arguments from Ted Olson and David Boies in the Argentine bondholder case. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

* Dewey know if this document specialist’s Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act lawsuit has got any legs to it? It certainly must, because Judge Martin Glenn very recently denied the failed firm’s motion to dismiss it. [Am Law Daily]

* Congratulations to Paulette Brown of Edwards Wildman Palmer. This Jersey girl is the uncontested nominee for ABA president in 2015, making her the first minority woman to hold the title. [New Jersey Law Journal]

* Send in the clowns (or loads of O’Melveny and Akin lawyers): Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, has a low opinion of David Einhorn’s Greenlight Capital lawsuit, referring to it as nothing more than a “silly sideshow.” [Reuters]

* “It is up to us in the academy to prepare our students for the future no matter what it holds.” Dean Frank Wu of UC Hastings seems to be on the right track when it comes to necessary law firm reforms. [Huffington Post]

* Poor, poor Teresa Wagner. She was allegedly denied a job because of her conservative views, and her case ended in a mistrial. That kind of a thing could drive a woman to drink… and drive. [Iowa City Press Citizen]

* Not only does Lehigh University ruin every college basketball bracket in the nation, but it also provides great “I’m suing you because of my crappy grades” fodder. Oh my God, I really miss you, Lehigh! [Morning Call]

* Thanks to the wisdom of the Ninth Circuit, we now know that, at least in Washington, a spit-laden hamburger from Burger King is grounds for emotional distress damages. Ugh, that’s nasty! [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]

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