Prosecutors

David Boies: just one great lawyer among many at Boies Schiller.

What comes to mind at the mention of Boies, Schiller & Flexner? Perhaps the legendary named partners — David Boies, Jonathan Schiller, and Donald Flexner — or perhaps the legendary bonuses, which last year went as high as $300,000.

But there’s much more to the firm than that. Even though BSF is most famous for its litigation work, it has a sizable and well-regarded corporate practice, for example. And even though its biggest presence is in the state of New York, with offices in Albany, Armonk, and New York City, the firm has several other outposts — including a growing and high-powered presence in Washington, D.C.

Boies Schiller has been adding some impressive new talent to its D.C. outpost. Last week, the firm welcomed a leading litigatrix. Let’s learn more about her, shall we?

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Uhh… my bad.

The big news in “Justice” today is a new report from Professor Samuel R. Gross of the University of Michigan Law School showing that exonerations of convicted criminals are on the rise. Gross used data from the National Registry of Exonerations to determine that 87 prisoners were freed from wrongful convictions last year, the highest number in decades.

In a way, that’s good news. More exonerations suggest that more resources are being spent going back over closed cases and freeing people based on new or better evidence. But the report is also chilling proof that our criminal justice system gets things wrong, all the time, and innocent people go to jail because of it.

Instead of being obsessed with conviction rates, state bars might want to look into prosecutorial f**k-up rates. Because it is better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer…

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See, this is an awesome logo.

* The Phoenix Coyotes plan to change their name to the Arizona Coyotes. They probably should have looked into whether or not someone had trademarked “Arizona Coyotes.” I don’t care about their name as long as they go back to their awesome original sweaters. [The Legal Blitz]

* As expected, Mayor Bill De Blasio has dropped New York City’s appeal of the stop-and-frisk case. [New York Times]

* As we discussed this morning, Eric Holder had to make a decision on whether or not to pursue the death penalty in the Boston Bomber case. Well, he made it. [CNN]

* No, getting mocked on late night TV is not the same as torture or the mass extermination of human beings. [Popehat]

* What happens when 16 children’s book characters are sent to court? [Visual.ly]

* Here are 5 quick tips to employ when preparing for the bar exam. [BigLaw Rebel]

* Prosecutors aren’t all out to get your client. You need to read the signals to figure out when they’re willing to help. [Katz Justice]

* Unlocking your phone is still a crime. It’s almost as though Congress was deliberately obstructionist on every issue for a whole year. Weird. [Politix]

* Ever wonder how to make the transition from law school to journalist? Here’s one answer from across the pond. [Legal Cheek]

It’s a lamentable fact that very few white-collar cases in federal court go to trial. Most plead. Many of those that plead also involve someone providing evidence to the government against someone else; the people involved cooperate (or flip, or snitch, depending on who is talking about what happened).

White-collar cases, at least after an indictment, are often litigated with an eye toward the sentence that will come out at the end. And, with significant sentences in white-collar cases, that makes sense.

Most people plead rather than go to trial because a plea generally locks in some certainty about what will happen at sentencing. (True, in a world where the sentencing guidelines are discretionary, a judge may have a lot of power to decide a sentence that defeats a party’s expectations, but, generally, either by creative use of a statutory maximum — the government agreeing to make certain recommendations — or the simple fact that pleading guilty is a recognition that you aren’t going to spend a lot of the judge’s time sitting in trial, a plea can give a reason to think that the sentence at the end of the case will be lower. Though, of course, there’s always a Madoff exception.)

The flip side, of course, is that there’s a penalty for folks who decide that they would like to go to trial. Indeed, a recent report said that it’s a huge problem in drug cases.

And, on the trial penalty, there is some very interesting litigation in the federal courthouse in DC right now.

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Try me. Just. F’ing. Try me.

* GEEZER FIGHT!!! (Still not as good as the all-time classic embedded after the jump) [Lowering the Bar]

* Judge Boyce Martin apparently racked up nearly $140,000 in improper expenses. Now he’s gone from the Sixth Circuit. At least he finally has some time to travel. [Talking Points Memo]

* The University of Wisconsin got smacked with a lawsuit over its decision to get rid of student government because student governments are useless application padding for tools for no reason. I want this to go to trial just to hear everyone “Badger” the witness. UPDATE: So this is UW-Milwaukee so they’re technically the Panthers. I stand by the original joke because nothing will badger the witnesses more than reminding them that they didn’t have the grades to go to UW-Madison. [The Chronicle of Higher Education]

* Thomson Reuters Concourse is getting serious. They just added Drafting Assistant, Westlaw Doc & Form Builder, and WestlawNext Practitioner Insights to the platform and promise more on the way. At this rate, I’m expecting a big “WestPhone” & “WestPad” unveiling in a few weeks. [Legal Current]

* The story of the late Duke law student whose family was hounded by Sallie Mae for repayment may have come to a conclusion. [Think Progress]

* “You Don’t Have to be Jewish to Love a Kosher Prison Meal.” [New York Times]

* Some law students at the University of Utah Law School have created a humor journal. Here’s the latest issue. I wonder what current events issue law students in Utah are going to write about… [The ScoffLaw]

* Ed Kilgore of the Progressive Policy Institute weighed in on how Chris Christie’s BridgeGate stemmed, in part, from his experiences as a prosecutor and cited our article on the subject in the process. [Washington Monthly]

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The Second Circuit met en banc (or in banc?) for the first time in a little over two years and handed down a sharply divided 9-6 opinion with potentially major ramifications for the criminal justice system.

In the crosshairs in yesterday’s decision was the sanctity of one of a modern prosecutors most cherished tools of brow-beating serving justice: the guilty plea.

The Second Circuit is leading the way in restoring a little bit of justice to the criminal justice system…

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Lawyers may not lead the most luxurious of lifestyles, but if you’re single and looking, it’s still a profession that will make prospective dates ooh and aah. Most people in the average dating pool think being a lawyer is a road to riches, thus making these eligible bachelors even more appealing.

One non-profit organization decided to take advantage of this allure, and is holding a man auction the week before Valentine’s Day. The event will feature about 50 professional men, and 10 of them are lawyers — very handsome lawyers. The bidding opens at $75, and we bet that some of these lucky gents will be sold for well beyond their hourly billing fees.

So who is the most prestigious piece of lawyerly man meat?

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Chris Christie during his U.S. Attorney days.

I almost got fired by Chris Christie. Almost, but not quite.

From June 2004 until November 2005, while working for then-U.S. Attorney Christie in my home state of New Jersey, I maintained a deliciously dishy blog about federal judges called Underneath Their Robes, offering “news, gossip, and colorful commentary about the federal judiciary.” Because I realized that appearing before judges by day and gossiping about them by night could be problematic, I wrote under a pseudonym, pretending to be a woman and calling myself Article III Groupie aka A3G.

In November 2005 — for reasons that I won’t go into here, but that I’m happy to explain at speaking engagements — I revealed myself as A3G in a New Yorker interview with Jeffrey Toobin. The news that one of his prosecutors was writing an irreverent blog about federal judges, including some judges his office appeared before, caused much aggravation for Chris Christie.

The New Yorker piece appeared on a Monday. A few days later, on Friday — after the scandal had made the pages of the New York Times, the Washington Post, and even the Drudge Report — I got called up to the big man’s office on the seventh floor of 970 Broad Street….

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Unless you’re living under a rock or stuck in traffic on the George Washington Bridge,[1] you know that N.J. Governor Chris Christie spent yesterday digging himself out of the Fort Lee traffic scandal in the most Jersey of manner — by placing a proverbial bullet in the back of the neck of one of his most trusted allies Tony Soprano-style. He even invited the media over to the Bada-Bing for a couple of hours after he did it.

Deputy Chief of Staff Bridget Kelly took the rap for closing lanes on the GWB and creating a traffic snarl for Fort Lee residents after a smoking gun email emerged where the staffer seemingly ordered David Wildstein, himself a once highly-paid Christie staffer who resigned last month, to stop up the bridge to make life miserable for Fort Lee. The mayor of the town — a Democrat — had failed to fall in line and endorse the Republican Christie in his re-election campaign,[2] and Kelly’s email outlined the chosen means of retaliation. It seems dumb, but people may have died over this issue.

Liberal columnists are calling Christie basically an overfed Pol Pot and conservatives are comparing this — because they cherish beating their dead one-trick pony — to Benghazi.

But whether Christie was directly involved in this scandal or not — and so far the digital paper trail seems to begin with his mild-mannered aide showing uncharacteristic initiative and ends with a high school crony whom Christie put in charge of the bridge — this scandal falls somewhere between unsurprising and utterly inevitable.

Christie is a former prosecutor, serving as a U.S. Attorney from 2002 until 2008. The modern prosecutor is armed with the luxury to exact petty, brutal revenge on any and all who cross him or her, and this is the mentality that Christie brought into the Governor’s Mansion. Indeed, he made this mentality his political calling card.

Oh, and will this matter in 2016?

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* Let’s hit some lingering holiday stories that came in after we went off the air on Tuesday. Think of it as your Christmas hangover. First up, ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, reimagined as a lesson on pregnancy discrimination. [Bolek Besser Glesius]

* On a related note, here’s a nice chart comparing the original poem with the legalese version created by Dezert-Rose. [TaxProf Blog]

* Well, that’s one thing you can do with law reporters in the age of Westlaw and Lexis. [Legal Cheek]

* Isn’t it really nice of prosecutors when they actually try to fulfill their constitutional obligations? [Katz Justice]

* A life lesson for these thieves: there’s no such thing as a Christmas tree that doesn’t shed. [Legal Juice]

* The lawyers supposedly told NFL players they would not be taking any of the concussion settlement money. There’s a lesson to be had here about how you shouldn’t trust lawyers. [Overlawyered]

* Professor Nancy Leong went on Ashley Madison with a “white” profile and an “Asian” profile. The Asian profile got more hits. Is this interesting? Sure. Is this the sort of academic work worth charging law students $180K to support? Not so much. [Lawyers, Guns & Money]

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