SCOTUS

This week, a Texas campaign ad and a Pennsylvania death penalty appeal each illustrate what happens when lawyers lose sight of for what — and whom — they claim to be working.
Wendy Davis, in the final throes of her Texas gubernatorial race against Attorney General Greg Abbott, launched a controversial campaign ad a few days ago. The ad accuses Abbott of “siding with a corporation over a rape victim,” spotlighting a 1998 Supreme Court of Texas case brought by a woman seeking damages from a vacuum manufacturer after a door-to-door salesman of the vacuums allegedly raped her in her home. A background check should have revealed that the man had a criminal history. Abbott was then a justice on the Texas court. He dissented from the majority’s decision in favor of the woman. Davis’s ad ignited heated debate, with even her supporters questioning the propriety of the ad. Abbott’s campaign called the ad “despicable.”

Meanwhile, on the other side of the country, the United States Supreme Court on Monday issued a highly unusual order in a Pennsylvania death penalty case. The Court asked the Pennsylvania Supreme Court Disciplinary Board to investigate and take appropriate actions against Marc Bookman, an attorney who filed a petition for review of Michael Eric Ballard’s death sentence. Ballard slaughtered four people in 2010: his former girlfriend, her father, her grandfather, and a neighbor who tried to help the family when he heard screams coming from the home. Ballard was sentenced to death in 2011. In November 2013, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court upheld the sentence. On June 23 of this year, SCOTUS denied Bookman’s petition to review Ballard’s case, but the Court then ordered Bookman to file additional responses about his relationship to Ballard. Apparently not satisfied by Bookman’s replies, the Court referred the case to the state disciplinary authority.

So, what’s the problem in either of these situations? Why the controversy? And what do they have in common?

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Say farewell to Cooley Law — j/k, it’ll always be Cooley.

* Cleary Gottlieb lost some historic cases during the first half of 2014, including one for $50 billion, but not to worry, “the firm is proud of the work Cleary lawyers do every day.” [Am Law Daily]

* The Fourth Circuit is refusing to issue a stay in Virginia’s gay marriage case, so the state will be for all lovers starting next week unless SCOTUS decides to step in. [National Law Journal]

* Thomas M. Cooley Law School has now officially become the Western Michigan University Thomas M. Cooley Law School. If only a new name could clear its reputation. [MLive.com]

* It’s not every day that a law student with a criminal history is arrested on murder charges, but Tuesday was that day for one student. We’ll have more on this later. [San Antonio Express-News]

* “Glass is built to connect you more with the world around you, not distract you from it.” Google sure is optimistic about Glass, but several states aren’t, and have already proposed driving bans. [WSJ Law Blog]

One age-old gimmick in any restaurant’s bag of tricks is naming their fare after local celebrities. That’s how you get stuff like The Roethlisburger, a sandwich with “12 ounces of ground beef, 12 ounces of sausage… American cheese and two eggs.” That sounds like a concoction guaranteed to take advantage of your stomach.

The same tourists who think crazy crap on the walls passes for decoration eat it up. If you’re lucky, the celeb will show up to test the food and bestow instant notoriety. The restaurant industry is a tough game and chefs have to make it any way they can.

So in Washington, D.C., a local eatery has created the “Sonia From The Bronx Burger.” Don’t be fooled by the gavels that she got, I suppose. At least I hope that was the reference, because I don’t want to envision the jurist gunning down Carlito Brigante.

So what’s on this thing? And what should be on other Supreme Court sandwiches?

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Robin Williams

* “No person, no matter how high, is above the law.” It would seem Chief Judge John Roberts is unfamiliar with many of the attorneys we write about on a daily basis. [Associated Press]

* Considering many Americans can’t name a single justice, whether the high court issues 9-0 or 5-4 opinions likely matters little, but Cass Sunstein has a study on it. [New York Times]

* Judge Mark Fuller (M.D. AL) spent a night in jail this weekend after an alleged domestic violence incident with his wife. He paid $5,000 bond before he was released. Uhh… Roll Tide? [CNN]

* The ABA moved forward with reforms to help students gain clinical and distance-learning opportunities. Alas, being paid for work was too controversial this time. [National Law Journal]

* A woman who was trapped inside a law firm as a gunman opened fire before killing himself is now suing everyone for damages. You’d probably sue, too — it must’ve been terrifying. [Times-Picayune]

* Robin Williams, the beloved actor who recently played a very disgruntled lawyer, RIP. [ABC News]

‘That’ll be $27,000… XOXO, Dentons’

* Let’s get ready to rumble! Not wanting to be left out of the party, Oklahoma has also asked the Supreme Court to take a look at its same-sex marriage statute which was recently slapped down by the Tenth Circuit. [National Law Journal]

* Dewey know what financial restructuring adviser Joff Mitchell of Zolfo Cooper said to this failing firm’s partners right before it flopped for good? “Look, there is no way here to save this firm.” Ouch. That had to have sucked. [Forbes]

* The examiner who was appointed to monitor law firm billing for the City of Detroit’s bankruptcy is now questioning Dentons’ fees of up to $27K per month to talk to the press. Whoa there… [Detroit Free Press]

* Working Mother and Flex-Time Lawyers have released the latest ranking of the Top 50 Law Firms for Women. Vivia Chen feels “a bit dirty” after reading the list — and you probably should, too. [The Careerist]

* Leisure Suit Larry’s successors are here to stay for a while: Case Western Reserve Law’s co-interim deans will stay on in their current positions for the upcoming school year. [Crain's Cleveland Business]

* Utah appealed its same-sex marriage case to the Supreme Court, making it the first state whose law was smacked down by an appellate court to do so. Let the countdown begin. [National Law Journal]

* In the ruling that saved Alabama’s abortion clinics, Judge Myron Thompson likened the right to have an abortion to the right to bear arms. We can think of a few people who would take issue with that. [CNN]

* In case you’ve been wondering why tax inversions are hot right now, you can blame it all on some bicycling tax and M&A lawyers from Skadden — call them bikedudes at law, if you will. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Law schools tout the fact that their graduates are finding jobs in “J.D. Advantage” positions. Meanwhile, it remains unclear how much of an advantage a law degree actually offers in these jobs. [Am Law Daily]

* In a lawsuit peppered with crazy allegations, a law prof at Florida A&M claims in a gender discrimination complaint that male professors are “paid considerably more” than female professors. [Tampa Tribune]

* CNN sued over claims that a correspondent bit EMTs at the embassy in Baghdad. And just like that, Baghdad isn’t looking so safe anymore. [MSN]

* Tea Party favorite Chris McDaniel has filed a legal challenge over the Mississippi GOP primary. It’s dumb. [KARN h/t Election Law Blog]

* The Wisconsin Supreme Court upheld the state’s restrictions on unions. Meanwhile the dissent relied on really weak arguments like “actual Supreme Court precedent.” [Labor Press]

* The immigration crisis has inspired Miami to establish a rocket docket, which is a useful response, so we should probably shut it down and encourage drunk militia members to get in boats or something. [Daily Business Review]

* Dan Markel was serving as a legal consultant to the defendants in that Orthodox divorce extortion case. [Village Voice]

* The legal conundra of The Guardians of the Galaxy. Poor Ronan… you plan one attempted genocide and the law is all over you. [The Legal Geeks]

Girls in my high school briefed cases all the time, it was no big deal.

* According to Patron Saint RBG, the Supreme Court has never really come around on “the ability of women to decide for themselves what their destiny will be.” Gay people are doing well, though, so good for them. [New York Times]

* Two law professors and a consultant built a model that predicts SCOTUS decisions with 69.7 percent accuracy, and justices’ votes with 70.9 percent accuracy. For lawyers who are bad at math, that’s damn near perfect. Nice work! [Vox]

* An Alabama abortion clinic statute which required that doctors have admitting privileges at local hospitals was ruled unconstitutional. Perhaps this will be the death knell for these laws. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Idaho’s Supreme Court rejected Concordia Law’s bid to allow grads to sit for the bar before the ABA granted it provisional accreditation. Too bad, since lawyers are needed in Idaho. [National Law Journal]

* Before you go to law school, you can learn how to gun with the best of them. That’s right, you can practice briefing cases before you even set foot in the door. [Law Admissions Lowdown / U.S. News]

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who has been making quite a bit of news this SCOTUS off-season, has issued the final battle cry of every divine-right monarch, abusive spouse, and aging quarterback. In an interview with Reuters, the still-sharp Ginsburg said: “So tell me who the president could have nominated this spring that you would rather see on the court than me?”

When reached for comment in the privacy of his own mind, I really hope the President thought: “You must not know ’bout me, You must not know ’bout me. I could have another you in a minute. Matter fact she’ll be here in a minute, baby.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg is a fantastic justice — is, not “was.” She will likely continue to be a fantastic justice right up until the very moment of her death. We will never see her like again.

But now her watch should end…

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‘Should I get my money back? NO! I LOVE COOLEY!’

* Since October Term 2013 came to an end, people have changed their views about the Supreme Court. Conservatives think it’s more conservative, and liberals think it’s less liberal. Funny how that works. [Pew Research Center]

* “If a U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage looks inevitable, perhaps it is.” Given how quickly lower courts are issuing marriage equality victories, it’s only a matter of time before we’ll have a SCOTUS case to follow. [Bloomberg]

* Pre-law students still care about law school pedigree — as they rightfully should. Sure, scholarships are great and all, but attending a school where you’ll have a prayer of getting a job after graduation is even greater. [National Law Journal]

* Speaking of pedigree, there’s a new law school ranking in town, and Yale isn’t even in the Top 5. If that doesn’t smack of legitimacy, then we don’t know what does. We’re rolling our eyes here. [InsideCounsel]

* Cooley Law’s Ann Arbor campus may close, and students who go to the school are reportedly “pretty devastated.” Stop crying and take advantage of your loan discharge opportunities, you dopes. [MLive.com]

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