SCOTUS

The Supreme Court of the United States (photo by Drew Havens).

Yesterday, the New York Times ran an article by Adam Liptak on the increasingly suspect “facts” that the Supreme Court cites in some of its opinions. Whether penned by the justices themselves or the little twits who actually do the heavy lifting on the opinion-writing, opinions from the Court have become a veritable wasteland of dubious figures, outlandish claims, and hardcore pornography. Or, rather, just the first two.

Sex-crazed Stephen Breyer, for instance, is said to have relied on a discontinued blog for a statistic related to public libraries. The blog, wackyliberryfacts.blogspot.com, has two posts since 2008 and both have to do with Michael Hutchence’s death. A good read, if maybe a bit too reliant on incorrect lyrics from Suicide Blonde.

On the right side of the Court (and history…?), coozehound Samuel Alito is said to have cited an unreliable fact about background checks done by employers in a 2011 opinion. The fact? That 47 percent of Americans can’t come up with Joe Biden’s name when asked who our Vice President is. Which, as far as I can tell, is a totally true fact! But its connection to background checks is tenuous, if not downright nonexistent.

Given the fact that our nation’s entire legal edifice threatens to crumble under the weight of a thousand erroneous internet “facts,” we’ve decided to help the Court out. Here are five ways the court can get around the shoddy fact-checking in judicial opinions.

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Professor Tim Wu

* Could Columbia law professor Tim Wu become New York’s next lieutenant governor? He has a shot, according to the Times. [New York Times]

* Which same-sex-marriage case is the best vehicle for Supreme Court review? [BuzzFeed]

* A federal judge takes the wheel in steering Detroit into the future. [American Lawyer]

* Is it “shameful” of the ALS Association to attempt to trademark the phrase “ice bucket challenge”? [ABA Journal]

* Jury deliberations are expected to begin today in the corruption trial of former Virginia governor Bob McDonnell. [Washington Post]

* Voter ID laws are back on trial, this time in Texas. [New York Times]

* Speaking of Texas, the state seeks to stay a recent ruling that struck down the requirement that abortion clinics comply with standards for ambulatory surgical centers. [ABA Journal]

Burger King bounty for Biglaw.

* Judge Posner dished out a whole lot of benchslaps at yesterday’s Seventh Circuit arguments over Indiana and Wisconsin’s bans on same-sex marriage. [BuzzFeed]

* Major U.S. and Canadian law firms chow down on Burger King’s whopper of a deal with Tim Hortons. [Am Law Daily]

* A recent Delaware court ruling on attorney-client privilege might allow in-house lawyers to speak more freely about wrongdoing at their companies, according to Professor Steven Davidoff Solomon. [DealBook / New York Times]

* The corruption trial of former Virginia governor continues; yesterday Bob McDonnell’s sister took the stand. [Washington Post]

* A favorable evidentiary ruling for Aaron Hernandez. [Fox Sports]

* And good news for Zephyr Teachout and Tim Wu, the two law professors running for governor and lieutenant governor of New York: the Times dissed their opponent, Andrew Cuomo, with a non-endorsement. [New York Times]

* I recently spoke with one of my cousins Joao Atienza of the Cebu Sun Star, about Above the Law and the world of legal blogging. [Cebu Sun Star]


Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

If you just needed the skills to pass the bar, two years would be enough. But if you think of law as a learned profession, then a third year is an opportunity for, on the one hand, public service and practice experience, but on the other, also to take courses that round out the law that you didn’t have time to do.

Two years—it does reduce the respect, the notion that law is a learned profession. You should know a little about legal history, you should know about jurisprudence. [Two years] makes it more of a craft like the training you need to be a good plumber.

– Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, explaining why she thinks law school should remain three years in length, in an interview with the National Law Journal.

Kim Kardashian

* First things first, she’s the realest: In light of the ongoing situation in Ferguson, Missouri, of course Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg acknowledged that we have a “real racial problem” in America. [National Law Journal]

* Cooley Law has experienced legal troubles over its job stats for the past few years, and a great deal of it has been handled by Miller Canfield. It raked in almost $1M from the school from 2011 to 2012. [Am Law Daily]

* Yesterday, a federal judge in Florida struck down the state’s ban on gay marriage as unconstitutional. The latest opinion is one of nineteen in favor of marriage equality. The decision was stayed, but yay for Flori-duh! [CNN]

* Half of Concordia Law’s third-year class will not be returning to school this fall because they’d rather wait to receive word on whether the school will be accredited than waste more of their time there. [Boise State Public Radio]

* Thanks to JudgmentMarketplace.com, a dentist was finally able to collect on a a years-old default judgment against Kim Kardashian — but only because a lawyer bought it from him. [WSJ Law Blog]

Justice Stephen Breyer

Among The Nine, [Stephen] Breyer is on the cool end of the emotional spectrum, logical to a fault with little if any of the passion that one sees in Ginsburg or Sotomayor on the left, Scalia or Alito on the right, or even Kennedy in the middle….

[H]is ideas have had nothing like the impact of those from his hot-tempered colleague Scalia. After two decades on the bench, the influence of the cold-fish justice is sometimes hard to discern.

– Professor Kenneth Jost of Georgetown Law, commenting on Justice Breyer’s legacy and temperament on the Supreme Court. In Clinton White House papers released earlier this year, Breyer was referred to as “a rather cold fish” when he was evaluated as a possible Supreme Court nominee in the early ’90s.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

* President Obama suggested he may be able to nominate a new SCOTUS justice before he leaves office in 2017. When reached for comment, Justice Ginsburg noted: “Bitch, please.” [POLITICO]

* Chief Justice John Roberts has been asked to stay the Fourth Circuit’s decision as to Virginia’s same-sex marriage case, lest the state truly become a place for all lovers. [National Law Journal]

* Whitey Bulger is appealing his conviction, claiming he didn’t receive a fair trial because he wasn’t allowed to testify that a prosecutor who had since died once promised him immunity. Aww. [WSJ Law Blog]

* On the whole, school rankings matter generally, but law school rankings can be truly meaningful when it comes to getting a job after graduation. Don’t believe me? Check out these graphs. [Forbes]

* “They’re not the one if this fails will have a law degree that we cant do anything with.” Students at Concordia Law are starting to feel the pain of attending a yet-to-be accredited law school. [KBOI 2]

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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