Second Circuit

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, in an opinion written by a prominent conservative jurist, Chief Judge Dennis Jacobs, just voted to strike down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). The court issued its 2-1 decision just three weeks after hearing oral argument, which is extremely fast for a case of this complexity and importance….

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* Oh, by the way Dewey & LeBoeuf partners, the little contribution plan you signed that received court approval last week might not protect you from your former landlord’s claims for back rent. Hope you’ve all got an extra $45 million sitting in the bank. [Am Law Daily]

* Louisiana Supreme Court Justice Bernette Johnson will finally get to claim her seat as chief justice of the state’s high court after official judicial recognition — on both the state and federal level — that the year 1994 does indeed come before 1995. [Bloomberg]

* No matter how hard law school administrators wish it were so, or how much they beg Jim Leipold of NALP, he’s never going to be able to describe the current entry-level legal job market as “good.” [WSJ Law Blog]

* NYU Law School is changing its third-year program in the hopes of making a “good” market materialize. If you ship students to foreign countries for class, maybe they’ll get jobs there. [DealBook / New York Times]

* “[W]e’re determined to do everything we can to help them find jobs and meaningful careers.” We bet Brooklyn Law’s dean is also determined to avoid more litigation about employment statistics. [New York Law Journal]

* Has the other shoe finally dropped? After the Second Circuit ruled that YSL could sell monochromatic shoes, the fashion house decided to drop its trademark counterclaims against Christian Louboutin. [Businessweek]

Ed. note: In honor of Columbus Day (and Canadian Thanksgiving), we’ll be on a reduced publication schedule today. We’ll be back in full force tomorrow.

* Should Biglaw firms bill by the result instead of by the hour? When some of the results-oriented strategies involve reading less and writing faster to improve work efficiency, we’re not sure how well this would work in a law firm setting. [New York Times]

* Roller coaster of employment: after losing 1,400 jobs in August, the legal sector added 1,000 jobs in September. Alas, there are way more than 1,000 new bar admittees gunning for all of those paralegal and secretarial positions. [Am Law Daily]

* “They were throwing furniture at both of us.” Both sides on the Jacoby & Myers non-lawyer firm ownership case took a beating before the Second Circuit during oral arguments, but who won? [New York Law Journal]

* This fall, Floridians will vote on constitutional amendments that deal with abortion and separation of church and state. Meanwhile, half the voters won’t read the entire ballot, so there’s that. [New York Times]

* A love triangle + an Arkansas Wal-Mart = a judicial suspension for Circuit Judge Sam Pope after an all-out brawl with… Bill Murray? Hey, at least this guy’s estranged wife got three punches in. [National Law Journal]

* Tyler Clementi’s family won’t file suit against Rutgers University and Dharun Ravi — instead, they’ll use the publicity from their son Tyler’s suicide for “positive purposes,” like supporting gay and lesbian youths. [CNN]

* “This guy is a bully, and he uses the court system to do it.” Robert V. Ward Jr., former dean of UMass Law, had to deal with Gregory Langadinos, a serial law school litigant, and it wasn’t pretty. [Boston Globe]

It must be every billionaire wine connoisseur’s dream to own a few bottles from the cellars of the man who drafted the Declaration of Independence. The taste of the prestige must be simply delightful. But after paying $311,804 for four bottles of wine that may have been counterfeit, even the richest of men would probably be left with the awful taste of sour grapes.

This is what allegedly happened to William Koch, brother to the controversially conservative Charles and David Koch, when he discovered that the wine he purchased from Thomas Jefferson’s cache in France may have been bogus. Because when you’re worth $4 billion, it must be embarrassing to file suit over a mere pittance. But that’s exactly what this wine aficionado did; no one fools a Koch brother and gets away with it.

Alas, it seems that Koch’s claim aged more like milk than fine wine, and the Second Circuit had the unfortunate task of telling him….

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After more than a year of litigation, fellow fashionistas can finally rejoice, because thanks to the Second Circuit, French fashion house Christian Louboutin is officially entitled to trademark protection for its signature red-soled shoes. It seems that the epic judicial shoedown against Yves Saint Laurent is at its end.

But not so fast, ladies. Before you shake your Loubooties on the catwalk at Fashion Week, you may be interested to know that this was only a partial victory for everyone’s favorite luxury shoemaker.

The Second Circuit made a rather important distinction in its opinion today — one that seems a bit antithetical to Louboutin’s desires, considering the fact that it’s what prompted the underlying lawsuit in the first place….

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Isn’t Jewel v. Boxer a great case name? Doesn’t it sound like one of the classics of the 1L curriculum, right up there with Pierson v. Post, Hawkins v. McGee, and International Shoe?

It is definitely a case that lawyers ought to know. This appellate decision, handed down by a California court in 1984, remains the leading case on how to divvy up attorneys’ fees generated by cases that were still in progress at the time of a law firm’s dissolution. Dewey care about this case? Absolutely.

But Jewel might not maintain its status as the key precedent on so-called “unfinished business,” at least if one judge has anything to say about it. Check out an interesting ruling that just came down from the Southern District of New York, arising out of one of the biggest Biglaw bankruptcies of recent years….

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What happens when a child star’s fame fizzles out? Like many one-hit wonders, they’ll try to keep their careers afloat by starring in new roles, but sometimes the spark is just gone. While some try to remain relevant by serving as crime commentators on truTV, others just try to keep their names out of crime blotters. Still others have been trying their hands at the other side of the law.

For example, you’ve surely heard that Jeff Cohen, otherwise known as Chunk from The Goonies, is now a truffle-shuffling lawyer. Josh Saviano, aka Paul Pfeiffer from The Wonder Years, is now a lawyer too (sans the geeky glasses).

Yet another notable child star has moved past the practice of law to enter the classroom, but the law school where he teaches is a long way from the Paradise City….

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* “I’ve been a restaurant waitress, a hotel hostess, a car parker, a nurse’s aide, a maid in a motel, a bookkeeper and a researcher.” This SCOTUS wife was well-prepared to give a graduation speech at New England Law. [Huffington Post]

* Sniffling over lost profits is the best way to get a court to take your side. Biglaw firms have asked the Second Circuit to consider reversing a decision in the Coudert Brothers “unfinished business” clawback case. [Legal Intelligencer]

* James Holmes, the alleged Aurora movie theater gunman, is being evicted from his apartment. Guess he didn’t know — or care — that booby-trapping the place with bombs would be against the terms of his lease. [Denver Post]

* The ABA has created a task force to study the future of legal education, and its work is expected to completed in 2014. ::rolleyes:: Oh, good thing they’re not in any kind of a hurry — there’s no need to rush. [ABA Journal]

* Indiana Tech, the little law school that nobody wants could, has hired its first faculty members. Thus far, the school has poached law professors from from West Virginia, Florida A&M, and Northern Illinois. [JD Journal]

* When divorces get weird: is this lawyer’s soon-to-be ex-wife hacking into his law firm email account and planning to publish privileged communications online? Yep, this is in Texas. [Unfair Park / Dallas Observer]

* Breast-feeding porn: yup, that’s a thing, so start Googling. A New Jersey mother is suing an Iowa production company after an instructional video she appeared in was spliced to create pornography. [Boston Globe]

* If someone from your school newspaper asks you for a quote about oral sex, and then you’re quoted in the subsequent article, you’re probably not going to win your invasion of privacy lawsuit. [National Law Journal]

Back in 2010, we presented our readers with one of life’s great unanswered questions: is cheerleading a sport?

This important question was asked of Judge Stefan R. Underhill of Connecticut, when the women’s volleyball team of Quinnipiac University sued in an effort to stop the school from dissolving the team, alleging Title IX violations. Quinnipiac claimed that it made up the loss of the volleyball team with opportunities in other sports, including more than two dozen positions on the school’s cheerleading team.

But much to the chagrin of cheer moms everywhere (yes, that’s a thing, and soon there will even be a reality TV show about them), Judge Underhill ruled that cheerleading is an activity, and not a sport.

But did you think that cheerleaders — and their university funders — would just give up the fight? Think again, because they pledged to fight, fight, fight with all their might, all the way up to the Second Circuit.

What news does the Second Circuit have for us on this issue today?

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Judge Paul Watford

Congratulations to the newest member of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, the Honorable Paul J. Watford. On Monday, Watford, currently a 44-year-old partner at the super-elite Munger Tolles & Olson, was confirmed to the federal bench. The vote was 61-34, and it came after a bit of drama in the Senate.

It’s surprising that Watford’s nomination was so contentious, given that he has a number of backers from the right side of the aisle. As noted by the San Francisco Chronicle, “[h]is supporters included conservative UCLA law Professor Eugene Volokh, who has described Watford as brilliant and ideologically moderate, and attorney Jeremy Rosen, former president of the Los Angeles chapter of the conservative Federalist Society” (and a noted appellate lawyer, who has appeared before in these pages).

That’s not all. Watford clerked for Chief Judge Alex Kozinski, one of a handful of prominent conservative or libertarian judges on the (generally liberal) Ninth Circuit. If you look at the ranks of former Kozinski clerks, you’ll see many members in good standing of the vast right-wing conspiracy (and some who are not, like Paul Watford — who went on to clerk for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and was nominated to the Ninth Circuit by a Democratic president).

Now that the handsome Watford has joined his superhottie boss on the bench, we have a trivia question: Who is the circuit judge with the most former law clerks to join him on the Court of Appeals during his lifetime?

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