Sentencing Law

Convicted murderer Joseph Wood’s execution began at 1:52 p.m. yesterday. He was pronounced dead at 3:49 p.m., according to a statement from Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne. Some witnesses insist that Wood continued to gasp for air at least 600 times after he was supposedly fully sedated. Others argue that he was merely snoring. Everyone agrees that the lethal injection process took a lot longer than the expected. Death by lethal injection typically occurs within ten minutes or so.

America has grown accustomed to long delays in carrying out the death penalty. Inmates sit on death row for years, even decades. As Chief Judge Alex Kozinski wrote, “Old age, not execution, is the most serious risk factor for inmates at the San Quentin death row.” We may be used to delays before denizens of death row get to the death chamber, but we have only recently started to see delays once an execution has actually begun….

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My experience with federal court is limited to three months externing for a district judge after first year of law school (that and testifying in a homicide case, but that’s another column).  The time was occasionally depressing (can you say “pro se”?), always sobering (you mean the judge is actually going to rely on my legal research??), and ultimately a decent dose of reality after enduring nine months of the alter-world that is being a 1L.

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Lindsay Lohan

* Noah “Kai” Newkirk, the protestor who disrupted Supreme Court arguments in February, was sentenced to time served and barred from the court. Don’t worry, we’ll get you all the SCOTUS clerk news you need, cutie. [Associated Press]

* “There are still a lot of firms out there hoping the good old days are going to return, and are finally coming to the realization that that isn’t going to happen.” More on Biglaw layoffs. [Am Law Daily]

* Yet another law school gets its rating downgraded by Moody’s. As a standalone school with “substantial declines in JD enrollment,” Vermont Law’s outlook is now negative. Sad trombone. [Moody's]

* Jason Bohn, the heavily indebted law school grad once profiled by the New York Times, was convicted of murdering his girlfriend last month, and now he’s been sentenced to serve life in prison. [New York Post]

* “Is the Tax Code really 70,000 pages long?” No, not really. We wonder who started the rumor that it was so long, because in reality, it’s only about 2,600 pages long — which is still way, way too long. [Slate]

* It appears that the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree with this celebrity family. Lindsay Lohan’s mother, Dina Lohan, pleaded guilty yesterday to drunken driving and speeding charges in New York. [CNN]

Robert Richards IV

Sex offenders are the lowest of the low in prison. He’s a rich, white boy who is a wuss and a child perv. The prison can’t protect them, and Jan Jurden knows that reality. She is right on.

– Defense attorney Joseph A. Hurley, commenting on Judge Jan Jurden’s sentence of probation for DuPont heir Robert H. Richards IV as punishment for the fourth-degree rape of his 3-year-old daughter. Jurden noted in her sentencing order that Richards would not “fare well” in prison.

Jordan Graham and Cody Johnson

* Scared of an audit, were we? With the unsealing of the case against Dewey’s former finance director comes greater insight into what was really going on behind the scenes at the failed firm. [DealBook / New York Times]

* The American Bar Association is willing pay up to $15,000 to organizations that match unemployed law grads with jobs to serve the legal needs of the poor. So, how much do the poor law grads get paid? [National Law Journal]

* Tenure may be “under fire,” but law professors are fighting back — and hard — because law school deans seem unwilling to speak up on their behalf. Let’s face facts though, tenure isn’t going anywhere. [Forbes]

* It figures one of the faces of America’s $1 trillion of outstanding student loan debt is a lawyer. Hey, heavily indebted lawyers make great headlines and even better first paragraphs. [Big Story / Associated Press]

* Jordan Graham, the newlywed who pushed her husband of eight days off a cliff, was sentenced to serve 30 years in prison. Protip: an annulment would’ve been a better option than second-degree murder. [CNN]

Kevin Trudeau

* “How many years would you put a TV pitchman in jail? 3 years? 5 years? Don’t answer yet…” [Sentencing Law and Policy]

* So there’s a sex tape of Chris Christie. Except it isn’t him. They should have known Christie could never be a porn star. You can’t get far in the porn biz by saying, “This lane is closed.” [Gawker]

* Dolt Duped By Date Sues OKCupid. [NY Post]

* Patents are a terrible measure of innovation. Hold on, I defy you to besmirch the Anti-Drowning Hat. [Concurring Opinions]

* Wage theft in fast food shouldn’t come as a surprise, but the role played by the franchise model in creating labor law violations is intriguing. [Lawyers, Guns & Money]

* A gathering of business development tips, including shout outs to Anonymous Partner and Mark Herrmann. [Corporette]

* What better qualification to challenge for the Vegas DA’s job than to be prosecuted by that office days before the election? [Las Vegas Law Blog]

* A Baltimore lawyer aggressively used the habeas process to release mentally ill girls to serve as personal slaves to the wealthy. [Slate]

* Weil’s Business Finance & Restructuring team is putting together a March Madness bracket based on quotes from bankruptcy decisions. Let the excitement wash over you. Having not seen the bracket yet, I’m reserving judgment on what an awesome array of bankruptcy quotes would look like. [Bankruptcy Blog]

* Kevin O’Keefe, who presented on my panel at our Attorney@Blog conference, left all of us touched with his tribute to Above the Law. [Real Lawyers Have Blogs]

* Upskirt photos not illegal in Massachusetts. The spirit of Kennedy lives on! [Mass Live]

* The investigation continues into whether Judge Mike Maggio, who might be the infamous Geauxjudge, suffers from a bad case of the Internet Crazies — but in the meantime, his campaign for the Court of Appeals took a hit. [Arkansas Times]

* Speaking of judicial ethics, Judge Kimberly Brown has been removed from the bench in Indiana. She’s only the third judge ever to be permanently removed from the job. [Indy Star]

* Wachtell Lipton partner Ricky Mason and his wife, Hoboken mayoral candidate Beth Mason, have been charged with several election-law violations. Uh-oh. [PolitickerNJ]

* Which state just ruled that you have a reasonable expectation of privacy in texting… even if you’re texting about a heroin deal? [IT-Lex]

* Dewey love the judge’s name in the Barclays suit over the dead firm’s debts? Yes. Because “Popplewell” is an awesome name. [The Lawyer]

* The data are in, and the top college grads have passed an all-important math test: they figured out law school is a bad deal. [Associate's Mind]

* Yet another Florida law school dean has stepped down. This is what happens when you take a job in a state full of retired people. [Daily Business Review]

* Obamacare has been credited — and bashed — for a lot, but are we underselling its role in reducing prison populations? [Sentencing Law and Policy]

In my near 14 years on the bench, this is the first time I can recall this happening.

– Judge Kermit Bye of the Eighth Circuit, in a scathing dissent issued after Missouri executed a death row inmate before the court could finish reviewing his request for a stay. On Wednesday, Missouri executed another death row inmate, this time before the Supreme Court ruled on his request for a stay. The state has executed three inmates in as many months, all while appeals were still pending.

‘Try and make it look painful, we’ve got a bloodthirsty audience here!’

* Allegations that a prison told a death row inmate to “put on a show” while getting a lethal injection. Just when you thought the death penalty couldn’t manifest itself as more cruel and unusual… [NBC News]

* A discussion of how early voting is bad. Apparently, after an electoral dialogue that usually lasts a year or more, we’re all lemmings swayed by the events of the last day of campaigning so there’s no justification for allowing voters to show up three days before the finish line. [Volokh Conspiracy / Washington Post]

* Kentucky legend Richie Farmer’s basketball jersey may be retired, but the Bureau of Prisons decided to give Farmer, now a political figure heading to prison for abusing his office, his old number back as an inmate number. Thanks? [Legal Juice]

* In last night’s State of the Union address, President Obama came out strong for patent law reform. Exactly the issue he needed to rally voters for the midterms! [Patently-O]

* And while it didn’t make the address itself, Attorney General Eric Holder is signaling a new administrative interest in reforming the out of whack sentencing laws. [Sentencing Law and Policy]

* On February 12, our own David Lat will be speaking at Georgetown at an ABA Journal sponsored talk on “#21stCenturyLaw.” Let’s see that hash tag start trending. [ABA Journal]

* Joshua Gilliland of The Legal Geeks reacts to the revelation that the new costuming for next season’s Doctor Who will ditch Gilliland’s beloved bow tie. Our hearts go out to you in your pain. Video embedded below… [The Legal Geeks]

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It’s going to be hard to have an intelligent conversation about conjugal visits on the internet. The juvenile contingent started fapping out inmate sex jokes as soon as they saw the title. Once people get that out of their system, the Republicans will show up to express horror that “criminals” get to do anything other than sit in a dark room, make license plates, or pray to God for forgiveness. Let’s just say that I won’t be reading the comments on this one.

But the New York Times has a great article (gavel bang: ABA Journal) about Mississippi, the state that started conjugal visits, putting an end to the practice.

And yes, they’re stopping it because… Republicans. But the Times reminds us that it’s not like Mississippi started conjugal visits in a moment of liberal reformist flair. The practice is no longer supported by whatever racist theories Mississippi uses to guide its public policy, so it’s time for the visits to be stopped…

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