Sentencing

A surreal scene took place in an Arizona courtroom yesterday. A defendant was convicted of arson and collapsed with convulsions in the courtroom. Witnesses and investigators say they believe they saw the man poison himself before collapsing.

Add in the facts that this man was a graduate of Yale Law School, a former Wall Street banker, and a local celebrity who once climbed Mount Everest, and you’ve just got a very strange and ultimately tragic story….

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Thursday the Supreme Court will sit for its final session of October Term 2011. The Court will issue opinions in all the cases pending before it. For example, the Court will let the American people know whether they ever have a right to lie.

The Court will also rule on the case that, according to a sign I saw earlier, presents the question of whether we need to “Get The Feds Out of Medicare.” I’m not sure about the details of that case though, because it hasn’t gotten much press attention (I only read the Bicycle Times).

Today, however, the Court issued two opinions in argued cases. The fun in the courtroom was not in the opinions, but in the dissents….

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This morning saw significant activity at the U.S. Supreme Court. Although we did not get a ruling in the health care reform case (aka Obamacare), SCOTUS did hand down a number of important opinions. Check back later today, when we expect to have color commentary from our Supreme Court correspondent, Matt Kaiser, who attended the proceedings in person.

In the meantime, here’s a quick and dirty summary of what transpired at One First Street this morning, including links to the underlying opinions. The most high-profile case was the Court’s decision on the controversial Arizona immigration law, but there were other major cases that were resolved today as well….

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Today Allen Stanford, the former knight turned convicted Ponzi schemer, learned his fate. He was just sentenced by Judge David Hittner (S.D. Tex.).

Did Stanford get a bigger sentence than Bernie Madoff? The prosecution sought a longer sentence — 230 years for Stanford, compared to the 150 years received by Madoff.

Find out the Stanford sentence, and comment, over at our sister site Dealbreaker.

Today is the sentencing hearing for Dharun Ravi in the Tyler Clementi case. Ravi has been convicted of invasion of privacy and bias intimidation.

Prosecutors in the case have been asking Superior Court Judge Glenn Berman to sentence Ravi to prison time. And of course there are a bunch of other people who want Ravi to pay the stiffest possible penalty.

I’ve been listening to the hearing all day. Let’s take a look at what happened…

Various UPDATES have been added after the jump. Refresh this post for the latest.

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The lethal injection room at San Quentin State Prison.

Debating the death penalty never gets old in the United States. Sometimes it cools off for a while, but if you wait long enough it always bubbles up again. These days it’s getting hot out here on the West Coast, where a ballot initiative aims to roll back the state’s death penalty and replace it with life without parole. The initiative would replace Proposition 7, passed in 1978, which made California’s death penalty law “among the toughest and most far-reaching in the country.”

At the center of the debate are two men — one of them a former prosecutor from New York — who helped pass the death penalty bill in California 30 years ago. Now they have completely changed their tune. What prompted this change of heart?

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* While “Dewey remains a great firm with terrific lawyers” for the time being, check back in after five percent of the firm’s attorneys have been laid off. Then tell us how great and terrific things are, we dare you. [DealBook / New York Times]

* The University of St. Thomas School of Law really “take[s] data accuracy very seriously.” That’s why the employed at graduation rate the school reported to U.S. News was off by 47.7 percentage points, right? [National Law Journal]

* John Edwards has a judge’s permission to use Rielle Hunter’s lawyers at his campaign finance trial. Mmm, there’s nothing like getting some legal sloppy seconds from your former mistress. [Bloomberg]

* After two days of deliberations, jurors in the Dharun Ravi privacy trial still haven’t reached a verdict. Just think, if he had taken the plea, he wouldn’t be worrying as much about deportation right now. [New York Post]

* If Hemy Neuman’s delusions about Olivia Newton-John were about getting physical, instead of getting murderous, maybe he wouldn’t have been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. [CNN]

* It’s the most wonderful time of the year: March Madness! Are NCAA bracket pools legal in your office? It depends. Either way, all I know is that I’ll be betting on Lehigh. Go Mountain Hawks! [Businessweek]

* Chris Christie, you’re making me ashamed to be a Jersey girl. Please allow our state be known for something besides the disgrace that is the Jersey Shore. Just sign the damn bill. [New York Times]

* A Biglaw firm that’s got some Seoul: Clifford Chance is the first firm from the United Kingdom — and the first foreign firm — to file a formal application to open an office in South Korea. [American Lawyer]

* Holland & Knight scored a half-million dollar contract to negotiate a deal for a new Massachusetts casino. Instead of giving out spring bonuses, the firm threw a big party to celebrate. [Boston Herald]

* “I am convinced that [he] was given an intentionally defective bomb . . . to stage a false terrorist attack.” This is what a Cooley Law grad said during the Underwear Bomber’s sentencing hearing. Figures. [ABC News]

* 32 law schools provided Law School Transparency with their NALP reports for the class of 2010. Remember when just one school was willing to provide data, and then reneged? [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

Fashion: brought to you by lawyers.

* A bill to legalize gay marriage in New Jersey has passed in the state Senate. If this passes in the state Assembly, will Chris Christie put the kibosh on it? Someone better make him a faaabulous offer he can’t refuse. [Wall Street Journal]

* They might not be the most stylish bunch, but without lawyers (and the contracts they write), events like New York Fashion Week wouldn’t happen. Models, please keep that in mind while you do your little turn on the catwalk. [Reuters]

* Is a mandatory life sentence a cruel and unusual punishment for the Underwear Bomber? Because you’ve got to remember, it’s not like the guy actually killed 300 people. He only almost killed 300 people. [Detroit Free Press]

* Hey 0Ls, here’s some advice on how to “beat” the wait-list blues that’s reminiscent of bad dating advice: don’t call too soon; it’ll make it look like you’re “desperate and hasty.” [Law Admissions Lowdown / U.S. News]

* Two Occupy Wall Street protesters are suing the police officer who pepper-sprayed them. Here’s a video of what happened. Those poor little hipsters, they didn’t even see it coming. [New York Daily News]

“Oh, What a tangled web we weave, When first we practise to deceive,” said Judge Guy Anthony, quoting Sir Walter Scott’s poem Marmion, as he sentenced British Biglaw attorney Francis Bridgeman to 12 months in prison on Friday. The former Allen & Overy (A&O) and Macfarlanes partner, who had already had his membership of the latter firm’s limited liability partnership terminated, then collapsed in the dock.

Until recently, Bridgeman, 43, was just another hotshot Biglaw equity partner enjoying a millionaire’s life-style. Educated at Oxford University, he joined Magic Circle firm A&O in the early 1990s and rose through the ranks so quickly that he made partner in 2000, aged just 32. Having got married, he bought a big house in the countryside outside London and became a governor at a local school. Three years ago, he capitalised on his success by moving to boutique financial law firm Macfarlanes, where profit per equity partner is still high for U.K. standards (last year it came in at £752,000) but the hours and stress are generally considered less than at the likes of A&O.

Then, on April 6 2010, everything changed for Bridgeman, in the most unexpected and surreal way….

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