Justice Joan Orie Melvin is a member of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. As touted on the court’s website, it is “the highest court in the Commonwealth and the oldest appellate court in the nation.”
Yesterday the court acquired a more dubious distinction: it’s the latest state supreme court to see one of its members convicted of a serious felony. And yes, we mean “latest,” not “only” or “first.” Just last month, for example, former Michigan Supreme Court Justice Diane Hathaway pleaded guilty to federal bank fraud. Here in New York, Chief Judge Sol Wachtler of the Court of Appeals, our state’s highest court, served a prison sentence back in the early 1990s.
(Don’t say I didn’t warn you. Back in 2004, I opined that “state court judges are icky.” Article III all the way, baby.)
Back to Justice Orie Melvin of Pennsylvania. What could send Her Honor from the high court to the big house?
Here is an excerpt from Manhertz v. State, handed down on October 9 by the Georgia Court of Appeals:
Specifically, Joyner explained that she met a dancer at a strip club, who went by the stage name Paradise. After a brief conversation, Paradise asked Joyner how she was employed, and Joyner informed her that she worked as an assistant manager at an apartment complex. Paradise responded by informing Joyner that she had a friend named Kane, who would pay $1,000 for tenants’ names, social-security numbers, driver’s-license numbers, and copies of signed checks. Joyner agreed to do so and later provided Paradise with the requested information. However, Joyner asserted that she was never paid any money. And although Joyner claimed that she went back to the strip club on one or two occasions in an attempt to collect the promised payment, she was unable to find Paradise — no doubt finding little comfort in the axiom that “solitude sometimes is best society.” [FN2]
This little girl seems to be able to count better than some members of the Louisiana Supreme Court.
Apparently some judges’ tenures are more equal than others.
An interesting lawsuit was filed last week in Louisiana. The chief justice of the Louisiana Supreme Court is stepping down, and the judge with the most seniority is supposed to be next in line to hold the post.
Logic suggests that the position should fall to Justice Bernette Johnson, who was elected to the Supreme Court in 1994, and is the longest serving judge on the Court.
But a different judge claims he is the longest serving judge, since he was elected in 1995. The math doesn’t work out, but Justice Jeffrey Victory claims that Johnson’s extra year doesn’t count because Johnson won a special, court-ordered election, and so there.
If it makes no sense to you how one election means less than another election, let me add that Johnson is black and Victory is not. That’s the rug that ties this room together….
Wielding power and oozing prestige, judges can be thought of as “rock stars of the law.” But some judges are, in a more literal sense, rock stars.
Several judges around the country possess impressive musical talents. For example, as we mentioned earlier this month, Judge Randall R. Rader recently rocked out at San Diego’s House of Blues with his band, DeNovo.
Judge Rader is not alone is making music as well as rulings. A Georgia jurist recently released a critically acclaimed album, in which his gavel-wielding fingers strum the guitar alongside some musical greats.
Keep reading for the Above the Law interview with this colorful and creative judge….
Judge Maryesther Merlo. Who will play her in the movie? Suggestions welcome.
Earlier this year, we brought you the story of Judge Rae Lee Chabot, a state court judge in Michigan. Judge Chabot was accused of taking three-hour lunch breaks and long shopping trips to the Gap, in the middle of the workday.
I wrote in defense of Judge Chabot, whose judicial work was well-regarded despite her, ummm, flexible work schedule. I opined that “[a]s long as a judge is reasonably current with his docket, he should be left alone. There is no face-time requirement for judges.”
But even I would have a hard time defending the latest judicial diva under fire, Judge Maryesther Merlo of Allentown District Court in Pennsylvania. Judge Merlo — or make that ex-judge Merlo, since she just got removed from the bench — allegedly missed 116 days of work, from September 2007 to December 2009. That amounts to over 23 weeks, in a period of about two years.
And that’s not all Maryesther Merlo stands accused of. Her treatment of defendants appearing before her may have strayed beyond the merely tough into the downright rude….
Hurricane Irene: She came. She saw. She blew. She sucked? In the wake of HurricaneTropical Storm Irene, people have been expressing their displeasure with the way this natural disaster panned out. Apparently, we’re now so bitter as a society that we’re wishing greater harm upon ourselves. That’s a little sick, no?
After days of preparation, there is still a lot of damage to deal with in the aftermath of the storm. So, for all of you Irene naysayers, consider these facts. Across the Eastern Seaboard, millions of people are without power. As of this morning, at least 21 people have lost their lives. We’re looking at estimated property losses of $7 billion.
UPDATE (1:10 PM): The property losses could actually run as high as $13 billion, meaning that total economic losses could reach $14 billion to $26 billion (because “the rule of thumb is that total economic losses are equal to about twice property losses”). See this interesting post, entitled “How Irene Lived Up to the Hype,” by Nate Silver.
In the legal world, we know that it pays to be prepared, but there are some things that we just can’t work around….
Layoffs at law firms have slowed to a trickle (although we still hear the occasional rumor; email us with your tips). In the public sector, however, layoffs continue — and may even accelerate, as state governments and the federal government grapple with contentious budget issues.
Today brings word of major layoffs in Connecticut. In a just-issued report, Judge Barbara Quinn, Chief Court Administrator, laid out some serious cuts to positions in the judicial branch.
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Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past six years. You can reach them by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Deal flow has clearly picked recently up for most US associates, counsels and partners in Hong Kong/China and Singapore. We are on the phone with a lot of these folks on a daily basis, many of whom we have known for years. Further, the head of our Asia team, Evan Jowers, and Kinney’s founder and president, Robert Kinney, frequently meet in person with leading US partners in Asia to assess their needs and keep on top of the inside scoop at as many firms as possible. The need for legal recruiting help in Asia from experienced recruiters appears to be live and well. In March, Evan and Robert were in Beijing at such meetings, in April, Evan was in Hong Kong, and for half of June Evan will be in Shanghai and Hong Kong. Thus its pretty easy for us to tell when there has been an across-the-market pick up in capital markets and corporate work.
On an average day in Asia when Evan and Robert visit firms, they typically have 5 to 9 meetings a day, mostly with US partners in the market. The reason they have these meetings is not simply because Kinney makes a lot of US attorney placements in Asia and that a particular firm may have openings; instead these are just visits with friends. After years of working together as business partners, the folks at Kinney are actually these peoples’ friends. The firms Kinney work closely with in Asia (which is just about every law firm – call us if you want to know the one firm in the world we will never place anyone with again, ever, and why) look forward to the visits, or at least act like they do. After seven years in the market, many of the client partners are former associate candidates. Also, these US partners see Kinney as a very good source of market information as well, because they know how deep their contacts are in the market and how frequently they are speaking to counterparts at peer firms.
In a land that is right here and in a time that is right now, a technology has arisen so powerful that it can replace basic human document review. Is it time to bow down before our new robot overlords?
First, here’s a little story about me: my life in the legal world began as a paralegal. My first case was a GIANT patent infringement case that was already six years old and had involved as many as five companies, multiple US courts, the ITC and an international standards committee. I knew nothing about any of this.
On my first day, my supervisor (a paralegal with at least eight other cases driving her crazy) sat me down in front of a Concordance database with a 100,000+ patents and patent file histories. “Code these,” she said. I learned that “coding”, for the purposes of this exercise, meant manually typing the inventor’s name, the title of the patent, the assignee, the file date, and other objective data for each document. I worked on that project – and only that project – for at least the first six months of my job. After a week or so, time began to blur.
What I know, in retrospect and with absolutely certainty, is that as time began to blur, so did my judgment. So did my attention to detail. If you could tell me that I did not make at least one mistake a day – one inconsistent spelling, one reversed day and month, one incorrectly spaced title – I frankly would need to see your evidence. I would not believe it. The human mind is trainable but it is not a machine.
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