Supreme Court

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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Robin Williams

* “No person, no matter how high, is above the law.” It would seem Chief Judge John Roberts is unfamiliar with many of the attorneys we write about on a daily basis. [Associated Press]

* Considering many Americans can’t name a single justice, whether the high court issues 9-0 or 5-4 opinions likely matters little, but Cass Sunstein has a study on it. [New York Times]

* Judge Mark Fuller (M.D. AL) spent a night in jail this weekend after an alleged domestic violence incident with his wife. He paid $5,000 bond before he was released. Uhh… Roll Tide? [CNN]

* The ABA moved forward with reforms to help students gain clinical and distance-learning opportunities. Alas, being paid for work was too controversial this time. [National Law Journal]

* A woman who was trapped inside a law firm as a gunman opened fire before killing himself is now suing everyone for damages. You’d probably sue, too — it must’ve been terrifying. [Times-Picayune]

* Robin Williams, the beloved actor who recently played a very disgruntled lawyer, RIP. [ABC News]

* It’s not that Justice Kennedy cares more about gay rights than women’s rights, it’s that Justice Kennedy understands gay rights better than women’s rights. That’s a much less charitable but shorter read of this insightful piece by a former Kennedy clerk. [Dorf on Law]

* The judge caught making racist and sexist remarks about Charlize Theron’s adoption has been banned from the bench. He wants to be judged on more than this incident. To quote Dr. Hibbert: “And hillbillies want to be called ‘Sons of the Soil’, but it ain’t gonna happen.” [Associated Press via Yahoo! News]

* Adam Carolla is keeping his fight against patent trolls alive. Ziggy socky ziggy socky hoy hoy hoy! [Mashable]

* Yesterday, the man who shot young Renisha McBride for knocking on his door was convicted of second-degree murder. Sadly, it was just one more in a string of cases where some idiot bought into the rhetoric of shooting first and asking questions later that gun lobbyists have pushed for years. [New York Times]

* Here’s something, a former law firm CIO wrote a novella called I Spy, You Spy, We All Spy (affiliate link) based on the allegedly true events of the “law firm spying on its own lawyers, employees and some of its employees’ family members.” Delightful. [Amazon]

* “Why Young Lawyers Shouldn’t Hate Hate Hate Baby Boomers Holding On to Jobs.” OK, I’ll go back to hating them for being the self-absorbed Me Generation that made Gordon Gekko a role model. [Law and More]

* At oral argument in the marriage equality cases, the lawyers and the Sixth Circuit exhibited… a lot of misconceptions. [Constitutional Accountability Center]

* The battle over the EPA’s Carbon rules isn’t over yet. Gear up for a Supreme Court trip. [Breaking Energy]

* Do you need to know how to pronounce the SCOTUS case of Volkswagenwerk Aktiengesellschaft v. Schlunk? There’s an app for that. [Law Technology News]

* The new icon of the Islamic State is a hipster with a law degree. Where’s his Career Alternatives piece? (Alternate quips: For his money, the evening call to prayer must be on vinyl. When decrying alcohol as sinful, he prefers PBR. The scimitar in that picture is from the vintage store. Which direction is Mecca from the Williamsburg Bridge?). [The Telegraph]

* A high school teacher showed up to work intoxicated and without pants on the first day on the job. And thus ends Elie’s career as a high school teacher. [CBS Houston]

* Google is tipping off authorities about criminal activity in Gmail accounts. I believe this message is brought to you by Hotmail. [CNBC]

* Smaller law firms are capturing more and more M&A work per a study by CounselLink. Biglaw may be coming “back” when it comes to hiring, but the trend of clients shifting work to smaller firms continues. [Wall Street Journal]

* We talk a lot about the justice gap in this country. Now some enterprising Utah lawyers are out there making legal services affordable. [The Atlantic]

* “This is not a life story that will end well.” Indeed. [Law Lemmings]

* Thanks to Betterment for sponsoring a great event last night with expert in-house counsel on becoming a startup company lawyer. Check out what you missed. [Betterment]

* A video of Notorious RBG describing the 2013-14 Term. She also explains her approval of the title of Derrick Wang’s opera Scalia/Ginsburg. Embed below…. [Derrick Wang]

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‘That’ll be $27,000… XOXO, Dentons’

* Let’s get ready to rumble! Not wanting to be left out of the party, Oklahoma has also asked the Supreme Court to take a look at its same-sex marriage statute which was recently slapped down by the Tenth Circuit. [National Law Journal]

* Dewey know what financial restructuring adviser Joff Mitchell of Zolfo Cooper said to this failing firm’s partners right before it flopped for good? “Look, there is no way here to save this firm.” Ouch. That had to have sucked. [Forbes]

* The examiner who was appointed to monitor law firm billing for the City of Detroit’s bankruptcy is now questioning Dentons’ fees of up to $27K per month to talk to the press. Whoa there… [Detroit Free Press]

* Working Mother and Flex-Time Lawyers have released the latest ranking of the Top 50 Law Firms for Women. Vivia Chen feels “a bit dirty” after reading the list — and you probably should, too. [The Careerist]

* Leisure Suit Larry’s successors are here to stay for a while: Case Western Reserve Law’s co-interim deans will stay on in their current positions for the upcoming school year. [Crain's Cleveland Business]

* Utah appealed its same-sex marriage case to the Supreme Court, making it the first state whose law was smacked down by an appellate court to do so. Let the countdown begin. [National Law Journal]

* In the ruling that saved Alabama’s abortion clinics, Judge Myron Thompson likened the right to have an abortion to the right to bear arms. We can think of a few people who would take issue with that. [CNN]

* In case you’ve been wondering why tax inversions are hot right now, you can blame it all on some bicycling tax and M&A lawyers from Skadden — call them bikedudes at law, if you will. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Law schools tout the fact that their graduates are finding jobs in “J.D. Advantage” positions. Meanwhile, it remains unclear how much of an advantage a law degree actually offers in these jobs. [Am Law Daily]

* In a lawsuit peppered with crazy allegations, a law prof at Florida A&M claims in a gender discrimination complaint that male professors are “paid considerably more” than female professors. [Tampa Tribune]

* CNN sued over claims that a correspondent bit EMTs at the embassy in Baghdad. And just like that, Baghdad isn’t looking so safe anymore. [MSN]

* Tea Party favorite Chris McDaniel has filed a legal challenge over the Mississippi GOP primary. It’s dumb. [KARN h/t Election Law Blog]

* The Wisconsin Supreme Court upheld the state’s restrictions on unions. Meanwhile the dissent relied on really weak arguments like “actual Supreme Court precedent.” [Labor Press]

* The immigration crisis has inspired Miami to establish a rocket docket, which is a useful response, so we should probably shut it down and encourage drunk militia members to get in boats or something. [Daily Business Review]

* Dan Markel was serving as a legal consultant to the defendants in that Orthodox divorce extortion case. [Village Voice]

* The legal conundra of The Guardians of the Galaxy. Poor Ronan… you plan one attempted genocide and the law is all over you. [The Legal Geeks]

Girls in my high school briefed cases all the time, it was no big deal.

* According to Patron Saint RBG, the Supreme Court has never really come around on “the ability of women to decide for themselves what their destiny will be.” Gay people are doing well, though, so good for them. [New York Times]

* Two law professors and a consultant built a model that predicts SCOTUS decisions with 69.7 percent accuracy, and justices’ votes with 70.9 percent accuracy. For lawyers who are bad at math, that’s damn near perfect. Nice work! [Vox]

* An Alabama abortion clinic statute which required that doctors have admitting privileges at local hospitals was ruled unconstitutional. Perhaps this will be the death knell for these laws. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Idaho’s Supreme Court rejected Concordia Law’s bid to allow grads to sit for the bar before the ABA granted it provisional accreditation. Too bad, since lawyers are needed in Idaho. [National Law Journal]

* Before you go to law school, you can learn how to gun with the best of them. That’s right, you can practice briefing cases before you even set foot in the door. [Law Admissions Lowdown / U.S. News]

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