War on Terror

On Tuesday evening, I returned to the offices of Wachtell Lipton, the law firm where I toiled as an associate years ago. Luckily, I wasn’t there to bill hours; instead, I attended a reception marking the launch of a delightful new book, The Mother Court: Tales of Cases that Mattered in America’s Greatest Trial Court (affiliate link).

“The Mother Court” is the nickname for the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, regarded by many as the preeminent federal trial court in the nation. In the book of the same name, James Zirin, a leading litigator who’s now senior counsel in the New York office of Sidley Austin, shares with readers the fascinating history of this top tribunal.

In a review that ran yesterday in the New York Law Journal, Thomas E.L. Dewey hailed the book as a “richly textured, immensely readable overview of the modern history of the Southern District of New York.” Last month, in the New York Review of Books, Judge Jed Rakoff praised Zirin’s “fluid prose and eye for detail.”

What fun tidbits and interesting opinions did James Zirin share in his remarks on Tuesday night?

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* Ready for the ATL Top 50 Law School Rankings? They will be revealed next week on the next episode of Kaplan’s The 180 — Live. [The 180 -- Live / Kaplan]

* Georgia is now the 31st state with an active marriage equality lawsuit. Justice Scalia now really wants a revolt. [Associated Press via ABC News]

* Stetson boasted the best bar passage rate in Florida. See how that’s a better fact to tout than “5th out of 11“? [Ocala Star Banner]

* A key member of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s defense team is leaving the Army because they were going to force him to leave the defense to attend a graduate course in Virginia. The kneejerk, liberal reaction is that this is a conspiracy to derail his defense. I highly doubt it. From my experience, the Army’s counterproductive decisions are staunchly arbitrary. [Huffington Post]

* Derek Khanna takes on the Aereo case before the Supreme Court ruins it for all of us. [Politix]

* Britain’s just like a cute little America. They have conservative politicians trying to win votes through nonsensical religious exclusion too. [What About Clients]

* Last time we checked in on Judge Carlos Cortez, he was defending himself against charges that he strangled and threatened to kill a girlfriend. Apparently things have gotten much, much darker down there in Texas. [Dallas Morning News]

This week, Emad Abdullah Hassan, a Yemeni man held at Guantanamo Bay since 2002, renewed his legal effort to fight the policy of tube-feeding detainees on hunger strike in protest against their ongoing detention. Last month, the D.C. Circuit held that the federal courts have jurisdiction over cases where Gitmo detainees challenge the terms of their confinement, though the panel declined to enjoin the practice of forced feeding. (You can read the specific claims in Hassan’s case here.)

Nasogastric feeding, the method used with Gitmo hunger-strikers, is where medical staff deliver liquid nutrition directly to a patient’s stomach via a thin plastic tube inserted through the nose.

Critics call the forced feeding torture. Is it?

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Last month, Grantland published a story that led to great harrumphing across much of the internet. Titled “Dr. V’s Magical Putter,” it profiled a golf-club inventor whose big secret — that she was transgender — was revealed slowly, teased until the end like a mystery novel. The eponymous inventor’s death was treated as a mere plot point, puzzled over like everything else about the woman’s life. If you haven’t read the piece yet, I heartily encourage you to do so. I’ll wait.

This weekend, the New York Times published a story that will likely lead to very little harrumphing. This story, the profile of a transgender attorney who represents terror suspects, was written not as thrill-packed pulp fiction, but rather as the sober account of a ballsy attorney who deserves our approbation. If you’ll excuse that last sentence’s shameful bit of wordplay clowning, I promise you the rest of this post will be wholly serious. Because the New York Times story is important both for what it says about a life lived honestly and for what it says about the progress we’ve made in accepting such honesty.

So now, let us name all the interesting things about attorney Zoë J. Dolan. I mean, besides the umlaut….

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A sterner talking-to than Lanny Breuer gave HSBC.

* You can go to jail for possession, but if you actively aid and abet drug cartels, you can walk away with a fine worth 5 weeks of your income. It also helps if instead of “poor” you’re a bank. Hooray for “Too Big To Hold Accountable For Anything!!! [Rolling Stone]

* Disney has gotten fed up with “mockbusters,” films that jack the studio’s logo to confuse people into buying a different DVD. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve been itching to check out this new flick September: Osage County. [Jezebel]

* Dahlia Lithwick explains that too many schools feel the cure for the trauma of school shootings is… creating more trauma. [Slate]

* Chief Judge Theodore McKee of the Third Circuit rules that the government can detain you for carrying Arabic flashcards. This doesn’t even make racist profiling sense: “bad guys” would already know how to speak Arabic, right? [The Raw Story]

* Defendants need to understand that getting an acquittal requires them to expend some personal effort, too. [Katz Justice]

Amanda Bynes

* Dewey know which Biglaw firms and ex-partners were sued by the failed firm’s bankruptcy estate? Sadly, they must all be asking, “Howrey going to survive now that Allan Diamond is on the case?” [Am Law Daily]

* You’d probably love to work as an associate on a 9-5 schedule with billable requirements so low you’d get canned anywhere else. There’s just one catch: You’d have a “proportionately lower salary.” [Daily Report]

* “Law professors and law deans are paid too much,” so the ABA is reducing tenure requirements for law school accreditation, which will make it easier for them to be laid off. [Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)]

* The ABA also decided to cut law schools some slack in terms of graduates’ employment data, and it’s likely due to the U.S. News rankings reckoning. Say hello to the 10-months-after graduation jobs statistic. [National Law Journal]

* Following the Windsor ruling, the Social Security Administration is paying claims for married gay couples living in states where same-sex marriage is recognized. As for the rest, better luck next time. [BuzzFeed]

* Would-be senator Cory Booker has taken annual payouts from his former firm, Trenk DiPasquale, since he left. You may remember that firm’s name from the C&D letter seen around the world. [New York Post]

* Author John Grisham was so pissed his books were banned at Guantánamo Bay that he took up the cause of prisoners wrongfully accused, detained for years, and released without apology. [New York Times]

* Almost as if to add insult to injury, Bernie Madoff was allegedly involved in a love triangle with one of his employees who’s about to go to trial. Apparently having dirty money is a desirable trait in a man. [Reuters]

* Amanda Bynes is still in the psych ward on a 5150, and her mother was granted a temporary conservatorship over her cray cray kid’s financial affairs. Way to follow in Britney Spears’s footsteps. [CNN]

The top secret “No-Fly” list has been problematic since day one. The DHS and FBI apparently believe over 20,000 people are too dangerous to allow to board a plane but not dangerous enough to arrest.

This is the process the government follows to place would-be travelers on the no-fly list.

1. The government places a person on the no-fly list.

That’s all there is to it. The list is too “sensitive” to publish and exposing its methodology would apparently result in airliners raining down around us.

If you’re a lucky recipient of the “no-fly” designation, here’s how you’re informed of your new status…

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Jodi Arias

* A bipartisan immigration reform bill made its way through the Senate Judiciary Committee and will head to the Senate floor. Of course, the amendments in support of gay marriage didn’t make it in, but that may be moot soon anyway. [CNN]

* IRS official Lois Lerner may not be very “good at math,” but at least she seems to know the basic principles of constitutional law. She’ll invoke her Fifth Amendment rights before the House Oversight Committee today. [Politico]

* The D.C. Circuit ruled that the top secret Osama bin Laden death photos will remain top secret, but the internet’s desperate cries of “pics or it didn’t happen” will live on in our hearts. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

* Attention naysayers: it may be time to face the music. According to the latest Altman Weil survey, most law firm leaders think all of these fun recession-driven changes are here to stay. [Am Law Daily]

* Twenty-two law firms are banding together to fight against fraudulent financial products on a worldwide scale. It’s too bad this legal alliance didn’t exist before the Bernie Madoff scandal. [New York Times]

* It looks like New Jersey may soon be hopping aboard the “pro bono work before bar admission” train. You better hope you get your clinic placements in order, people. [New Jersey Law Journal (sub. req.)]

* The results for the February 2013 bar exam in California are out, and they’re frightening. It’s time to try that acting thing again, because only 41 percent of all test takers passed the exam. [The Recorder]

* Jodi Arias is now begging jurors to allow her to live out the rest of her days in prison. She wants to contribute to society by painting, recycling, and… not slashing additional throats. Lovely. [Fox News]

Earlier this week, President Barack Obama reiterated his interest in shutting down the prison at Guantanamo Bay: “I’ve asked my team to review everything that’s currently being done in Guantanamo, everything that we can do administratively, and I’m going to reengage with Congress to try to make the case that this is not in the best interests of the American people.”

President Obama isn’t alone in being troubled by goings-on at Guantanamo. This morning I attended an interesting panel discussion where a retired admiral, the former Judge Advocate General of the Navy, spoke out in favor of closing Gitmo….

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So they finally read Dzhokhar Tsarnaev his rights. Good thing we have that public safety exception to the Constitution. Who can be bothered to hold fast to our most sacred rights and liberties when there might be something bad happening! Obviously, once he was read his rights Tsarnaev immediately stopped talking and the government was unable to protect us from… oh wait, that didn’t happen. Tsarnaev kept talking (or nodding, as it were), even after informed of the basic rights guaranteed to him as a U.S. citizen.

But he did communicate that he couldn’t afford a lawyer. Luckily for him, the magistrate judge who read him his rights at his hospital bedside came with federal public defender in tow.

Let’s meet the people who will do this distasteful work so the rest of us can crucify the guy while being confident he’ll get a fair trial…

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