Saturday, October 15, 2005

Who says no practicing, private sector lawyers blogging against Miers

Southern Appeal suggests that Hugh Hewitt is blind if he thinks there are no private, practicing lawyers blogging against Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers.

Here you can see the Bainbridge online poll regarding the Miers nomination. The last I checked, 69% of his respondents were opposed.

On the proliferation of new law schools

This article from law.com mentions the Appalachian School of Law and new law schools in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia, in its discussion of the wave of new law schools in the U.S.

Little things mean a lot

I just read The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell, a book my sister gave me for my birthday. I had never heard of this book.

Reading it makes me wonder about the political and legal/law business applications of the knowledge in that book. It is very provocative, I recommend it.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Thursday, October 13, 2005

The man in Clintwood

Brian Patton has passed the Virginia bar - way to go, yeah.

Besides reading his blog, I met him at the conference in Charlottesville.

Northern Virginia judge still ruling that presumption in DUI law is unconstitutional

The AP reports here that a Northern Virginia general district court judge is still dismissing drunk driving cases on the grounds that the Virginia statute under which intoxication is presumed from a prescribed blood alcohol content is unconstitutional.

Why not a truth-detecting light

It says here that the general district court judge from the Tidewater now facing a complaint before the Judicial Inquiry and Review Commission is "also accused of misleading defendants by telling them his courtroom was equipped with a drug-detecting light."

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Convicted murderers undefeated so far before Roberts Court

Professor Berman reports: First opinion of Roberts Court is a win for a criminal defendant! On habeas!

Those crazy West Coast types and their contracts

ContractsProf Blog says here that the Ninth Circuit has ruled that complex and sophisticated loan documents "that provide they cannot be amended except in writing can nevertheless be modified by by oral agreement."

Supreme Court denies cert in Chesterfield Wiccan case

It says here and here that the United States Supreme Court in its infinite wisdom has declined to hear the appeal of the Wiccan woman who sued when she was not allowed on the list of ministers eligible to deliver the invocation at the meetings fo the Chesterfield County Board of Supervisors.

What are the legal credentials of the Senators on the Judiciary Committee?

As the Senate prepares to pass judgment on the nomination of Harriet Miers, it was interesting to read this summary of the legal credentials of the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which says in part:

"Senator Hatch: A lawyer who received his degree from the Pittsburgh Law School. He then practiced law for 14 years . . .

-Senator Chuck Grassley: Not a lawyer. A farmer and Senator

-Senator Lindsay Graham: Law degree from University of South Carolina. Served a few years as a lawyer in the Air Force. . .

-Senator Kyl: A lawyer who graduated from the University of Arizona (he did serve on Law Review and was one of the names touted for SCOTUS)

-Senator DeWine: A lawyer who graduated from Ohio Northern University Law School

-Senator Sessions: A lawyer who graduated from the University of Alabama. Had a career as small-town lawyer before becoming US Assistant US Attorney for the Southern District of Alabama; then US Attorney for the district and Alabama’s Attorney General for two years.

-Senator Cornyn: Lawyer, graduated from St. Mary’s School of Law in San Antonio (later earned a masters of Law from University of Virginia Law School). Served as District Court Judge and Texas Supreme Court

-Senator Brownback: Law degree from University of Kansas (the picture on his website shows him riding a bull)

-Senator Tom Coburn: Not a lawyer . . .

-Senator Leahy: JD from Georgetown University . . .

-Senator Kennedy: . . .

-Senator Biden: Graduated from Syracuse University College of Law. . . .

-Senator Kohl: Not a lawyer . . .

-Senator Feingold: Lawyer who graduated from Harvard Law School. Practiced law for a few years. . .

-Senator Schumer: Graduated from Harvard Law School. Practiced for only a few years.

-Senator Durbin: Lawyer who graduated from Georgetown; he did practice for a number of years."

Regarding Senator DeWine, he went to the same law school as Clintwood's own Brian Patton.

Where does Pete Curcio keep his tickets?

This story from West Virginia is titled "Notre Dame tickets stolen from law office."

More suicides than homicides in Virginia in 2003

The Richmond paper reports here: "More people killed themselves than were killed by others in 2003, according to a new state report that examines details of more than 1,300 suicides, homicides and other violent deaths in Virginia that year."

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

On Bill Hobbs

It says here that Tennessee blogging guru Bill Hobbs is cutting back.

Bill Hobbs has been one of my favorites for years.

One thing in particular I appreciate was that he guaranteed by way of a link back that hundreds of people (the most ever, at the time) read this 2003 post, which says:

---

Bill Hobbs of HobbsOnline says here that he gets a check from his mother in the amount of his age times $1 each year for his birthday. He figures he's losing the battle with time but beating inflation.

That story reminds that my grandmother, who died on August 12, 2002, at the age of 86, would send me each year for my birthday, even after I was a practicing lawyer, a birthday card (sometimes a few days late) with a handwritten note saying how well she remembered getting the long-distance call from Kentucky when I was born and how proud she was that I was her grandson, and inside the card was a one dollar bill. (Unlike Bill Hobbs, I got no cost-of-living adjustment from her, but her list of people to whom she sent cards grew larger as I grew older.)

--

Thanks, Bill.

Why the judiciary aren't mediocre

A while back, I wrote this post with some of my thoughts about how judges in spite of the system are mostly excellent, citing among other things Judge Posner who wrote in this book: "I may be living in the golden age of the federal appellate judiciary. There may never have been a time when so large a fraction of federal judges were outstanding."

I also told the following tale, heard in the church in D.C. where I was married:

The homilist was some fellow from the Church of England, with a syrupy British accent and bone-dry sense of humor.... He related the story of a young priest assigned to a class of teenagers, who made the mistake one day of opening the floor for questions, and the first question was this: "why are the clergy so mediocre?" He thought a moment, and answered, "because we have only the laity to pick from."

The post also notes this discussion about whether it is good for federal judges to be "mediocre."

As to the U.S. Supreme Court, the question may be, why aren't the Supreme Court justices more mediocre? The answer may be, they've got the federal judiciary (and many other sources of excellence) to pick from. All of which makes me feel short-changed by the nomination of Harriet Miers. From my desk, the appearance is that the president didn't even try to make a great pick. The stated rationale that Bush knows Miers personally and therefore he feels confident how she will vote doesn't cut it with me. The idea doesn't even make sense, judging on the basis of "what would Bush want me to do?"

If the President was going to pick an unknown, and why not, he should have found a well-qualified one, and laughed like Nixon did over Rehnquist, or like Bush himself could have done after the vote was in on Roberts.

Did I mention I got the new Edith Maxwell book for my birthday?

It's true, I got the book Never Seen The Moon: The Trials Of Edith Maxwell, about a sensational murder case in Wise County from the 1930s, about which I last wrote this post.

The re-reassignment of the circuits

I am delighted to see here that the new Chief Justice has been assigned as circuit justice for the Fourth Circuit, based on the suspicion that sooner or later I will get to see him at the judicial conference, the Article III groupie that I am.

Interesting First Amendment case being argued this week before U.S. Supreme Court

Here, Nat Garrett of SCOTUSBlog previews the upcoming argument before the Supreme Court in the case of Garcetti v. Ceballos, where an L.A. prosecutor under the notorious Gil Garcetti was retaliated against for telling defense counsel that there was a problem with a warrant obtained by the sheriff's department.

The District Court entered summary judgment for the defendants, because the alleged speech was part of the plaintiff's job duties. The Ninth Circuit panel in an opinion by Judge Reinhardt reversed, concluding that it was a matter of public concern, even if it was job-required speech.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Alternative dispute resolution

From Say What, said to be an actual lease provision (among some Texans):

"13. DISPUTES. If unanimously hereafter agreed by the parties, any disputes regarding this lease shall be settled by an old-fashioned fistfight or best single draw five-card poker hand."

Judge Fulton resigns to take Richmond job

Here the Coalfield Progress reports that General District Court Judge Suzanne Fulton has resigned to take a job as "the first director of the Virginia Supreme Court's new Judicial Evaluation Program."

On Miers - the Westlaw headcount theory

Is that Legal posts here (Fifth Circuit) and here (Texas appeals courts) about the number and outcome of published cases in which Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers appeared as counsel, and there are not too many.

I must confess, I looked up her name myself. I think her name is on about 20 opinions, great and small. By contrast, "Lucas Hobbs" (a/k/a the new guy in our firm) is on 39 opinions, and "John G. Roberts, Jr." is on 85 opinions.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

On lawyers who blog

The NY Times has this article which begins: "Inside every lawyer, it is said, there is a brilliant writer, held back by professional ambition or by fear of failure. Nowhere is that truism more evident than in the explosion of online blogs by, for and about lawyers."

Reading and writing, it's what we do.