How Appealing

Friday, January 5, 2007

"White House Seeks Lawyer Wise to Ways of Congress": This article will appear Saturday in The New York Times.
Posted at 10:52 PM by Howard Bashman

"It's Time to Abolish 'Invisible' State Appellate Court Rulings": The brand new installment of my "On Appeal" essay for can be accessed here.
Posted at 10:50 PM by Howard Bashman

"Byron L. Trackwell, proceeding pro se, filed a complaint in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas, alleging that the Clerk of the United States Supreme Court had repeatedly withheld from Justice Stephen Breyer an application he submitted that challenged the constitutionality of the Iraq War." So begins a ruling that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit issued today.
Posted at 09:23 PM by Howard Bashman

Former Westar Energy executives David C. Wittig and Douglas T. Lake win reversal of their federal criminal convictions in Tenth Circuit appeal: You can access today's ruling of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit at this link.

The Kansas City Star provides a news update headlined "Convictions of David Wittig, Douglas Lake thrown out on appeal" that begins, "In a stunning development, an appeals court today tossed the fraud convictions of former Westar Energy Inc. executives David Wittig and Douglas Lake, finding insufficient evidence of their guilt. In a 43-page opinion, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals set aside the men’s convictions on every count and ruled that most of the counts could not be retried."

Reuters reports that "Appeals court overturns ex-Westar CEO conviction."

And The Associated Press reports that "Appeals court tosses 'looting' convictions against Wittig, Lake."
Posted at 09:08 PM by Howard Bashman

On this evening's broadcast of NPR's "All Things Considered": The broadcast contained audio segments entitled "Federal Government Can Now Open Citizens' Mail" and "Judge's 'Tyranny of Tolerance' Book Spurs Complaints" (RealPlayer required).
Posted at 07:44 PM by Howard Bashman

"Court Agrees to Hear Coca-Cola's Appeal": The Associated Press provides this report.

James Vicini reports that "Court to hear delusional death row inmate's case."

In related coverage, the blog "StandDown Texas Project" provides a post titled "Panetti Case to Get Supreme Court Review."

And Greg Stohr of Bloomberg News reports that "Shareholder Lawsuit Standards Draw U.S. Supreme Court Scrutiny."
Posted at 07:35 PM by Howard Bashman

"Court to hear seven cases": Lyle Denniston has this late-breaking news at "SCOTUSblog." You can access today's U.S. Supreme Court Order List at this link (starting at page 2 of the PDF file).
Posted at 05:40 PM by Howard Bashman

"Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas to Visit Bowen School of Law": The UALR William H. Bowen School of Law has issued this press release noting that on Friday, January 26, 2007 Justice Thomas will deliver the second Arnold Lecture. Justice Antonin Scalia delivered the first Arnold Lecture in October 2004, and my coverage of Justice Scalia's talk can be accessed at this link.

Update: A reader emails to note that the references to "Mississippi" in the press release would be a bit more accurate if they instead said "Missouri."
Posted at 04:54 PM by Howard Bashman

Available today at National Review Online: Byron York has an essay entitled "Conservatives Say, Goodbye Harriet: The departure of the White House counsel is greeted with relief."

And Walter M. Weber has an essay entitled "Supreme Standing: Overturning Flast, at last."
Posted at 04:35 PM by Howard Bashman

"The government is reading your mail: But that's nothing new -- a Bush signing statement reminds us how little we know about hush-hush postal-monitoring programs, and how vulnerable they are to abuse." Mark Benjamin has this article today at
Posted at 04:25 PM by Howard Bashman

"Rehnquist's Drug Habit: The man in full." Slate today has re-posted this Press Box essay by Jack Shafer that originally appeared online at Slate in 2005.
Posted at 04:20 PM by Howard Bashman

"Court Asked to Uphold Hatch Conviction": The AP provides a report that begins, "Prosecutors urged a federal appeals court Friday to uphold the tax evasion conviction of 'Survivor' winner Richard Hatch, saying he had an opportunity to testify about why he thought the show's producers would pay his taxes, but never took it."
Posted at 04:08 PM by Howard Bashman

Breasts and Santa's Butt win First Amendment tussle against State of Maine: The Associated Press reports that "Maine OKs Santa, Breasts on Beer Labels."
Posted at 04:02 PM by Howard Bashman

Smart kids with bad taste in t-shirts: The Chicago Sun-Times today contains an article headlined "Kids pit principle vs. their principal; 'Gifties' go to appellate court to fight for right to wear T-shirt" reporting on an oral argument (mp3 file) that occurred yesterday before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. Thanks to "Overlawyered" for the pointer.
Posted at 03:58 PM by Howard Bashman

On "Talk Like a Pirate Day," you can pronounce the radio network's name as "N P Arrr!" Today's broadcast of NPR's "Day to Day" contained an audio segment entitled "A Change in NPR Pronunciation for Padilla" (RealPlayer required).
Posted at 03:28 PM by Howard Bashman

And it wasn't even a house-destroyingly-good cup of coffee: An attorney with Cozen O'Connor's tenacious fire subrogation team won this victory today in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
Posted at 03:10 PM by Howard Bashman

USA Today's Joan Biskupic signs deal to write biography of Justice Antonin Scalia: Biskupic, the author of a wonderful biography titled "Sandra Day O'Connor: How the First Woman on the Supreme Court Became Its Most Influential Justice," has recently signed with Farrar, Straus and Giroux to write a biography of Justice Scalia.

In common with the O'Connor biography, Biskupic's new book will be based on research at political and judicial archives, interviews with key players in the Justice's past, and Biskupic's background in covering the Court since the late 1980s. Although this book has yet to be written, given how interesting Justice Scalia appears to be from a distance, I'm really looking forward to reading all about him.
Posted at 01:48 PM by Howard Bashman

"Grassroot Lessons: For anyone opening a small law practice, Gerald Ford is a case study in how paying attention to bedrock principles can lead to big things--even if it's not the White House." The ABA Journal eReport has reprinted this article, which originally appeared in the February 1997 issue of The ABA Journal magazine.
Posted at 11:22 AM by Howard Bashman

Five questions for Jan Crawford Greenburg: She's hot. And not merely in the way that David Lat and I have previously observed (see here, here, and here). Over the past couple of months, she's hosted on-camera talks with four members of the U.S. Supreme Court. Earlier in 2006, she left The Chicago Tribune to cover the Court and other major law-related stories for ABC News. And in just a few weeks, Jan's still top-secret book about the Court will arrive in bookstores near you.

Jan graciously agreed to answer the following five questions from one of her favorite law bloggers:

1. Enquiring minds want to know -- How did you land the first-ever network television interview with Justice John Paul Stevens earlier this week, is Justice Stevens as wonderful in person as one would imagine, and can you tell us anything about the interview that didn't make it onto TV or your online write-up of the interview?

A: I asked. I knew he had a letter of praise from President Ford hanging in his chambers and was understandably proud of it, so I asked if he would talk to me about the man who nominated him. To my shock (and the surprise of everyone at the Court), he agreed. He'd gotten up at 5 a.m. to fly to Washington for Ford's funeral, so it was a long day by the time he sat down to talk with me later that afternoon. But he was gracious and charming--even when he firmly declined at one point to answer a question about whether his views on affirmative action had "evolved." I guess the only interesting thing that didn't make TV or online was that he told me the precise date he plans to retire.

2. Over the past several months, you've also hosted an on-camera talk with Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. and an on-camera discussion between Justices Antonin Scalia and Stephen G. Breyer. Are we experiencing a more press-friendly Court, or merely a more Jan Crawford Greenburg-friendly Court, and to what do you attribute any change in the Justices' willingness to go on camera?

A: Pure coincidence. Roberts was helping out an old friend. He agreed to an interview at the University of Miami, where Dean Colson, who he's known since their days clerking for Chief Justice Rehnquist, is chairman of the board of trustees. Stevens was remembering a man he said he would have liked as a friend. Scalia and Breyer were engaging in a friendly duel. But it's OK if my bosses here at ABC think it's all me.

3. What are your views on whether the Supreme Court should televise its courtroom sessions or at least release same-day audio of oral arguments, and do you think either of those two things is likely to happen soon?

A: You know how a television reporter has to answer that! Of course I'd like to see the cameras in there--though I think people would soon lose interest when they saw what most oral arguments were like. Not exactly riveting television. And didn't Roberts say he wouldn't want to contribute to Justice Souter's demise by bringing cameras in? The same-day audio is a different story. It’s worked so well that I'd guess the Court will use it as a shield against cameras.

4. Your career seems to be on a meteoric path from The Crimson White to The Chicago Tribune (with TV stints on PBS's The NewsHour and CBS's Face the Nation) to ABC News. Did you ever experience any difficult times on your path to your current success when you thought you might have to abandon journalism for something else, and if so please explain.

A: Being a superstitious southern girl, I refuse to even consider whether I've put myself on a path to success after 20 years in the news business. Howard, you are going to jinx me! I am knocking on wood right now. And yes, I left journalism for an oh-so-brief time after law school in 1993. I'd started at the Tribune covering fires and shootings on the night shift, then I moved onto reporting on county government. After a few years of that, I decided to go to law school, and I took a job at Cahill, Gordon & Reindel after spending a summer there. I was going to be doing things, not chronicling them. But it dawned on me right around graduation that instead of championing the rights of my fellow ink-stained wretches in critical First Amendment cases, I was more likely going to be doing mind numbing document production in some insurance coverage case. So I called the Tribune, and they let me come back. Cahill, alas, made me pay back my $5,000 signing bonus. But I didn't have to reimburse them for Bar-Bri, so there is that. And Floyd Abrams sent me a nice holiday card for a few years.

5. Your book -- "Supreme Conflict: The Inside Story of the Struggle for Control of the United States Supreme Court" -- is due to go on sale on January 23, 2007, and it's being hyped as "an explosive, newsbreaking account" that draws on "unprecedented access to the Supreme Court justices and their inner circles." Mindful of the fact that much of the book remains top-secret, please tell us what you can about it, including why folks should buy it. And is there any truth to rumors of a forthcoming "Jan Crawford Greenblawg" hosted at

A: I was fortunate enough to talk to nine Supreme Court justices, and a lot of what I heard surprised me. Some of the conventional wisdom is just wrong, especially about Justice Thomas and his early role on the Court. When I was doing the research on his early years, my heart would literally jump up every time I came across a memo or document that was completely at odds with what people have long said about him. The book is about how the Rehnquist Court came to disappoint conservatives--what went wrong from their point of view--and how those perceived missteps influenced the Bush Administration's thinking on Roberts, Miers and Alito. So it's almost like two books, with the second half tracing the inside story of those nominations. That's where most of the so-called "breaking news" is, and that's why Penguin isn't releasing any copies in advance. So you can get two books for the price of one! As for the blog, in the next couple of weeks, I'll start sharing some more inside information, as well as my thoughts on the law, the Court and how the University of Alabama is going to crush Auburn with our new head football coach. In the meantime, my main goal is talking you, Howard, into contributing. Oh, and we haven't decided on a name for it, but don't you think a great title like Greenblawg is probably taken?
Posted at 11:05 AM by Howard Bashman

"Michigan senators get more say over judges": Booth Newspapers today provide a report that begins, "A change in U.S. Senate rules will guarantee Democratic Sens. Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow veto power over President Bush's judicial nominees for Michigan federal court seats for the next two years."
Posted at 10:27 AM by Howard Bashman

"Appeals court upholds law requiring a photo ID to vote": Henry Weinstein has this article today in The Los Angeles Times.

The Indianapolis Star reports today that "Voter ID law withstands appeal; Federal court says it found no evidence that the measure hindered Hoosiers at the polls."

And The Times of Munster, Indiana reports that "Appeals Court lets voter ID law pass; Democrats say ID law is unfair."

My earlier coverage appears at this link.
Posted at 08:54 AM by Howard Bashman

"Appellate court rebukes O.C. judge; Panel sent the case back and was dissatisfied; the second time it was dissatisfied it overturned the drug conviction and criticized the jurist": The Los Angeles Times today contains this article reporting on a recent ruling of the California Court of Appeal for the Fourth Appellate District, Division Three.
Posted at 08:50 AM by Howard Bashman

"Rethinking the Death Penalty": This editorial appears today in The New York Times.
Posted at 08:45 AM by Howard Bashman

"Consider the irony of Guantanamo Bay": Thomas P. Sullivan has this op-ed today in The Chicago Tribune.
Posted at 08:44 AM by Howard Bashman

"Hamas-case defense rests; Bridgeview man's attorneys again suggest his confession was coerced": This article appears today in The Chicago Tribune.
Posted at 08:42 AM by Howard Bashman

"Judge removed from discrimination case; A federal appeals court says it's troubled by Manuel Real's 'apparent unwillingness' to abide by its orders to correct his errors in the trial": Henry Weinstein has this article today in The Los Angeles Times reporting on a recent non-precedential ruling of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

Today's article also notes that "The decision came just six weeks after a disciplinary panel of the 9th Circuit voted 9 to 1 to publicly reprimand Real for improperly seizing control of a bankruptcy case involving a defendant whose probation he was supervising. Real has appealed that decision to the Judicial Conference of the U.S. in Washington." On Tuesday, I made available that disciplinary panel's ruling via this link.
Posted at 08:33 AM by Howard Bashman

"Jury-service snubs hit the Nichols case": This article appears today in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Posted at 08:23 AM by Howard Bashman

"Truck driver's family says trial has torn them apart; Mom pleads for her son's life, says she's lost touch with her grandkids": The Houston Chronicle today contains an article that begins, "The grisly scene in Victoria that left fathers, brothers and sons dead destroyed families in Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador and the Dominican Republic. And after three years behind bars and a conviction that has him facing the death penalty, the actions of Tyrone Williams Jr. -- the driver pulling a sealed trailer in which 19 illegal immigrants lost their lives -- has torn apart another family: his own."
Posted at 08:22 AM by Howard Bashman

"Harriet Miers to step down as White House counsel; A long letter by Bush's controversial, thwarted Supreme Court choice gives no reason for her resignation": This article appears today in The Los Angeles Times.
Posted at 08:20 AM by Howard Bashman

"Potential judicial nominees studied; Two Mississippians with ties to GOP failed to win Congress' favor": The Clarion-Ledger of Jackson, Mississippi on Tuesday contained an article that begins, "Potential nominees interviewed by the White House for the opening on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals could be back in the running now that Jackson lawyer Michael Wallace has withdrawn his name from consideration."

And yesterday, Ralph G. Neas, president of People For the American Way, issued a press release entitled "Will the President Change Course on Judicial Nominations?"
Posted at 08:10 AM by Howard Bashman

Another Rehnquist in the news: The Boston Globe reports today that "SJC expresses skepticism about LaGuer appeal."

And in related coverage, The Boston Herald reports today that "Rapist's sister denies he wants commutation."
Posted at 08:00 AM by Howard Bashman

"John Roberts and the 'constitutional crisis' of an underpaid judiciary": Law Professor Ann Althouse offers these thoughts at her blog.
Posted at 07:55 AM by Howard Bashman

"Bush Warned About Mail-Opening Authority; Recent 'Signing Statement' Seen as Stretching Law": The Washington Post today contains an article that begins, "President Bush signed a little-noticed statement last month asserting the authority to open U.S. mail without judicial warrants in emergencies or foreign intelligence cases, prompting warnings yesterday from Democrats and privacy advocates that the administration is attempting to circumvent legal restrictions on its powers."
Posted at 07:48 AM by Howard Bashman

"Remain Silent? Some in Custody Spell It All Out." This article appears today in The New York Times.
Posted at 07:45 AM by Howard Bashman

"Lagging Judicial Pay": The New York Times today contains an editorial that begins, "Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. is embracing with gusto a cause championed by his predecessor, William Rehnquist: the need for a substantial pay raise for federal judges. Justice Roberts devoted his second annual year-end report to this issue, and it should be required reading in Congress."
Posted at 07:33 AM by Howard Bashman

"Court weighs parental rights of sperm donors; Definition of parent issue in Kan. case": Joan Biskupic has this article today in USA Today.
Posted at 06:42 AM by Howard Bashman

The New York Sun is reporting: In today's newspaper, Joseph Goldstein has an article headlined "Supreme Court Will Hear Cases On Union Political Activities."

The newspaper also contains an article headlined "Spitzer: Gay Rites Ahead."
Posted at 06:40 AM by Howard Bashman

"The Supreme Court Considers a Case Involving the Dormant Commerce Clause, and the Balance of Federal and State Power: How Will the New Roberts Court Rule In This Area?" Vikram David Amar has this essay online today at FindLaw.
Posted at 06:35 AM by Howard Bashman

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