Tuesday, June 3, 2008
"Ex-CEO Scrushy asks court to throw out conviction": The Associated Press provides a report that begins, "Former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy has asked a federal appeals court to overturn his conviction in a government corruption case, saying in part that jurors violated court rules by communicating with each other by e-mail. Scrushy's attorneys filed a 118-page brief late Monday asking the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to reverse Scrushy's June 2006 conviction or order a new trial."
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has begun posting online the audio of its oral arguments: The court issued this announcement today. The oral argument audio files themselves can be accessed via this link.
In news coverage of one of yesterday's oral arguments, The Associated Press has an article headlined "Klan member Seale appeals to 5th Circuit Court" that begins, "The attorney for James Ford Seale, the reputed Ku Klux Klan member serving three life sentences for his role in the 1964 abduction and deaths of two black Mississippi teenagers, argued before the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday that the statute of limitations had expired, negating Seale's conviction." You can access the audio of yesterday's oral argument in United States v. Seale via this link (19.2MB Windows Media audio file).
"'Survivor' winner takes case to Supreme Court": The Associated Press provides a report that begins, "'Survivor' winner Richard Hatch has appealed his tax evasion conviction to the U.S. Supreme Court, his attorney said Tuesday."
Posted at 02:20 PM by Howard Bashman
Supreme Court of Pennsylvania summarily reverses lower court ruling which held that an insurer's attempt to appoint guardian for minor plaintiff whose parents are refusing to accept the insurer's settlement offer is not an abuse of process: On Thursday of last week, Pennsylvania's highest court issued a summary reversal in a case captioned Cruz v. Princeton Insurance Co.
Originally, the trial court dismissed the lawsuit on summary judgment. Next, a three-judge panel of the Superior Court of Pennsylvania voted 2-1 to reverse and remand for trial by means of a non-precedential ruling. The Superior Court next granted reargument en banc -- which set aside the three-judge panel's reversal -- and the en banc ruling affirmed the trial court's entry of summary judgment in favor of the defendants by a 7-2 vote.
I was then hired by counsel for plaintiffs to prepare a petition for allowance of appeal seeking Pa. Supreme Court review. The petition for allowance of appeal that I drafted presented the following question:
Whether a judgment debtor or its insurance company, which initiates a proceeding to appoint a guardian ad litem for an injured minor judgment creditor to pressure the minor's parents to settle the litigation for less money, can be sued for abuse of process for having used the guardian ad litem procedure "primarily to accomplish a purpose for which the process was not designed."Both defendants filed briefs in opposition arguing against Pa. Supreme Court review. The Pennsylvania Rules of Appellate Procedure do not authorize reply briefs in support of a petition for allowance of appeal.
Most recently, on Thursday of last week, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania issued its order granting allowance of appeal and summarily reversing on the issue on which that court's review was sought. The Legal Intelligencer -- Philadelphia's daily newspaper for lawyers -- has previously covered the case, although registration is required to access those articles.
"Porn producer's lawyers ask judge for acquittal in Tampa": This article appears today in The St. Petersburg Times.
And The Tampa Tribune today contains an article headlined "'I'm Kind Of An Extremist,' Ex-Actress Says In Web Porn Trial."
"The Judiciary Fund: A Modest Proposal that the Bar Give to Judges What Congress Will Not Let Them Earn." Law Professor Ross E. Davies has posted this paper (abstract providing links for download) online at SSRN (via Ilya Somin at "The Volokh Conspiracy").
Posted at 10:47 AM by Howard Bashman
"In my judgment, the majority opinion illustrates the magnetic pull that the Guidelines still occasionally exert over appellate courts in cases involving sentences outside the Guidelines range." So writes Circuit Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh, dissenting from a decision that a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit issued today. Circuit Judge Janice Rogers Brown wrote the majority opinion, in which Circuit Judge Douglas H. Ginsburg joined.
Posted at 10:40 AM by Howard Bashman
All the Michigan state court system is asking for is a little respect, just a little bit: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit today affirmed the dismissal of the federal civil rights claims of a man who sued the State Bar of Michigan in connection with its denial of his application for a license to practice law.
According to today's ruling, during the man's interview with members of the state bar's Character and Fitness Committee, the man "stated that he had little respect for the Michigan state court system, and he expressed the view that the federal courts are the 'guardians of the constitution' and that the Michigan state court system fails adequately to protect individuals' constitutional rights."
As a result of that interview, the Character and Fitness Committee found that the applicant failed to display "the requisite good character and fitness to be recommended to the practice of law in this state." In particular, the committee's report stated, ""We are concerned about providing a law license to someone who, even before he has handled his first case as a member of the bar, has effectively written off such a huge component of the justice system."
Today's ruling also notes that "In 2003, [the applicant] also began operating a registered website called 'StateBarWatch' on which he actively criticized the SBM and BLE for alleged dishonesty within the Michigan attorney licensing system."
It is too early to tell whether today's ruling will cause the plaintiff to dislike the federal judicial system almost as much as he apparently dislikes Michigan's state court system.
"Fieger is cleared in campaign fund case; Lawyer was 'scared to death' of guilty verdict": This article appears today in The Detroit News.
Available online from law.com: Shannon P. Duffy has an article headlined "3rd Circuit: Woman Cannot Be Fired for Having Abortion."
"9th Circuit Says Judge Botched Murder-for-Hire Trial": Dan Levine of The Recorder has an article that begins, "The judicial careers of Richard Tallman and William Fletcher are uniquely intertwined. But the next time they're in the same room, best not bring up the 'fed-a-pult' guy. The two judges ascended to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals together, part of a deal whereby President Bill Clinton got Fletcher, his relatively liberal buddy from his Oxford University days, seated on the court, in exchange for choosing a conservative. Fletcher landed on a panel reviewing a bizarre 2005 murder solicitation trial in Idaho, which Tallman had presided over by designation. And in a 72-page opinion released Friday, Fletcher found Tallman erred when he denied defendant David Hinkson a new trial despite evidence the government's key witness had committed perjury."
The Spokesman-Review of Spokane, Washington reports today that "Court reverses businessman's conviction; New trial ordered on murder solicitation charges."
Metropolitan News-Enterprise reports that "Court Orders New Trial After Witness Lies About Combat Experience."
And The Associated Press reports that "Court overturns conviction of N. Idaho businessman."
"Measure to bar gay marriage qualifies for California ballot; The initiative to amend the state Constitution will go before voters in November": This article appears today in The Los Angeles Times.
The San Francisco Chronicle reports today that "Initiative to ban gay marriage is on ballot."
The Sacramento Bee reports that "Marriage initiative will go to voters."
And The San Jose Mercury News reports that "Initiative to ban gay marriage qualifies for California ballot."
"Pacifist teacher to be allowed to change oath": Bob Egelko has this article today in The San Francisco Chronicle.
And The Los Angeles Times reports today that "Cal State Fullerton lecturer allowed to add to oath; With the loyalty issue resolved, the pacifist will be hired to teach two courses next fall."
"Melvyn Weiss sentenced in class-action kickback scheme; The securities lawyer made millions by paying off plaintiffs to sue major companies; He gets 30 months in prison and must forfeit $9.75 million in earnings": The Los Angeles Times contains this article today.
The New York Times reports today that "Class-Action Lawyer Gets 30 Months in Prison."
And law.com reports that "Mel Weiss Sentenced to 30 Months for Kickback Scheme."
"Ruling Against Type: As two decisions show, 'conservative' and 'liberal' don't mean everything at the Supreme Court." This editorial appears today in The Washington Post.
Posted at 08:45 AM by Howard Bashman
"Judge's dismissal blamed on Army; A Marine colonel defended the war-court dismissal of a Guantanamo judge who is considered a maverick": Carol Rosenberg has this article today in The Miami Herald.
USA Today reports today that "9/11 suspect finally goes to trial in military system; Questions, criticism surround proceedings."
And yesterday's broadcast of NPR's "Talk of the Nation" contained an audio segment entitled "Khalid Sheikh Mohammed to Face Military Tribunal" (RealPlayer required).
"No Ruling Means No Change for Fantasy Baseball Leagues": Linda Greenhouse has this article today in The New York Times.
Today in The Los Angeles Times, David G. Savage reports that "Fantasy baseball leagues can use real players' names, Supreme Court agrees; Justices deny the appeal by pro players who argued that no one had a right to exploit their identities for commercial gain."
In USA Today, Joan Biskupic reports that "Justices let stand fantasy use of stats."
Warren Richey of The Christian Science Monitor has an article headlined "High court rejects fantasy baseball challenge; The effect: Made-up leagues can keep using names and statistics of real players without paying licensing fees."
And The Wall Street Journal reports that "Fantasy Sports Score Victory; Supreme Court Strikes Out Major League Baseball, Confirming Firms' Control."
"Repairing the Damage, Before Roe": Today in The New York Times, Waldo L. Fielding, M.D. has an essay that begins, "With the Supreme Court becoming more conservative, many people who support women's right to choose an abortion fear that Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that gave them that right, is in danger of being swept aside."
Posted at 08:28 AM by Howard Bashman
"Justices Narrow Money-Laundering Law": Linda Greenhouse has this article today in The New York Times.
Today in The Washington Post, Robert Barnes has an article headlined "Victories for Money-Laundering Defendants."
David G. Savage of The Los Angeles Times reports that "Supreme Court limits money laundering law; In a blow to prosecutors who use the law in drug cases, the justices rule that hiding cash to take it out of the U.S. is not proof of a crime."
Warren Richey of The Christian Science Monitor has an article headlined "Harder task to nail money launderers; Two high court rulings on Monday will complicate US efforts to prove certain crimes."
And law.com's Tony Mauro reports that "High Court Deals Government Three Losses on Clement's Last Day as SG; Two pro-defendant decisions will make prosecuting money laundering more difficult."
"Judge's conduct improper; High Court: Fulton's Schwall became an advocate for one side." Today's edition of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution contains an article that begins, "A Fulton County judge was harshly criticized by the state Supreme Court on Monday for becoming an advocate for one side in a civil case and jailing a man for 20 days without letting him defend himself. In the highly unusual ruling, the high court said Superior Court Judge Craig Schwall violated rules of judicial conduct, violated the rules of evidence and violated the rights of Scottie Cousins, a defendant in an internal squabble over the assets of a small, southwest Atlanta church."
"Blog Panel at D.C. Circuit Judicial Conference": Ed Whelan has this post at National Review Online's "Bench Memos" blog.
I'll be sandwiching my appearance on that panel between two baseball-related bobblehead dolls. This Wednesday evening -- before I head to the conference -- I'll be picking up an American Red Cross Jimmy Rollins MVP Bobble Figurine as the Philadelphia Phillies host the Cincinnati Reds. And then on Friday evening -- before heading home -- I'll be picking up a Richie Hebner bobblehead doll as the Pittsburgh Pirates host the Arizona Diamondbacks.
"Harry Reid's Handshake: On judges, he's giving the GOP the runaround." This editorial appears today in The Wall Street Journal.
Posted at 08:04 AM by Howard Bashman