How Appealing


Thursday, June 26, 2008

Don't "dissemble" on guns: Today's Second Amendment ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court in District of Columbia v. Heller, No. 07-290, was eagerly awaited and certainly will be closely scrutinized over the days, weeks, months, and years to come.

And the close scrutiny has already begun, as a reader emails to note a typo found on the very first page of Justice Antonin Scalia's majority opinion:

Not for attribution, but because you get results...

In the first paragraph of his opinion (after the intro), Justice Scalia quotes one of the relevant DC statutes as saying that long guns must be kept "unloaded and dissembled...." The correct word is "disassembled" (I checked the statute); "dissemble" means to mislead or put on a false appearance.

Thanks to this reader for drawing this to my attention. If there's a lesson here, it's that just because text appears in an opinion or brief between quotation marks doesn't mean that the text shouldn't be double-checked for accuracy. And kudos to the author of the opinion's syllabus for preserving the same typo there, in the very first sentence.

By contrast, on page 12 of his dissenting opinion, Justice Stephen G. Breyer correctly quotes the "unloaded and disassembled" language actually found in the statute. Finally, and in his defense, Justice Scalia correctly quotes that language from the D.C. statute on page 58 of the majority opinion.

Update: The Court has corrected the typo on page 1 of Justice Scalia's majority opinion, although the typo remains for the time being in the syllabus. The original version of Justice Scalia's majority opinion, containing the typo, can be accessed here.
Posted at 11:50 AM by Howard Bashman




Thursday, June 26, 2008

Today's rulings of the U.S. Supreme Court in the final three undecided argued cases from this Term: "SCOTUSblog" is live-blogging this morning's developments in a post you can access here.

1. Today's first ruling issued in Davis v. Federal Election Comm'n, No. 07-320. Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr. delivered the opinion of the Court. You can access the opinion at this link and the oral argument transcript at this link.

2. Today's second ruling issued in Morgan Stanley Capital Group Inc. v. Public Utility Distr. No. 1 of Snohomish Cty., No. 06-1457. You can access the opinion at this link and the oral argument transcript at this link. Justice Antonin Scalia delivered the opinion of the Court. This means that either he, Justice John Paul Stevens, or the Chief Justice is the author of the Court's only remaining decision, involving the Second Amendment.

3. Today's third and final ruling issued in District of Columbia v. Heller, No. 07-290. The Court has affirmed the D.C. Circuit's ruling, which invalidated the District of Columbia's gun ban under an individual rights view of the Second Amendment. Justice Scalia delivered the opinion of the Court, which decided the case by a 5-4 margin. Justices John Paul Stevens, David H. Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Stephen G. Breyer joined in lengthy dissents that both Justice Stevens and Justice Breyer wrote. You can access the opinion at this link and the oral argument transcript at this link. Justice Scalia's majority opinion contains citations to three articles about the Second Amendment written by Law Professor Eugene Volokh, whose blog you can access here.

In early news coverage, The Associated Press reports that "Court rules in favor of Second Amendment gun right" and "Supreme Court strikes down 'millionaire's amendment'."

And at "SCOTUSblog," Lyle Denniston has a post titled "Court: A constitutional right to a gun."
Posted at 10:01 AM by Howard Bashman




Thursday, June 26, 2008

"Judge rejects court order to improve VA's treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder; Despite 'significant' delays, inadequate care or benefits for veterans was not done systematically, he rules; An appeal is planned": The Los Angeles Times today contains an article that begins, "A federal judge in San Francisco ruled Wednesday that although the Department of Veterans Affairs might have provided inadequate care or benefits to some veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder, the department had not done so systematically."

And today in The San Francisco Chronicle, Bob Egelko reports that "Judge rules court won't step in to aid vets."

Yesterday, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California issued this decision and this judgment in the case.
Posted at 09:57 AM by Howard Bashman




Thursday, June 26, 2008

"Supreme Court overturns L.A. murder conviction; Justices' 6-3 ruling in a domestic violence case makes it more difficult for prosecutors to use victims' previous statements to police": David G. Savage has this article today in The Los Angeles Times.

The Washington Post reports today that "Right to Face Accusers Is Affirmed in Unusual Case; Witness Was Murder Victim."

And The Mobile Press-Register reports that "Decision could affect local case; Defendant's right to confront accuser in court may have some bearing in sex abuse trial."
Posted at 09:42 AM by Howard Bashman




Thursday, June 26, 2008

"High Court To Announce Ruling on D.C. Gun Ban": The Washington Post today contains an article that begins, "With its term coming to an end, the U.S. Supreme Court this morning is expected to issue its ruling on the District's handgun-ownership ban in a case that could result in a landmark interpretation of the Second Amendment."

And The Associated Press reports that "Supreme Court to issue decision on D.C. gun case."

Stay tuned for complete coverage of today's U.S. Supreme Court rulings in the final three undecided argued cases from this Term. The Court will begin announcing its rulings on these cases at 10 a.m. eastern time today.
Posted at 09:20 AM by Howard Bashman




Thursday, June 26, 2008

"Damages Cut Against Exxon in Valdez Case": Adam Liptak has this front page article today in The New York Times. The newspaper also contains an article headlined "In Alaska, Rage and Sorrow Over Decision."

Today in The Washington Post, Robert Barnes has a front page article headlined "Justices Slash Damages for Exxon Oil Spill."

In The Los Angeles Times, David G. Savage reports that "Supreme Court greatly reduces damages in Exxon Valdez spill; The oil giant must pay $507 million -- about one-tenth of the original jury award -- to punish it for recklessly putting a known alcoholic in charge of the supertanker in Alaska." The newspaper also contains an article headlined "Valdez ruling pains many in Cordova, Alaska; The reduction in punitive damages means fewer people in the fishing village will be able to retire or stave off bankruptcy."

In USA Today, Joan Biskupic reports that "5-3 ruling slashes $2.5B penalty in Exxon Valdez case; Majority: Punitive fine shouldn't top actual damages."

In The Wall Street Journal, Russell Gold and Jess Bravin have a front page article headlined "Exxon Oil-Spill Damages Slashed by Supreme Court; Decision Could Shape How Punitive Awards Are Calculated."

The Anchorage Daily News contains articles headlined "Exxon Valdez: 'This is it; it's done'"; "Plaintiffs react to Exxon decision"; "Decision torments Cordova fishermen"; "Alaskans less than happy; At least, some say, the stress of waiting is over": and "Even Exxon gets chunk of money; A side deal lets the oil company benefit along with fishermen, communities, lawyers." The newspaper also contains an editorial entitled "Exxon verdict: Supreme Court makes life easier for corporate wrong-doers."

The Seattle Times reports that "Supreme Court drastically cuts payouts for plaintiffs in Exxon Valdez oil spill."

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports that "Exxon damages slashed; West Coast fishermen devastated by high court's oil spill ruling."

The Oregonian reports that "Exxon Valdez ruling cuts payment to Oregon fishermen; Supreme Court slashes punitive damages tenfold, to $500 million."

In The San Francisco Chronicle, Bob Egelko reports that "Ruling cuts Exxon spill victims' payout again."

And law.com's Tony Mauro reports that "Supreme Court Reduces Damages Awarded in Exxon Case."
Posted at 09:03 AM by Howard Bashman




Thursday, June 26, 2008

"Justices Bar Death Penalty for the Rape of a Child": Linda Greenhouse has this article today in The New York Times. The newspaper also contains an editorial entitled "Anger and Restraint."

Today in The Washington Post, Robert Barnes has a front page article headlined "High Court Rejects Death For Child Rape; Penalty Reserved for Murder And Crimes Against State."

In USA Today, Joan Biskupic reports that "Justices reject death penalty for child rapists; Court limits use of capital punishment." The newspaper also contains an editorial entitled "Child rapist escapes death but not tough justice."

In The Chicago Tribune, James Oliphant reports that "Court curbs death penalty; Justices rule 5-4 that child rape is not capital crime."

The Washington Times reports that "Louisiana vows to nullify child-rape ruling; Justices deem death penalty too harsh for crime."

law.com's Tony Mauro reports that "Justices Reject Death Penalty for Child Rapists."

The Times-Picayune of New Orleans contains an article headlined "No death for child rapists, court says; Sentence overturned for Harvey man."

The Advocate of Baton Rouge, Louisiana reports that "High court rules out death for child rape."

The Austin American-Statesman reports that "Court ruling weakens child-rape law in Texas; Death penalty provision in so-called Jessica's Law is erased."

The Dallas Morning News reports that "Supreme Court tosses out death penalty for child rapists."

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports that "States can't give death penaly for child rape."

The San Antonio Express-News reports that "High court rules child rapists can't be executed."

The Houston Chronicle reports that "Most aspects of Jessica's Law are untouched."

The Oklahoman reports that "Rape ruling may nullify state's law."

The Los Angeles Times contains an editorial entitled "No death penalty for child rape: The Supreme Court made the right decision by rejecting execution for nonlethal crimes."

And The New York Sun contains an editorial entitled "Kennedy v. Louisiana."
Posted at 08:32 AM by Howard Bashman




Thursday, June 26, 2008

"Bush Misread War-Powers Cases": Today in The Wall Street Journal, Jess Bravin has an article that begins, "At the Supreme Court, it has become a biennial ritual: The Bush administration loses a major war-powers case. In 2004, 2006 and again this month, the justices rejected the president's claim that he can effectively do as he wishes with prisoners he designates as 'enemy combatants.' With the third and most-recent rebuke, it has become clear that the president's counterterrorism strategy rested on a critical legal miscalculation."

You can freely access this article, without a subscription to WSJ.com, by searching Google News for "Jess Bravin."
Posted at 08:22 AM by Howard Bashman




Thursday, June 26, 2008

"Exxon, Medtronic Win in Business-Friendly Supreme Court Term": Greg Stohr of Bloomberg News has this report.
Posted at 08:15 AM by Howard Bashman




Thursday, June 26, 2008

"Cleary Seeks Vindication in Appeal on Sanctions": Online at law.com, you can access an article that begins, "It was a matter of honor that brought Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Wednesday morning. Lawyers from the firm, led by managing partner Mark Walker, filled many of the gallery seats in the ceremonial courtroom of the Daniel Patrick Moynihan U.S. Courthouse."
Posted at 08:14 AM by Howard Bashman




Thursday, June 26, 2008

"Customs Agents Copy Travelers' Laptop, Phone Data; 'It Is Clear Most People Regard This as a Serious Privacy Invasion'": Today in The New York Sun, Josh Gerstein has an article that begins, "Americans coming home from business trips or vacations abroad are unwittingly offering the federal government a valuable souvenir: a copy of all the data on their laptops, digital cameras, and cell phones."

Today in The Los Angeles Times, Jim Puzzanghera reports that "Laptop seizures at customs raise outcry; Complaints from travelers and privacy advocates have spurred lawmakers to challenge the policy of random inspections."

And McClatchy Newspapers report that "U.S. border agents copying contents of travelers' laptops."
Posted at 08:11 AM by Howard Bashman




Thursday, June 26, 2008

"The Virginia Supreme Court Enforces Vermont's Custody and Visitation Order Regarding a Same-Sex Couple's Child: Why an Anti-Same-Sex-Marriage State Recognized a Same-Sex Union For This Purpose." Joanna Grossman has this essay online at FindLaw.
Posted at 07:52 AM by Howard Bashman




Wednesday, June 25, 2008

On this evening's broadcast of NPR's "All Things Considered": The broadcast contained audio segments entitled "High Court Rejects Death Penalty for Child Rape" (featuring Nina Totenberg) and "Supreme Court Cuts Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Damages." RealPlayer is required to launch these audio segments.
Posted at 11:23 PM by Howard Bashman




Wednesday, June 25, 2008

"Justices Cut Valdez Damages, Rule on Child Rape": This segment (transcript with link to audio) featuring Marcia Coyle appeared on this evening's broadcast of the PBS program "The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer."
Posted at 10:50 PM by Howard Bashman




Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Lyle Denniston of "SCOTUSblog" is reporting: He has posts titled "Death penalty options narrow"; "A new day on punitive damages law"; and "A way around the Giles rule."
Posted at 09:02 PM by Howard Bashman




Wednesday, June 25, 2008

"Justices Rule on Exxon Valdez, Rape Death Penalty": Earlier today, The Washington Post hosted this online chat with Tom Goldstein.
Posted at 08:54 PM by Howard Bashman




Wednesday, June 25, 2008

"U.S. Supreme Court reverses L.A. man's murder conviction; The 6-3 ruling in Giles vs. California makes it more difficult to use out-of-court statements and could be a blow to prosecutors in domestic violence cases": David G. Savage of The Los Angeles Times has this news update.

And Thursday's edition of The Washington Post will contain an article headlined "Right to Face Accusers Is Affirmed in Unusual Case; Witness Was Murder Victim."
Posted at 08:50 PM by Howard Bashman




Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Ninth Circuit Chief Judge Alex Kozinski is still getting the job done: Although he recently lost the opportunity to view alleged obscene videos as part of his day job, Chief Judge Kozinski remains hard at work.

On Monday of this week, he presided over an eleven-judge en banc panel of the Ninth Circuit, which was hearing a case about whether a certain state law criminal conviction constituted "a crime involving moral turpitude" for purposes of federal immigration law. You can download the oral argument audio via this link (10.9MB Windows Media audio file).

And yesterday, the Ninth Circuit issued this per curiam opinion, whose case citation style indicates that Chief Judge Kozinski was the opinion's author.
Posted at 08:34 PM by Howard Bashman




Wednesday, June 25, 2008

"We hold that the hanging paragraph does not operate to deprive such undersecured '910 creditors' of their deficiency claims because the parties are bound to their contractual rights and obligations under operative state law, and the Bankruptcy Code does not command otherwise." In a decision issued today, another federal appellate court -- the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit -- examines the effect of the so-called "hanging paragraph" found in 11 U.S.C. sec. 1325(a), added by the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005.
Posted at 08:11 PM by Howard Bashman




Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Warren Richey of The Christian Science Monitor is reporting: In Thursday's newspaper, he will have articles headlined "Supreme Court sharply limits use of death penalty; In a 5-to-4 ruling, the justices decide child rape isn't a capital offense"; "High court slashes Exxon Valdez oil spill damages; The ruling, a victory for Exxon, reduced the $2.5 billion punitive damages to about $500 million"; and "High court strengthens right to confront accusers; The case involved a California man who killed his ex-girlfriend after she complained to police."
Posted at 08:00 PM by Howard Bashman




Wednesday, June 25, 2008

"Supreme Court Rejects Death Penalty for Child Rape": Linda Greenhouse of The New York Times has this news update.
Posted at 07:55 PM by Howard Bashman




Wednesday, June 25, 2008

"Justices Cut Damages Award in Exxon Valdez Spill": Adam Liptak of The New York Times has this news update.
Posted at 04:47 PM by Howard Bashman




Wednesday, June 25, 2008

On today's broadcast of NPR's "Day to Day": The broadcast contained audio segments entitled "Supreme Court Rejects Death Penalty for Child Rape" (featuring Dahlia Lithwick) and "Supreme Court Slashes Exxon Damages." RealPlayer is required to launch these audio segments.
Posted at 04:30 PM by Howard Bashman




Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Reuters is reporting: James Vicini has articles headlined "Supreme Court strikes down death penalty for child rape" and "Exxon Valdez $2.5 billion oil spill ruling overturned."

And an article reports that "Court won't allow statements by killer's victim."
Posted at 03:30 PM by Howard Bashman




Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Greg Stohr of Bloomberg News is reporting: He has articles headlined "Death Penalty for Child Rape Barred by Top U.S. Court" and "Exxon Valdez Award Cut to $507.5 Million by Top Court."
Posted at 03:25 PM by Howard Bashman




Wednesday, June 25, 2008

"Conrad Black loses appeal of U.S. obstruction and fraud charges": The Canadian Press provides this report.

The Chicago Sun-Times has a news update headlined "Appeals court upholds Conrad Black's conviction."

And The Toronto Star has a news update headlined "Conrad Black loses appeal."

Circuit Judge Richard A. Posner wrote today's ruling on behalf of a unanimous three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.

This result comes as no surprise to anyone who credited the press coverage earlier this month of the appellate oral argument in this case.

Update: At page 12, Judge Posner's opinion offers the following take on the so-called "ostrich" instruction:

Three more issues need to be discussed. The first is whether an "ostrich" instruction should have been given. The reference of course is to the legend that ostriches when frightened bury their head in the sand. It is pure legend and a canard on a very distinguished bird. Zoological Society of San Diego, Birds: Ostrich, www.sandiegozoo.org/animalbytes/t-ostrich.html (visited June 12, 2008) ("When an ostrich senses danger and cannot run away, it flops to the ground and remains still, with its head and neck flat on the ground in front of it. Because the head and neck are lightly colored, they blend in with the color of the soil. From a distance, it just looks like the ostrich has buried its head in the sand, because only the body is visible"). It is too late, however, to correct this injustice.
This misconception about ostriches appears at the start of question 1 of my "20 questions for the appellate judge" featuring (now senior status) First Circuit Judge Bruce M. Selya, where I wrote that "It would be struthian to contend that your command of obscure words is anything other than Babe Ruthian." Elsewhere, Law Professor Eugene Volokh advises against using the word "struthious."

And while we are debunking canards (which, by contrast, are birds that can fly), allow me to question the use of the singular "head" in the following sentence from Judge Posner's opinion: "The reference of course is to the legend that ostriches when frightened bury their head in the sand."
Posted at 01:35 PM by Howard Bashman




Wednesday, June 25, 2008

"New York's High Court Sides With Grasso": This article will appear Thursday in The New York Times.

And Bloomberg News reports that "Grasso Wins Appeal on 4 of 6 Claims at Top N.Y. Court."

My earlier coverage of today's ruling appears at this link.
Posted at 01:27 PM by Howard Bashman




Wednesday, June 25, 2008

From the west coast feed of today's broadcast of NPR's "Morning Edition": The broadcast contained audio segments entitled "Key Rulings on Death Penalty, Damages, Witnesses" (featuring Nina Totenberg) and "Supreme Court Rules on Exxon Oil Spill, Child Rape." RealPlayer is required to launch these audio segments.
Posted at 01:22 PM by Howard Bashman




Wednesday, June 25, 2008

"Supreme Court Rejects Death Penalty in Child Rape Cases": Robert Barnes of The Washington Post has this news update.

And Bill Mears of CNN.com reports that "Child rapists can't be executed, Supreme Court rules."
Posted at 01:14 PM by Howard Bashman




Wednesday, June 25, 2008

"Supreme Court slashes penalty against Exxon for Valdez spill near Alaska; The justices reduce the punitive damages against Exxon to $507 million from $2.5 billion; The oil company has already spent $2.1 billion in cleanup costs after the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill": David G. Savage of The Los Angeles Times has this news update.
Posted at 01:12 PM by Howard Bashman




Wednesday, June 25, 2008

"Supreme Court: Thursday's the Final Day." Tony Mauro has this post at "The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times."
Posted at 11:45 AM by Howard Bashman




Wednesday, June 25, 2008

"Supreme Court rejects death penalty for child rape": Michael Doyle of McClatchy Newspapers has this report.
Posted at 11:44 AM by Howard Bashman




Wednesday, June 25, 2008

"Fired U.S. attorneys case hits judicial roadblock; A cautious judge may be good news for Bush officials in ongoing subpoena struggle": This article appears today in The Christian Science Monitor.
Posted at 11:42 AM by Howard Bashman




Wednesday, June 25, 2008

"Blind trusts will improve blind justice in the high court; They could help avoid judicial conflicts of interest": David A. Ridenour has this op-ed today in The Christian Science Monitor.
Posted at 11:40 AM by Howard Bashman




Wednesday, June 25, 2008

"Supreme Court strikes down La. rape penalty": The Times-Picayune of New Orleans provides this news update.
Posted at 11:08 AM by Howard Bashman



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