How Appealing

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

In Thursday’s edition of The New York Times: An article will report that “Group Offers Blueprint for Courthouse Security.”

In technology-related news, “As File Sharing Nears High Court, Net Specialists Worry” and “BlackBerry Maker to Pay $450 Million to Settle Patent Fight.”

From Florida, “In Schiavo Case, Notoriety Finds Unlikely Judge.”

In other news, “Scott Peterson Sentenced to Death for Killing Pregnant Wife.”

And an article will report that “Planned Parenthood Sues Over Records Request in Indiana.”

Posted at 11:50 PM by Howard Bashman

“Legal outcome could hang on sex-bias issue; Does marriage law discriminate based on gender precept?” Bob Egelko has this article today in The San Francisco Chronicle.

In The Sacramento Bee, legal affairs writer Claire Cooper has an article headlined “Gay marriage: The great (legal) divide; Some courts cite a rights struggle; others reject that comparison.”

And Law Professor Tobias Barrington Wolff has an op-ed in The Los Angeles Times entitled “Different Battle, Same Struggle; But equating gay plight and black history goes too far.”

Posted at 11:44 PM by Howard Bashman

Maybe I need to read The Philadelphia Inquirer more often even when it’s not quoting me: A reader emails to advise that my hometown newspaper today contains dueling editorial on the “nuclear option.” Tom Barrett has an op-ed entitled “Nominees deserve an up-or-down vote,” while Law Professor Bruce Ackerman has an op-ed entitled “Play by the rules; ‘Option’ a bad idea.”

Today’s Inquirer also contains an editorial entitled “The Bloggers’ Awards: Medium, well done.”

Posted at 11:22 PM by Howard Bashman

When Michael Chertoff served as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, his subordinates knew better than to post confidential documents to the internet: Lara Jakes Jordan of The Associated Press reports today that “Terror Report Release Called a Mistake.”

That mistake led to a front page article headlined “U.S. Report Lists Possibilities for Terrorist Attacks and Likely Toll” in today’s edition of The New York Times, accompanied by a graphic titled “15 Nightmares for Disaster Planning.”

In other coverage, Frank Davies of Knight Ridder Newspapers reports that “Americans must accept threat of terror attack, Chertoff says.”

From Hawaii, The AP has a report headlined “Hawai’i official: Security report not marked confidential.”

And Thursday’s edition of The New York Times will contain an article headlined “New Homeland Security Chief Plans Retreat From ‘Sky Is Falling’ Approach to Terror.”

Posted at 11:00 PM by Howard Bashman

President Bush discusses the issue of judicial filibusters at today’s White House press conference: The official transcript reflects the following exchange:

Q Mr. President, your judicial nominees continue to run into problems on Capitol Hill. Republicans are discussing the possibility of ending the current Democratic filibuster practice against it. And Democrats yesterday, led by Minority Leader Harry Reid, went to the steps of the Capitol to say that if that goes forward, they will halt your agenda straight out. What does that say about your judicial nominees, the tone on Capitol Hill? And which is more important, judges or your agenda?

THE PRESIDENT: Both. I believe that I have a obligation to put forth good, honorable people to serve on the bench, and have done so. And I expect them to get a up or down vote on the floor of the Senate. This isn’t a new position for me, or the — I’ve been saying this for the last several years. And they ought to get a vote. They’re getting voted out of committee, but they’re not getting a vote on the floor. And I don’t think it’s fair to the candidates, and I don’t think it’s fair to the administration for this policy to go forward. And so, hopefully, the Senate will be able to conduct business and also get my nominees a vote — an up or down vote on the floor of the Senate.

Also today, Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) participated in an online interview at the blog “The Raw Story.” The transcript is here and an article summarizing the interview is here. The topics discussed included judicial filibusters.

Also today, Robert B. Bluey of Human Events Online reports that “Frist Partly Blames Specter’s Committee for Judicial Nomination Stall.”

Finally, The Judicial Confirmation Network issued a press release entitled “Overwhelming Majority Favor Senate Vote on Judges; Eighty-two Percent of Voters Say Qualified Judges Should Get Up or Down Vote in Senate.” Seemingly in conflict with the results of this poll, at today’s MoveOn rally (C-SPAN RealVideo here), one of the Democratic Senators who spoke claimed that the public overwhelmingly supported retaining the filibuster as an option against judicial nominees who fail to muster 60 votes for cloture.

Posted at 10:40 PM by Howard Bashman

Fifth Circuit ERISA ruling evokes stern dissent from that court’s Chief Judge: Today a divided three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of ERISA breach of fiduciary duty claims against American Airlines and Towers Perrin. Circuit Judge Jerry E. Smith wrote the majority opinion.

Chief Judge Carolyn Dineen King issued a dissenting opinion that begins:

I respectfully dissent from the majority’s unprecedented holding that participants in an individual account plan lack standing under § 502(a)(2) of ERISA to recover losses to the plan under § 409 of ERISA for a fiduciary breach unless all plan participants would benefit from the litigation. ERISA governs two types of pension plans: (1) individual account plans such as the 401(k) plan at issue here and (2) defined benefit plans. See 29 U.S.C. 1002. At the end of 2003, over $ 2.3 trillion in assets were held in individual account plans, representing well over half of all pension plan assets in the United States. The majority’s holding means that those participants in individual account plans who are unfortunate enough to be forced to litigate in the Fifth Circuit will be unable to recover monetary losses to the plans caused by fiduciary breaches when fewer than all plan participants would benefit from the litigation, thereby limiting recovery to the equitable relief available under § 502(a)(3) of ERISA. To deprive plan participants in such circumstances of a § 409 remedy for breach of fiduciary duty effectively nullifies Congress’s intent to provide a high level of protection to any and all plan participants from fiduciary abuse. The majority’s holding finds no support in the two cases it cites and it squarely conflicts with the one other circuit court to have directly addressed this issue.

You can access the complete decision at this link.

Posted at 10:22 PM by Howard Bashman

Available online from Jeff Chorney reports that “Even Talking About 9th Circuit Split Proves Divisive; Morning meeting called ‘surprisingly sneaky and uncollegial move.’

In other news, “Supreme Court Asked to Bury Oklahoma Casket Law; Petitioners say licensing rule for in-state coffin sales maintains monopoly, is not about ‘consumer protection.’

In patent-related news, “Federal Circuit: EBay Violated Company’s IP” and “BlackBerry Patent Suit Settled for $450M.”

In news from California, “Former Prosecutor Put on Defensive Over Jury Allegations; Judge allows disclosure of certain personnel files; AG to question Quatman’s credibility.”

And in news from Atlanta, “Lawyers Describe Pandemonium at Scene of Atlanta Courthouse Shooting; Law firm partner says of gunman: ‘I had this feeling he was going to kill all of us.’

Posted at 10:14 PM by Howard Bashman

“NOW vs. Scheidler III: Scheidler Attorneys Pursue a Third Appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court; Seek Summary Reversal on Writ of Certiorari or Writ of Mandamus vs. 7th Circuit.” The Thomas More Society issued this press release today. You can access the Petition for Writ of Certiorari filed today in the Supreme Court of the United States at this link (235-page PDF file).

My earlier coverage of the Seventh Circuit‘s most recent decision in this case can be accessed here.

Posted at 9:12 PM by Howard Bashman

“Seminal Case: How donated sperm spawned a child — as well as a likely landmark legal decision.” This article appears in the current issue of HoustonPress.

Posted at 3:50 PM by Howard Bashman

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit overturns the dismissal of five cell phone product liability class actions and orders four of those class actions returned to state court: At issue in the class action lawsuits are claims that wireless telephones emit an unsafe level of radio frequency radiation and that cell phone manufacturers have hidden this fact from consumers. You can access today’s ruling, by a divided three-judge panel, at this link.

Posted at 3:00 PM by Howard Bashman

“MoveOn Rally on Judicial Nomination Process”: Thanks to C-SPAN, you can access online, on-demand the video of this afternoon’s rally by clicking here (RealPlayer required). I think I counted a total of six Democratic U.S. Senators who spoke at the event, together with Nan Aron and Ralph G. Neas.

Update: Someone who was able to pay closer attention to the event than I was advises that a total of eight Democratic U.S. Senators spoke, and so did Wade Henderson.

Posted at 2:35 PM by Howard Bashman

“I like to watch”: Those willing to forgo Chance the Gardener’s preference can now access online a transcription of Justice Antonin Scalia’s speech delivered earlier this week, the video of which is available here (RealPlayer required) via C-SPAN. (Thanks to “Power Line” for the pointer to the transcription.)

The transcript confirms that Justice Scalia not only invoked the wrong name for BMW v. Gore (and amusingly so, as I earlier noted here), but he also mangled the name of Romer v. Evans, as a veteran U.S. Supreme Court correspondent yesterday drew to my attention.

Posted at 12:34 PM by Howard Bashman

“Member of Civil Rights Panel Quits, Says It Should Be Closed; Conservative Cites Partisan Agendas”: This article appears today in The Washington Post.

Posted at 12:15 PM by Howard Bashman

Who says C-SPAN3 is desperate for programming? Today at noon, C-SPAN3 plans to televise the following:

Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV) gives a rare speech off the Senate floor. His topic is a critique of Pres. Bush’s judicial nomination strategy and his audience is participants at a rally sponsored by the advocacy group MoveOn. Accompanying Sen. Byrd are some of his Democratic Senate colleagues, Sens. Kennedy, Durbin & Schumer.

You can view the broadcast live online via C-SPAN’s web site.

Posted at 11:55 AM by Howard Bashman

The Eighth Circuit’s bandwidth generosity apparently knows few limits: By clicking on the first link listed on the right-hand column of the home page of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, you can launch the download of a 66.5 MB RealMedia file to “View Richard S. Arnold Memorial – January 10, 2005.” I’ve so far downloaded 40 percent of the file and supposedly have just 21 minutes to go before the remaining 60 percent downloads.

Judge Richard S. Arnold was the November 2003 interviewee in this blog’s “20 questions for the appellate judge” feature.

Update: The entire 66.5 MB RealMedia file took 35 minutes and 20 seconds to download over my usually blazing fast internet connection.

Posted at 11:50 AM by Howard Bashman

Pennsylvania appellate court rules that posing for driver’s license photo is not the time to grab a little shut-eye: The Harrisburg Patriot-News yesterday published an article headlined “Case opens eyes of driver seeking shut-eye photo; Court finds case on driver photo an eye-opener” reporting on this decision that the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania issued on Monday. No word yet on whether anyone is litigating against the directive precluding smiles in U.S. Passport photos.

Posted at 10:30 AM by Howard Bashman

“Bell tolls today on fate of Peterson; Judge will decide if killer should pay with his life for slaying wife, unborn son”: This article appears today in The Modesto Bee, which also contains an essay by columnist Jeff Jardine entitled “Judge expected to uphold jury’s death sentence.”

The San Mateo County Times reports that “Peterson to be sentenced today.”

The San Jose Mercury News reports today that “Judge expected to sentence Scott Peterson to die” and reported yesterday that “Motion for Peterson retrial focuses on burglary.”

Finally, The San Francisco Chronicle yesterday reported that “Motion for new trial and rebuttal released; Judge’s ruling, sentencing both set for Wednesday.”

Posted at 10:15 AM by Howard Bashman

BlackBerry users receive cause to rejoice: Reuters reports that “RIM to settle NTP suit for $450 mln, stock soars.” My coverage of the Federal Circuit‘s December 2004 ruling in this dispute can be accessed here. Not surprisingly, my own BlackBerry is quite pleased by today’s news that this dispute has settled.

Research in Motion, the manufacturer of BlackBerry wireless devices, has today issued a press release titled “Research In Motion And NTP Agree To Resolve Litigation.”

Posted at 10:05 AM by Howard Bashman

“Bill defeated to outlaw X-rated videos on vehicle video screens; Parents complained their kids saw them, assemblyman says”: This article appears today in The San Francisco Chronicle.

Posted at 9:55 AM by Howard Bashman

If you’re going to issue a superfluous order in Guantanamo detainee-related litigation, you might as well do so at 5:35 in the morning: At 5:35 a.m. today, District Judge Henry H. Kennedy, Jr. of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia issued this order.

The order states, in pertinent part:

Upon petitioners’ ex parte application, Judge Rosemary Collyer issued a temporary restraining order (“TRO”) on March 12, 2005 at 4:20 p.m., as amended. Consistent with the terms of Fed. R. Civ. P. 65(b), the TRO states that it shall remain in effect “until this matter can be determined at a hearing for a preliminary injunction or for ten days, whichever is less.” Currently, petitioners’ motion for a preliminary injunction [#115] is scheduled to be heard before this court on March 24, 2005, two days after the expiration of the TRO.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 65(b) indicates that a TRO may only be extended “for good cause shown” or if “the party against whom the order is directed consents that it may be extended for a longer period.” Accordingly, it is this [16th] day of March, 2005, hereby

ORDERED, that within 24 hours of the issuance of this order, respondents shall indicate whether they consent to the extension of the TRO through the end of the day on March 24, 2005, the date of the currently-scheduled preliminary injunction hearing.

The reason I am suggesting that this order is superfluous is that Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 6(a), governing computation of time under those rules, excludes from computation intervening Saturdays and Sundays when the period of time specified is less than eleven days. Thus, by its own terms, the TRO would remain in effect through March 25, 2005, unless the merits of the matter are ruled on before that date.

I have previously uploaded the TRO and the opinion in support thereof, and you can access them via this link.

Posted at 9:30 AM by Howard Bashman

“After attacks, judges state case for smarter protection”: The Chicago Tribune contains this article today.

The Chicago Sun-Times reports today that “Lefkow killer used GPS to find her home.”

Joan Biskupic of USA Today reports that “Judges push for off-site protection.”

The Knoxville News Sentinel reports that “Security reviewed for Knox courts; Incidents in Atlanta, Chicago cause concern.”

The Berkshire Eagle reports that “Judges confident of court security.”

And The Casper Star-Tribune reports that “Shootings revive courthouse security concerns.”

Posted at 6:55 AM by Howard Bashman