How Appealing

Friday, May 4, 2007

“Many Detainees at Guantanamo Rebuff Lawyers”: The New York Times on Saturday will contain an article that begins, “Many of the detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, are no longer cooperating with their lawyers, adding a largely invisible struggle between the lawyers and their own clients to the legal battle over the Bush administration’s detention policies.”

And McClatchy Newspapers report that “Somali detainee at Guantanamo denies fighting U.S. forces in Africa.”

Posted at 11:00 PM by Howard Bashman

Available online from An article reports that “Texas’ $117 Million Insurance Settlement Goes Back to Appellate Court.”

In other news, “N.Y. Appeals Court Considers High-Low Deals as Settlements.”

Robert J. Ambrogi has an essay entitled “Legal Wikis Are Bound to Wow You.” As I noted in this post earlier today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit has just launched its own wiki.

And the brand new installment of my “On Appeal” column is headlined “‘Counselor, Do You Have Any Authority for That Proposition?’” Therein, I discuss the final paragraph of this recent Seventh Circuit ruling.

Posted at 10:50 PM by Howard Bashman

“Fear of Blogging: Why women shouldn’t apologize for being afraid of threats on the Web.” Dahlia Lithwick has this essay online at Slate.

Posted at 10:40 PM by Howard Bashman

If judicial modesty is an admirable trait, what about expert witness modesty? A unanimous three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit issued a decision today that resolves an issue that arises rather infrequently — “What to do when an expert witness says he isn’t really so expert?”

Today’s opinion, written by Circuit Judge Neil M. Gorsuch, reasons: “While overly modest expert witnesses may not be exactly an everyday sort of problem in our legal system, neither can we ignore the prospect of mistakenly excluding a witness who really is expert but simply too demure to trumpet his or her qualities under cross-examination; it would hardly benefit the legal system to exclude from the stand self-deprecating individuals who rarely testify but have the expertise to do so in favor of those who are more extravagant and savvy to the legal system or who may make their living testifying in our courts.”

Posted at 10:28 PM by Howard Bashman

“Jan Crawford Greenburg to appear at Federalist Society event here”: Given that this post appears at “The Indiana Law Blog,” I would venture to guess that “here” means in Indianapolis. Since the event won’t take place until May 18, 2007, you still have plenty of time to get “here” from “there.”

Posted at 6:02 PM by Howard Bashman

“Alito: Conservative As Advertised.” Mark Sherman of The Associated Press provides a report that begins, “In his 15 months on the Supreme Court, Justice Samuel Alito has been everything his conservative supporters expected and his liberal detractors feared. The newest justice has been a reliable vote in favor of the death penalty, expanded police powers and restrictions on abortion.”

The AP also provides a related item headlined “Cases Showing Court’s Ideological Divide.”

Posted at 2:27 PM by Howard Bashman

En banc Ninth Circuit reinstates RICO class action against Microsoft and Best Buy involving MSN online service: If anyone had been questioning whether RICO remains suave, all fifteen judges on a Ninth Circuit en banc panel today agreed that the answer was “yes.” You can access today’s en banc ruling in Odom v. Microsoft Corp. at this link.

After the case had been argued before a three-judge panel consisting of Circuit Judges Stephen Reinhardt, William A. Fletcher, and Jay S. Bybee, that panel sua sponte asked the parties to brief the question whether the case should be reheard en banc. The parties’ responses can be accessed here. After receiving the responses, the Ninth Circuit granted rehearing en banc.

As luck would have it, all three judges on the original panel were also selected for the fifteen-judge en banc panel. Judge Fletcher wrote the majority opinion for the en banc court. In a development unlikely to repeat itself anytime soon, Judge Reinhardt was the only other judge to join in a concurring opinion by Judge Bybee, in which Judge Bybee remarks that all blame rests with the U.S. Supreme Court for allowing the “outlandish” result that a claim such as this can be pursued under RICO.

My earlier coverage of this case can be accessed here.

Posted at 2:18 PM by Howard Bashman

Eighth Circuit holds that “North Dakota’s conditioning of sentence-reduction credits on participation in the sex offender treatment program did not contravene the self-incrimination clause of the Fifth Amendment”: A man convicted in North Dakota state court of gross sexual imposition for sexual contact with his two daughters filed a civil rights lawsuit, after having served his sentence, challenging the constitutionality of a requirement that he attend a “Sex Offender Education Class” while in prison in order to have qualified for a shortened prison term.

According to today’s decision, the civil rights plaintiff argued that “the program required that participants admit guilt to the offense of conviction. [The plaintiff] refused to participate in either phase, maintaining his innocence and arguing that because he had testified in his own defense at trial, an admission of guilt could subject him to a prosecution for perjury.”

Today’s decision, written by Circuit Judge Steven M. Colloton, rejects the plaintiff’s claim that requiring him to admit guilt in order to obtain a shorter prison sentence violated the self-incrimination clause of the Fifth Amendment.

Posted at 11:50 AM by Howard Bashman

“Supreme Court Meets YouTube: Camera-shy justices hyperlink a video to their car-crash opinion.” Martha Neil has this article today at the ABA Journal eReport.

Posted at 11:18 AM by Howard Bashman

“Fired U.S. attorneys are called some of the best; James B. Comey, a former deputy attorney general, testifies before Congress and contradicts the White House and Justice Department”: This article appears today in The Los Angeles Times.

And The New York Times reports today that “Ex-Justice Dept. Official Defends Ousted U.S. Attorneys.” In addition, Adam Cohen has an Editorial Observer essay entitled “The U.S. Attorney, the G.O.P. Congressman and the Timely Job Offer.”

Posted at 9:20 AM by Howard Bashman

“Milberg figure wants charges dismissed”: The Los Angeles Times today contains an article that begins, “A former partner in a New York law firm accused by the government of paying illegal kickbacks to class-action clients has asked a federal court in Los Angeles to dismiss the fraud charges against him. The motion could undermine much of the government’s case against Milberg Weiss & Bershad.”

You can access the motions to dismiss that attorneys for defendant Steven G. Schulman filed in USA v. Milberg Weis, et al., via this link and this link.

Posted at 9:12 AM by Howard Bashman

“Is it Futile to Cite Federal District Court Opinions?” Greg May has this post at “The California Blog of Appeal.”

Posted at 9:10 AM by Howard Bashman

“For stating opinion, judge is charged; A judicial panel says Michael E. Allen was wrong to question a fellow judge’s ethics”: The St. Petersburg Times contains this article today.

The article reports:

Said Bruce Rogow, one of Allen’s attorneys: “It is unprecedented, not just here, but anywhere in the country,” for a judge to face disciplinary charges based on a written opinion. “This is all about judicial independence,” Rogow said. “Can an appellate court judge write an opinion seen by all the members of the court before it goes out and still have to fear that the JQC will seek to punish him for that opinion?”

Historically, charges against judges are based on personal or professional misconduct or the alleged mistreatment of lawyers and litigants. “All Judge Allen did was be candid about his reasons for thinking Judge Kahn should have recused himself, and he had the integrity to share it,” Rogow said.

Even Talbot “Sandy” D’Alemberte, who represented Kahn before the JQC, said he questions the decision to pursue charges against Allen. “I really hope this thing disappears; it just isn’t helpful to anybody,” D’Alemberte said. “I think judges should be disciplined because they’ve caused some kind of corruption or embarrassment to the judicial system. I like it better when the JQC sticks to that task.”

The charges likely will further disrupt relations among the 15 judges at Florida’s largest district court of appeal, where virtually all litigation involving state government is reviewed.

The Pensacola News Journal today contains articles headlined “Judge faces formal ethics inquiry; Allen critical of fellow Judge Charles Kahn” and “Key players in judicial dispute.”

And The Associated Press reports that “Judge Is Facing Ethics Charges; Case stems from comments that were made in the Childers bribery case.”

My most recent earlier coverage appears at this link.

Posted at 8:57 AM by Howard Bashman

“Suspension for lawyer gets eased; Fineberg ‘duped’ Slavitt, SJC says”: The Boston Globe today contains an article that begins, “Saying that Evan M. Slavitt was ‘duped by an imposter’ when he recommended for bar admission a man who turned out not to have a law license, the state’s highest court yesterday explained why it reduced the time Slavitt — a former federal prosecutor and 2002 Republican candidate for attorney general — was suspended from practicing law from one year to two months.”

You can access yesterday’s ruling of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts at this link.

Posted at 8:40 AM by Howard Bashman

“Bush Wants Phone Firms Immune to Privacy Suits”: The Washington Post today contains an article that begins, “The Bush administration is urging Congress to pass a law that would halt dozens of lawsuits charging phone companies with invading ordinary citizens’ privacy through a post-Sept. 11 warrantless surveillance program.”

Posted at 8:33 AM by Howard Bashman

“House Backs Expanded Hate-Crime Law; Bush Has Threatened Veto of Measure to Extend Federal Protection to Gays”: This article appears today in The Washington Post.

The New York Times reports today that “House Votes to Expand Hate-Crime Protection.”

The Los Angeles Times reports that “Hate crime bill veto is vowed; The House votes to expand the law for sexuality and gender bias; The White House says that’s unnecessary.”

And The Washington Times reports that “House moves to add gays to federal hate crime laws.”

You can view the text of the proposed new federal law at this link.

Posted at 8:30 AM by Howard Bashman

“Chief Justice Speaks to Alaska Bar”: The Associated Press provides a report that begins, “The number of cases heard by the U.S. Supreme Court is declining in part because of the lack of significant legislation coming out of Congress, Chief Justice John Roberts said at the Alaska Bar Association’s annual convention.”

And The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports today that “Chief Justice Roberts discusses high court’s quirks at ABA dinner.”

Posted at 8:11 AM by Howard Bashman