How Appealing

Monday, October 29, 2007

“Eyes on Supreme Court in Execution Case Tuesday”: In Tuesday’s edition of The New York Times, Linda Greenhouse will have an article that begins, “By 6 p.m. Tuesday, when a Mississippi inmate is scheduled to die by lethal injection, the Supreme Court may give the clearest indication so far of whether it intends to call a halt to all such executions while a case from Kentucky that the justices accepted last month remains undecided.”

The Clarion-Ledger of Jackson, Mississippi provides a news update headlined “High court denies first of two appeals by convicted killer.”

And The Hattiesburg American reported on Sunday that “USM student to watch grandmother’s killer die.”

Posted at 11:02 PM by Howard Bashman

“Clarence Thomas at Baltimore Book Party”: This post appears today at The Washington Post’s “Maryland Moment” blog.

Posted at 10:50 PM by Howard Bashman

“Bursting the dam on judicial nominations; Though the big-spending left exacts a price”: The Las Vegas Review-Journal today contains an editorial that begins, “On Wednesday, the Senate voted 59-38 to approve the nomination of former Mississippi Court of Appeals Judge Leslie Southwick to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit. Those not familiar with the process might figure a vote that lopsided means the nomination didn’t generate much controversy.”

Posted at 10:44 PM by Howard Bashman

“Mack prosecutors resume testimony today in Vegas”: The Reno Gazette-Journal today contains an article that begins, “After a three-day weekend to observe Nevada Day, prosecutors will resume today trying to prove that Reno businessman Darren Mack is guilty in the fatal stabbing of his wife shooting of the judge who was handling their contentious divorce.”

That newspaper’s “Darren Mack Blog” provides additional updates from the trial.

Posted at 10:40 PM by Howard Bashman

“Is child-porn law too broad? US Supreme Court takes up the case of a man convicted of trying to distribute make-believe porn.” Warren Richey will have this article Tuesday in The Christian Science Monitor.

Posted at 10:18 PM by Howard Bashman

“Judge won’t block ‘moment of silence'”: The Chicago Tribune provides a news update that begins, “Despite signaling he has concerns about a new state law mandating a moment of silence in Illinois public schools, a federal judge today declined to issue a temporary restraining order that would have prevented a period of reflection at Buffalo Grove High School beginning Tuesday.”

And The Associated Press reports that “Court Allows Ill. Moment of Silence.”

Posted at 5:40 PM by Howard Bashman

“Exxon Asks Supreme Court to Limit $2.5M Spill Tab; Oil giant argues that punitive damage award for the Valdez disaster is excessive”:’s Tony Mauro provides this report.

At, Bill Mears reports that “Supreme Court to review Exxon Valdez award; The high court will determine if the $2.5 billion in punitive damages owed for the 1989 Alaska oil spill is excessive.”

And today’s broadcast of the public radio program “Here & Now” included an audio segment featuring Lyle Denniston entitled “Supreme Court and Exxon Dispute” (RealPlayer required)

Posted at 5:30 PM by Howard Bashman

“Lawyer Pleads Guilty in Kickback Case”: The Associated Press provides a report that begins, “William Lerach, a former partner at a prestigious New York law firm, pleaded guilty Monday to conspiracy for his role in a scheme to bribe people to become plaintiffs in lucrative class-action lawsuits.”

Posted at 3:11 PM by Howard Bashman

“Federal courts are not comprised of philosopher-kings or legislative aides, and the Constitution forbids us from pontificating about abstractions in the law or merely giving advice about the potential legal deficiencies of a law or policy when no ongoing controversy exists with respect to that law or policy.” So writes Fourth Circuit Chief Judge Karen J. Williams, on behalf of a unanimous three-judge panel of that court, in dismissing as moot a South Carolina state prison inmate’s First Amendment challenge to a policy that prevents inmates in the maximum security unit from receiving publications via mail.

As today’s ruling explains, because the inmate was released back into the general prison population from the maximum security unit over two years ago, and because the inmate “controls his own fate so far as the prospects for his return to the MSU are concerned,” the panel today dismisses the inmate’s appeal as moot.

Posted at 3:10 PM by Howard Bashman

“The Mukasey Ultimatum: The Dems do have a way to make the attorney general nominee talk about waterboarding.” Benjamin Wittes has this essay online today at The New Republic.

Posted at 3:00 PM by Howard Bashman

“Ex-convict appeals to inmates’ hopes for freedom; Company says cases can be won on a legal technicality”: Chuck Lindell had this article yesterday in The Austin American-Statesman.

Posted at 2:15 PM by Howard Bashman

“Muslim Says Copies of Quran Confiscated”: Pete Yost of The Associated Press has an article that begins, “The Bush administration urged the Supreme Court on Monday to bar a Muslim inmate from suing prison officials who allegedly confiscated two copies of his Quran and prayer rug. The inmate should be limited to filing an administrative complaint as thousands of other prisoners do every year for a variety of allegations, a Justice Department lawyer told the court.”

Posted at 2:14 PM by Howard Bashman

The Associated Press is reporting: An article headlined “Court Declines Case Involving Painting” begins, “The Supreme Court on Monday refused to consider a dispute involving actress Elizabeth Taylor over ownership of a Vincent van Gogh painting. The painting is claimed by descendants of a Jewish woman who fled Nazi Germany.”

And an article headlined “Court Declines Alabama Murder Case” begins, “The Supreme Court on Monday declined to review a triple-murder case in which the trial prosecutor stood up in court, clapped his hands several times and said ‘bravo’ after the accused killer finished testifying in his own defense.”

Posted at 11:03 AM by Howard Bashman

Is that a one-pound package of powder cocaine in your pants or are you just glad to see me? In a decision issued today, a unanimous three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit affirms the suppression of a one-pound package of powder cocaine discovered during the pat-down search of a car passenger. Today’s ruling holds that a pat-down search of the passenger was unlawful because the prosecution had failed to show that the police officer had a reasonable suspicion that the passenger was armed and dangerous before conducting the search.

Posted at 10:45 AM by Howard Bashman

U.S. Supreme Court can’t hear case in which seven of that Court’s nine Justices are recused: The Order List that the Supreme Court of the United States issued today contains the following order at the bottom of page one:

Because the Court lacks a quorum, 28 U.S.C. §1, and since a majority of the qualified Justices are of the opinion that the case cannot be heard and determined at the next Term of the Court, the judgment is affirmed under 28 U.S.C. §2109, which provides that under these circumstances the Court shall enter its order affirming the judgment of the court from which the case was brought for review with the same effect as upon affirmance by an equally divided Court. Justice Stevens, Justice Scalia, Justice Kennedy, Justice Souter, Justice Thomas, Justice Ginsburg, and Justice Breyer took no part in the consideration or decision of this petition.

You can learn a little more about the case in this decision of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia dismissing the action in October 2006. Ironically, the current lawsuit alleged that these Justices should have recused from deciding the plaintiff’s earlier lawsuit. As a result of their recusal from deciding this lawsuit, he again loses.

Posted at 10:30 AM by Howard Bashman

“Supreme Court to Hear Exxon Valdez Case”: Mark Sherman of The Associated Press provides this report.

And at “SCOTUSblog,” Lyle Denniston has a post titled “Court to rule on Exxon Valdez verdict.” That blog has posted online the petition for writ of certiorari, the brief in opposition, and the petitioner’s reply brief. You can access amicus briefs filed at the cert. stage via this link (scroll down to seventh case).

My earlier coverage of the Ninth Circuit’s ruling in this case can be accessed here, while I collected press coverage of that ruling in this post.

Today’s U.S. Supreme Court Order List, which can be accessed here, indicates that Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr. has recused himself from this case.

Posted at 10:05 AM by Howard Bashman

“Refusing to Accept Defeat as the Result on Appeal”: You can access today’s installment of my “On Appeal” column for at this link.

Posted at 9:02 AM by Howard Bashman

“Sperm donor needed pact, high court rules”: Saturday’s edition of The Topeka Capital-Journal contained an article that begins, “The Kansas Supreme Court ruled Friday that a sperm donor who wants to have parental rights with any subsequent children must have a written agreement with the mother. The 4-2 decision upholding constitutionality of Kansas’ current donor law was the first of its kind in the nation.”

And The Kansas City Star reported on Saturday that “Kansas high court rules against sperm donor.”

You can access Friday’s ruling of the Supreme Court of Kansas at this link.

Posted at 9:00 AM by Howard Bashman

“High court overturns $30 million award in Walter Hollins case”: Friday’s issue of The Cleveland Plain Dealer contained an article that begins, “Walter Hollins of Cleveland, brain-damaged since birth 20 years ago, must return to court with a new lawyer if he hopes to ever be compensated for his injuries. The Ohio Supreme Court on Thursday threw out the $30 million verdict that Hollins won in 2004, blaming his attorney, Geoffrey Fieger of Southfield, Mich., for courtroom misconduct that critically tainted the outcome. The verdict was the state’s largest medical malpractice award ever. But it was a verdict influenced by passion and tainted by Fieger’s theatrics and inappropriate behavior, Justice Terrance O’Donnell wrote in the court’s 6-1 opinion.”

And The Associated Press reports that “Ohio court tosses $30M verdict over Fieger antics.”

You can access last week’s ruling of the Supreme Court of Ohio at this link.

Posted at 8:55 AM by Howard Bashman

“Appellate judge called ‘out of control'”: Today’s edition of The San Antonio Express-News contains an article that begins, “Sharon Keller won election to Texas’ highest criminal court 13 years ago with a promise to be a staunch supporter of the death penalty and a ‘pro-prosecution’ judge.”

Posted at 8:48 AM by Howard Bashman

“Enforcing flag law is a long shot”: The Omaha World-Herald today contains an article that begins, “Nebraska’s law prohibiting flag desecration is the legal equivalent of a butter churn or slide rule: a device that has outlived its usefulness, according to two scholars and a lawyer seeking to declare the law void.”

Today’s newspaper also contains related articles headlined “Nebraskans’ beer label brought flag fracas to head” and “Defender adds touch of irony.”

Posted at 8:40 AM by Howard Bashman

“ABA seeks execution moratorium; Study of states finds ‘deeply flawed’ process, inequities”: The Chicago Tribune contains this article today.

Posted at 8:20 AM by Howard Bashman