How Appealing

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

“Justice Department might fight Trentadue all the way to Supreme Court”: Today in The Salt Lake Tribune, Pamela Manson has an article that begins, “The U.S. Department of Justice wants an appeals court to delay an order requiring it to disclose the details of an investigation into the death of a federal prison inmate. Government lawyers said they need time to decide whether to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the order.”

And today in The Deseret Morning News, Geoffrey Fattah reports that “Feds lose round in cover-up case; Court backs Utahn in quest for records on brother’s death.”

My earlier coverage of the Tenth Circuit’s ruling appears at this link.

Posted at 10:30 PM by Howard Bashman

“Filipino justice touts growth: High court chief speaks in law conference”: Wednesday’s edition of The Pacific Daily News of Guam contains an article that begins, “The Pacific Judicial Council’s Judicial Conference and Legal Institute continued yesterday with a keynote address from Supreme Court of the Philippines Chief Justice Renato Puno.”

Posted at 10:20 PM by Howard Bashman

Making a mockery out of the use of John Doe: A reader based in New York City emails:

Here’s one to appeal to your intrepid reporter streak.

A Ninth Circuit opinion posted today is captioned John Doe v. Jeanne S. Woodford, et al., No. 06-16154. It is, however, the substituted opinion for an earlier decision, Craig Clifford Busch v. Jeanne S. Woodford, et al., also bearing No. 06-16154, originally filed Aug. 29, 2007, and withdrawn on November 13, 2007, after crossing petitions for rehearing. If you check PACER, the docket still openly states Busch’s identity; indeed, the lower court posted its opinion on Westlaw, with Busch’s name, at 2005 WL 1926618. The revised opinion omits a citation to the Westlaw publication of the lower court opinion that was set forth in one of the original opinion’s footnotes.

This is all very odd, since anonymous pleading is normally reserved for cases where a party’s identity is not otherwise in the public domain associated with the case (not only missing here with the docket issues, but I’m confident a search of news databases would turn up Busch’s identity if you punch in the name of his murder victim, which is revealed in the opinion). Why did the Ninth Circuit decide belatedly to mask Busch’s identity?

If any of this blog’s readers wish to weigh in on this matter, feel free to contact me via email.

Posted at 8:28 PM by Howard Bashman

“Judge ordered removed from bench over cell phone flap”: The Buffalo News provides an update that begins, “A state panel has ordered City Judge Robert M. Restaino removed from the bench for jailing 46 defendants after a cell phone rang in his courtroom and no one would admit to owning it. The Commission on Judicial Conduct, in a ruling released today, voted 9-1 to take Restaino off the job.”

The Associated Press reports that “Judge Removed Over Cell Phone Jailing.”

And the “City Room” blog of The New York Times has a post titled “A Judge’s ‘Inexplicable Madness’ Over a Cellphone.”

You can access the decision of the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct at this link.

Posted at 7:08 PM by Howard Bashman

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit attempts to prepare itself for Chief Judge Alex Kozinski: The Ninth Circuit’s Public Information Office has issued a news release entitled “Gavel Passing to Mark Changing of the Guard for Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.”

At least Judge Kozinski was able to sneak some humor into the news release: “The chief judge of the circuit assumes the position based on seniority. The chief judge is the judge in regular active service who is senior in commission of those judges who are (1) 64 years of age or under; (2) have served for one year or more as a circuit judge; and (3) have not served previously as chief judge. Judge Kozinski also believes that looks count, though he can provide no support for that proposition.”

Posted at 5:50 PM by Howard Bashman

May a municipality exclude religious assemblies or institutions from a particular zone, where some secular assemblies or institutions are allowed, without violating the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment or RLUIPA’s Equal Terms Provision? A partially divided three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit today issued a 96-page ruling addressing that question.

Posted at 2:18 PM by Howard Bashman

“Court: Contractor owes $5 million to U.S. soldier’s family.” provides a report that begins, “A federal court has ordered a Kuwait-based contractor to pay nearly $5 million in damages to the family of a U.S. military officer killed in Iraq — a rare court decision holding a contracting company accountable for its actions in the war.”

You can access this month’s ruling of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia at this link.

Posted at 1:30 PM by Howard Bashman

“‘Aux Armes, Citoyens!:’ Time for Law Schools to Lead the Movement for Free and Open Access to the Law.” Law Professor Ian Gallacher has posted this article (abstract with link for download) online at SSRN. Pages 25-26 of the article discuss the Second Circuit‘s efforts last month to restrict access to the original version of that Court’s ruling in the Higazy v. Templeton case.

Professor Gallacher writes:

The incident is disturbing not just because the Higazy case shows how the federal government was able to coerce a false confession from an innocent person, but because it shows that federal courts believe that not only can they release and then retrieve and edit opinions, they believe they have the power to make others restrict access to the information as well, even though it was obtained from the court’s own website. This is not the behavior of a governmental body that is taking responsibility for providing accurate, free, and open access to its opinions.

The article recommends that “law schools band together in a consortium in order to publish and freely disseminate American common law on the internet.”

Posted at 11:40 AM by Howard Bashman

“Justices uphold welfare home searches; The ACLU had challenged a San Diego County policy, saying its warrantless inspections violated privacy rights; The Supreme Court refuses to hear it”: David G. Savage has this article today in The Los Angeles Times.

The San Diego Union-Tribune reports today that “Court clears welfare home inspections.”

And The North County Times reports that “County’s welfare inspections upheld by Supreme Court; Local officials say decision vindicates house calls.”

Posted at 9:37 AM by Howard Bashman

“Viability of sex-offender law in doubt; The lifetime GPS monitoring ordered by Prop. 83 may be too costly and complex to ever fully implement”: The Los Angeles Times today contains an article that begins, “Law enforcement leaders who pushed for a ballot initiative requiring sex offenders in California to be tracked by satellite for life are now saying that the sweeping surveillance program voters endorsed is not feasible and is unlikely to be fully implemented for years, if ever.”

Posted at 9:34 AM by Howard Bashman

“Sniper Judge Is Named to Appeals Court”: The Washington Post today contains an article that begins, “The judge who oversaw the first trial of Washington area sniper John Allen Muhammad was named yesterday to the Virginia Court of Appeals, and officials said his handling of the case played a key role in the appointment.”

Posted at 9:25 AM by Howard Bashman

“End the Use of Signing Statements: The loophole allowing the president to selectively ignore laws must be closed.” The Harvard Crimson contains this editorial today.

Posted at 9:14 AM by Howard Bashman

“Harris County’s fight over Bible display may be over; Supreme Court spurns the case, but monument could still find a home”: This article appears today in The Houston Chronicle.

And the organization Americans United for Separation of Church and State yesterday issued a news release entitled “High Court Refuses To Re-open Religious Symbol Case.”

The September 5, 2006 installment of my “On Appeal” column for — headlined “Monument at Houston Courthouse Tests the Limits of Ten Commandments Rulings” — discussed the Fifth Circuit‘s original three-judge panel ruling in the case. In April 2007, after having granted rehearing en banc in the case, the full Fifth Circuit dismissed the case as moot.

Posted at 8:55 AM by Howard Bashman

“Another hearing for Kent’s accuser”: The Galveston County Daily News today contains an article that begins, “A woman who has accused U.S. District Judge Samuel Kent of unwanted sexual touching will have her case reheard by a disciplinary panel of the 5th Judicial Circuit, her attorney, Rusty Hardin, said late Monday. Late that afternoon, Hardin gave the panel summaries of interviews his team did of 20 people who have had contact with Kent. Hardin claims those interviews show that Kent has misbehaved toward women since shortly after he was named to the federal bench in Galveston in the early 1990s. Hardin said he and his client are asking that the panel refer the matter to the Judicial Council of the United States with a recommendation that Kent be impeached.”

The Houston Chronicle reports today that “Kent may face worse hurdles in sex misconduct case; Accuser requests it be reheard by a higher authority.”

And The Associated Press reports that “Woman seeks more punishment for judge accused of sex misconduct.”

Posted at 8:37 AM by Howard Bashman

“New Jersey, Delaware dispute their border — again; The Supreme Court case, set to be heard Tuesday, involves an energy plant whose pier would cross the line”: Warren Richey has this article today in The Christian Science Monitor.

The News Journal of Wilmington, Delaware yesterday contained an article headlined “Supreme Court to hear more on LNG dispute; Tuesday’s arguments are third round.”

The Courier-Post of Cherry Hill, New Jersey reports today that “High court will hear N.J. border dispute.”

Kate Coscarelli of The Newark (N.J.) Star-Ledger reports that “NJ, Delaware to square off in court.”

And the Newhouse News Service reports that “Del. holds N.J. cards in LNG game.”

Posted at 8:22 AM by Howard Bashman

“Court to decide detainees’ rights; Justices try to balance protection of nation, protection of individual”: Today in USA Today, Joan Biskupic has an article that begins, “Supreme Court justices will hear a dispute next week over the rights of Guantanamo detainees that presents a fundamental question of prisoners’ ability to be heard in court. The case arises as the justices increasingly exert their authority in terror-related clashes.”

Posted at 8:11 AM by Howard Bashman

In commentary available online at FindLaw: Joanna Grossman has an essay entitled “Why the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit Rejected a Man’s Claim for Relief from Involuntary Fatherhood.” My earlier coverage of the Sixth Circuit’s ruling appears at this link.

And Aviva Abramovsky has an essay entitled “Why a California Court of Appeal Held that Scott Peterson Won’t Be Collecting on the Insurance Policy For His Wife and Murder Victim, Laci.” My earlier coverage of that ruling appears at this link.

Posted at 7:52 AM by Howard Bashman