How Appealing

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

“No More Clubbing for Federal Judges”: This evening at “The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times,” Tony Mauro has a post that begins, “While the nation’s attention was riveted on Congress and its response to the financial crisis in recent days, Congress found time to pass a bill that federal judges are really not going to like: a ban on gifts of honorary club memberships valued at more than $50 per year for all federal judges, from the Supreme Court on down. It passed the Senate on Sept. 25 and the House of Representatives on Sept. 29, and it is expected to be signed by President George W. Bush anytime.”

Posted at 8:47 PM by Howard Bashman

“Nichols trial: First witness to deaths testifies; ‘The judge never saw him’: Lawyer in courtroom on day in ’05 says shooter looked like staff.” Today’s edition of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution contains an article that begins, “Superior Court Judge Rowland Barnes never knew he was about to die. Nicole Waller, a young lawyer, was appearing before Barnes that morning to ask him to dismiss a business lawsuit, when she saw a well-dressed man enter the courtroom from the judge’s chambers. Waller, who was in midsentence, assumed the man was a staffer as he strode up behind the judge with his right hand extended. ‘It looked to me like he was handing something to the judge,’ Waller testified Monday. ‘The judge never saw him.’ Barnes had just indulged in his trademark humor at the good-natured expense of one of the attorneys. The newcomer, later identified as Brian Nichols, stepped up on the judge’s bench. Nichols then fired, and Barnes was fatally wounded, Waller said. Then Nichols aimed at the court reporter, Julie Ann Brandau, and fired again, hitting her in the head, Waller said. Waller, the 18th witness to testify in Nichols’ murder trial in Superior Court, was the first one who witnessed the deaths of Barnes and Brandau on March 11, 2005, in the Fulton County Courthouse shootings.”

And, later today, the newspaper posted online an update headlined “Nichols caused panic when he left courthouse; Deputy pursued defendant through complex, onto street where he died.”

Posted at 8:44 PM by Howard Bashman

“Appeals court will decide whether feds can use steroid test results of 100 pro baseball players”: Howard Mintz of The San Jose Mercury News has an update that begins, “A federal appeals court today escalated the heated legal feud between the federal government and the Major League Baseball players’ union, deciding to rehear a case involving the controversial seizure of the names and urine samples of about 100 players who failed a 2004 steroids test. In a brief order, the 9th U.S.Circuit Court of Appeals agreed to rehear the case with a special 11-judge panel. The order effectively wipes off the books a divided 119-page ruling issued in January that generally sided with the Justice Department in its effort to use the test results, initially obtained in an offshoot of the Balco steroids investigation.”

You can access today’s order of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit granting rehearing en banc at this link.

This blog’s earlier coverage of the three-judge panel’s ruling that today’s grant of rehearing en banc sets aside can be accessed here and here. And that three-judge panel’s first ruling in the case — from way back in December 2006, featuring mention of the little-known U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Nevada — appears at this link. My coverage of that first ruling appeared here, here, and here.

Posted at 3:11 PM by Howard Bashman

“Federal appeals court upholds S.F. health coverage law”: Bob Egelko of The San Francisco Chronicle has a news update that begins, “A federal appeals court upheld San Francisco’s pioneering health coverage program today, saying the city has the legal authority to require employers to help pay for health care for uninsured workers and residents. The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected challenges by restaurant owners and the Bush administration to the ordinance, the first of its kind in the nation.”

You can access today’s ruling of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit at this link. Circuit Judge William A. Fletcher wrote the decision, in which Circuit Judge Stephen Reinhardt and Senior Circuit Judge Alfred T. Goodwin joined.

Posted at 3:07 PM by Howard Bashman

In praise of the now-defunct New York Sun: The New York Sun has announced that it will cease publication effective today. As someone who is a fan of newspapers, I am always saddened when a publication that I have enjoyed goes out of business.

Fans of high-quality law-related journalism should be especially glum, as the newspaper featured two top-notch reporters who regularly covered legal issues: Josh Gerstein and Joseph Goldstein. Both Josh and Joe reached out to me regularly — and by extension reached out to you the readers of this blog regularly — by making sure that I was aware of their latest articles, often only moments after they appeared online. And on other occasions, they would email just to let me know of a development that they knew I’d be interested in reporting on here, even if it was not something that they themselves had already written about.

At a time when the NYSun’s online content often appeared behind a subscription wall, Josh Gerstein would regularly provide me with links to articles appearing in his newspaper that would allow the readers of this blog to access those articles free of charge. And it was Josh who first reported on the public remarks of a certain Second Circuit judge at a conference in June 2004 in an article that began, “A prominent federal judge has told a conference of liberal lawyers that President Bush’s rise to power was similar to the accession of dictators such as Mussolini and Hitler.” This blog’s earliest links to that article (which is itself no longer available online) appeared here and here.

In any event, I wish Josh, Joe, and all of this blog’s other friends at The New York Sun all the best going forward.

In today’s final issue of that newspaper, Josh Gerstein reports that “Feingold Bill Would Limit Searches of Travelers’ Laptops.”

And the newspaper also contains an article headlined “Atlantic Yard Project Suffers a Setback.”

Posted at 2:45 PM by Howard Bashman

Podcasts available for download: The New York Review of Books has posted online a podcast described as follows, “Ronald Dworkin explores the threats a McCain presidency would pose for the Supreme Court, the Constitution, and the place of the United States in the community of nations” (12.1MB mp3 audio file).

And if you missed this month’s meeting of the Philadelphia Bar Association‘s Appellate Courts Committee, you probably have yet to learn that Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. will be a featured speaker at the 2009 Judicial Conference of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, which will take place in Philadelphia and be open to the public. You can listen to the podcast of that committee’s meeting, featuring three high-ranking Third Circuit administrators, via this link (21.3MB mp3 audio file).

Posted at 9:14 AM by Howard Bashman

“Attorneys Tom Goldstein, Eugene Scalia, and Bradford Berenson discuss upcoming cases on the Supreme Court docket including those on national security, labor and employment, and the case of FCC v. Fox on the broadcast indecency rules”: You can view last Saturday’s broadcast of C-SPAN’s “America and the Courts” online, on-demand by clicking here.

And if one hour of that discussion leaves you wanting more, you can view the entire discussion by clicking here.

RealPlayer is required to launch these video segments.

Posted at 8:58 AM by Howard Bashman

“Mortgage Lenders Fight Off Rescission Class Action in 7th Circuit”: Pamela A. MacLean of The National Law Journal provides this report.

And last Wednesday, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel contained an article headlined “Chevy Chase Bank scores victory in predatory mortgage lending case; Appellate court dismisses Cedarburg couple’s class action suit.” According to the article:

The 15-page decision by former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Diane Sykes brought an unusually sharp retort from Kevin Demet, the [plaintiffs’] lawyer.

“The opinion is a radical opinion written by a radical jurist,” he said in an interview.

“This decision is a gift to certain members of the banking industry at the expense of the consumers who were misled,” he said in a statement.

You can access last week’s ruling by a divided three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit at this link.

Posted at 8:54 AM by Howard Bashman