How Appealing

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

“Judge questions law giving telecoms immunity”: Today in The San Francisco Chronicle, Bob Egelko has an article that begins, “A federal judge in San Francisco is raising questions about the constitutionality of a law designed to dismiss suits against telecommunications companies accused of cooperating with government wiretapping. Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker has asked President Obama’s Justice Department to present its views by Wednesday on whether the law gives the attorney general too much power to decide whether a company is immune from lawsuits.”

Posted at 10:50 PM by Howard Bashman

“Specter Tries to Explore Kagan’s Constitutional Views”: David Ingram has this post at “The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times” about these answers that the nominee recently provided to the Senator’s written questions.

Posted at 6:22 PM by Howard Bashman

Today’s U.S. Supreme Court rulings in argued cases: The Supreme Court of the United States today issued three rulings in argued cases.

1. Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. issued the opinion of the Court in Ysursa v. Pocatello Ed. Assn., No. 07-869. You can access the decision at this link and the oral argument transcript at this link. In news coverage, Jesse J. Holland of The Associated Press has a report headlined “Court: State can stop union political deductions.”

2. Justice Clarence Thomas issued the opinion of the Court in Carcieri v. Salazar, No. 07-526. You can access the decision at this link and the oral argument transcript at this link. In news coverage, The Associated Press reports that “Court rules for state in American Indian land case.” And The Providence (R.I.) Journal has a news update headlined “Court rules for RI in Narragansett tribal case.” I guess that Theodore B. Olson wasn’t such a bad choice to argue for Rhode Island after all.

3. And Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg issued the opinion of the Court in United States v. Hayes, No. 07-608. You can access the decision at this link and the oral argument transcript at this link. Mark Sherman of the Associated Press reports that “Court upholds conviction in guns case.” David G. Savage of The Los Angeles Times has a news update headlined “High court keeps guns away from domestic abusers; Justices uphold broader interpretation of law aimed at people convicted of felony and misdemeanor violence.” At “The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times,” Tony Mauro has a post titled “Second Amendment Absent in Supreme Court Gun Ruling.”

Finally, at “SCOTUSblog,” Lyle Denniston has a post titled “Some limits on political donations upheld” reporting on all three rulings.

Posted at 6:15 PM by Howard Bashman

“Judge Kent accepts plea deal, retires; Trial ‘would have been long, embarrassing and difficult for all involved,’ defense attorney says”: The Houston Chronicle contains this article today. The newspaper also contains an editorial entitled “Kent’s guilty plea: Galveston federal judge betrayed a sacred trust with his despicable conduct.” And columnist Lisa Falkenberg has an op-ed entitled “Is Kent getting off easy?

The New York Times reports today that “Plea Deal Ends Sexual Abuse Case Against Federal Judge in Texas.”

And The Galveston County Daily News reports today that “Women’s group, law experts weigh in on Kent plea.”

Posted at 4:33 PM by Howard Bashman

“Solicitor General asked to weigh in on 9/11 suit; The request from the U.S. Supreme Court may indicate a close hearing”: This article appears today in The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Posted at 4:15 PM by Howard Bashman

Programming note: This morning, I’ll be arguing on appeal for the plaintiff/appellant in a case in which The Legal Intelligencer of Philadelphia previously reported that “JNOV Wipes Out Verdict of $1.5 Million in Hormone Replacement Case.”

The appeal is being heard by a three-judge panel of the Superior Court of Pennsylvania, sitting in Philadelphia.

My client’s Brief for Appellant and Reply Brief for Appellant/Response Brief for Cross-Appellee are both available online.

Additional posts will appear here later today.

Update: The oral argument seemed to go quite well.

Posted at 6:33 AM by Howard Bashman

Federal district judges sitting by designation with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit: In response to this post of mine from last night, Seventh Circuit Chief Judge Frank H. Easterbrook emails:

District judges have indeed begun to sit with the Seventh Circuit, after a gap of more than 15 years.

This is not because the circuit needs assistance; our caseload has not had a net increase over the past five years. Anyway, asking active district judges to sit with a court of appeals does not increase the judicial system’s capacity, since time devoted to appeals is lost to the district court.

I have invited the more recent appointees to the district court (those who have served five years or less) to sit with the court of appeals, so that they may get better acquainted with how the appellate process works in the Seventh Circuit. I also have urged judges of the court of appeals to sit occasionally on the district court. The judicial system as a whole is stronger when its members have experience with the process from beginning to end. Judicial knowledge and insight yield benefits for litigants. All of the circuit’s district judges with five years or less or service have accepted and will sit with the Seventh Circuit for two days each before the end of May. Judge Kendall, who sat on January 20 and 22, is the first.

There are collateral benefits when appellate judges and district judges get to know one another as colleagues, instead of just people who meet occasionally at conferences and receptions–or who engage in a back-and-forth in opinions in an attempt explain why the other made a legal error. Working cooperatively helps.

The program is beginning with the more recent appointments. If it proves successful, invitations will be extended to district judges who have served longer. But I do not plan to invite any judge (district or appellate) from outside the circuit; those invitations would not have the benefits I’ve mentioned.

I thank Chief Judge Easterbrook for offering this explanation.

Posted at 6:30 AM by Howard Bashman