How Appealing

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

“Louisiana criminal defense lawyer: ethical violation for blogger/attorney to contact witnesses.” Today at his “Copyrights & Campaigns” blog, Ben Sheffner has a post that begins, “Here’s one near and dear to my heart: a criminal defense attorney in Louisiana has threatened to file state bar ethics charges against a California attorney and blogger who, in the course of reporting for his blog, contacted a witness in the Louisiana attorney’s case.”

Posted at 9:00 PM by Howard Bashman

“High Court Split Over Case on Judicial Ethics”: Jess Bravin of The Wall Street Journal has this news update.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has a news update headlined “Supreme Court mulls W.Va. justice bias case.”

Greg Stohr of Bloomberg News reports that “Massey Case Prompts High Court to Weigh Restrictions on Judges.”

This evening’s broadcast of NPR’s “All Things Considered” contained an audio segment entitled “High Court Weighs Judicial Ethics” (RealPlayer required) featuring Nina Totenberg.

And The West Virginia Record has a report headlined “Tough day for both sides of judicial recusal case.”

Posted at 8:02 PM by Howard Bashman

“Justice Dept. May Release More Terrorism Memos”: Neil A. Lewis and Charlie Savage will have this article Wednesday in The New York Times.

Posted at 7:45 PM by Howard Bashman

Today’s rulings of note from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit: On behalf of a unanimous three-judge panel, Circuit Judge Ed Carnes has issued another opinion with a must-read opening paragraph:

When Robert Shaw was thirteen years old he hurled a rock through a car windshield, sending shards of glass into his victim’s face. Fifteen years later Shaw was speeding through Miami, with a cocked and loaded pistol and ski masks, on his way to burglarize a “drug hole.” His rap sheet during the intervening years is long enough to require extra postage. It shows 27 arrests involving 62 counts, and sentences totaling at least 105 months in spite of receiving one break after another from the system. Indeed, from Shaw’s criminal record it seems as though he is determined to serve a life sentence, albeit on the installment plan. The question this appeal presents is whether the current installment is a reasonable one.

Last month, the Fulton County Daily Report published this article about Judge Carnes.

And a second opinion issued today — this one written by the Eleventh Circuit’s Chief Judge — provides further evidence that judges don’t always appreciate lawyers who sue other lawyers, even when the lawsuit has merit.

Posted at 1:54 PM by Howard Bashman

Three-judge Ninth Circuit panel examines the liability of the Vatican for the alleged sexual abuse of a boy by a priest in Oregon: You can access today’s lengthy ruling at this link. The per curiam majority opinion begins, “We consider whether, on the allegations made in the Plaintiff’s complaint in this case, the Holy See is entitled to immunity from suit under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act.”

Law professor Marci A. Hamilton represented the plaintiff on appeal. You can access the oral argument audio via this link (Windows Media Player required).

Posted at 1:32 PM by Howard Bashman

“Supreme Court justices considering new judge standards”: Joan Biskupic of USA Today has a news update that begins, “Supreme Court justices expressed concern Tuesday about people’s confidence in the impartiality of elected state judges and suggested they might set a new standard for when judges should take themselves out of cases that involve big financial supporters.”

And Robert Barnes of The Washington Post has a news update headlined “Supreme Court Divided Over Judicial Bias Case.”

Posted at 1:22 PM by Howard Bashman

“High court to decide when judges should step aside”: Mark Sherman of The Associated Press has a report that begins, “The Supreme Court appears to be willing to say that elected judges must step aside from cases in which there would be at least an appearance of bias if they took part.”

Posted at 12:17 PM by Howard Bashman

Access online today’s U.S. Supreme Court rulings in argued cases: The Court today issued two rulings in argued cases.

1. Justice Antonin Scalia delivered the opinion of the Court in Summers v. Earth Island Institute, No. 07-463. The Chief Justice and Justices Anthony M. Kennedy, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel A. Alito, Jr. joined in the majority opinion. Justice Kenendy also issued a concurring opinion. Justice Stephen G. Breyer issued a dissenting opinion, in which Justices John Paul Stevens, David H. Souter, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg joined. You can access the ruling at this link and the oral argument transcript at this link.

2. Justice Kennedy delivered the opinion of the Court in Negusie v. Holder, No. 07-499. The Chief Justice and Justices Scalia, Souter, Ginsburg, and Alito joined in the majority opinion. Justice Scalia also issued a concurring opinion, in which Justice Alito joined. Justice Stevens issued an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part, in which Justice Breyer joined. And Justice Thomas issued a dissenting opinion. You can access the ruling at this link and the oral argument transcript at this link.

In early news coverage, The Associated Press has reports headlined “Court makes it harder to challenge forest rules” and “Court: Forced persecution doesn’t prevent asylum.”

Posted at 10:28 AM by Howard Bashman

“Benjamin’s votes scrutinized; State justices release figures as case goes to U.S. Supreme Court”: This article appears today in The Charleston (W. Va.) Gazette.

Mark Sherman of The Associated Press reports that “High court to decide when judges should step aside.”

Greg Stohr of Bloomberg News reports that “Massey Chairman’s Gifts to Judge Puts Bias Issue Before Court.”

Today’s broadcast of NPR’s “Morning Edition” contains an audio segment entitled “High Court To Decide If Judges Should Step Aside” (RealPlayer required) featuring Nina Totenberg.

West Virginia Public Broadcasting reports that “Blankenship, Benjamin and judicial ethics argued before Supreme Court.”

The New York Times today contains an editorial entitled “Justice Not for Sale.”

And USA Today contains an editorial entitled “Mining case shows sooty side of big-money judicial elections; Public confidence suffers when special interests finance court races.” In response, Sean Parnell has an op-ed entitled “Don’t chill political speech; Forcing taxpayers to subsidize candidates won’t lead to better judges.”

Posted at 8:00 AM by Howard Bashman