Thursday, December 25, 2008

Duquesne Mess Hits National News

It was no surprise this morning to see that this potboiler finally made it into the New York Times. The story, posted on the NYT site yesterday, was on the first page of the Nation section of the print version today. No mention of the rankings by the Times correspondent Sean Hamill.

For a complete recap of the story you should visit Paul Caron's excellent blog at TaxProf Blog. Make sure you follow all the links. Caron's entries on this go back for weeks and detail the focus of the NYT story - the battle over granting tenure to Professor John Rago fought between Dean Guter and the Duquesne President Charles Dougherty. Caron has gathered together many of the relevant links to news reportage.

So. Were the rankings instrumental in the dismissal of Dean Guter? Look for more analysis here at a later date.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Bush v. Gore - Has Legs, Will Travel

When Bush v. Gore was decided in 2000 it seemed that it was a decision about one case and one case only. It was to have no precedential value. Things have changed. Check out the December 22nd analysis of Adam Liptak in Sidebar, a regular feature of the New York Times. Liptak says...
"The Supreme Court’s decision in Bush v. Gore, issued eight years ago this month, was widely understood to work like that tape recorder in “Mission: Impossible.” It was meant to produce a president and then self-destruct."
With the fullness of time and the apparently unending creativity of counsel, Bush v. Gore has taken on a life of its own. Now Bush v. Gore is being cited by both parties in the latest election law suit - Coleman v. Ritchie, the Minnesota case that may decide the Al Franken/Norm Coleman election. You can find the documents from that case posted at ElectionLaw@Moritz, here.

This is a fascinating turn of events considering the following statement by the majority of the Supremes when they decided Bush v. Gore -
"Our consideration is limited to the present circumstances, for the problem of equal protection in election processes generally presents many complexities."
Bush v. Gore, 531 U.S. 98, 109 (2000).
Two unrelated legal research questions arise from this -
  1. What is a case, anyway? If the court issuing an opinion says that stare decisis does not attach how can we ever consider that case to be precedent? And yet, the courts and counsel clearly do despite the clear restriction by the Supreme Court.
  2. Independent websites and blogs like ElectionLaw@Moritz are proliferating. They may become an essential means of following legally related stories. Since we are in the midst of an election cycle it is easy to set up a feed from a site like this and simply wait for the information to come in. If your server is large enough anything can be posted for examination. Motions, affidavits, memoranda are all there to be downloaded and considered. More grist for the researcher's mill. But, when the history of this election is being written, will the documents still be available? How long will OSU maintain its archive?

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Lawyer Jailed for Giving Client Candy in Court

Here's the link to the Yahoo news article. Further comment would be superfluous.

Law School Rankings in the News - Again

The US News & World Report law school rankings strike again this time in Pittsburg as the Dean of the Duquesne law school loses his job over, that's right, the rankings.

Or did he? Although the administration cited Duquesne's 4th tier ranking as a reason to fire Dean Guter there was clearly something else going on. You can read all about it here.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

7th Circuit Meltdown - Moot Court Students Beware!

Oral argument is pinnacle of advocacy. It is often your last chance to influence how your client's case will turn out. You can be creative, audacious, persuasive.

But there are some things you just can't do. Here's a great example of what can happen when you have completely misjudged your case, your audience, yourself... Follow this link to the 7th Circuit oral argument page for the case of U.S. v. Johnson. Then follow the hyperlink "Oral Argument" to the audio file to see just how bad things can get.

This 2005 case has become a classic on how not to do oral argument. After counsel's attempt at oral argument, the case went on to be decided; the full opinion appears at 123 Fed.Appx. 240, 2005 WL 589976. Listen to the audio and then ponder what must surely rank as one of the great legal understatements of all time -

" A recent Supreme Court case makes it irrelevant whether Johnson's consent for the dog sniff was voluntary. See Illinois v. Caballes, 543 U.S. 405, 125 S.Ct. 834, 838, 160 L.Ed.2d 842 (2005) (holding that no legitimate privacy interest is implicated by allowing a drug-detection dog to sniff the exterior of a vehicle during a lawful traffic stop). . . . At argument, Johnson could not distinguish his case from Caballes, and neither can we." [Emphasis added.]

Of course, at argument it was not Johnson who was arguing his case - it was his attorney.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Emoluments Clause Debate Builds Up Steam

So, I guess that Jeffery Toobin reads this blog (or Daily Kos or something). Is this the new model for news? Stories begin in the blogosphere (that's where we're at right now) and, after a few days, make their way into the mainstream news...

Sorry about the Hyundai ad. Such is the price of viral video.

And, a thankful nod to Caitlin Sochacki for the steer to CNN.

First Job vs. Economic Meltdown

How do you get your first job as a lawyer when the economy is heading into a black hole? Check out this short article from Above the Law.

Above the Law has become an increasingly valuable news source aggregator. Although it often seems to be primarily concerned with the New York City legal scene there are also valuable links to stories with national interest. In the past I usually didn't turn to Above the Law for anything but entertainment value. They have retained that edge but they increasingly post something so good that it deserves everyone's attention.