Thursday, May 22, 2014

National Law Journal Digitizes Federal Appellate Judges' Financial Reports

The National Law Journal has made available in digital form 257 financial disclosure reports for federal appellate judges for the year 2012 (the last year available), which the Journal had to retrieve manually. 

I clicked on the first name, Judge D. Brooks Smith, appointed to the Third Circuit in 2001.  Judge Smith received over $23,000 from Penn State University Dickinson School of Law as an adjunct professor in the fall semester of 2012.  He was also reimbursed for travel by two law school Federalist Society chapters in 2012 as a "speaker for education program."  

The reports should prove interesting reading.  

May 22, 2014 in Federal Courts, In the News | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, May 2, 2014

Reenactment of deposition argument over definition of "photocopy machine"

As a break from writing or grading your final exams (and to walk down the memory lane of law practice for some of us), here's a great reenactment of an argument during a deposition about the definition of a photocopier.  The short video by writer and director Brett Weiner is part of the New York Times Op-Docs series and is a verbatim transcript of a deposition from an Ohio case.

May 2, 2014 in Discovery, In the News | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Report on Last Week's Civil Rules Advisory Committee Meeting

We covered earlier the agenda for the Civil Rules Advisory Committee’s April meeting, which took place in Portland, Oregon last week and was an important step for the recently proposed amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Bloomberg BNA’s U.S. Law Week has this report on the result of the meeting.

The Advisory Committee’s recommendations go next to the Standing Committee on the Rules of Practice and Procedure, which will meet in May.

Hat Tip: Tom Rowe

 

 

April 16, 2014 in Discovery, Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, In the News | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, March 20, 2014

TRO Entered Against Mt. Gox in Class Action

I have admittedly fallen down on my self-appointed job of reporting on bitcoin litigation.  Somewhat belatedly, I provide an update on some of the litigation surrounding the collapse of Mt. Gox, one of the earliest, largest, and best-known bitcoin exchanges. 

On Feb. 27, 2014, a putative class action, Greene v. Mt. Gox Inc., Mt. Gox KK, Tibanne KK, and Mark Karpeles, No. 1:14-cv-1437, was filed in the Northern District of Illinois.  Subject matter jurisdiction was premised on the Class Action Fairness Act.  The complaint alleged counts for consumer fraud, common law fraud, negligence, and conversion, among other causes of action.

Two classes are proposed:

(1) Payment Class: All persons in the United States who paid a fee to Mt. Gox to buy, sell, or otherwise trade bitcoins.

(2) Frozen Currency Class: All persons in the United States who had bitcoins or Fiat Currency stored with Mt. Gox on Feb. 7, 2014.

On March 9, 2014, Mt. Gox Co., Ltd., which apparently is also known as Mt. Gox KK, filed a bankruptcy petition under Chapter 15 (foreign proceeding) in the Northern District of Texas, No. 3:14-bk-31229.  Under the automatic stay, the Greene proceeding was stayed against defendant Mt. Gox KK.

However, as against the remaining defendants, Judge Feinerman in the Greene case entered a temporary restraining order on March 11, 2014.  The court ruled that plaintiff had demonstrated a likelihood of success on the merits with respect to claims under the Illinois Consumer Fraud Act, common law fraud, negligence, conversion, and for an accounting, and restrained the defendants from selling, transferring, disposing of, or concealing any of their assets or records, including preservation of their web site. 

March 20, 2014 in Class Actions, In the News | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, March 10, 2014

Deposition of Justin Bieber in Alleged Bodyguard-Attacks-Photographer Case

Want a cringe-worthy example of a difficult deponent?  Try this excerpt of Justin Bieber's deposition in Binion v. Bieber, pending in state court in Miami.   The complaint alleges:

7. At the aforedescribed date, time and place, Plaintiff, who is a 56 year old professional photographer, was legally on the sidewalk outside of the Hit Factory, taking photographs of Defendant BIEBER.
8. Defendant BIEBER, who is an internationally famous recording artist, did not want the Plaintiff to take photographs of him, so he directed HESNY and three other bodyguards to confront Plaintiff, and to forcibly take the memory card from Plaintiff’s camera.
9. In compliance with BIEBER’s instructions, Defendant HESNY threw Plaintiff against a wall, began choking him, and threatened Plaintiff with a gun, while the other bodyguards (whose names are unknown to the Plaintiff, pending further discovery), assisted him in threatening Plaintiff and forcibly removing the memory card from his camera.

Thanks to Brittany Cooper for passing this along!

 

March 10, 2014 in In the News | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, February 24, 2014

Unprecedented Number of Public Comments on Proposed FRCP Changes

Tony Mauro at the National Law Journal has an article this morning entitled Lawyers Spar Over Discovery Rules.  He reports, "More than 2,200 lawyers and others took the time in recent weeks to file sometimes impassioned ­comments with a committee of the Judicial Con­ference over proposals to narrow pretrial discovery and ease sanctions for failure to preserve documents. The deadline for comments was Feb. 18."

 

February 24, 2014 in Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, In the News | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, February 10, 2014

Kagan on Ginsburg and Civil Procedure

Adam Liptak reports in the New York Times on last week’s appearance by Justices Ginsburg (Brooklyn) and Kagan (Manhattan) at the New York City Bar Association. A few of the funnier bits from Justice Kagan’s lecture involve civil procedure. From the article:

Justice Kagan also had a little fun with Justice Ginsburg’s writing and interests. “As a law professor, she was a pathmarking scholar of civil procedure,” Justice Kagan said, and then paused. “Pathmarking. Have you ever heard that word before? It appears in about 30 Justice Ginsburg opinions — although it appears actually not to exist. Oh well.”

Justice Ginsburg is also an expert in comparative civil procedure, Justice Kagan said: “She wrote what I am confident is the definitive American volume on civil procedure in Sweden. That’s why when the Supreme Court faces a tricky question of Swedish civil procedure, we always go straight to Justice Ginsburg.”

February 10, 2014 in In the News, Supreme Court Cases | Permalink | Comments (1)

Monday, December 9, 2013

Federal Courts Celebrate 25 Years of PACER and CM/ECF

The Third Branch News reports "25 Years Later, PACER, Electronic Filing Continue to Change Courts."

Apparently without irony, Third Branch notes,  "Lawyers speak of reduced stress at a workday’s end, knowing they can electronically file a document until midnight, without fear that the courthouse doors will close on them."

December 9, 2013 in Federal Courts, In the News, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, December 6, 2013

Court Implicitly Upholds Document Request Seeking Bitcoin Transaction Information

Okay, I've succombed to bitcoin madness.  A search today of the ALLCASES library in the Westlaw database yielded three cases with the word "Bitcoin" in them.  The only one of any recency was the following.

In Entrepreneur Media, Inc. v. Smith, No. 2:10–mc–55–JAM–EFB (E.D. Cal. Nov. 26, 2013), a judgment creditor/plaintiff moved to compel the production of documents sought in aid of enforcement of its judgment against the judgment debtor/defendant.  The document request included, "Any and all books, letters, papers, files, or documents . . . which show any wire transfer, electronic distribution and/or transmission of funds, purchase of debit cards, acquisition and use of any online digital banking services, such as Bitcoin, and/or any and all other papers which show any account in YOUR name, and moreover, any account by any entity, including any digital entity, for the TIME PERIOD."  Without addressing any issue that might have been presented by the inclusion of Bitcoin transactions in the document request, the court granted the motion to compel this particular request (although it denied the motion as to other requests).

December 6, 2013 in In the News, Recent Decisions, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, November 15, 2013

"Lawsuit Abuse Reduction" Bill Passes House

H.R. 2655,  the so-called "Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act of 2013," passed the House of Representatives yesterday 228-195 (sigh . . . ). 

In 2011, Professor Lonny Hoffman testified against this bill before the House Judiciary Committee. 

November 15, 2013 in Current Affairs, Federal Courts, In the News | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Still More on the Second Circuit's Order in the Stop-and-Frisk Case

Coverage of the Second Circuit’s order in the Stop-and-Frisk case—staying Judge Scheindlin’s rulings and ordering her removed from the case—continues:

More coverage here.

November 6, 2013 in Current Affairs, Federal Courts, In the News, Recent Decisions, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, November 3, 2013

More on the Second Circuit's Order in the Stop-and-Frisk Case

We covered earlier the Second Circuit’s order staying District Judge Shira Scheindlin’s rulings in the stop-and-frisk litigation and removing her from the case. For more, here are a few links worth taking a look at:

 

November 3, 2013 in Current Affairs, Federal Courts, In the News, Recent Decisions, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, November 1, 2013

A Big Week for Civil Procedure & Federal Courts

There is a lot of action on the civil procedure & federal courts front next week. Mark your calendars (especially if you’ll be in D.C.).

 

November 1, 2013 in Current Affairs, Discovery, Federal Courts, Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, In the News, Supreme Court Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Second Circuit Stays SDNY's Stop-and-Frisk Rulings Pending Appeal, Orders District Judge Removed From Case

In August, U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin ruled that the New York City Police Department’s “stop and frisk” policy was unconstitutional and ordered a series of remedies. Today the Second Circuit not only stayed Judge Scheindlin’s orders and opinions pending appeal; it also ordered that she be taken off the case. From the Second Circuit’s order (footnotes omitted):

Upon review of the record in these cases, we conclude that the District Judge ran afoul of the Code of Conduct for United States Judges, Canon 2 (“A judge should avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all activities.”); see also Canon 3(C)(1) (“A judge shall disqualify himself or herself in a proceeding in which the judge’s impartiality might reasonably be questioned . . . .”), and that the appearance of impartiality surrounding this litigation was compromised by the District Judge’s improper application of the Court’s “related case rule,” see Transfer of Related Cases, S.D.N.Y. & E.D.N.Y. Local Rule 13(a), and by a series of media interviews and public statements purporting to respond publicly to criticism of the District Court.

Accordingly, we conclude that, in the interest, and appearance, of fair and impartial administration of justice, UPON REMAND, these cases shall be assigned to a different District Judge, chosen randomly under the established practices of the District Court for the Southern District of New York. This newly-designated District Judge shall implement this Court’s mandate staying all proceedings and otherwise await further action by the Court of Appeals on the merits of the ongoing appeals.

October 31, 2013 in Federal Courts, In the News, Recent Decisions | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, October 25, 2013

Shutdown Caused "Broad Disruptions," Say Federal Courts

Third Branch News is reporting that "federal district and bankruptcy courts and those who practice in them were shaken, to varying degrees, by the government’s 17-day shutdown at the start of the new fiscal year."  More

October 25, 2013 in Federal Courts, In the News | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, October 13, 2013

New York Times on "How Activist is the Supreme Court?"

Adam Liptak of the New York Times published an article considering "How Activist Is the Supreme Court?"   In it, Liptak quotes several law professors, including:

Lee Epstein (USC): “Claims about the Roberts court’s activism seem overwrought.” 

Suzanna Sherry (Vanderbilt): "[T]he Supreme Court had erred more often in sustaining laws than in striking them down. 'Too much of a good thing can be bad,' she wrote, 'and democracy is no exception.'"  Professor Sherry's article, entitled "Why We Need More Judicial Activism," is forthcoming in early 2014.  Here's the abstract: 

Too much of a good thing can be bad, and democracy is no exception. In the United States, the antidote to what the drafters of the Constitution called “the excess of democracy” is judicial review. Lately, however, judicial review has come under fire. Many on both sides of the political aisle accuse the Supreme Court of being overly activist and insufficiently deferential to the elected representatives of the people. I argue in this essay that criticizing the Court for its activism is exactly backwards: We need more judicial activism, not less. Courts engaging in judicial review are bound to err on one side or the other from time to time. It is much better for the health of our constitutional democracy if they err on the side of activism, striking down too many laws rather than too few. An examination of both constitutional theory and our own judicial history shows that too little activism produces worse consequences than does too much. If we cannot assure that the judges tread the perfect middle ground (and we cannot), it is better to have an overly aggressive judiciary than an overly restrained one.

Lee Epstein (USC) & Andrew Martin (Wash U): “In a nutshell, liberal justices tend to invalidate conservative laws and conservative justices, liberal laws.” Professors Epstein and Martin co-authored an article last year on the topic of judicial activism and the Roberts Court, entitled "Is the Roberts Court Especially Activist? A Study of Invalidating (and Upholding) Federal, State, and Local Laws."

Liptak's article also quotes a number of others, including several of the Justices themselves.  The article is worth a read for those interested in the judicial activism debate. 

 

October 13, 2013 in Federal Courts, In the News, Supreme Court Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 30, 2013

Civil Litigation Has Low Priority in Justice Department's Plan for Government Shutdown

The BLT: The Blog of LegalTimes reports that the Justice Department has released a Contingency Plan for FY 2014 (which starts tomorrow) "in the event of a lapse in appropriations" (the phrase used in the Contingency Plan).  Most Civil Division employees will be subject to furlough because their activities do not relate to "emergencies involving the safety of human life or the protection of property," or meet some other category of exemption.  Although the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts has indicated "that federal courts will continue to hear and decide cases without interruption," Justice is directing its civil litigators "to approach the courts and request that acvtive cases, except for those in which posponement would compromise . . . the safety of human life or the protection of property, be postponed until funding is available."

September 30, 2013 in Federal Courts, In the News | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Federal Courts to Remain Open For Ten Days If Government Shuts Down

The federal judiciary, which has been releasing dire warnings about its financial situation for months, has just released an announcement on Third Branch News that reads:

In the event of a government shutdown on October 1, 2013, the federal Judiciary will remain open for business for approximately 10 business days. On or around October 15, 2013, the Judiciary will reassess its situation and provide further guidance. All proceedings and deadlines remain in effect as scheduled, unless otherwise advised. Case Management/Electronic Case Files (CM/ECF) will remain in operation for the electronic filing of documents with courts.

September 26, 2013 in Federal Courts, In the News | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 9, 2013

Pennsylvania Appellate Court Overturns $14.5 Million Asbestos Verdict

From The Legal Intelligencer:

A divided state Superior Court panel has thrown out a $14.5 million asbestos verdict awarded to the widow of a man who died from mesothelioma, determining that her counsel's suggestion of a specific sum for damages to the jury was improper and that the plaintiff's expert's testimony was inadmissable.  Read more . . .

PM

September 9, 2013 in In the News, Mass Torts, Recent Decisions | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Discovery and Lance Armstrong

Jim Vertuno (AP) covers a recent order by a Texas state court judge compelling Lance Armstrong to respond to discovery requests. Here are some excerpts from the report, Judge Orders Armstrong to Answer Doping Questions:

Nebraska-based Acceptance Insurance Holding is seeking the information in its lawsuit to recover $3 million in bonuses it paid Armstrong from 1999 to 2001.***

Travis County District Judge Tim Sulak last week ordered Armstrong to provide documents and written answers to a series of questions by the end of September. The case has been set for trial in April 2014.

The questions seek information dating to 1995 and ask Armstrong to detail who was paid for delivered performance-enhancing drugs, who determined what amount to use and administered them, and who was aware of his drug use. Acceptance specifically asks for information on when and how Armstrong's closest friends, advisers, ex-wife and business partners learned of his doping.

 

September 4, 2013 in Current Affairs, Discovery, In the News, State Courts | Permalink | Comments (0)