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)

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Delaware Chancery Court Arbitrations Must Be Open to Public, Third Circuit Holds

We first reported on the Delaware Coalition for Open Government's challenge to the statutorily-mandated confidentiality of court-sponsored arbitrations here, when the federal district court held that the First Amendment mandated public access to the arbitrations.

The Third Circuit has now affirmed that decision:

Because there has been a tradition of accessibility to proceedings like Delaware’s government-sponsored arbitration, and because access plays an important role in such proceedings, we find that there is a First Amendment right of access to Delaware’s government-sponsored arbitrations. We will therefore affirm the order of the District Court.

Delaware Coalition for Open Government v. Strine, No. 12-3859 (3d Cir. Oct. 23, 2013).

October 23, 2013 in Recent Decisions, State Courts | Permalink | Comments (0)

Seton Hall Law Review Symposium: Legal Education Looking Forward

This Friday, October 25, the Seton Hall Law Review is hosting a full-day symposium entitled Legal Education Looking Forward:

Is law school still economically viable? Should it last two years instead of three? Would increasing “skills classes” increase preparedness? Could an apprenticeship program or post-graduate “low bono” service clinic give students a means of building experience in a tough legal market? Do we need the bar exam? On Friday, October 25, 2013, the Seton Hall Law Review’s Volume 44 Symposium, “Legal Education Looking Forward,” will explore these and other current proposals for revamping, revitalizing, and reestablishing the value of law school. Paulette Brown, President-Elect of the American Bar Association, will deliver the keynote address, and a panel of distinguished professors, administrators, and practitioners will speak throughout the day.

More details and registration information available here.


October 23, 2013 in Conferences/Symposia | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

General Electric reportedly involved in 14,000 lawsuits worldwide

For those interested in the prevalence of "repeat players" in civil litigation, there is some interesting information in the Blog of LegalTimes.   

On Monday, George Mason University School of Law hosted a panel discussion regarding the "Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act of 2013," a pending U.S. House of Representatives bill.  The BLT cited the comments of General Electric Co.'s litigation chief Bradford Berenson.

Berenson reportedly said that GE "is currently involved in about 14,000 lawsuits globally, about 60 percent of which [i.e., about 8,400] are in the United States." 

This type of data is extremely difficult to glean from public records, so I'm passing it along.

BTW, with regard to the pending bill, Lonny Hoffman has an earlier article, "The Case Against the Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act of 2011."

October 22, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Friday, October 18, 2013

SCOTUS Oral Argument in Daimler v. Bauman

This week the Supreme Court heard oral argument in Daimler AG v. Bauman (covered earlier here and here). Daimler resembles last Term's Kiobel case, in that it involves claims against a foreign defendant (Daimler) for human rights and other violations committed abroad (in Argentina, during the "dirty war" of the 1970s and 1980s) under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS). But the question for which the Court granted certiorari in Daimler involves personal jurisdiction and is not limited to ATS cases: "whether it violates due process for a court to exercise general personal jurisdiction over a foreign corporation based solely on the fact that an indirect corporate subsidiary performs services on behalf of the defendant in the forum State."

During the argument, plaintiffs' counsel acknowledged that their ATS claims faced an "uphill struggle" in light of Kiobel, but they are also pursuing state law and foreign law claims – for which personal jurisdiction would remain a live issue. Given the question presented, the more significant SCOTUS precursor may be the 2011 Goodyear decision, not Kiobel. Writing for a unanimous Court, Justice Ginsburg wrote in Goodyear that general jurisdiction over corporations is proper "when their affiliations with the State are so 'continuous and systematic' as to render them essentially at home in the forum State." She cited (1) a corporation's principal place of business and (2) its state or country of incorporation as "paradigms" for general jurisdiction; but it remains unclear what else could render a corporation "essentially at home" in a particular forum. In particular, Goodyear acknowledged – but did not address – the argument that distinct corporate entities might be treated as a "single enterprise" for jurisdictional purposes. In Daimler, the Ninth Circuit found that California had general jurisdiction over Daimler based on the activities its American subsidiary, Mercedes Benz USA (MBUSA).

The most common reaction to this week's oral argument has been that the Justices were quite skeptical of the idea that Daimler was subject to general jurisdiction in California. That may be so, but several interesting issues came up during the argument, and there are still a number of different ways the Court could ultimately dispose of the case (some of them quite narrow).

Continue reading

October 18, 2013 in Federal Courts, Supreme Court Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Shelfer on Supreme Court Special Juries

Lochlan Shelfer has posted on SSRN his note, Special Juries in the Supreme Court, 123 Yale L.J. 208 (2013). Here’s the abstract:

This Note presents the first detailed analysis of the Supreme Court’s only published jury trial, Georgia v. Brailsford (1794). It examines the case’s hitherto unstudied oral arguments and list of potential jurors, and argues that the "special jury" the Court employed was a Mansfieldian special jury of merchants. Brailsford has fascinated scholars both for the intriguing prospect of the Supreme Court presiding over a jury trial, and for the case’s provocative language on the power of juries to find the law. But for all of this interest, the case remains ill-understood. This Note’s conclusion that the Supreme Court used a special jury of merchants offers insights into both of these puzzles.


October 17, 2013 in Recent Scholarship, Supreme Court Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Reinert on Meritless Litigation

Alex Reinert (Cardozo) has posted Screening Out Innovation: The Merits of Meritless Litigation to SSRN.

Courts and legislatures often conflate merit-less and frivolous cases when balancing the desire to keep courthouse doors open to novel or unlikely claims against the concern that entertaining ultimately unsuccessful litigation will prove too costly for courts and defendants. Recently, significant procedural and substantive barriers to civil litigation have been informed by judicial and legislative assumptions about the costs of entertaining merit-less and frivolous litigation. The prevailing wisdom is that eliminating merit-less and frivolous claims as early in a case’s trajectory as possible will focus scarce resources on the truly meritorious cases, thereby ensuring that available remedies are properly distributed to deserving plaintiffs.

Frivolous and merit-less litigation are not the same, however. Frivolous claims are easier to identify at the outset of litigation because they rest on unrecognizable legal theories or fantastical factual allegations. More importantly, merit-less litigation has a distinct and identifiable value that is obscured by conflating merit-less claims with frivolous ones. Unlike frivolous litigation, merit-less litigation can bring to light facts that may lead to systematic reform (even where no legal cause of action lies), lead to legal innovation by announcing new interpretations of common law and statutory and constitutional texts, and pave the way for future changes in the law. Recognizing the value of merit-less litigation and distinguishing merit-less from frivolous cases therefore raises questions about the recent barriers that have been imposed to civil litigation. Taking the value of merit-less litigation into account is essential if we are to strike the correct balance between the costs and benefits of keeping courthouse doors open.


October 16, 2013 in Recent Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

SCOTUS Dismisses Madigan v. Levin

During last week’s oral argument in Madigan v. Levin (No. 12-872), the Justices revealed some concerns about whether that case was a suitable vehicle for deciding the issues for which the Supreme Court granted certiorari. One such concern—highlighted in a law professor amicus brief—was that the Seventh Circuit lacked appellate jurisdiction to decide the issue.  

Today, the Supreme Court dismissed the writ of certiorari as improvidently granted. As is often the case, the Court issued only a one-sentence per curiam opinion: “The writ of certiorari is dismissed as improvidently granted.” (Well, it's two sentences if you count “It is so ordered.”)


October 15, 2013 in Recent Decisions, Supreme Court Cases | 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)

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Justice Kennedy on How the Court Chooses Cases

The Wall Street Journal LawBlog posted an interview with Justice Kennedy.  Here's what Justice Kennedy said about how the court chooses cases:

Of the 9,000 [filed each year] we mark about 500 for discussion. From the 500 we discuss, we should take about 100, 120. Lately we’ve been taking only 80. There’s not a lot of emotional or intellectual capital expended arguing over whether we should take the case.  If it’s a really important case and we feel badly that it wasn’t taken, there will be another one [sooner or later] on the same issue.

October 10, 2013 in Supreme Court Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

Call for Nominations for the AALS Section on Women in Legal Education Ruth Bader Ginsburg Lifetime Achievement Award

Here is the call for nominations for the AALS Section on Women in Legal Education Ruth Bader Ginsburg Lifetime Achievement Award.

October 10, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Civ Pro Issues Galore in New Case Against UN

A class action has been filed in federal court agains the United Nations for problems with a cholera outbreak in Haiti.  Stay tuned -- I'm sure that there will be procedure issues galore with governments, the UN, aliens torts, and class actions.


October 10, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

SCOTUS Oral Argument in Atlantic Marine Construction v. U.S. District Court

It’s a case that only a true civil procedure & federal courts junkie could love. But if you’re in that category, today’s oral argument transcript in Atlantic Marine Construction Co. v. U.S. District Court (covered earlier here) is a nice read.

The Justices seemed to be enjoying themselves as well – so much so that Jay Wexler (Boston University, and the Bill James/Billy Beane of SCOTUS laugh statistics) proclaimed “Holy Yuksville” after counting six laughter incidents. What topic could possibly inspire such levity? Here are the questions presented:

Following the Court’s decision in M/S Bremen v. Zapata Off-Shore Co., 407 U.S. 1 (1972), the majority of federal circuit courts hold that a valid forum-selection clause renders venue “improper” in a forum other than the one designated by contract. In those circuits, forum-selection clauses are routinely enforced through motions to dismiss or transfer venue under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(3) and 28 U.S.C. § 1406. The Third, Fifth, and Sixth Circuits, however, follow a contrary rule. This Petition presents the following issues for review:

1. Did the Court’s decision in Stewart Organization, Inc. v. Ricoh Corp., 487 U.S. 22 (1988), change the standard for enforcement of clauses that designate an alternative federal forum, limiting review of such clauses to a discretionary, balancing-of-conveniences analysis under 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a)?

2. If so, how should district courts allocate the burdens of proof among parties seeking to enforce or to avoid a forum-selection clause?


P.S. Kudos to Stephen Sachs (Duke) whose amicus brief was mentioned frequently during the argument.


October 9, 2013 in Supreme Court Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Pfander on Ewald: Article III and the Committee of Detail

Now available on the Courts Law section of JOTWELL is an essay by Jim Pfander (Northwestern) entitled James Wilson, the Committee of Detail, and the Federal Judiciary. It reviews a recent article by William Ewald (U. Penn.), The Committee of Detail, 28 Const. Comment. 197 (2012).


October 8, 2013 in Federal Courts, Recent Scholarship, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 7, 2013

Announcing A New Blog: Law Deans on Legal Education

Dean Richard Gershon (University of Mississippi School of Law), Dean Paul McGreal (University of Dayton School of Law), and I are pleased to announce a new blog devoted to legal education from the perspective of law deans. This blog, called "Law Deans on Legal Education," is part of the Law Professor Blog Network.  This blog will provide information, opinions, and thoughts about a wide range of topics and issues related to legal education and the legal profession. We hope you find this new blog informative and useful.  The Law Deans on Legal Education Blog is here

October 7, 2013 in Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0)

SCOTUS Oral Argument in Madigan v. Levin: Appellate Jurisdiction Rears Its Head

The Supreme Court kicked off this Term’s oral arguments today, only to have appellate jurisdiction crash the party. The Court had granted certiorari in Madigan v. Levin (No. 12-872) to decide a question about the interplay between claims for age discrimination under the ADEA and age discrimination claims brought directly under the Equal Protection Clause and § 1983. However, an amicus brief filed by law professors who (in the words of Lyle Denniston’s excellent argument recap) “specialize in the arcane field of court procedure” argued that the Seventh Circuit lacked appellate jurisdiction to decide that issue and, therefore, the Supreme Court should vacate the Seventh Circuit’s decision and return the case to the district court.

To give credit where credit is due, Prof. Steve Vladeck (American University) authored the amicus brief and did a terrific job. The issue attracted a lot of attention at oral argument (full transcript available here), as did a number of other issues that prompted some Justices to raise the possibility of dismissing the writ of certiorari as improvidently granted. Lyle’s recap concludes: “It would be no surprise,… based on Monday’s developments, that the Court would act quickly to get rid of the case, and leave the next stages to lower courts.”


October 7, 2013 in Federal Courts, Supreme Court Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Summary Judgment Granted in Cooley Law School's Defamation Suit

The ABA Journal reports that summary judgment was granted Cooley Law School's defamation suit against a law firm and bloggers who published comments criticizing the law school's reported employment statistics. 

The ABA Journal report is here.

U.S. District Judge Robert J. Jonker's ruling is here.

Cooley's statement is here.

Jesse Strauss's (founding partner in defendant law firm Kurzon Strauss) statement is here.

October 6, 2013 in Current Affairs, Federal Courts | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Vanderbilt Law Review Roundtable on DaimlerCrysler v. Bauman

The Vanderbilt Law Review recently published its semiannual Roundtable in which includes essays on DaimlerChrysler v. Bauman, set to be argued in the Supreme Court on October 15. Professors Linda Silberman, Burt Neuborne, Donald Childress III, Howard Erichson, and Suzanna Sherry contributed essays on this case and the issue of general jurisdiction. 
The Vanderbilt Law Review website states the following: 
Our current Roundtable considers DaimlerChrysler AG v. Bauman, which is to be argued at the Supreme Court in the October 2013 term. In Bauman, the Court will consider whether a U.S. District Court may exercise general personal jurisdiction over DaimlerChrysler AG, a foreign company, based on the alleged acts of its Argentine subsidiary. None of the alleged actions occurred in California, but Respondents argue that the the contacts of DaimlerChrysler’s California subsidiary should be imputed to the parent company and thus that California may exercise general jurisdiction. The authors have much material to work with on this issue, but how the Court frames the case and answers its important questions is far from clear. The last time the Court took up issues of general jurisdiction was in Goodyear Dunlop Tires, S.A. v. Brown, but the Court left open many questions pertaining to general jurisdiction that it might clarify in Bauman. The Court might also speak to the scope of the Alien Tort Statute in the wake of Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum.

October 3, 2013 in Conferences/Symposia, Federal Courts, Recent Scholarship, Supreme Court Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

Webcast: Panel on the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure at the University of Cincinnati

You can now watch a webcast of the University of Cincinnati’s recent panel discussion celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. 

October 3, 2013 in Conferences/Symposia, Federal Rules of Civil Procedure | Permalink | Comments (0)