Welcome, y'all, to the 201st Blawg Review.
March 2 marks the 173rd anniversary of Texas Independence from Mexico. Four days before the Alamo fell, and all its defenders perished, 59 Texian delegates adopted the Texas Declaration of Independence at Washington-on-the-Brazos. The document included this charge against the Mexican government:
It has failed and refused to secure, on a firm basis, the right of trial by jury, that palladium of civil liberty, and only safe guarantee for the life, liberty, and property of the citizen.
In honor of them -- and that palladium of civil liberty -- Blawg Review #201 takes Texas and Texans, warts and all, as its theme.
As we look back at the blawgosphere in the last week, let's have fun, too -- shall we?
I'm going to leave old Texas now (not).
Over at EDTexweblog.com, Michael C. Smith mixed Star Trek with In re Volkswagen II and In re TS Tech to achieve "j2 II Leaves Spacedock". The Star Trek reference adverted to the forthcoming movie, while the In re's signified the recent Fifth Circuit and Federal Circuit mandamus rulings that some speculated would depopulate the Eastern District of Texas's patent docket. Judge Love declined to transfer the j2 case notwithstanding motions to reconsider his original ruling in light of Volkswagen II and TS Tech. The rocket docket lives.
Roy Bean's successors.
Judge Roy Bean called himself the law west of the Pecos -- meaning the river that separates extreme West Texas from the rest of the Lone Star State. He held court in a saloon, required jurors to buy drinks during trial breaks, and burned new law books.
Texas has produced many outstanding judges. Recent events highlight some others who have, er, fallen short.
The WSJ Law Blog offered a pregame analysis of the then-impending criminal trial for U.S. District Judge Sam Kent, who once terrorized lawyers from his bench and molested court staff in his chambers on Galveston Island. The post noted the defense position that the sex with a former case manager "was 'enthusiastically consensual'" and added that a conviction would expose the judge to life in prison.
Sentencing Law and Policy reported on Judge Kent's ignominious guilty plea to one obstruction of justice count. It also spotted several "sentencing issues", including "should Judge Kent have to register as a sex offender?" (Do bees buzz?)
The Volokh Conspiracy piled on.
Another now-notorious Texas judicial officer also has some explaining to do. On September 25, 2007, the Presiding Judge of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, Sharon Keller, refused to accept an application for stay of execution on behalf of Michael Wayne Richard, who died by lethal injection a few hours later. The Texas Commission on Judicial Conduct has charged her with "willful or persistent conduct" that violated the Texas Constitution and Code of Judicial Conduct. Grits for Breakfast speculated on whether Presiding Judge Keller will resign and concluded she likely won't:
I think Judge Keller should have resigned in disgrace a year and a half ago when all this first came down. But she clearly has plenty of chutzpah and I'd guess she'll stay on the job, similar to Illinois Governor Blagojevich, until she's dragged out kicking and screaming.
If she does stay on, Grits continued, Keller "could easily become the first statewide Republican candidate in more than a decade to lose their job to a Democrat at the ballot box." See Grits follow-up here.
Andrew Perlman at Legal Ethics Forum added his thoughts about Judge Keller. Simple Justice expressed its outrage too.
More generally, The Defense Perspective whacked away at judicial countenancing of faulty forensic science in criminal cases. It noted that "a recent report from the National Academy of Sciences says much of what passes for forensic 'science' does not meet minimal scientific standards."
"Memo: Keep an Eye on Those Muslims" griped about what the left-leaning (okay, almost falling over) Texas Observer Blog sees as a paranoid Texas law enforcement bulletin "riddled with John Birch Society-ish statements."
Texas Humorists (plus a few from elsewhere).
Molly Ivins sure liked to laugh.
NEWS FLASH! - Bryan, Texas-----Texas's worst air disaster occurred when a small two-seater Cessna 152 plane, piloted by two Texas A&M University students, crashed into a cemetery earlier today in College Station. Texas search and rescue workers have recovered 300 bodies so far and expect the number to climb as digging continues into the evening.
Cleve Clinton and Jamie Ribman, they of Tilting the Scales, flirted with "love contracts" -- which "to no one’s surprise [probably] originated in California in the entertainment industry." The post opened with denials of romantic involvement by co-workers Dale Dalliance and Connie Canoodle "until the new company security camera caught them in a compromising situation in the warehouse last week." Should their employer make Dale and Connie sign a love contract? Ought the love-birds avoid the warehouse? Should I stop asking rhetorical questions?
Q. Did you ever actually commit suicide — or — I'm sorry.
The Movie Court reached six years of bloggery with cinematographical reviews by, among others, The Movie Snob, Nick at Nite, and The Borg Queen.
To the optimist, the glass is half full. To a pessimist, the glass is half empty. To the engineer, the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.
David Mills at Courtoons lampooned partners who wait until just before 5:00 p.m. on Fridays to give assignments to associates.
Lowering the Bar disclosed the withdrawal of an anti-beer pong bill in the Old Line State (whatever the heck that means). The bill's sponsor faced "a coalition of infuriated Maryland beer-pong players." And we know how mean they can get.
WSJ's Law Blog enlightened us about the Supreme Court's February 25th ruling against Summum, a shall-we-say non-mainstream religious group that wanted a city in California to place a granite marker on municipal property. The marker sported Summum's Seven Aphorisms. The Court said ix-nay on the arker-may. (Bonus: Corky Ra founded Summum.)
And Bitter Lawyer furnished a video of Hear Say, in which a guy interviewed people on the street about law stuff. The episode quizzed respondents about "Sullivan & Cromwell", "Big Law", "Skadden Arps", "Simpson Thacher", and "Dewey, Cheatem & Howe". Nobody heard of them, except the last one, which a woman said she would "trust". Funny.
Stanford in Texas.
Sir Robert Allen Stanford, who grew up in Mexia, Texas, built a certificate of deposit empire that hauled in more than $8 billion from investors. He presided over the operation from headquarters in Houston but put the CD-issuing bank offshore, on the lovely Caribbean island of Antigua. Sir Robert once claimed a family connection to Leland Stanford, Jr., the founder of Stanford University, which then sued him for trademark infringement.
On February 16, Sir joined Bernie Madoff in the annals of financial infamy. The Securities and Exchange Commission sued him, the Stanford International Bank, Ltd., and several other individuals and entities in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Dallas Division. The SEC amended its complaint on February 27 to add allegations that Stanford operated a "massive Ponzi scheme". Imagine that.
Yours truly's Blawgletter scooped the fact that an order of February 17 in SEC v. Stanford Int'l Bank, Ltd., restrained and enjoined -- "except in this Court" -- the "commencement or continuation" of any "judicial, administrative, or other proceeding . . . against any of the defendants" if it arises "from the subject matter of this civil action". [Lawyers have filed cases in Houston federal court. Perhaps they'll reconsider?]
Blawgs by Texans (including transplants).
Alamo hero and Texas transplant Davy Crockett said of losing his seat as a Tennessee Congressman in 1834: "Since you have chosen to elect a man with a timber toe to succeed me, you may all to go hell and I will go to Texas."
Texas blawgers have a bit of Davy in them.
"How Federal Courts Got Their Inefficiency" appeared in Barnett's Notes on Commercial Litigation.
Beloblawg provided an example of crossing the line between blawging and advertising. Its post did include information about the pending "ultrasound bill", which would mandate that Texas doctors take an ultrasound before performing an abortion and pressure the pregnant woman to watch and listen to it, but then notes that "we have attorneys who practice in the area". Come on.
Perlmutter & Schuelke lamented past and ongoing efforts to restrict tort claims in Texas.
Brenda Sapino Jeffries brought us up to date on a Texas lawyer's case against Cisco Systems for defamation-by-blawg -- specifically via the now-defunct Patent Troll Tracker, in which an in-house IP lawyer at Cisco gave hell to patentholders that sued manufacturers for a living.
The ever-meticulous Peter Vogel expounded on the "Impact of e-Discovery on the CIO" at his insightful Internet, Information Technology, & e-Discovery Blog.
Over at Current Trends in Trademark, Copyright & Entertainment Law, Tamera Bennett warbled about Senator John McCain's copyright tiff with singer-songwriter Jackson Browne over a political ad that featured Browne's "Running on Empty". The tune ends with "I'm running behind." Prophetic? Freudian?
Remember the Alamo!
Ireland gave birth to 10 of the 189 Heroes of the Alamo -- Samuel E. Burns, Andrew Duvalt, Robert Evans, Joseph M. Hawkins, Thomas Jackson, James McGee, James Nowlan, Jackson J. Rusk, Burke Trammel, and William B. Ward.
The historical connection between the Emerald Isle and revolutionary Texas likely isn't familiar to Irish blawger Eoin O'Dell, of the School of Law, Trinity College Dublin. He nonetheless contributed "Who Will Keep the Keepers II", in which he argued that "general-purpose search engines are better characterized not as media outlets . . . but as common carriers" and "should therefore come under common law duties that govern public utilities". He proposed international agreement and cooperation in regulation of the Internet but concedes "there are deep issues of global governance here".
The fierce battle shaping up over competition policy had D. Daniel Sokol guessing about "Who Will Be the Fifth Commissioner?" at the Federal Trade Commission on the Antitrust & Competition Policy Blog. He added that "I am assuming that the next Commissioner will have an antitrust or consumer protection background and will not be a political hack. This assumption may be incorrect." Charming!
Antitrust Review commented about the Supreme Court's "price squeeze" decision on February 25. Hanno Kaiser deems it "not particularly surprising". Blawgletter didn't like the lineLINK opinion so much, noting the likelihood that The Current Majority will never choose a case in which they find a violation of a section 2 "antitrust duty".
In Drug and Device Law, Beck/Hermann argued "Class Actions and Punitive Damages - Unconstitutional Together".
The struggle to make a good impression on jurors received further attention on Deliberations, Anne Reed's nifty blawg on juries and jury trials. "Looks Can Kill" analyzed a study of how people react to appearances, concluding:
Understand the visual impact you and your witnesses make, and if it needs to be changed, change it. And if your witness looks different from what the jury needs to understand she really is, spend extra time to make sure her real qualities come through. Looks matter.
The Runaway Scrape.
The fall of the Alamo scared the bejesus out of the Texans under Sam Houston. They and a great many civilians fled before Santa Anna's swift advance eastward from San Antonio. They called their headlong evacuation "The Runaway Scrape".
It reminds me a little of stuff happening in the legal business, um, profession.
The jovial Richard Posner said "[o]ne reason that we are in a depression and not merely the 'severe recession' that is the preferred euphemism is that, because of those [budget] deficits, we cannot spend our way out of the depression without increasing the national debt to a point at which either horrendous inflation or huge tax increases will be required to pay it down." Yikes.
"Statistical Juxtaposition" -- on the delightful 3 Geeks and a Law Blog -- reviewed the numbers on clients who say they want alternative fee arrangements (a big majority) and on the cutbacks in law department budgets (painful ones) and concluded:
The economic downturn presents numerous opportunities. Firms and in-house counsel are now willing to embrace ideas and approaches they would have never considered in the past. Law firms and their clients both want and need AFAs and are apparently ready to embrace them (per our stats above).
PrawfsBlog remarked on law school budget pressures that force some professors to attend conferences on the cheap even to the point of reclining "on a meager mattress at a Budget Sleep a Creep Motel."
Molly Rogers of Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid, writing about the Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan on ForeclosureBuzz.org, noted that, "if you’re a loan servicer, the Obama administration will give you $75 billion if you’ll be its best friend." Pick me!
Jim Calloway's Law Practice Tips Blog asks "Where was his Cone of Silence?" of a lawyer whose indiscreet cell phone conversation outed the fact of impending layoffs at his firm.
Troy Foster, in that's what she said, continued to evaluate potential claims against fictional Dunder Mifflin (from The Office) with "The Taming of the Schrute". (Dwight seems to have let the air out of Meredith's tires.)
Opinionistas said "The Law Firm Revolution Will Be Blogged" and ended with this:
The “easy money” routes are gone. And guess what: They were never easy (or fulfilling) in the first place. So if you’re talented and driven and smart, find something useful to do with your law degree. It may not include a $160K starting salary and a five-figure bonus, but neither will Cravath in a few years. Peace.
Going about 180 degrees the other way, f/k/a gave us poetry and winterscapes in "rivers, sunset, metaphors galore".
Finally, SportsBiz wondered if the hunger for economic stimulus will result this year in repeal of a 2006 statute that illegalized online gaming. SportsBiz imagined that the current administration will like the idea despite "the likely opposition of the professional sports leagues, the NCAA and the conservative family values crowd." But what about the liberal family values crowd?
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Blawgletter has enjoyed our time with you this week. Now get out there and uphold that palladium of civil liberty!
Blawg Review has information about next week's host, and instructions how to get your blawg posts reviewed in upcoming issues.