Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Each one of these items probably deserves its own post, but I've fallen behind on interesting stories and am going to include them all here in one post. Thanks to all the tipsters and commenters who have been sending me juicy items.

1. The jury is still out in the night vision goggle case. The prosecution gave a 90 minute closing today and Sharhazad Gholikhan gave a 90 minute closing in her own defense. The jury went out around lunchtime and were discharged for the day at 5pm. Vanessa Blum has the details here. Some of my favorite lines from her closing: She said her only crime was a "conspiracy of marriage." She explained she came to the U.S. voluntarily because she was innocent: "I came. Why? Because I'm clean."

2. No COLA increase for federal judges. Tony Mauro at BLT writes it up here. (HT: Captain). “Wrong time. Wrong place,” Sen. Claire McCaskill, (D-Mo.) exclaimed on the Senate floor Dec. 11. “We have families all over this nation that are scared today, that aren’t buying Christmas presents. Federal judges get lifetime appointments and they never take a dime’s cut in pay. They die with the same salary they have today.” To counter: Federal judges are the only federal employees who will begin 2009 without a COLA. James Duff, director of the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, acknowledged that these are “challenging times” for the economy, but he added in a statement, “That is no reason for Congress to treat federal judges differently than all other federal employees, including members of Congress.” Our prior coverage on this subject is here.

3. Judge Zloch wrote an 82-page blockbuster order finding the Sex Offender and Registration Act (SORNA), which is part of the Adam Walsh Act, unconstitutional. Here's the Order. It's worth a read. It's hard to summarize such a lengthy opinion here, but it basically says that the Act violates the commerce clause because there is no link with registration and commerce. Here's the conclusion:

While providing Congress with the power to regulate sex
offenders in the manner attempted by SORNA would admittedly aid
Congress in its goal to protect the public, it is not has not among
Congress’s enumerated powers. Congress has never been accorded the
general police power it has sought to exercise in SORNA. See
Lopez, 514 U.S. 596-98 (Thomas, J., concurring); Cohens v.
Virginia, 19 U.S. (6 Wheat.) at 426. Cases are legion that note
that the federal government does not have the residual power held
by the states. E.g., Lopez, 514 U.S. at 584-602 (Thomas, J.,
With statutes like those at issue here, Congress’s desire to
aid in the protection of society against sexual predators is
understandable and laudable. However, “the powers of the
legislature are defined, and limited; and that those limits may not
be mistaken, or forgotten, the constitution is written.” Marbury
v. Madison, 5 U.S. (1 Cranch) 137, 175 (1803). Specifically, the
grant of power made under the Commerce Clause is limited. Lopez,
514 U.S. at 552-553 (citing Gibbons v. Ogden, 22 U.S. (9 Wheat.) at
189-95). Therefore, the statutes challenged herein cannot be
upheld. Section 16913 transgresses entirely the limits set on
Congress by the Commerce Clause. It cannot be defended except by
adulteration of the text of the Constitution and controlling
caselaw. Section 2250 also exceeds that grant of power made to
Congress under the Commerce Clause. It is in no way a regulation
of persons in interstate commerce but an exertion of a general
police power through an illusory and impermissible jurisdictional
nexus. Thus, the Court declares that § 16913 is unconstitutional
in that Congress lacks the power to enact the same under the
Commerce Clause. Because an unconstitutional law is no law at all,
Defendant Edward Myers shall go hence without day.

And for you grammar nerds, check out footnote one of the opinion:

Many courts and commentators, especially in the passages
quoted herein, render the possessive of “Congress” as “Congress’.”
For clarity as to the number of congresses being referred to and
staying faithful to the traditional rules of grammar, the Court
will employ the natural construction “Congress’s” when referring to
the possessive singular of our national legislature. See William
Strunk, Jr. and E.B. White, The Elements of Style 1 (4th ed. 2000).

4. The Broward chapter of the Federal Bar is big time. Check out its inaugural 16-page newsletter. The most fun part is the interview with Chief Judge Moreno. His first job in college: working as a janitor at Notre Dame during summers. Favorite Movies: Rudy and Remember the Titans. Favorite Songs: Notre Dame Victory March and God Bless America. (I was sort of with you on the movies, Chief, but those are really your favorite songs?) Favorite Hobbies: Golf, Travel, and Food.

Tons of other fun stuff in the interview. Some good quotes: "When you're a judge you rule your own fiefdom, as Chief you are accountable for the whole kingdom." Courthouses should be like "secular temples" to inspire respect in the community just as cathedrals were built on a grand scale to capture the feeling of a divine presence. "I love jurors and lawyers, and the back and forth of trial and legal arguments."

5. Speaking of Judge Moreno, he sentenced Dr. Ana Alvarez-Jacinto to 30 years in prison today, 8 years more than the sentence recommended by federal prosecutors in this medicare fraud case. Jay Weaver's article is here.


South Florida Lawyers said...

Excellent round up, David!

Anonymous said...

Judge Zloch's opinion is exactly the reason that Judge's are appointed for life. No elected official would ever call the law in question unconstitutional.

Anonymous said...

In an earlier post, somebody said Moreno had the biggest trial penalty in the district. What does that mean?

fake Fred Morenia said...

CAREFUL MEEEESTER MARKUS. Careful. If I like it, you should to.

I forget to mention my other favorite movie- "Knute Rockne All American."
Win one for the Gipper Meeeeester Markus!!!!

Fake Fred Moreno said...

Woopes. Change the name. Typo.

Anonymous said...

I spoke to Bernie Madoff today. Hetold me that if he had 3 more months ever investor would have made money.