Thursday, January 02, 2014

New beginnings

The courthouse is open, but it's going to be a very quiet Thursday and Friday.  For those of you working, you can check out the Chief Justice's report on the judiciary here.  Here's a fun and depressing snippet:

The year’s end brings predictable constants, including the revival of favorite phantoms —Scrooge’s ghosts and George Bailey’s guardian angel — who step out from the shadows for their annual appearance and then fade away.  Who doesn’t welcome the familiarity of the seasonal cycles, or retelling classic stories that, at their core, contain important truths? There are, however, some cycles from which we would all wish a break.  At the top of my list is a year-end report that must once again dwell on the need to provide adequate funding for the Judiciary.
I would like to choose a fresher topic, but duty calls.  The budget remains the single most important issue facing the courts.  This year, however, let’s take a page from Dickens and Capra.  Let’s look at what has made our federal court system work in the past, what we are doing in the present to preserve it in an era of fiscal constraint, and what the future holds if the Judiciary does not receive the funding it needs....
After rising four percent in 2012, filings in the regional courts of appeals dropped two percent to 56,475 in 2013.  Appeals involving pro se litigants, which amounted to 51 percent of filings, fell one percent.  Criminal appeals decreased 13 percent....
Filings for criminal defendants (including those transferred from other districts) decreased three percent to 91,266.  Excluding transfers, fewer defendants were reported for most types of major offenses, including drug crimes.  Filings for defendants charged with immigration violations dropped five percent.  The southwestern border districts accounted for 75 percent of the nation’s immigration defendant filings.  Defendants prosecuted for sex offenses rose 10 percent.  There also were increases in defendants charged with violent crimes and regulatory offenses....
The 131,869 persons under post-conviction supervision on September 30, 2013, was less than one percent below the total one year earlier. Persons serving terms of supervised release after leaving correctional institutions increased one percent to 109,379 and constituted 83 percent of all persons under supervision. Cases opened in the pretrial services system in 2013, including pretrial diversion cases, declined six percent to 103,003.
Or maybe you want to read this 11th Circuit unpublished per curium opinion.  Below is the intro, and I bet you can guess who wrote it (thanks to my tipster for sending this along):
The defendants in this case participated in a multi-state prostitution
enterprise involving spas where the masseuses offered to provide clients with “happy endings” in exchange for cash. The scheme, however, did not end happily for the five defendants who brought this appeal. A jury ultimately convicted all five of them –– Alexandr Postica, Aleksandra Liubina, Natalia Federova, Alina Priadko, and Saida Babaeva –– of aiding and abetting a violation of the Travel Act, 18 U.S.C. § 1952(a), and of conspiring to violate the Travel Act. Postica was also convicted of conspiring to violate three additional statutes: 8 U.S.C. § 1328, 8 U.S.C. § 1324a(a)(1)(A), (a)(2), and 18 U.S.C. § 2421. The other four defendants in this appeal were not charged with conspiring to violate those three other statutes. The district court sentenced Postica to concurrent terms of 15 months imprisonment while the other four defendants were sentenced to time served. They now appeal their convictions on various grounds. The defendants challenge their convictions, not their sentences.
 Judge Kopf has ended his excellent blog, which is a shame.  Here's the last post, and sone of his concluding remarks:
Before I conclude this last post, I wish to make several points:
  • I am not quitting because of ethics concerns. Such problems are real, but vastly overblown. A thoughtful judge has about the same chance of violating the Code of Conduct when writing a book, giving a speech, authoring a law review article or writing a blog post.
  • Conspiracy buffs need not fret and anti-judge nuts need not cheer. No one has given me the slightest trouble about expressing myself here. I am quitting voluntarily and without a nudge from anyone.
  • Although I am truly worn out, I am OK. I am not quitting because of health reasons.
  • This is a powerful medium for, among other things, making federal trial judging transparent and for trying to wrap one’s arms around the conundrum of judicial role.. I hope some other federal trial judge takes up that hard but enormously satisfying labor.
  • I look forward to commenting on other blogs now that I am out of the biz.
  • To my astonishment, I have made several, perhaps many, friends along the way. I will maintain the e-mail address for the site, and I welcome hearing from these kind, smart (Oxford comma coming but just for fun), and thoughtful people. But, I don’t promise to respond as quickly as before. The foregoing said, you and each of you have my sincere thanks. Readers have taught me many valuable lessons about how to become a better judge and human being.
  • I will keep the blog “alive” for archival purposes, but nothing more. I will shut down the comment section in a week or so.

1 comment:

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