Monday, September 15, 2014

Have the appellate courts really changed?

The NY Times had this front page story yesterday about President Obama's appointments and how he is "reshaping" the appellate courts.  From the intro:
Democrats have reversed the partisan imbalance on the federal appeals courts that long favored conservatives, a little-noticed shift with far-reaching consequences for the law and President Obama’s legacy.
For the first time in more than a decade, judges appointed by Democratic presidents considerably outnumber judges appointed by Republican presidents. The Democrats’ advantage has only grown since late last year when they stripped Republicans of their ability to filibuster the president’s nominees.
Democratic appointees who hear cases full time now hold a majority of seats on nine of the 13 United States Courts of Appeals. When Mr. Obama took office, only one of those courts had more full-time judges nominated by a Democrat.
The shift, one of the most significant but unheralded accomplishments of the Obama era, is likely to have ramifications for how the courts decide the legality of some of the president’s most controversial actions on health care, immigration and clean air. Since today’s Congress has been a graveyard for legislative accomplishment, these judicial confirmations are likely to be among its most enduring acts.
What do the readers think -- will the "change" in the 11th Circuit make a difference?  The 11th Circuit has been known to be one of the most, if not the most, conservative appellate courts in the country for the past decade or two.  It's too early to tell just yet, but I wonder whether we are going to see huge changes in the 11th Circuit, especially on criminal justice issues.  Let's see what happens with these recent en banc cases that the court agreed to hear.

In other news, there is an interesting fugitive case, in which the last time he was seen was in Florida (from the AP):
One of the last times anyone ever saw Tommy Thompson, he was walking on the pool deck of a Florida mansion wearing nothing but eye glasses, leather shoes, socks and underwear, his brown hair growing wild.*
It was a far cry from the conquering hero who, almost two decades before, docked a ship in Norfolk, Virginia, loaded with what's been described as the greatest lost treasure in American history - thousands of pounds of gold that sat in the ocean for 131 years after the ship carrying it sank during a hurricane.
On that day in 1989, Thompson couldn't contain a grin as hundreds cheered his achievement. But his victory was short-lived.
For the past two years, the U.S. Marshals Service has hunted Thompson as a fugitive - wanted for skipping a court date to explain to investors what happened to the riches. The rise and fall of the intrepid explorer is the stuff of storybooks, a tale receiving renewed attention amid a new expedition begun this year to the sunken ship.
"I think he had calculated it, whatever you want to call it, an escape plan," Marshals agent Brad Fleming said. "I think he's had that for a long time."
*That;s how I looked yesterday when I lost to Rumpole in our fantasy football match-up.


Anonymous said...

Jordan, Martin, Rosenbaum. Yes, Virginia, for the first time ever, there is a strong(intellectually), young, non-right-wing faction in the Eleventh Circuit (note- I did not say liberal. Liberal is Judge Reinhardt from the 9th Cir).

Anonymous said...

Better late than never....what's next, a supervisory branch that disciplines prosecutors who don't know Brady?

MC Waste Services, Inc said...

Anonymous said...

That opening line about Thompson sounds like a great intro to a Carl Hiassen novel.