Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Tuesday News & Notes

1.  Justice Breyer has been released from the hospital following shoulder surgery after his biking accident. (via AP)

2. Justice O'Connor regrets Bush v. Gore:

“It took the case and decided it at a time when it was still a big election issue,” Justice O’Connor told the Chicago Tribune editorial board on Friday. “Maybe the court should have said, ‘We’re not going to take it, goodbye.’”
She continued: “Obviously the court did reach a decision and thought it had to reach a decision. It turned out the election authorities in Florida hadn’t done a real good job there and kind of messed it up. And probably the Supreme Court added to the problem at the end of the day.”
The result, she allowed, “stirred up the public” and “gave the court a less than perfect reputation.”

3.  Is 100 years a life sentence under Graham (via NY Times)?:

The lower courts are split on how to interpret the Graham decision, and the Supreme Court seems to be in no hurry to answer the question. Last week, the justices turned away an appeal from Chaz Bunch of Ohio, who was convicted of kidnapping and raping a woman in a carjacking when he was 16. He was sentenced to 89 years. Even assuming he becomes eligible for early release, he will be 95 years old before he can leave prison.
The United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, in Cincinnati, upheld the sentence, even as it acknowledged that there were two ways to approach the matter.
“Some courts have held that such a sentence is a de facto life without parole sentence and therefore violates the spirit, if not the letter, of Graham,” Judge John M. Rogers wrote for a unanimous three-judge panel. “Other courts, however, have rejected the de facto life sentence argument, holding that Graham only applies to juvenile non-homicide offenders expressly sentenced to ‘life without parole.’ ”
Until the Supreme Court speaks, Judge Rogers wrote, there is no “clearly established federal law” to assist Mr. Bunch, who was challenging his state conviction in federal court.
Applying the reasoning of the Graham decision to long fixed sentences, Judge Rogers added, “would lead to a lot of questions.” An appeals court in Florida last year listed some of them in upholding a 76-year sentence meted out to Leighdon Henry, who was 16 when he committed rape.
“At what number of years would the Eighth Amendment become implicated in the sentencing of a juvenile: 20, 30, 40, 50, some lesser or greater number?” Judge Jacqueline R. Griffin wrote for the court. 

4.  Judy Clarke has been appointed to assist the Boston Fed PD in the Marathon Bombing case. She also represented Jared Loughner.

5.  President Obama isn't getting his judicial nominees confirmed. Who is to blame? Via Huffington:

It's bad enough that there are 82 vacant federal judge slots around the country, a level so high that many observers have deemed it a crisis situation.
But perhaps even more startling is the fact that of those 82 vacant slots, 61 of them don't even have a nominee.
On its face, the absence of nominees would appear to be a sign that President Barack Obama is slacking. After all, he is responsible for nominating judges, and he did put forward fewer nominees at the end of his first term than his two predecessors. But a closer look at data on judicial nominees, and conversations with people involved in the nomination process, reveals the bigger problem is Republican senators quietly refusing to recommend potential judges in the first place.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Maybe it's time to stop riding the bike

Justice Breyer had a horrible biking accident this weekend, requiring reconstructive shoulder surgery.  It was his third bad biking accident.  From CNN:

In 1993, he had a nasty accident when a car stuck him in Harvard Square while he was on his two-wheeler. He suffered a punctured lung and broken ribs.
Then, over Memorial Day weekend in 2011, Breyer broke his right collarbone after falling off his two-wheeler in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he has a second home.
Man, that's rough.
Closer to home, Judge Jordan is explaining that prosecutors actually have to prove up guideline enhancements. From the Court's opinion in United States v. Washington:
Sometimes a number is just a number,* but when the number at issue triggers an enhancement under the Sentencing Guidelines, that number matters. In this appeal we decide whether the government presented sufficient evidence that 250 or more persons or entities were victimized by the fraud scheme in which Gary Washington participated. Because the government failed to put on any evidence that there were 250 or more victims, we vacate Mr. Washington’s sentence and remand for the district court to resentence Mr. Washington with a 2-level enhancement under U.S.S.G. § 2B1.1(b)(2)(A) rather than a 6-level enhancement under § 2B1.1(b)(2)(C).
*See, e.g., J. Keefe, Dow 10,000: Sometimes a Number is Just a Number, CBS Moneywatch (Oct. 15, 2009).

This part of the decision was also interesting:

The government asks that it be allowed to prove on remand that there were 250 or more victims for whom Mr. Washington was responsible. We decline the government’s request. Nothing prevented the government -- which was aware of Mr. Washington’s objection -- from putting on evidence concerning the number of victims at the sentencing hearing, and a party who bears the burden on a contested sentencing issue will generally not get to try again on remand if its evidence is found to be insufficient on appeal. We have discretion to permit the government to present evidence at resentencing even though it amounts to giving the party a second bite at the apple. But often a remand for further findings is inappropriate when the issue was before the district court and the parties had an opportunity to introduce relevant evidence, and here the government failed to present any evidence concerning the number of victims.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Friday news and notes

1.  Judge Ryskamp sentenced an elderly woman to "5 seconds of probation"; she was charged with tax evasion in the Swiss bank crackdown where she inherited $43 million.  She was represented by Roy Black and Jackie Perczek.  Via the Palm Beach Post:

A 79-year-old Palm Beach woman on Thursday didn’t just avoid a prison term for evading taxes on $43 million in foreign accounts. A federal judge said Mary Estelle Curran deserves a presidential pardon.
Blasting the government for prosecuting the woman who had already paid a whopping $21.6 million penalty to the Internal Revenue Service, U.S. District Judge Kenneth Ryskamp placed Curran on probation for one year. He then immediately revoked it.
“You were on probation for about five seconds,” he told her.
He then urged Curran’s attorney, Roy Black, to seek a presidential pardon.

Here is the transcript from the hearing.

 2.  Meantime, Judge Cohn sentenced a fraudster on the other end of the spectrum to 26 years.  From the Sun-Sentinel:
The ringleader of a brazen South Florida identity theft ring that sought $11.7 million worth of fraudulent income tax refunds was sentenced Thursday to more than 26 years in federal prison.
Federal prosecutors said the scheme was one of the biggest and most successful they've seen and a prime example of the "epidemic" that is more rampant in South Florida than anywhere else in the nation. The trial judge said the fraud was so convincing that the IRS approved some $4.5 million of the requested refunds.
"To put it bluntly, ma'am, you are a parasite and a blight on society," U.S. District Judge James Cohn told Alci Bonannee, 36, of Fort Lauderdale, after she tearfully apologized and asked for mercy while trying to cast blame on others. He sentenced her to 26 years and five months in prison and ordered her to pay more than $1.9 million in restitution.
The judge told Bonannee her "egregious crime" required a stern response from the criminal justice system to punish her sufficiently and to deter other people from doing what she did.
"You have created a mountain of work for [federal authorities] in order to clear up the mess that you have created," Cohn said. "Ensnared in that mess is the innocent taxpayer faced with the task of restoring his or her good name and credit rating. It is a hurtful crime that follows its victims for many years."

3.  It's furlough Friday again for the Federal Defenders, but not for the U.S. Attorney's Office.  Congress has ensured that AUSAs and FBI agents will not be furloughed.  But Defenders and Probation Officers are having no such luck.  Explain to me how that works.  From the San Francisco Chronicle:

Federal budget cuts have caused delays in at least one terror-related court case in New York and prompted a federal judge in Nebraska to say he is "seriously contemplating" dismissing some criminal cases.
The automatic cuts are also causing concerns about funding for the defense of the Boston Marathon bombing suspect, who is being represented by a public defender's office that's facing three weeks of unpaid furloughs and whose defense costs could run into millions of dollars.
Federal defenders' offices have been hit especially hard by the cuts, which amount to about 10 percent of their budgets for the fiscal year that ends Sept. 30. Some offices have laid off staffers. The head public defender in Southern Ohio even laid himself off as a way to save money.
Much of the reductions are due to automatic cuts known as the sequester, and public defenders warn they could face even more cuts next year.
Members of the Federal Bar Association, including federal lawyers and judges, were on Capitol Hill on Thursday, meeting with members of the House and Senate and their staffers and appealing to them for adequate funding, said Geoff Cheshire, an assistant federal public defender from Arizona, who was among them.
"The federal defenders are the front bumper of this fiscal crunch, getting hit first and hardest. But behind it is the third branch of government as a whole. The message is, this is having real effects on the federal courts and the rule of law," Cheshire said.
He and others are pushing for Congress to make an emergency appropriation for the judiciary that would mitigate some of the cuts to defenders and the court system. Cheshire said $61 million would be enough to eliminate the furloughs.
In New York, furloughs have caused delays in the case of Osama bin Laden's son-in-law, charged with conspiring to kill Americans in his role as al-Qaida's chief spokesman. A public defender told U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan this month that furloughs in his office were making it impossible to prepare for trial quickly, prompting the judge to say he found it "extremely troublesome" and "stunning" that sequestration was interfering with the case.
The Department of Justice told employees on Wednesday that despite budget cuts it would not furlough anyone, including FBI agents and prosecutors. While that's good news for prosecutors, it leaves an imbalance that affects cases, several defenders said. By law, prosecutors and defenders are supposed to be paid the same but effectively are not when some defenders have to take three weeks off, they said.
Boston federal defender Miriam Conrad is representing marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. She told The Associated Press on Wednesday that it was too early to tell what the impact of the furloughs would be on Tsarnaev's case.
Other public defenders warned of the imbalance when one side has the resources of the entire Department of Justice behind it and the other is trying to handle deep cuts that could affect its investigations, ability to pay experts, and the ability to show up in court five days a week.
"Imagine the imbalance now of having people working on the case losing two or three weeks of pay," said Michael Nachmanoff, a federal public defender in Virginia.
One month before the bombings happened, Conrad told the AP in an interview that she worried furloughs could cause delays, hurt the cause of justice, be devastating to her office and demoralize her staff. She noted at the time that the office can't require or even allow its lawyers to work on furlough days.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Where in the world is the Federal JNC?

Apparently the Florida Federal JNC has not been constituted yet, leaving Judge Seitz's opening just sitting there -- with no ability to even apply. 

Meantime, Judge William Thomas' nomination to the District bench hasn't moved forward yet. 

What's going on?

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Don't rush to judgment

See, e.g., the Ricin case.  From the NY Times:

Criminal charges were dropped Tuesday against a Mississippi man accused of mailing poisoned letters to President Obama and two other officials
One day after the F.B.I. said it could find no evidence that the man, Paul Kevin Curtis, was behind the plot, a federal judge released him from jail and federal authorities shifted focus to another person of interest in the case.
Lawyers for Mr. Curtis, 45, a celebrity impersonator, said he had been framed by a longtime personal enemy, J. Everett Dutschke, a martial arts instructor from Tupelo, Miss. F.B.I. agents raided Mr. Dutschke’s house but did not immediately bring charges against him. Mr. Dutschke, reached by phone, denied involvement but did not elaborate.
At a news conference after his release, Mr. Curtis said he did not harbor any ill feelings toward prosecutors or the president and was relieved to be free. “I respect President Obama,” he said. “I love my country and would never do anything to pose a threat to him or any other U.S. official.”
Mr. Curtis, a party entertainer who dresses and sings as Elvis, Prince, Johnny Cash, Bon Jovi and others, had been in jail since Wednesday. He said he had never even heard of ricin. “I thought they said rice,” he said. “I said I don’t even eat rice.” 

How was an arrest made without any evidence?  

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Is Miriam Conrad now the most hated lawyer in the United States?

Conrad, the well-respected FPD in Boston, now represents the Boston Marathon bomber.  From Business Insider:
The lawyer leading his defense, Miriam Conrad, is a Harvard Law grad who's represented unpopular defendants including "shoe bomber" Richard Reid, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Conrad — who's been a public defender for two decades — also represented 27-year-old Mulsim-American Rezwan Ferdaus, who got 17 years in prison after admitting he plotted to blow up the Pentagon and the Capitol.
Law professor Tamar R. Birckhead, who was a lawyer in Conrad's office, told the Journal that Conrad was doesn't suffer fools when defending her unpopular clients.
"Miriam is tough," Birckhead said. "She will provide the most rigorous dedicated defense humanly possible."
In an interview with Rhode Island Lawyers Weekly, Conrad gave some insight into why she makes a living representing hated defendants.
"If you scratch the surface, many have had difficult lives, and, as their lawyer, I sort of see them whole — not just as a person charged with a crime," she said in the interview. "No one has ever stood up for them, and that is a very powerful, emotional thing.”
Other lawyers currently on the team are public defenders Timothy Watkins and William Fick, who appeared in court on Tsarnaev's behalf on Monday. Despite the undeniable horror of the Boston Marathon bombing, that team may be able to elicit some sympathy for her 19-year-old defendant.
Rumpole has an interesting post about representing hated defendants. Would you do it?

Monday, April 22, 2013

What's the strangest thing you've ever been offered as a fee?

Paula McMahon has this very entertaining article in the Sun-Sentinel about fees paid to criminal defense lawyers:

Furs, guns, jewelry, a whole lot of boats and fancy cars, a hotel, an army tank, a ranch in Wyoming, a herd of cattle in Venezuela, a tray of lasagna, two Yorkie dogs and a lifetime supply of live bait.
All offered as payment to South Florida lawyers by clients who ran out of cash.
No property to give? Not to worry — there's always the bartering of personal services. Like the accused fraudster who offered to serve as a nanny for her attorney's kids. Or the guy accused of posing as a lawyer who offered to work as a paralegal. And yes, everyone has heard tell of some other lawyer being offered sexual favors or drugs to cover the legal tab.

Fred Haddad has some good stories:

Veteran criminal defense lawyer Fred Haddad said he grew up the son of an old-fashioned doctor who often bartered his services and taught his son to do the same — at least, on occasion.
"I've taken lasagna and meals from clients who run restaurants," Haddad said. "It's hilarious valuing some of this stuff for the tax man."
He said he accepted, and later sold, a ranch in Wyoming about 25 years ago, and he still regrets that he turned down a house on the Hillsboro mile because he didn't want to pay the taxes.
Back in the day, he and his former law partner accepted some airplanes, but Haddad now confesses to having a weakness for boats and nice cars. "I've taken everything from Ferraris on down."
But Haddad said there can be a downside: "A lot of the stuff I've taken wound up costing me. I took a '67 Camaro and I'm into it for $14,000 already, rebuilding the engine."

I wish Paula would have interviewed my dad, Stuart Markus. He has some great bartering stories from over the years including a barely sea-worthy sail boat that he and I tested out before accepting (I was in high-school at the time).  After we had to call Sea-Tow to pick up us, we decided not to keep it....

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Thursday news and notes

1.  Victory for Lewis Tein and its lawyer Paul Calli.  No perjury finding by Judge Dresnick.  Bottom line is that people shouldn't rush to judgment.

2.  Tom Goldstein has gotten press creds for reporter Lyle Denniston of SCOTUSBlog.  About time.  When does this blog get press credentials?

3.  Professor Berman examines how Judge Pryor will do on the Sentencing Commission:
Some comments to the prior post direct particular criticism directed toward Judge Pryor, perhaps because he was a controversial figure when appointed to the bench by President Bush.  I submit that, in this context, any assessment of Judge Pryor would be premature unless and until one has read Judge Pryor's own recent account of his history with sentencing and his perspective on the federal sentencing system.  That account appeared in the Spring 2011 issue of my own Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law as William H. Pryor Jr., Federalism and Sentencing Reform in the Post-Blakely/Booker Era, 8 Ohio St. J. Crim. L. 515 (2011). I recommend that all sentencing fans read the entire OSJCL article by Judge Pryor. 

4.  The Supreme Court grappled yesterday with the meaning of silence and whether it can be used against a criminal defendant:
"It's a little scary to me that that an unanswered question is evidence of guilt," Justice Sonia Sotomayor said, calling it "a radical position."
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said under Texas' reasoning, a savvy suspect pleading his Fifth Amendment rights would be protected from having his silence used in court, but someone who simply said nothing would be jeopardized.
"To make a difference between those two people on whether comment can be made on the failure to respond is troublesome," Ginsburg said.
Nevertheless, the state and the federal government argued that Salinas should have invoked his Miranda rights, and because he did not, his speech -- or silence -- was fair game.
Some of the court's conservative justices had less of a problem with that. Because police do not have to read Miranda rights until a suspect is in custody, his words, behavior and even silence have been fair game in court -- at least, until now.
"It would be up to the jury, wouldn't it?" Justice Antonin Scalia asked. "The jury might well agree with Justice Sotomayor that it doesn't prove anything ... The question is whether you can ask the jury to consider that."
But Jeffrey Fisher, Salinas' attorney, had the last words in court, and he used them to make what appeared to be an effective argument -- that silence is a right, not a confession.
"It evokes an inquisitorial system of justice," Fisher said of Texas officials' reasoning. "It effectively shifts the burden of proof onto the defendant, and it demeans individual dignity by conscripting the defendant as a product of his own demise."

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Reality Steve cites to the SDFLA Blog

Well, now the blog has officially made it.  Yes, links from Above the Law and How Appealing are nice, but now we've been cited to on Reality Steve:

Let me first confirm two more contestants for you. The first guy was really the only bit of info I’ve tweeted out in the last two weeks. I tweeted him out last Wednesday right before I left for California.

14. Mike Garofola: 31 or 32, Florida, Assistant United States Attorney. I first tweeted him out last Wednesday before I left for California once I was notified this blogger had posted him. So a big thanks to David Oscar Markus on that one. He’s one of the two unidentified guys on the red team during the dodgeball date.

In other news, Hafiz Khan is seeking a new trial based on Curt Anderson's story about the snitch.  Curt Anderson covers the story about his story:

A Muslim cleric convicted of terrorism support charges for sending thousands of dollars to the Pakistani Taliban is seeking a new trial, partly because of an Associated Press interview with the key FBI informant, according to documents filed in federal court.
The attorney for 77-year-old Hafiz Khan said in the motion filed Monday that the informant provided previously undisclosed information in the March 8 interview with the AP. Informant David Mahmood Siddiqui gave the interview describing his work for the FBI a few days after a jury convicted Khan of four terrorism support-related charges.
Khan's attorney, Khurrum Wahid, said in the documents that examples of new material include the length of time Siddiqui worked on the case and details about his perilous fall 2010 undercover trip to Pakistan's Swat Valley to meet people the FBI suspected were Taliban operatives financed by Khan.
"Mr. Khan was unaware of the information that came to light only when the informant Siddiqui spoke to the press after the verdict," Wahid wrote. "This information should have been disclosed."

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Obama nominates Judge Bill Pryor to Sentencing Commission

From the Montgomery Advertiser:

President Barack Obama nominated former Alabama attorney general and current U.S. circuit judge Bill Pryor to be a commissioner on the U.S. Sentencing Commission, the White House announced Monday evening.
Pryor, who served as attorney general from 1997 to 2004, serves on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit. President George W. Bush appointed Pryor to the federal bench in 2004.
The sentencing commission, according to its website, is an independent agency within the judicial branch that was set up to establish guidelines and practices for sentencing in federal courts, to assist Congress in developing policy related to crime, and to analyze and research issues related to federal crime and sentencing.
Pryor would serve a term that expires Oct. 31, 2017, and would replace commissioner William B. Carr, whose term has expired.
Obama also intends to nominate Rachel Elise Barkow, the Segal Family Professor of Regulatory Law and Policy at the New York University School of Law, and U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer of the Northern District of California to the sentencing commission, according to the White House.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Michael Caruso stepping up

The blog previously covered how sequestration was forcing the federal defenders to be furloughed every Friday for the rest of the year, resulting in a 20% pay cut.  Really horrible.  The Sun-Sentinel has picked up the story and discusses how the bosses at the FPD's office are really stepping up:

They say good bosses never ask employees to do something they wouldn't do themselves – even in a federal budget crisis.
The sequester has forced the Federal Public Defender's Office to close on Fridays because of employee furloughs.
But low-income people still get arrested, so the top boss in the office – the appointed Federal Public Defender Michael Caruso – has been personally handling Friday magistrate court duty in Miami while supervisors Robert Berube and Peter Birch represent inmates in Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Congrats to Chief Judge Moreno

The Notre Dame Law Association has awarded Chief Judge Federico Moreno with its St. Thomas More award:

The Notre Dame Law Association will award the St. Thomas More Award to the Hon. Federico A. Moreno (A.B. ’74) on April 12, 2013.
Judge Moreno was born in 1952 in Venezuela, and received his A.B. from Notre Dame, cum laude, in 1974. After graduation, he worked briefly as a teacher and then attended the University of Miami Law School, from which he received his J.D. in 1978.After law school, Judge Moreno was in private practice, and served indigent clients while employed by the Federal Public Defender’s Office in Miami. In 1986, Judge Moreno was appointed to the Dade County Court bench and then to the Circuit Court a year later. President George H. W. Bush appointed Judge Moreno in 1990 to the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida. He currently serves as Chief Judge for one of the largest federal courts in the country.
Judge Moreno served on the boards of Legal Services of Greater Miami, the Cuban American Bar Association’s Pro Bono Program, and the United Way. He received the Pro Bono Service Award of the Cuban American Bar Association and the United Way’s “People Helping People” Award. His activities also include the membership in the Notre Dame Club of Miami and the University of Miami Law School Alumni, of which he was a Director.
Federico Moreno has been married for 35 years to his wife, Cris. They have three children: Cristi, who graduated from Notre Dame Law School and is currently an Assistant U.S. Attorney; Ricki, who graduated from Notre Dame with a degree in accounting and received his MBA from Wharton; and Victoria, who is in her senior year at Notre Dame.
The St. Thomas More Award honors graduates of the University of Notre Dame “who have distinguished themselves as jurists or public servants, while exhibiting uncompromising integrity and loyalty to conscience.”
Since instituted by the Notre Dame Law Association in 2000, the award has been presented two other times: to Rev. Theodore Hesburgh, C.S.C., in 2004, and to Dean Patricia A. O’Hara in 2009.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Thursday news & notes

1.  While one prosecutor is appearing on The Bachelorette, another is writing op-eds for the Wall Street Journal saying that the feds should have the right to search everything, including your computer and phone, are the border.  I'll leave it to you all to decide which is worse. 

2.  Sri to the Supremes? (via the New Yorker)

3. Seems unlikely because Obama is still not doing a good job with his judicial appointments.  How long has Will Thomas been waiting now?  (via NY Times)

Of 856 federal district and circuit court seats, 85 are unfilled — a 10 percent vacancy rate and nearly double the rate at this point in the presidency ofGeorge W. Bush. More than a third of the vacancies have been declared “judicial emergencies” based on court workloads and the length of time the seats have been empty. By far the most important cause of this unfortunate state of affairs is the determination of Senate Republicans, for reasons of politics, ideology and spite, to confirm as few ofPresident Obama’s judicial choices as possible.
Numbers compiled by the Senate Judiciary Committee tell the story. Mr. Obama’s nominees for seats on federal courts of appeal, the system’s top tier below the Supreme Court, have waited an average of 148 days for their confirmation vote following the committee’s approval, more than four times longer than Mr. Bush’s nominees. For Mr. Obama’s nominees to federal district courts, the average wait time has been 102 days, compared with 35 days for Mr. Bush’s district court choices.

4.  Too many lawyers in Miami.  Bennett County, South Dakota, not so much.  (via the NY Times)

5.  The Federal PD in Columbus, Ohio is resigning because of sequestration.  It's getting really bad.  (via NPR)

6.  Meantime, the DOJ is spending like crazy.  (via Politico)

Looking good for Hollywood: Tax dollars are also used at the department to help the entertainment industry. The FBI has its own Investigative Publicity and Public Affairs Unit, which is dedicated to helping Hollywood make movies and TV shows, including “The Kingdom,” “Fast and Furious 4,” “CSI,” “Numb3rs” and “Without a Trace.” This perk for Hollywood comes with an annual price tag of $1.5 million to the American taxpayer.
Meet and greets: In addition, the DOJ staff hosted numerous conferences around the country. In 2010 alone, the department spent nearly $100 million on conferences, which is twice what was spent two years earlier. This includes more than $600,000 in event-planner costs for five conferences, even though the need for this was not shown.

7.  According to this article by ProPublica, no one is policing prosecutorial misconduct, so it appears unlikely that they will care about the above spending.

8.  Finally, Justice Thomas said he didn't know it was news when he spoke at an oral argument recently.  Do you believe him?  (via Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
Clarence Thomas, the U.S. Supreme Court justice who has become known for his silence from the bench during oral arguments, made national news a few months ago when he spoke, briefly.
So, on Tuesday, when he visited Duquesne University to speak, expansively, a law school student asked the obvious question -- what was Justice Thomas' philosophy about the role of justices in oral arguments?
"Well, first of all, my philosophy about the news is never watching it," Justice Thomas said, to applause and laughter, adding that it was the first he'd heard of the widespread notice given to the moment when, with just a few words, he broke his self-imposed seven-year silence during oral arguments.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Breaking -- Alicia Valle is your new Magistrate

Congrats to all around nice person and long time spokeswoman at the U.S. Attorney's Office Alicia Valle, who will be a great judge. 

I found this bio of her online

Alicia Olivera Valle has been the Special Counsel to the United States Attorney, Southern District of Florida, since May 2005.  In this capacity, Ms. Valle handles special case-related and other projects and all media for the U.S. Attorney.  Since joining the U.S. Attorney’s Office in 1987, she has successfully prosecuted various high-profile public corruption and white-collar criminal cases in New Jersey and Florida, including cases against the Mayor of Parsippany, the former Manager and Chief of Police for the City of Miami, and the President of the Miami-Dade teacher’s union, all on corruption charges.  During her tenure at the Miami U.S. Attorney’s Office, Ms. Valle has served as Executive Assistant U.S. Attorney, twice Chief of the Economic Crimes Section, and until her promotion to Special Counsel in 2005, as Chief of the Public Corruption Section.  Prior to joining the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Ms. Valle clerked for the Honorable Stewart G. Pollock of the Supreme Court of New Jersey.  She was also an associate with the law firm of Clapp & Eisenberg in Newark, New Jersey.  Ms. Valle received her undergraduate degree from Rutgers University and law degree from Harvard Law School.

Congrats again!

Tuesday news & notes

1.  John Pacenti covers the Kaley case going to the Supreme Court:

On the 50th anniversary of its landmark Gideon ruling giving all criminal defendants access to a lawyer, the U.S. Supreme Court accepted a South Florida case asking whether defendants are entitled to hire the counsel of their choice when federal prosecutors freeze their assets before trial.
The Supreme Court unanimously ruled in the 1963 case of Clarence Gideon, who received a five-year sentence for a pool room theft in Panama City, that state courts are required to provide free representation to indigent defendants under the 14th Amendment. The decision caused the release of 2,000 Florida prisoners.
Fifty years later, the high court agreed to decide whether the federal government can freeze a defendant's assets before trial without an evidentiary hearing.
"Gideon couldn't afford a lawyer, so the government said he had to go to trial without the court appointing one for him," said attorney Howard Srebnick. "Fifty years later, the federal government is now arguing that because court-appointed lawyers are available to indigent defendants, the government can restrain assets needed for counsel of choice without first having to prove to a judge that the government has the evidence and legal authority to justify the restraint."
Srebnick is the partner at Miami criminal defense firm Black, Srebnick, Kornspan & Stumpf. He has teamed up with Miami appellate attorney Richard Strafer in leading the charge for Kerri and Brian Kaley. ( Read Petition for Cert. Read brief.)

2.  Fane Lozman wins again, this time in the 11th Circuit:

 Two months after the U.S. Supreme Court handed Fane Lozman a huge victory in his long-running legal battle with Riviera Beach, another court on Monday paved the way for the fervent activist to seek millions from the city for his troubles.
The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated a 2008 lawsuit Lozman filed against the city, claiming it repeatedly violated his civil rights by hiring a private investigator to trail him, kicking him out of public meetings and, at one point, having him arrested when he refused to leave.
“Today felt just a tad lower than winning at the Supreme Court,” Lozman said shortly after the decision was announced. “The Supreme Court ruling was a 10. Today was a 9½.”
City officials didn’t return emails or phone calls for comment about their latest loss to the former Marine who became a thorn in their sides shortly after docking his unconventional floating home at the city marina in 2006. City hall was closed Monday as part of budget-cutting measures.
But, while the high court’s ruling may have stung more, the 11th Circuit’s could be more costly.
When the nation’s high court in January ruled that the city improperly used ancient maritime law to seize and ultimately destroy Lozman’s 60-foot two-story floating home, the possible damages were somewhat fixed. City officials were faced with the prospect of paying Lozman for the $167,000 he claims it would cost to replace his home, the $300,000 he spent for attorneys and an undetermined amount to reimburse him for the money he shelled out for living expenses after his home was destroyed.
However, he said, if he succeeds in proving that the city violated his constitutional rights, the damages could skyrocket.
“If I was the city, I’d be concerned,” he said. “That’s a seven-figure sum.”

Friday, April 05, 2013

"He's smart, witty, compassionate, good-looking, nice."

That's Chief Judge Federico Moreno about his former law clerk and current Bachelorette contestant Mike Garofola.

 Rafael Olmeda from The Sun-Sentinel has more in this article:

A graduate of the University of Notre Dame and Fordham Law School, Garofola worked at the firm of Davis Polk and Wardwell for two years before becoming a clerk with U.S. Chief District Court Judge Federico Moreno in Miami.
"He's smart, witty, compassionate, good-looking, nice," Moreno said Friday. "He's a great lawyer. He was a great clerk. And he's a great prosecutor."
Would Moreno let his daughter date Garofola? "I can't answer that!" the judge said. "My daughter knows him. And she's a federal prosecutor."
Moreno declined to say what he thought of Garofola's venture into reality television, reflecting that at age 60, the judge is not part of the show's target audience.

You gotta love Judge Moreno for being a good sport here. 

Friday wrap-up

Well, the blog was dominated this week with The Bachelorette post (which was updated with additional pictures), drawing links from Reality Steve, Above the Law and others.  Interestingly, a number of people emailed me criticizing me for posting it.  The guy is going on national television in prime time, so I'm not sure how posting about it on this blog is harmful to him or anyone else.

Speaking of dating, did you know that Justice O'Connor dated Justice Rehnquist in law school:

She also discussed dating William Rehnquist while at Stanford Law School. "He was fun. We had good times." As for Byron White, O'Connor said, "I thought I was going to die" the first time she experienced his iron-grip handshake.
Then it was time to sign books, which O'Connor said she would do "provided you bring me a glass of wine." Wine was brought and dozens of lawyers queued up with books in hand, good reviews or bad.

SCOTUSBlog has an interesting post on cert-stage amicus briefs and which ones are successful.  NACDL does an excellent job, but the Chamber of Commerce is the best:

Finally, it's furlough Friday, and the Federal Public Defender's office is closed.  But big ups to the Federal Defender himself, Michael Caruso, who is manning the fort in Magistrate Court today (and every Friday) making sure that newly arrested indigent defendants have counsel. 

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Local AUSA Mike Garofola to be on The Bachelorette

Thanks to numerous tipsters, the buzz around the courthouse is now confirmed -- Assistant United States Attorney Mike Garofola will be a contestant on the new season of The Bachelorette.  He will be competing with two dozen other men for the love and affection of Desiree Hartsock.

He's used to competing, beating out hundreds of applicants for a federal clerkship and then a job at the United States Attorney's Office.  And as a trial lawyer, he's used to performing for an audience.  So he stands a good chance.

Here's a picture of AUSA Garofola from one of the upcoming episodes in which the contestants play dodgeball:

And here's Desiree:

I asked the U.S. Attorney's office for comment, and Alicia Valle on the office's behalf said: "We wish him luck."  I like that they were good sports about it.

UPDATE -- the initial post had his name misspelled.  It has been corrected, I hope.

UPDATE #2 -- some additional pictures of Mike:

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Justice Scalia on childhood in NY

New York Magazine has an interesting series with people describing their childhood in New York.  Justice Scalia is one of them:

It is amazing how many of the names of the kids in this class I remember. The teacher standing in the back—that was a lady named Consuela Goins, and she was a wonderful teacher. Every cloud has a silver lining, and one of the benefits of the exclusion of women from most professions was that we had wonderful teachers, especially the women who today would probably be CEOs. My first crush was a girl in this class whose name was Theresa. She’s the one standing to the right of Mrs. Goins. She’s good-looking; I always had good taste. Hugh McGee was generally the class troublemaker—in the middle seat on the right, two girls behind him and two boys in front of him. He was a really smart student, but he was always getting into trouble.

Monday, April 01, 2013

April Fools

Hope everyone had a nice spring break.  Now back to business.

1.  Adam Liptak doesn't care for Justice O'Connor's book "Out of Order."  From Sunday's review:

The book is short and padded. The main part, only 165 pages long, is interrupted by stock photographs and curious, unexplained editorial cartoons. The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution are included in an appendix. They are surely worth rereading from time to time, but their main purpose here seems to be to add some bulk to a very skimpy effort.
The illustrations are particularly infuriating markers of missed opportunities. In one cartoon from 1981, the year O’Connor joined the court, the Rev. Jerry Falwell is seen on his knees, praying and crying, as she swings in what looks like one of the scales of justice. He is not mentioned in the text, and the reader is left to guess at what he is so worked up about. That he wants O’Connor to vote to strike down Roe v. Wade? (She was, as it turned out, an author of a 1992 joint opinion reaffirming its core, also not discussed in the book.) 
The larger problem is not that Justice O’Connor’s little sketches and lessons are wrong. Quite the contrary. The problem is that they are empty. She writes, correctly, that “the court’s only weapon is its moral authority.” But she refuses to give this and similar sentiments substance.
In retirement, she writes, she has “taken up the cause of promoting civics education in our nation’s schools.” But civics are just a skeleton. They need the flesh of argument to come to life, to have bite, to matter.
 2.  Tony Mauro says enough is enough and wants cameras in the High Court.  He is absolutely correct:

Inside the U.S. Supreme Court last week, the justices were doing what they do best: dissecting a difficult legal issue — this time same-sex marriage — in the intense back-and-forth of oral argument.
Over two illuminating mornings, the justices and top-notch advocates worked through most of the pros and cons of giving same-sex marriage constitutional protection — or instead letting the political process continue the debate.
Outside the court, however, the scene was less noble. People seeking seats for the oral arguments were forced to wait in line, with some arriving five days earlier. Tents were pitched, and money changed hands, with some paying as much as $6,000 to a line-waiting service for the chance of securing a seat inside. Inevitably things got messy, and the line seemed more befitting of a music hall or an Apple store on the eve of the release of a new iPhone.
In one sense, the avid interest of those in line was a healthy sign that people really care about the issue and about how the Supreme Court — their Supreme Court — would handle it.
In another sense, it was a disgrace. The notion that spectators have to camp out or spend money to see a public institution do public business is offensive. It is the direct result of the court's arrogant and stubborn refusal to allow cameras to record and broadcast its proceedings. Some of those waiting for days for seats might still do so if cameras were allowed, but it is a safe bet that most would have preferred to watch the oral arguments in the comfort of home on C-SPAN rather than wait in line over several cold and snowy days in March.
While the public shivers, the justices — newcomers and veterans alike — refuse to give in to the reasonable demands of the information age. They are fearful of the changes that cameras might trigger in the dynamics between justices and advocates and with each other — as if the court were a fragile flower, instead of the sturdy institution it is, an institution that usually holds up well under public scrutiny.

3.  Rumpole, posting to this NY Times article on Project Mercy, asks if we have any Judge Gleesons in the Southern District of Florida.  Do we?

5.  Justice Scalia says he should be the "pinup of the criminal defense bar."  Via the Washington Post.

6.  Your Jeffrey Toobin moment of zen: