Wednesday, May 20, 2015

News & Notes

1.  Follow up on the "intactivist" post from yesterday.  The lawyer decided to voluntarily dismiss the lawsuit.  From the Sun-Sentinel:

A federal lawsuit concerning a circumcision fight between two South Florida parents suddenly ended Wednesday when the attorney for the 4 1/2-year-old boy and his still-jailed mom decided the case appeared hopeless.
Thomas Hunker, who represents mother Heather Hironimus, notified U.S. District Judge Kenneth Marra that the month-old case has been voluntarily dismissed, and the notice prevents the case from ever being filed again in the court.
In a message posted on a Facebook page dedicated to the boy and his mom and directed at circumcision opponents, Hunker wrote they decided to quit because, "Unfortunately, Judge Marra was not only not sympathetic, he seemed quite hostile toward our position."
Hunker added that proceeding with the federal lawsuit would surely result in "an unfavorable order which could potentially hurt the cause and future efforts to establish a child's right to object to circumcision. I hope you understand and agree that under the circumstances, this was our only available option."
Finally, the attorney said the focus must be to "conserve resources to help Heather get out of jail and preserve her custody rights. That is my mission now."

2.  District Judges like asking other district judges for help.  From the NY Times:
 Federal district judges are often described as the quintessential deciders, whether from the bench or in written opinions. But what happens when a difficult question arises, the parties are in sharp disagreement, and the answer is not obvious?
Turns out they often rely on a rarely discussed resource: the jurist-to-jurist lifeline.
Interviews with more than a dozen judges in Manhattan’s Federal District Court show that almost all have telephoned colleagues when they were puzzled by legal questions or other issues, or have been on the receiving end of the game-show-like call for help.
“I can tell you that everyone calls colleagues for advice, particularly when we get gnarly jury notes,” said Chief Judge Loretta A. Preska, a member of the bench for more than two decades.
The practice is longstanding: Judge Pierre N. Leval, a district judge for 16 years before he was elevated to the federal appeals court in 1993, said that shortly after he became a trial judge, he asked a colleague, “What do you do when you’re stumped?”
The colleague scribbled four digits on a scrap of paper and handed it to him — it was the phone extension for Judge Edward Weinfeld, a legal legend on the court.
“Put it on your desk in the robing room and call him when you’re stuck. We all do it,” Judge Leval remembers his colleague saying.
In a recent trial in Manhattan, Judge Katherine B. Forrest ruled against the government on the admissibility of a particular document, but after a break, she said she had changed her view.
“I spoke to three colleagues — judges here,” she explained.
The defense lawyer objected, but Judge Forrest indicated that it was important that she get it right, and drawing on the expertise and experience of fellow federal judges was sometimes useful “when one is pressed for time in dealing with these kinds of issues.”
“Indeed, a lot of us call each other,” she said. “People call me a lot, including more senior judges.”
Shocker -- her colleagues said to rule for the government!  Oy!

3.  Judge Altonaga did not need to call her colleagues on this one where the government isn't complying with its discovery obligations in the civil terrorism case.  From the AP:

A federal judge sternly blamed the U.S. government Tuesday for lengthy delays in a lawsuit filed by a Pakistani-American man accusing the U.S. of malicious prosecution in a terror financing case.
U.S. District Judge Cecilia M. Altonaga agreed with Irfan Khan's lawyer that the Justice Department's tactics have caused months of unnecessary delays. Altonaga said much FBI evidence released about its investigation into Khan's alleged ties to the Pakistani Taliban is heavily redacted and useless.
"It's virtually like providing nothing," Altonaga said at a hearing. "It's sort of like shooting in the dark."
...Altonaga decided Tuesday to suspend various deadlines until the classified material is sorted out, likely scrapping the current October trial date as well.
"This is a very old case, gentlemen. I fault the government," she said. "You let me know when you're good and ready."

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