Monday, August 31, 2020


Florida Supreme Court Said Governor DeSantis Exceeded His Authority In Appointing Judge Renatha Francis, But Held Petitioner Thompson To The Remedy She Requested And Denied The Petition

By Kyle S. Roberts

The August 27th Opinion denied Representative Geraldine F. Thompson’s challenge to Governor DeSantis’ appointment of Judge Renatha Francis to the Florida Supreme Court because the remedy sought was “legally unavailable under these circumstances.”

For those keeping an eye on this case, this dispute stems from Governor DeSantis’ appointment of Judge Francis to the Florida Supreme Court on May 26, 2020, and the undisputed fact that she has not been a member of the Florida Bar for the preceding ten (10) years—a milestone she will reach on September 24, 2020. Petitioner took the position that to be eligible for a seat on the Florida Supreme Court, the person must meet the requirements laid out in Florida’s Constitution at the time of appointment. Governor DeSantis took the position that the person must meet the requirements laid out in Florida’s Constitution at the time of actually taking the oath and assuming the duties of her office, which Judge Francis intends to do on September 24, 2020.

Rather than simply ask the Court to 1) find that Judge Renatha Francis is ineligible for office and 2) issue a writ of mandamus compelling Governor DeSantis to appoint someone else from the short list sent up on January 23, 2020, Petitioner asked the Court to compel the JNC to create a new list from the original applicants and to compel Governor DeSantis to appoint someone from that new list.

The Court found that “[w]hen we read Article V, section 8 together with article V, section 11, the only reasonable conclusion is that the Bar eligibility requirement attaches at the time of appointment.” This is contrary to the Governor’s position.

Although the Court cleared up the dispute as to the time all constitutional eligibility requirements must be met, it ultimately denied the petition because of the relief sought by Petitioner:

There is no legal justification for us to require a replacement appointment from a new list of candidates, rather than from the one that is already before the Governor. And the correct remedy (an appointment from the existing list of eligible nominees) would be contrary to Thompson’s stated objectives in filing this case. Therefore, we hold Thompson to the remedy she requested and deny her petition.

This Opinion leaves us wondering what will happen next as there is still close to a month before Judge Francis meets the constitutional eligibility requirement and the Court clearly stated that she needed to have met it at the time of appointment. Will Petitioner, or another Florida Citizen, challenge the appointment of Judge Francis, and this time request the correct relief as pointed out by the Court? Will Governor DeSantis revoke his appointment and select one of the remaining 7 individuals on the January 23, 2020, list to avoid further litigation? Will it be status quo until September 24th and Judge Francis becomes Justice Francis?

The remaining individuals on the January 23rd list, aside from Judge Francis and now Justice Couriel, are:

Jonathan Gerber

Jamie Grosshans

Norma Lindsey

Timothy Osterhaus

Eliot Pedrosa

Lori Rowe

Meredith Sasso

Kyle is a commercial litigator at Conrad & Scherer LLP in Fort Lauderdale.


Petitioner Thompson filed a Motion for Leave to amend, and also filed an Amended Emergency Petition for Writ of Quo Warranto and Writ of Mandamus yesterday.

 She is asking the Court to do exactly what it said would be the appropriate remedy and declare that Judge Francis was ineligible for appointment, and to compel Governor DeSantis to immediately appoint one of the 7 remaining on the January 23, 2020, list.

Media matters

 There's been a ton of publicity about the Steve Bannon arrest and charges.  The prosecution has issued its press releases and even held a press conference.  DOJ is a media machine these days.  It wasn't always like that.  But heaven-forbid that a defendant try to respond to the press... 

Bannon's co-defendant called the case a witch hunt and DOJ has filed a letter complaining to the judge that the defendants are making extra-judicial statements which may taint the jury pool.  DOJ had the chutzpah to cite to Sheppard v. Maxwell, F. Lee Bailey's Supreme Court case which found that the defendant (Sam Sheppard, a/k/a the Fugitive) could not get a fair trial with all of the publicity surrounding his trial.  

If DOJ is going to speak to the press, then defendants should be permitted to respond.

Thursday, August 27, 2020

“The Department of Justice has been casting a wide net charging these SBA loan fraud cases, and I look forward to discovering if this is an example of that net having been cast too wide.”

That was Bradley Horenstein discussing his new COVID-19 case. His client is accused of getting a relief loan for a farm in Miami... according to the feds, no farm. From the Herald:

As the coronavirus spread havoc in South Florida, prosecutors say Latoya Stanley and Johnny Philus hauled in $1 million in federal relief loans while claiming they were struggling to operate a beauty supply store, an auto leasing business and a couple of farms in North Miami.

Their loan applications were all made up, the feds say — especially the part that they were “farmers” on tiny residential lots in the urban community.

Stanley, 38, and Philus, 33, were arrested Wednesday. They are charged with committing wire fraud and making false statements when they applied for Small Business Administration loans under a new federal program that provides financial assistance to businesses ailing from the impact of COVID-19. Both were released on a $100,000 bond and face arraignment on Sept. 9 in Miami federal court.


“In actuality, the complaint alleges that Stanley and Philus employed no one and the farms did not exist,” according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

In their government loan applications filed in May and June, Stanley and Philus claimed to operate two businesses — Dream Gurl Beauty Supply and Elegance Auto Boutique — out of a duplex building on one-sixth of an acre at 1275 NE 118th St.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Which circuit is the worst on qualified immunity?

You may have thought it was the 11th... but it’s the 5th actually.  We aren’t far behind, according to this interesting Reuters report.  And the best is the 9th Circuit. But the disparities is a good reason to abolish the doctrine altogether.  Here’s a small portion from Reuters:

For years, the words “qualified immunity” were seldom heard outside of legal and academic circles, where critics have long contended that the doctrine is unjust. But outrage over the killing of George Floyd and incidents like it have made this 50-year-old legal doctrine — created by the U.S. Supreme Court itself — a target of broad public demands for comprehensive reform to rein in police behavior.
The criticism that qualified immunity denies justice to victims of police brutality is well-founded. As Reuters reported just two weeks before Floyd’s death, the immunity defense has been making it easier for cops to kill or injure civilians with impunity. Based on federal appellate court records, the report showed, courts have been granting cops immunity at increasing rates in recent years — even when judges found the behavior so egregious that it violated a plaintiff’s civil rights — thanks largely to continual Supreme Court guidance that has favored police.
The regional differences Reuters has found in how qualified immunity is granted only add to arguments that the doctrine is unfair. “It’s essential to our system of government that access to justice should be the same in Dallas and Houston as in Phoenix and Las Vegas,” said Paul Hughes, a prominent civil rights attorney who frequently argues before the U.S. Supreme Court. “It shouldn’t turn on the happenstance of geography as to whether or not they (plaintiffs) have a remedy.”
The “happenstance of geography” shows up in a comparison of Collie’s case to the one Benny Herrera’s family filed after a cop killed him in 2011. Police in Tustin, California, were looking for the 31-year-old father of four after a former girlfriend reported that he had assaulted her. They found him walking along a lightly trafficked road, behaving erratically. As in Collie’s case, a cop opened fire when he thought Herrera was about to shoot him. Like Collie, Herrera did not have a gun.

Sunday, August 23, 2020

Lori Loughlin gets two months...

... which is two months too long. 

But most importantly, the sentence really doesn't serve any legitimate purpose.  I wrote about the same issue in the two-week Felicity Huffman sentence here.  Here's a snippet:

With as much subtlety and sophistication as a sledgehammer, social media erupted after Felicity Huffman’s 14-day sentence was announced, with commenter after commenter saying her sentence was way too light. A rich, white woman only received two weeks in jail. The system must be corrupt! Well, the system is corrupt, but not because Huffman’s sentence was too light, but because it was too severe.

But wait, you might be saying, she only received a few weeks; how can that be too severe?

Her sentence is wrong for at least four reasons:

1.    Our criminal justice system still has an unjust “jail-first” mentality. The default sentence for a first-time non-violent offender who accepted responsibility where no one suffered any loss should obviously be something other than incarceration. If that type of offender — with no aggravating factors — isn’t getting probation, then who is? The problem is that we are so tied to putting people in jail, even people we know will never do anything similar again, that our default is some prison. That’s wrong. It’s important to keep things in perspective: Huffman didn’t hurt anyone and it’s not altogether clear that paying someone to take a test should even be a federal crime in the first place.   

2.    Comparisons to other sentences show that those sentences are too high, not that Huffman’s is too low. With no sense of irony, the Huffman prosecutor cited other cases in which defendants received grossly and inappropriately high sentences as a reason to impose prison time on Huffman. For example, the prosecutor pointed to the case of Kelley Williams-Bolar, an African-American woman who originally was sentenced to five years in prison for using her dad’s address to get her kids into a different school district. The sentenced was later suspended to 10 days in jail. Everyone agrees: That sentence — even after it was reduced to 10 days — was obscene. Saying that Huffman should not get a probationary sentence because another prosecutor obtained an unjust sentence in another case demonstrates why we have a mass-incarceration problem. The prosecutor said at the Huffman sentencing: “If we believe in just punishment, we should not put the Williams-Bolars in jail while letting the Huffmans go free.” That’s true, but it means that we shouldn’t put the Williams-Bolars in jail, not that we should put both in prison. 

Friday, August 21, 2020

John Byrne discussed high school football

It's a little off-topic, but hey, it's Friday afternoon. Check out his Miami Herald op-ed here.  The intro:

 On Aug. 14, the Florida High School Athletic Association’s board of directors approved Aug. 24 as the start of practice for the fall sports seasons, including football. Under the FHSAA’s plan, the regular season will start on Sept. 4, and there will be a nine-week regular season. As in past years, there will be playoffs in November and a state championship in December.

Of course, this isn’t like past years in one major respect: the coronavirus pandemic. The pandemic has had an undeniable impact on this country — and on Florida and Miami-Dade County, in particular. And, in the sports arena, it’s already led major college football conferences to cancel the football season. The FHSAA however, plans to move forward as if it’s business as usual, with the only exception being that it’s giving high schools until Sept. 18 to opt-out of its proposed schedule and set their own, the consequence being that these schools can’t compete for a state championship.

The FHSAA plan is unacceptable.

Thursday, August 20, 2020

If Judge Wilson takes senior status next year, who will take his spot on the 11th Circuit?

The vetting room blog says that Roy Altman is a likely candidate if Trump wins:

Judge Roy Altman (S.D. Fl.)

The 38 year old Altman was the youngest district court judge in the country when he was appointed in 2019, and, despite that youth, he sailed to confirmation by a 2-1 margin, a landslide among recent confirmation votes.  Altman will likely be strongly considered for a seat on the Eleventh Circuit if Judge Charles Wilson moves to senior status in a second Trump term, or if Judges Lagoa or Luck are elevated to the U.S. Supreme Court.

And if Biden wins:

Judge Leslie Abrams Gardner (M.D. Ga.)

The sister of the famous Stacey Abrams, Judge Leslie Abrams Gardner made history as the first woman ever appointed to the Middle District of Georgia.  The 45-year-old Gardner is poised to potentially make history again as the first black woman appointed to the Eleventh Circuit (and potentially further to the Supreme Court).

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

11th Circuit Zooms

Here's the picture from the Tampa Bay Times of the Zoom hearing regarding the felon voting rights case:

In a case that could have major ramifications ahead of the November election, a panel of federal judges in Atlanta questioned lawyers Tuesday about Florida’s decision to require felons pay off all court fees and fines before voting. Ten judges from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, half of whom were appointed by President Donald Trump, peppered lawyers representing Gov. Ron DeSantis and more than a dozen felons about the state’s law and whether its requirements to pay off all fees equated to a modern-day “poll tax.” Most of the questioning, however, fixated on complicated judicial precedents. After more than two hours of back-and-forth that was carried on Zoom, the video conferencing site, judges gave little indication how they would rule. One exception was Judge Barbara Lagoa, who, along with Judge Robert Luck, was appointed to the court by Trump after Gov. Ron DeSantis named them to the Florida Supreme Court last year. Lagoa asked many questions that indicated she agreed with DeSantis’ position on Amendment 4, passed by Floridians in 2018 that wiped away the state’s Jim Crow-era ban on voting by people convicted of felonies. At one point, Lagoa questioned whether the court, if it finds parts of Amendment 4 unconstitutional, shouldn’t simply void the entire amendment. American Civil Liberties Union attorney Julie Ebenstein responded that not even DeSantis’ attorneys have said that Amendment 4 should be tossed out. Judges routinely “sever” parts of a law, striking some parts while preserving others. “Everybody agrees that nullifying Amendment 4 would be an absurd result that should be avoided,” Ebenstein said.

Should judges be elected?

Appointing judges has its problems, but after reading Rumpole’s blog and speaking to the state practitioners, it seems that electing judges is much worse and doesn’t make much sense. What do you all think?

In the meantime, watch this John Oliver clip in juries:

Monday, August 17, 2020

It is very possible that the next Supreme Court Justice went to high school in Miami

Ketanji Brown Jackson, a Miami Palmetto High School grad, is on Biden’s short list.  She currently sits on the district bench in D.C.  She was a star debater in high school. I got to know her as she was a few years ahead of me in high school (I went to Killian) and a year ahead of me at law school.  She’s a great person.  A former PD, she would be a wonderful addition to the Court.  

Here’s what Noah Feldman has to say:

Joe Biden has fulfilled his promise to choose a woman as his running mate. Let’s turn our attention to another promise he made: to name a Black woman to the Supreme Court. A number of women with different kinds of legal experience have been suggested by NGOs and journalists. But to legal insiders, Biden’s options narrow down very quickly to two names: Justice Leondra Kruger of the California Supreme Court, and Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson of the federal district court in Washington, D.C. 
Jackson became a federal judge in 2013. There was no major fight over her nomination, probably because it was for a district court position, which is not the traditional path to the Supreme Court. (Of the current justices, only Justice Sonia Sotomayor was a district court judge, and she followed that with a long stint on the court of appeals.) She’s now just shy of her 50th birthday. Jackson’s national profile rose significantly in 2019 when she presided over a case in which the House Judiciary Committee sought to enforce its subpoena against Donald McGahn, the former White House counsel. Jackson’s opinion rejected the Trump administration’s claim of absolute immunity and insisted that “presidents are not kings.” No comparably high-profile case has come before Kruger.

Friday, August 14, 2020

Michael Nadler leaving the U.S. Attorney’s Office

 He’s joining Stumphauzer Foslid Sloman Ross & Kolaya. A big get for them. Big enough for the AP to cover the move here:

A federal prosecutor who has jailed some of Venezuela’s biggest crooks is stepping down, The Associated Press has learned, leaving a void that could dampen U.S. efforts to expose criminal activity in the South American country amid rising tensions with the Trump administration. Michael Nadler, an assistant U.S. attorney, is leaving to enter private practice next month at a boutique Miami law firm— Stumphauzer Foslid Sloman Ross & Kolaya—said a person familiar with the move who insisted on speaking anonymously because it hadn’t been made public. Nadler, 48, has indicted multiple Venezuelan Cabinet ministers, businessmen and Swiss bankers as part of a sustained effort by investigators in the Southern District of Florida to recover some of the $300 billion estimated to have been stolen from Venezuela in two decades of socialist rule.

Nadler had this to say about the move:

It's has been an honor and privilege working as an AUSA for almost 10 years. Having the opportunity to work on some of the biggest cases in the country and focusing on high-level complex money laundering, Foreign Corruption Practices Act, foreign bribery cases, and targeting corruption at the highest levels in these international cases has been the highlight of my career to date. I thank the US Atty Fajardo for entrusting me and having the confidence in me to work these cases and to Willy Ferrer for hiring me. Leaving was an incredibly difficult decision. But when the opportunity presented itself to join a fantastic group of people and really talented lawyers at a well-respected and prominent boutique law firm, the choice was much easier. I look forward to this new chapter in my life.

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

President Trump nominates Judge Moore to chair the U.S. Sentencing Commission.

Here’s the link to the announcement:

Today, President Donald J. Trump announced his intent to nominate the following individuals to key positions in his Administration: Judge K. Michael Moore, of Florida, as Chairman of the United States Sentencing Commission. Judge Michael Moore serves as the Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida, a post which he has held since 2014. Judge Moore was appointed to the Southern District of Florida by President George H. W. Bush in 1992. Before his appointment to the Federal bench, Judge Moore served as the Director of the United States Marshals Service and as the United States Attorney for the Northern District of Florida. Judge Moore also spent over a decade of service as an Assistant United States Attorney.

Court order postponing jury trials AND grand juries until January 4

 The order is here.  

My earlier comments on the order are here.  

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

How will Kamala Harris be on criminal justice issues?

 It’s hard to tell.  She’s faced a ton of criticism when she was the District Attorney in San Francisco and Attorney General of California (who can forget this exchange in the democratic debates).  But she is pitching herself as a “progressive prosecutor” and there are some who have supported this view, including this public defender.  Last September, Harris release her criminal justice plan, which sounds pretty good (summarized from Newsweek)

Among the goals she listed were ending mass incarceration, investing in programs aimed at reducing crime, legalizing marijuana, making changes to the criminal justice system's "sentencing schemes, stopping private prison use and encouraging prisoners' rehabilitation, the last of which was a callback to her earlier "Back on Track" program.

Monday, August 10, 2020

There will be no trials in the SDFLA for the rest of the year

 It’s a pretty striking announcement. (The official order isn’t up yet, but it’s been leaked.) 

And there’s no telling when we will have grand juries back.

Schools are reopening in October, but not the courthouses.  I’m not saying which is right (I have no idea) but lots of criminal defense lawyers in town are frustrated.  

And... if it’s not safe enough to conduct trials, how is it safe — or fair — to keep folks locked up at FDC and FCI (where another person just died).  Both FDC and FCI are complete disasters right now.  Families were protesting outside of FCI this weekend because of the conditions there.

It’s hard to see when the criminal justice system in South Florida will return to normal.  

Friday, August 07, 2020

RIP Ron Lowy

 Just heard this sad news.  Ron was a super nice guy that you always saw around the courthouses and jails.  Here’s a nice article about him when he won an award from the Biscayne Bay Kiwanis Club.  He recently represented Cesar Sayoc, which was a highly publicized case.  Sad.  

Nice job by local FBA chapter

 Check out this awesome program to teach high school students advocacy and other legal and life skills.  Judges Beth Bloom and Robin Rosenberg are helping to run the program, which looks like a lot of fun:

In the flagship program, Civil Discourse and Difficult Decisions, realistic scenarios bring forward issues related to the coronavirus, including social media memes used to start ambiguous rumors, and a car parade of 16-year-olds protesting for the right to vote.
The program, which is facilitated by judges and members of local Federal Bar Association (FBA) chapters, has reached students in federal courtrooms across the country. As it enters its fourth year, the live program with judges and lawyers is available online to high school and college teachers who want to offer it to their students. 
“The need for civil discourse skills doesn’t diminish when day-to-day life is disrupted,” said U.S. District Judge Beth Bloom, of Miami, who launched the fall series with a virtual program from her closed courtroom on July 31. “In fact, now more than ever, students need exposure to the ways that civil discourse is the foundation for effectively resolving disputes in the legal system and in their lives.” Bloom and U.S. District Judge Robin Rosenberg, of West Palm Beach, with the assistance of FBA chapters in the Southern District of Florida, pioneered the courtroom program in 2017.
For the coming academic year, they have modified it as a 90-minute distance-learning module. South Florida teachers can request a judge and attorney team(link sends e-mail) for a class in the 2020-2021 term. Interested teachers in other parts of the country should make requests at sends e-mail). 
“Over the past three years, working with federal judges on this initiative has been a rewarding experience in our chapter and in our school communities,” said Stephanie Turk, the South Florida Chapter’s civics liaison and an associate at Stearns Weaver Miller Weissler Alhadeff & Sitterson. In the July distance-learning pilot, coordinated by Bloom and South Florida Chapter President Alaina Fotiu-Wojtowicz, a partner at Brodsky Fotiu-Wojtowicz, students learned and practiced several life-impacting skills.

Wednesday, August 05, 2020

Heartbreaking stories from our prisons

The first is from Coleman (via the Miami Herald):

Tressa Clements pressed her hand to the ICU window and spoke through her tears. “Baby girl, I pray to God you would wake up,” she said to her child, lashed to a ventilator. “I want you to wake up.” That was Sunday evening — the penultimate day of Saferia Johnson life. Johnson, an inmate at the women’s work camp at Coleman Federal Correctional Complex in Sumter County, died the next morning, just after 10. The cause: COVID-19. She was 36. Johnson, a non-violent inmate with two young sons, had petitioned the prison for compassionate release. The warden had rejected the request.

Just days after the first corrections officer in Florida prisons died of COVID-19, a second officer died of the highly infectious disease, which has infected 9,180 inmates and 1,810 officers across the state prison system. Fifty-four inmates have died. Joseph “Joe” Foster, was remembered by family and friends as a devoted husband, father and proud U.S. Army veteran. He was hired by the state Department of Corrections in December 2009. “We called him ‘the enforcer’ because he always took care of everybody,” said Cory Surles, a friend of Foster’s who served alongside him in Germany from 1997 to 1998. Surles confirmed that Foster died Monday night. Surles said Foster, who had a wife of 15 years, two sons and a daughter, was a “family guy” who had a “heart of gold.” His last Facebook posts were about school reopenings, and how he feared the state would be putting children in danger if they sent them back to in-person instruction.

Earlier in the week I highlighted some of the good work being done by our judges in the District on compassionate release (which does not just help inmates but helps prison staff as well). But there are a handful of judges who are refusing to grant any of these motions.  One judge recently said that it would not be fair to the defendants who have served their entire sentences.  (!!!)

Read the above stories... is it fair for someone to be sentenced to death?  To the judges who have not granted these motions, please reconsider your position. Be compassionate. Our criminal justice system hasn't crumbled because Congress passed the First Step Act or because judges are actually granting compassionate release motions.  Judges who are not granting any of the motions filed are being true activist judges -- not following the will of Congress or the people.  Worse, they are allowing defendants and prison staff to die.  Stand up!

Tuesday, August 04, 2020

Lawyering (and judging) during a pandemic

Here's Judge Bob Scola, with defense lawyer Carl Kafka and Assistant State Attorney Carl Kafka Jr.,  Photo cred to Dorothy Kafka.

Monday, August 03, 2020

Is it a good thing for the Supreme Court to be leaking?

William Baude says yes in this Washington Post article and Josh Blackman argues no in this Newsweek piece.  

Baude's intro:  

Some people close to — perhaps even on — the Supreme Court have suddenly lost their aversion to talking to the press. Once described as the “last leakproof institution,” the court had its internal deliberations laid bare last week in a series of remarkable articles by CNN’s Joan Biskupic. Relying on unnamed “sources familiar with the inner workings of the court,” Biskupic provided a play-by-play account of how the justices decided the term’s highest-profile cases; she had some similar scoops last year. This week’s revelations include that the justices originally considered granting only gay, but not transgender, employees civil rights protection in Bostock v. Clayton County, before embracing the broader view; that the newest justice, Brett M. Kavanaugh, urged the court to duck controversial rulings on abortion and presidential tax returns; and that Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. persuaded enough of his colleagues in a copyright case that his initial dissent became the majority opinion. The articles by Biskupic, a former Washington Post reporter, have prompted speculation about whether her sources include justices themselves and have generated consternation among court-watchers concerned about the flouting of long-standing confidentiality norms. “We all find these leaks scintillating,” wrote Josh Blackman of the South Texas College of Law. “But they need to stop. These internal deliberations should remain private.”

And Blackman:

The Supreme Court has turned into a sieve. Last week, CNN reporter Joan Biskupic published a four-part series that revealed the high court's private deliberations. Even worse, the leaks were designed to advance specific narratives about which justices are strong and which are weak. Chief Justice John G. Roberts is all-powerful. Justice Neil Gorsuch appears decisive. Justice Brett Kavanaugh looks weak and ineffective. And Justice Elena Kagan lurks in the background, eager to lend a helping hand to form a moderate coalition. We do not know who leaked the information to the press. It could have been the justices, their law clerks or even allies outside the Court. Frankly, it doesn't matter. These leaks have no doubt destroyed trust and camaraderie on the Court. Relationships will become distant, and the workplace will become even more toxic. There is only one person who can restore order to the Court: Chief Justice Roberts. Alas, I doubt the George W. Bush appointee is up to the task. Roberts fancies himself the second coming of the great Chief Justice John Marshall. Not even close. Instead, now he more closely resembles one of his lesser-known predecessors, Chief Justice Warren Burger. In 1979, Bob Woodward and Scott Armstrong published the groundbreaking book, The Brethren. The reporters interviewed several of the justices and hundreds of Court staff to peel back the curtain. They revealed internal Court squabbles, painted some of the justices as partisans and highlighted Burger's inept leadership. This book tore the justices apart and created distrust for decades. Burger, an ill-suited chief justice, could do nothing to heal those wounds. Roberts now faces an even greater crisis of confidence. Unless he can rise to the occasion, and plug these leaks, the Roberts Court will tear itself apart. A Supreme Court divided cannot stand. If Roberts cannot unite the Court, he must leave it.

If you missed the Cato panel on the vanishing trial, check it out here.  It was a lot of fun for me to be with such a great panel.   

Saturday, August 01, 2020

Vanishing Trial panel

I'm excited to be joining Rachel E. Barkow (@rachelbarkow), Kevin Ring (@KevinARing), and Clark Neily (@ConLawWarrior) for this interesting panel about the Vanishing Trial in America. It's Monday at noon. Here's the link.

In other news, kudos to Judges Middlebrooks and Scola for really taking the lead in this District regarding compassionate release cases. Here's the most recent Middlebrooks order and Scola order

Judge Middlebrooks has, by far and away, issued the most grants and is taking the pandemic crisis in our prisons very seriously.

In the Scola case, Sandra Huarte was originally sentenced to 262 months, but is now free after serving "nine long years." 

Judge Ungaro also issued a grant this week, here.  And it's nice to see that Judge Lenard also got in the game with this order.