5th Circuit Court News News - U.S. Fifth Circuit
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There's a trend happening: Each federal circuit court of appeals is redesigning its website. Though all of the new sites are visually similar, and perhaps based on a common template or codebase, each has its own pros and cons.

Previously, I wrote a long, hateful rant about the Tenth Circuit's website. Little has changed -- it is still terrible. Most of the other circuit courts' redesigns have gone far more smoothly.

But what about the Fifth Circuit's shiny new website?

Last June, Fifth Circuit Judge Edith Jones was accused of making racist comments about a person's propensity for violent crime and otherwise biased comments about the death penalty. A week later, she was pulled off of a death penalty case.

How about a year later? It turns out that Judge Jones was cleared of any wrongdoing by the Judicial Council of the District of Columbia Circuit (the complaint was transferred out of the Fifth Circuit, for obvious reasons) back in August, though the order was finally made public yesterday after the complainants filed an appeal, reports the ABA Journal.

The conclusion (for now): Jones' racial comments were not about racial predispositions, but were instead about statistics. And the death penalty comments? A mere musing on the viability of certain defenses that rarely succeed.

For a long, long while, we've wondered what was up with the Fifth Circuit's longstanding vacancies. In fact, just last week, I was speculating about the cause of the vacancies (a Democratic president versus two Republican senators) on FindLaw's Strategist blog. Looks like I'm not the only one wondering what's up: A blog post on the Thomson Reuters Legal Solutions blog goes into detail on the vacancies, as well as possible upcoming vacancies that could drastically change the court.

And speaking of change, the Clerk's Office at the Fifth Circuit has announced that starting this Wednesday, there will be none -- exact change is required for cash payments. I thought the announcement and new policy were pretty hilarious and inconvenient, but then the court, responding to jokes at its expense, explained the really good reason behind the change regarding change.

And then there were two (vacancies).

Congratulations to Judge Gregg Jeffrey Costa, who, yesterday, moved from the district court bench to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals after a unanimous confirmation. The filled seat leaves two more vacancies, one from mid-2012, the other from the end of last year, on the Fifth Circuit bench.

Who is this new, and highly uncontroversial judge? Read on, local practitioners:

Volume practices get a bad rap. People assume that just because you move a lot of clients' cases through the system, that you are doing a lesser job on the cases.

Bollocks. Moving a case quickly, or more accurately, efficiently from intake to completion is good for you (because it frees up time for more clients) and great for your client (fewer billable hours, obviously).

Of course, efficiency and volume have to be balanced with diligence, ethics, and customer service. Fortunately, we've got a few resources that can help.

A Texas judge moved closer to a spot on the Fifth Circuit bench after appearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday.

Judge Gregg Costa fielded questions from both sides of the aisle during his nomination hearing in the Committee, with little pushback from either side, The Dallas Morning News reports.

With little political friction, is Costa set to become the next Fifth Circuit Judge?

BP is still fighting with Gulf business owners over the billions businesses feel are owed under the Deepwater Horizon settlement, but the Fifth Circuit may have given BP a wakeup call with a small typo.

On Thursday night, in response to plaintiffs' motion to dismiss BP's request for an en banc rehearing of the settlement issues, the Court mistakenly issued this order -- granting the motion.

Another order quickly filed on Friday vacated the mistaken order, but how did the mix-up happen?

Texas Supreme Court Joins Twitter

In a move that may be emulated by other states' High Courts, the Texas Supreme Court launched its very own Twitter account to tweet its orders.

Debuting in February, the Lone Star State's highest court is available @SupremeCourt_TX, manned by the Texas Supreme Court Clerk's office, Texas Lawyer reported.

What hijinks can we expect from this new Twitter account?

In an attempt to make life easier for its clerks and judges, the Fifth Circuit has started to insert hyperlinks for citations in its decisions.

Three opinions published since Friday, including an immigration case we covered in our last post, have been updated with shiny blue links for each citation.

But do these links actually work?

So you plan on going into the Fifth Circuit for the first time, and you're psyched. It may be an exciting moment for new attorneys or even veteran litigators, but you need to take care of some business before you arrive.

Show up at the Fifth Circuit prepared by completing these three to-do's.