5th Circuit People and Events News - U.S. Fifth Circuit
U.S. Fifth Circuit - The FindLaw 5th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog

Recently in People and Events Category

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.

The case? Thomas Roque v. Natchitoches Parish School Bd., in which Roque is alleging that he was denied a school superintendent position because of race-based discrimination.

During oral arguments for the case, Roque's attorney David Broussard got a quick lesson in Fifth Circuit appellate advocacy, courtesy of Fifth Circuit Judge E. Grady Jolly and District Court Judge Lance M. Africk (sitting by designation) in the form of a double bench-slapping.

Why? One word: interrupting. (H/T to Above the Law and NMissCommentor)

In a 153-page order issued today, a federal district judge in Louisiana ruled that the Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill was the result of BP's recklessness. Heightening BP's culpability from negligence to recklessness could subject it to even greater fines.

Judge Carl Barbier's memorandum contains copious findings of fact and conclusions of law, the end product of two bench trials lasting eight months and consisting of In re Triton Asset Leasing GmbH, a suit consisting of thousands of civil claims, as well as impleader and interpleader actions by the various business entities involved with Deepwater Horizon, and United States v. BP Exploration & Production Inc., a suit against BP for civil penalties under various federal statutes.

If you want to form a general purpose political action committee in Texas that promotes a particular point of view, you first need to: (1) Appoint a treasurer and register with the Texas Election Commission, (2) collect contributions from 10 contributors, (3) wait 60 days before exceeding $500 in contributions and expenditures, and (4) never accept contributions from corporations unless your PAC engages only in independent expenditures.

On appeal, the Fifth Circuit upheld the treasurer requirement and (surprisingly) the ban on corporate contributions. However, it found the 60-day, $500 limit and the 10-contributor requirement unconstitutional.

Even though Texas generally outlaws gambling, it does allow bingo halls to operate, subject to some restrictions. One of these is that bingo halls can't use their proceeds from bingo for political advocacy.

A group of nonprofit organizations licensed to conduct bingo sued the state lottery commission, alleging that the restrictions unconstitutionally burden their freedom of speech.

After Citizens United, SpeechNow.org, and McCutcheon, the stage is set for the next great challenge to political advocacy restrictions -- plus, there's bingo. And everyone loves bingo.

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.

Tom DeLay may avoid prison for money laundering after all, especially after a ruling late last week by a Texas appellate court to overturn his conviction.

According to The Washington Post, the disgraced former U.S. House Majority Leader was "on [his] knees praying" at the National Prayer Center in D.C. when he received the news.

The saga of DeLay's criminal charges has lasted almost a decade since his indictment. Will this be its final chapter?

If anyone can remember law school, did you have a paper that was sent back to you with the damning message "REDO" or "See Me" in fat red ink on the title page?

Well, the Fifth Circuit's decision in U.S. v. Citgo is pretty much their version of that, spanking the Western District of Louisiana court for failing to do the admittedly complicated analysis required to calculate damages from a 2006 Citgo oil spill.

Evidently, even federal courts can be called to task for doing lazy legal analysis.

SCOTUS Rejects Latest Jeffrey Skilling Appeal

Former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling is one of the most hated men in Houston. He's not getting much love from the Supreme Court either.

Monday, the Supreme Court denied Skilling's petition for review of judge's "harmless" error in Skilling's trial. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals previously rejected Skilling's appeal, finding that the jury was presented with "overwhelming evidence that Skilling conspired to commit securities fraud," The New York Times reports.

Fifth Circuit Law Schools Make Best Bar Passage Rate List

Law school isn't the certain path to financial stability and happiness that our parents believed it would be. Increasing numbers of law school grads are discovering that a life of discovery isn't all that it's cracked up to be, and leaving billables behind for greener pastures -- even if it means less green in the bank.

But before making a decision to quit practicing, a lawyer has to start practicing law, which means passing the bar.

The National Jurist, a publication that describes itself as "the voice of legal education," recently released its list of the top 50 best schools for bar exam preparation. Interestingly, all three Fifth Circuit states have schools on the list, and Louisiana State University's Paul M. Hebert Law Center is ranked first.