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U.S. Tenth Circuit - The FindLaw 10th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog

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The "Borg Cube," as the locals like to call it, opened one week ago. Today was the first trial in the new courthouse. Lets hope the rest of the trials go more smoothly than this one.

During the last of a series of trials for alleged Tongan Crips members, defendant Siale Angilau, 25, allegedly grabbed a pen or pencil and tried to charge the stand. A U.S. Marshall shot him multiple times in the chest. He was removed from the building on a stretcher, in critical condition, while the brand new courthouse is expected to be locked down until Monday afternoon, reports the Salt Lake Tribune.

The big day is here. The first federal appellate case post-Windsor made its way through oral arguments this morning, and it was not without its own wave of drama.

Even before the arguments began, Utah officials backtracked on authority used in their briefs. Then, in oral arguments, the panel seemed to be deeply divided, with two judges sticking to their predicted ideological lines, and a third serving as the wildcard.

As the first of a coming wave of same-sex marriage appeals in this circuit, and many other circuit courts of appeal, this case is important as authority for the remaining cases, as well as a possible vehicle for a Supreme Court appeal.

Utah Court News: District Court Relocation, Upcoming CLE

In case you got caught up in the excitement of the first Utah woman being confirmed to the Tenth Circuit, you may need a reminder about some other important events: The Utah District Court is relocating and the Utah State Bar has an estate planning CLE coming up.

Here's what lawyers need to know:

Judge Carolyn McHugh was nominated to the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit on May 16, 2013. It took nearly 10 months to confirm her, despite her candidacy being non-controversial and supported by Democrats and Republicans alike.

Why did it take so long? Politics, of course.

The Political Landscape of Confirming Judges

Judge Carolyn McHugh was confirmed unanimously on Wednesday (March 12) -- just two days after 34 Republicans voted to block her nomination, reports MSNBC. Republicans and Democrats are pointing fingers at each other, with Democrats on one side blaming Republicans for filibusters and wasting "time and money to annoy Senate Democrats," while Republicans argue that's the only way to show their discontent with the Democrats' "nuclear option" of bringing back majority-rule voting on judicial nominees, reports according to MSNBC.

But, enough about the blame game, let's get to know Judge Carolyn McHugh.

The Criminal Justice Act ("CJA") established a system to provide attorneys to defendants in federal criminal cases who could otherwise not afford legal representation. If you are currently a member of the CJA panel, and are interested in getting more experience, the Standing Committee is currently accepting applications for lawyers to serve on the Standing Committee on the Criminal Justice Act.

CJA Standing Committee Vacancies

The Standing Committee of the U.S. District Court's Criminal Justice Act has announced that it is seeking applications for the Standing Committee, so that it may fill three vacancies. The term for each position on the Standing Committee will begin on approximately April 1, 2014, and lasts three years. Once a member of the Standing Committee, an attorney may serve up to two more terms. The Standing Committee meets at least six times per year, and applicants must be "willing to attend all meetings, and must be prepared to devote significant time to the assigned duties."

Panel Attorneys Rejoice: Pay Rates Restored in Federal Courts

Panel attorneys defending clients in federal criminal cases will have their pay rates restored beginning on March 1, 2014.

The "raise" applies to all districts that use panel attorneys, including the Tenth Circuit. Now hourly compensation for panel attorneys that represent non-capital cases will receive $126 an hour, while capital representations will receive $180 an hour, according to the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado.

The pay increase was authorized by the Executive Committee of the Judicial Conference of the United States on February 10.

Utah and Oklahoma Get Same Judges for Gay Marriage Appeals

Both Utah and Oklahoma will get the same panel of federal judges for their gay marriage appeals as the Tenth Circuit agrees to expedite the cases.

Although the judges will be the same, the oral arguments won't be heard at the same time, The Oklahoman reports. However, briefs will be allowed to be filed jointly.

So could a decision bring gay marriage back to SCOTUS?

Oh, the good ol' Tenth Circuit. For a circuit that covers a geographically large portion of the United States, the case law coming out of there can sometimes not be as compelling as circuits with cities like New York or San Francisco. But, that doesn't mean all Tenth Circuit cases are folly. In fact, when they mean business, they get the whole country's attention.

Tenth Circuit in the News

With Utah's large Mormon population, we suppose it was just a matter of time before a polygamy case was heard. And just in time for the end of 2013, Judge Waddoups of the U.S. District Court for the District of Utah struck down Utah's bigamy statutes' cohabitation provision as unconstitutional.

Meet Utah's New Attorney General, Sean Reyes

Sean Reyes, Utah's new attorney general, is the first ethnic minority to hold a state position in recent memory. Reyes is a Filipino-American with previous political and legal ties to the Utah community, according to The Salt Lake City Tribune.

Reyes was sworn in following John Swallow's resignation over bribery allegations. Although Reyes has been in office for less than a month, he's already making waves for representing Utah in the legal drama surrounding the same-sex marriage ban.

Utah was the 18th state to recognize same-sex marriage -- for a total of 18 days, according to The Wall Street Journal.

In what has been a very busy month, with a dizzying array of motions and orders, the Utah same-sex marriage case, a/k/a Herbert v. Kitchen, has made its way from district court, to the Tenth Circuit, to the Supreme Court, and back to the Tenth.

And while the state of Utah has said that it won't recognize the gay marriages that were legally performed during those fateful 18 days, the federal government had something different to say about the matter.

Whew. Confused yet? Here's a breakdown.