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July 2009 Archives

Judge Rules Against Mr. Clucky In Chicken Eviction Case

Mr. Clucky, a Miami Beach rooster and his poultry guardian, Mark Buckley, are caught in a fowl-smelling court battle.  You see, this is no ordinary matter: it's a 'chick-evict' case.

Legal feathers are flying in this code enforcement fight brought by the City of Miami Beach.  The City wants Mr. Clucky out of Buckley's residential apartment, charging that he violates a city ordinance that prohibits poultry .  Yesterday's proceeding ended in a dispute over witness testimony -- or rather the lack of it.  Mr. Clucky didn't even get to testify in his own defense, and Buckley is crying foul.

Judge Emmet Sullivan Benchslaps More Prosecutors

Man, I would hate to be a prosecutor walking into District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan's courtroom these days. 

Judge Sullivan has already dismissed a high profile corruption case against former Senator Ted Stevens in April of this because of the "mishandling and misconduct" of the prosecutors in the case.  Sullivan also ordered a criminal contempt investigation into the prosecutor and their actions in a withering opinion that would have brought even the most battle-hardened prosecutor close to tears.

Hoboken's Mayor Resigns: He Coulda Been a Contender

Following his arrest on federal criminal charges by the U.S. Attorney last week in New Jersey's epic corruption scandal, Hoboken Mayor Peter Cammarano, III -- a former election and politics lawyer in private practice -- resigned from office today.

His official web page and bio are gone, replaced by a notice that Dawn Zimmer, Hoboken City Council President and former mayoral candidate, is now Acting Mayor.

In what may be his last offical act on mayoral letterhead, Cammarano wrote Hoboken's City Clerk that he was resigning from office at 12 p.m. on Friday, July 31, 2009.


Imagine you have a corporation that's hemorrhaging money. Shareholder's money, clients money, and money to pay employees and suppliers. What would you do if someone came along with some emergency moolah to save your business?

You'd be tempted to take it.

But if your business lost billions, you laid off thousands of employees, and you received roughly as much money in bailouts from the government, would you still pay employees hefty bonuses? Would you pay 'em billions and billions in bonuses?

Judge Orders Obama Administration to Free Gitmo Detainee

A US district court judge has ordered the release of one of the youngest detainees at Guantanamo Bay after the government agreed that it could no longer hold him.

District Court Judge Ellen Huvelle granted Mohammed Jawad's petition for habeas corpus and ordered the government to file a report on Jawad's release with Congress by August 6.  Under new rules for the release of detainees established by Congress, the Obama administration would have to wait 15 days after filing the report to release Jawad.

A federal appeals court ruled that Amir Oveissi's legal claims for wrongful death and the intentional infliction of emotional distress against Iran and its Ministry of Information and Security ('MOIS,' or 'VEVAK' in Farsi) must be considered under French law, allowing him to potentially hold the country and its security apparatus liable for his grandfather Gholam Oveissi's 1984 assassination of in Paris, France.

Gholam Oveissi was a four-star general and Chief of Iran's Armed Forces under the Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, before the 1979 Islamic Revolution. At Iran's direction, the Iranian-trained and funded Hezbollah terrorist group assassinated Amir Oveissi's grandfather while operating under the nom-de-guerre "Islamic Jihad."

While the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act ('FSIA') grants foreign countries immunity from being sued under, the federal law also makes an exception for state-sponsored terrorism, allowing plaintiffs to seek damages.

A Passport and $44 Million - Ruth Madoff, Where Are You?

With her passport in hand, and husband in the joint, one would think that Ruth Madoff is taking a leisurely vacation in the Carribean or French Riviera.

Wherever she is, the wife of convicted and imprisoned Ponzi schemer Bernard Madoff probably already knows that Madoff bankruptcy trustee Irving Picard just sued her, on behalf of investors, "to recapture at least $44,822,355 in funds that were transferred" from Madoff's bankrupt company direclty to his wife, "or for her benefit"

Holocaust Memorial Museum Shooter's Indictment

A federal grand jury just indicted 89 year-old James Wenneker Von Brunn for the June 10, 2009 murder of Stephen Tyrone Johns, a guard at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.

In addition to first-degree murder charges under D.C. law, the indictment charges Von Brunn with assault, violating federal civil rights laws, committing federal and District hate crimes, and weapons violations.

Will the NRA Shoot Down Sotomayor's Supreme Dream?

The National Rifle Association fired off its first salvo against the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court during the confirmation hearings when it issued a release stating its opinion that Sotomayor had a "hostile view of the Second Amendment and the fundamental right of self-defense guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution."

A week later, the NRA announced in a letter to Sens. Harry Reid (D-NV) and Mitch McConnell (R-KY) that it would factor senators' votes on Sotomayor into its future candidate evaluations.

These candidate evaluations, which essentially rate how pro- or anti-gun the NRA perceives a candidate to be, are very effective tools for mobilizing the NRA's dedicated members to either support or oppose a candidate.  Senators, especially those in Southern and Western states where gun rights are a very emotional and sensitive issue, are terrified of ending up on the wrong side of these evaluations, especially when approaching a closely contested race.

N.C. 'Jihad' Terror Suspects' Prior Criminal Incidents

FindLaw learned that four of the North Carolina terror suspects indicted by a federal grand jury yesterday had previously been arrested by the Raleigh Police Department on charges ranging from intoxication and assaulting a member of the Wake County Sheriff's Office to assaulting a woman.

Daniel Patrick Boyd and his brother were reportedly convicted in 1991 for trying to rob a bank in Pakistan in 1991.  A Pakistani court sentenced Body to a Sharia-like punishment under Islamic law for his offense: having one of his feet and one of his hand's cut off. That sentence was subsequently overturned.

In a vote that stuck to the script laid out by members of the Senate Judiciary Committee over the past few weeks, the Committee split along party lines in recommending Sonia Sotomayor's confirmation to the United States Supreme Court.  The vote was 13-6, with Lindsey Graham (R-SC) the only Republican voting to support Sotomayor's nomination.

The vote, like the hearings themselves, was notable only because of how boring and repetitive it was.  Members of the GOP reiterated their "two Sonias" refrain and repeatedly expressed their concerns that Sotomayor would be a "judicial activist" on the bench.  The Democratic majority stressed Sotomayor's background and achievements, and reiterated again and again that the judge is a judicial moderate with a strong respect for stare decisis.  

They were the same lines - delivered in the same manner - as the hearings, and meant equally as little here as they did during the proceedings two weeks ago.

The two exceptions were remarks by Sens. Arlen Specter (D-PA) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI). 

Terror Indictment Filed Against Seven in N.C.

A federal grand jury in North Carolina indicted seven people on terrorism charges, alleging that North Carolina resident Daniel Boyd is a veteran of terrorist training camps in Pakistan and Afghanistan who, along with six others (including, apparently, two of Boyd's children), conspired to commit violent jihad in support of terrorism, by murdering, kidnapping, maiming and injuring people.

According to federal prosecutors, Boyd also conspired with other North Carolina residents to travel to the Gaza Strip in 2007 and introduce his son Zakariya  to people in Gaza "who also believed that violent jihad is a personal obligation on the part of every good Muslim."

Sessions Will Vote Against Sotomayor

Who didn't see this one coming?

Senator Jefferson Beauregard Sessions (R-AL), the Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, announced his opposition to Judge Sonia Sotomayor's confirmation to the US Supreme Court in an opinion piece in USA Today. 

In the editorial, Sessions doubted Sotomayor's sincerity when she stated her dedication to precedent, repeating the "two Sonias" mantra that Republican senators have been chanting for weeks.

Delaware Sports Lottery and Gambling Lawsuit Screams: Go To Vegas!

The following post and materials were written and compiled by Joel Zand of FindLaw:

Wanna place a bet on your favorite sports team Delaware? Better head to Vegas.

Major League Baseball, the NBA, NFL, NHL, and NCAA just sued Delaware over the state's new Sports Lottery Act, charging that it violates the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act a federal law that that restricts amateur and professional sports betting, in addition to the Delaware Constitution.

You can read the new Delaware sports betting lawsuit here:

Tony Alamo Convicted: Cult Leader's Rape and Sexual Assault Charges

The following post and materials were written and compiled by Joel Zand of FindLaw:

Religious cult leader Bernie Lazar Hoffman a/k/a Tony Alamo, was convicted by a federal jury on charges of rape, sexual assault, and carnal abuse with girls when they were as young as 8, 11, and 12 years-old, and transporting them across state lines.

Show below are copies of a detailed criminal complaint with an FBI affidavit detailing conduct he was charged with, and an indictment filed in June 2009:

Scott Roeder in Kansas Court Next Week on Anti-Abortion Murder Charges

The following post and materials were written and compiled by Joel Zand of FindLaw:

Next Tuesday, accused anti-abortion murder suspect Scott Roeder (inset, right) will be in a Wichita, Kansas court for a preliminary hearing on his murder and aggravated assault charges for the shooting death of Dr. George Tiller, and assault of two parishioners during a Sunday morning church service on May 31, 2009.

This was not Roeder's first trouble with the law, according to Kansas authorities.  He was pulled over and arrested by sheriff's deputies in Topeka for having a DIY license plate, bomb-making materials in his car, driving with a suspended license, and not carrying liability insurance.

What did Roeder's homemade license plate say?

Peter Cammarano, III, the Hoboken, New Jersey Mayor (inset, left and center), and Dennis Elwell, Mayor of Secaucus, New Jersey (inset, right), face high-level political corruption charges, along with more than 40 other people who were also charged with crimes ranging from corruption, extortion, money laundering, illegal money transmitting, to conspiracy to transport human organs.

Cammarano was allegedly caught by the FBI on tape in June telling a government cooperating witness, Solomon Dwek, "I stopped being a lawyer last month, um, hopefully for good." The FBI allegedly recorded a conversation that the Hoboken Mayor had with Dwek in a Hoboken diner where Cammarano is said to have conspired to extort $5,000 from Dwek, and bragged before his election that "[r]ight now, the Italians, the Hispanics, the seniors are locked down. Nothing can change that now. . . . I could be, uh, indicted, and I'm still gonna win 85 to 95 percent of those populations."

New York Man's Subway Train Terror Plot Charges Unsealed

Not only did American-born Bryant Neal Vinas share his knowledge of the New York City subway system and Long Island Railroad with the al Qaeda terrorist group and its members, but he also received 'military-type training' from the terror group for nine months last year, and fired rockets at a U.S. military base in Afghanistan, according to newly unsealed federal charges (below) filed against Vinas in November 2008 and January 2009.

Harvard University Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. retained Harvard Law School Professor Charles J. Ogletree (inset) to represent him after being arrested on disorderly conduct charges by Cambridge police. 

The charges were subsequently dropped against Prof. Gates, but the legal fury over being accused of breaking into his own home, handcuffed and reportedly harassed by local law enforcement in front of his neighbors, may prompt Ogletree to file a civil rights lawsuit on behalf of his new client.

Prof. Ogletree's civil rights litigation history is extensive.  Here is a sample of high-profile and high-impact lawsuits in which he has been involved with over the last decade:

Thomas Daniel (inset) the lawyer hired by Alaska's Personnel Board to investigate an ethics complaint involving Alaska Governor Sarah Palin's legal defense fund set up to help pay the cost of defending allegations of misconduct while in office, confirmed to FindLaw that a copy of his confidential report had somehow become public. Daniel said "I suspect the complainant released it, but don't know for sure."

Eagle River, Alaska resident Kim Chapman filed the ethics compalint against Gov. Palin on April 27, 2009, alleging that Palin's Alaska Fund Trust violated two Executive Branch ethics laws that 1) prohibit using an official position for personal gain, and 2) bar public officials from accepting gifts that seek to influence how official duties are performed. 

"It is a copy of my report," Daniel told FindLaw, but emphasized that "the release was not authorized," and that "there was no deadline" to make it public."  The only person capable of waiving the confidentiality provision to which he remained bound, Daniel stated in his report, is Gov. Palin. 

Companies controlled by Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban were sued by Hillwood Center Partners, LP, holder of a limited partnership with a 7.5% interest in Radical Arena, a Cuban-controlled entity holding the remaining 92.5% interest in roughly one-third stake in the American Airlines Center stadium where the Mavericks play.

The lawsuit accuses Cuban-controlled companies of failing to distribute profits to the arena's owners, and instead "wrongfully divert[ing profits] to the Mavericks to make up for the substantial cash shortfalls" of the team, "personally benefiting Cuban at the expense of Radical Arena and its owners."

Michael Vick Finishes Serving Federal Dogfighting Sentence

Michael Vick, the disgraced Atlanta Falcon's former starting quarterback, completed the terms of his federal sentence on dogfighting charges, appearing in federal court briefly with his attorney Lawrence Goodman to complete probation-related paperwork.

It remains unclear whther Vick will actually return to the N.F.L., however.

A federal judge dismissed the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission's civil insider trading charges against billionaire Mark Cuban today.

Chief Judge Sidney A Fitzwater of the U.S. District Court in Dallas wrote that the S.E.C. failed to plead that Cuban had "a duty to refrain from trading on information about the impending...offering" in search engine operator

Since the securites law at issue did not impose a restriction upon Cuban prohibiting his "trad[ing] on or otherwise us[ing] the information for personal benefit" Judge Fitzwater concluded that Cuban "cannot be held liable under the misappropriation theory of insider trading liability."

The Sotomayor Hearings: What Have We Learned?

Short answer: not that much, really.

At least when it comes to Sonia Sotomayor's potential votes on controversial issues that will likely come before the Supreme Court in her lifetime. 

We learned a lot more about her ability to withstand probing questions from Senators, and we learned that she used to watch a lot of Perry Mason. 

A federal court just dismissed a gay couple's legal challenge to California's Proposition 8 ('Prop 8'), but only as it applies to the State of California, holding that the couple lacked standing (i.e., the legal ability to sue) to sue the State since they were already married.

The U.S. District Court for the Central District of California held that Christopher Hammer and Arthur Smelt's 2008 same-sex marriage remained valid.  The couple was married in California before Prop. 8 passed, but when it was still legally permissble for their marriage to be performed.

A federal appeals court reversed the U.S. government's decision for denying a Muslim scholar's entry into the U.S., holding that Tariq Ramadan was improperly denied an entry visa by a U.S. Consular official without first being given a chance to show that he knew, or should have known, that he donated money to a European charity that gave funds to Hamas, a U.S. State Department-designated terrorist organization.

The ruling (below) sends the case back to the U.S. District court to allow Ramadan to show "by clear and convincing evidence that he did not know, and reasonably should not have known, that the recipient of his contributions was a terrorist organization."

Man, is SDOC the coolest, or what?  I don't know whether it's her themed Halloween pumpkins, her old practice of taking overworked clerks out to the movies, her love of skiing or the fact that her swing vote made her the most powerful woman in America for many years, but I'm rather fond of the former justice.

And that's despite the fact that she's a lifelong Republican, and I'

I think more than anything else, I admire the fact that O'Connor always tried to strike a middle ground between extreme viewpoints on the Court - even though I didn't always agree with the legal conclusions that she reached.  I've always had the impression that O'Connor strove to reach the best decision for the most people, rather than pursuing a narrow ideological goal. 

Superman Makes Bail: The Superhero's NYC Arrest

Superman's arrest by NYPD's finest last Tuesday night raises a host of curious questions.

    • Why did he stage a one-man protest against Donald Trump
    • Did Lex Luthor play a role in the superhero's tragic fall?
    • Where was Lois Lane?
    • Will the Man of Steel be able to put this legal chapter behind him?
It was a mostly unremarkable day in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee. 

Despite a few contentious exchanges between Sonia Sotomayor and Republican senators, the overall theme of the day was one of resignation on the part of the minority party.  Sotomayor's confirmation is all but assured, and all the Republicans could do was repeat their main points around abortion, Ricci and Heller over and over until their allotted time ran out.

Later on, though, when the panels came out, things got a bit more interesting.  The second panel of the day included Frank Ricci and Ben Vargas, two of the firefighters from the Ricci disparate impact case, who testified about their hardships as a result of the case, so everyone was paying attention to what the senators said and did.

The Pez Museum Lawsuit: A Not-So-Sweet Move?

Can you say P.R. nightmare?  The owners of PEZ might be doing just that after filing a trademark infringement lawsuit against the Burlingame Museum of PEZ Memorabilia.

The brouhaha that Swiss-based Patrafico AG and U.S.-based PEZ Candy, Inc. created after attacking this venerable California shrine to its candy dispenser fanatics might actually be working against the company's brand-building efforts.

Here's why.

Seven suspects were apprehended for the murder of Melanie and Byrd Billings, the Pensacola, Florida couple who left a legacy of their passion for adopting special needs children. 

Law enforcement arrest reports (below) detail the execution of the brutal home invasion and robbery that ended with the Billings being murdered, all while eight (8) of their children "with varying degrees of disability [remained] in the residence" during the homicides.

The seven suspects currently in custody include:

Day Three: Humor Makes a Cameo at the Sotomayor Hearings

Maybe everyone was a little punch-drunk from the previous two days of the hearings, or maybe the Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee came to a grim realization that they weren't going to get any gaffes or meltdowns from Sonia Sotomayor during this round of questioning, but there was definitely a more casual air during today's morning session of the confirmation hearings

That's not to say that there wasn't some tough questioning of the judge.  Republicans John Cornyn of Texas and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma had some incisive interrogatories for Sotomayor.  Even Arlen Specter (D - PA) gave the judge a hard time later on in the afternoon session, expressing frustration with her ability to avoid the tough questions.

Weekend at Bernie Madoff's Prison? Read This First

It's a beautiful day in convicted Ponzi schemer Bernard Madoff's new neighborhood.  The disgraced former investment manager is serving his 150-year prison sentence at the Butner Federal Correction Complex in Butner, North Carolina.

Here is a sampling of Bernie's new neighbors, and the answers to frequently asked questions about conjugal visits, gifts, and more.

Justice Breyer at the 2009 Aspen Ideas Festival

The Atlantic's Bob Con interviewed Justice Stephen Breyer at the 2009 Aspen Ideas Festival, and covered several topics, including the confirmation process, Breyer's sense of the living Constitution and the retirement of David Souter.

In one of the more interesting portions of the interview, Breyer discusses the polarization of the Court, and wishes that there weren't such a clear ideological divide between the justices.  He notes that many cases involve the same blocs voting in predictable ways, and expresses his desire for a more unified Court.

Breyer's discussion of the textual life of the Constitution is also informative and convincing, although I doubt his arguments will sway hardcore originalists like Justices Thomas and Scalia if previous conference room debates haven't already.

The biggest thing to come across in the interview, however, is just how personable and cheerful Breyer is.  The justice has the reputation of being the resident optimist on the Court, and that quality really comes through on the interview. 

Being in the minority liberal bloc, I'm sure the ability to spot silver linings is a big help for Breyer.

Federal prosecutors indicted two Somali immigrants living in Minnesota on terrorism-related charges and accusing one man of lying to federal agents. One suspect allegedly told an FBI agent that:

"he did not know anyone on his flight to Somalia in December 2007 when, in fact, he traveled to Somalia together with an individual he knew so that they could fight jihad in Somlia."

A federal grand jury indicted Abdifatah Yusuf Isse a/k/a Omar, and Salah Osman Ahmed a/k/a Salman in February 2009, but the indictment (below) remained sealed until yesterday.

Day Two of the Sotomayor Hearings

With the Senate Judiciary Committee on their lunch break, it seemed like a good time to check in and give a brief recap of the morning's events.

So far, the morning has been going well for Sonia Sotomayor.  While there have been a few moments of tension, she has kept her composure and responded to questions effectively. 

There were two major headlines to emerge from the morning sessions.  First, Sotomayor backed off of her infamous "wise latina" comment, telling the Committee that it was a poor choice of words.

A federal judge in San Jose, California heard arguments today about the constitutionality of the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (18 U.S.C. § 413), a law used to prosecute violent acts of anti-animal research activists.

The defendants were indicted in March 2009 on charges alleging that they conspired to threaten, harass, and intimidate bio-medical researchers at their homes near Berkeley and Santa Cruz, and at animal research facilities on the University of California at Santa Cruz campus.

You can read the federal grand jury indictment here:

Sotomayor Speaks to the Senate

Judge Sonia Sotomayor made her opening remarks to the Senate Judiciary Committee just moments ago, but her statements were not particularly didactic regarding her judicial philosophy.

That's sort of the point, though, since it would be foolish to give the members of the Judiciary Committee any ammunition they could use against her during the questioning that will commence tomorrow.

Sotomayor's comments were brief, and followed ten minutes of introductions by Senators Chuck Schumer (who teared up at one point during his remarks) and Kirsten Gillibrand, both Democrats from New York.  The Judge's comments were both shorter and less detailed than her introductions.  Sotomayor first described her upbringing and early years in the Bronx, and took the time to thank her mother, turning to where she was seated in the first row.

Lunchtime Report on the Sotomayor Hearings

Well, they're finally underway after months of preparation, discussions, arguments and polemical pontifications: the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor have begun. 

And so far, they've been fairly dull.  The most interesting things to happen have been the ejection of an anti-abortion protester and a tiff between the Republican and Democratic sides of the Senate Judiciary Committee over the events surrounding Miguel Estrada's withdrawn nomination to the DC Circuit. 

Also notable, if only for its unusual honesty, was Senator Lindsey Graham's (R - SC) statement to Sotomayor that "[u]nless you have a complete meltdown, you're going to get confirmed."
It's a tradition that all recent Supreme Court nominees have gone through: the torture chamber. 

Before the confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee begin, each nominee undergoes a series of offensive questions, insults and general disrespect from White House staffers, Justice Department attorneys and political strategists.  The exercise is designed to thicken the nominee's skin and get them used to the personalities of the senators who will be doing the questioning when the real confirmations get underway. 

There's no set schedule for the mock hearings, but Bush administration officials report going through 16 all-day sessions that closely tracked the likely schedule of the confirmation hearings.

No one would speak on the record about Sotomayor's exact preparations, though.

But whatever the plans are, it's a safe bet that Sotomayor is sticking to them.  The last nominee to skip out on any of the mock confirmation sessions was Robert Bork, who bombed in his confirmation hearing and had his nomination rejected.

Ring-Ring: Overseas 'Boiler Room' Telemarketing Fraud Calling

A federal grand jury returned an indictment yesterday charging nine people in Israel with operating a 'boiler room' telemarketing lottery scam that targeted elderly victims in the United States.  The wire and mail fraud conspiracy charges allege that unknowing senior citizens were conned into sending millions of dollars for nonexistent sweepstakes lotteries.

Like the Boiler Room movie, this reportedly four (4) year scam suggests there was a high-pressure operation targeting vulnerable victims.

New Court Opinion Hiccup Can Help Cal. DUI Defendants

California's Supreme Court just ruled that defendants charged with DUI crimes can challenge the reliability of breathalyzer tests.

The ruling is a helpful hiccup for Californians and visitors charged with driving under the influence.

Irving PicardBernard Madoff's investment victims filed 15,400 claims through July 2, 2009, having been scammed in "the largest Ponzi scheme ever conducted," according to Irving Picard (inset), the trustee appointed by the U.S. bankruptcy court to manage investor claims in the Madoff bankruptcy.

Picard, a lawyer at Baker and Hostetler LLP, noted that Madoff's cohorts "were actively recruiting more than 1,000 customer accounts and infusing [his] Ponzi scheme with billions of dollars."

Can Madoff's investment victims ever hope to see their money again?

The U.K.'s Premier League Football Assocation and other owners of copyrighted works were dealt an 'offisides' ruling by a federal judge in a class-action case against YouTube and Google.

U.S. District Judge Louis Stanton handed two major 'Goooooaaaallllllls!!!!!' to the defendants. Here's why.

When the Olson-Boies Prop 8 lawsuit first dropped, many gay rights groups opposed the suit as premature.  Now, a few of those groups have changed their tune and are seeking to intervene in the case.

After the frosty reception they gave the lawsuit initially, however, their request to join the lawsuit has met with an equally icy response from the American Foundation for Equal Rights, the group funding the litigation on behalf of the plaintiffs.

Just to refresh your memory, the lawsuit is an equal protection and due process challenge to Proposition 8, the California ballot initiative that amended the state's constitution to prohibit same-sex marriages.  The attorneys hired by the two couples challenging the amendment are the same two who argued on different sides of the Bush v. Gore debacle. 

Ruth Madoff: Oh, the Places She'll Go!

With convicted Ponzi-scheming hubby Bernard "Bernie" Madoff behind bars for the rest of his life, and the government in possession of all but $2.5 million of the couple's cash, U.S. District Judge Denny Chin approved the return of Ruth Madoff's passport.

Just where will she go?

Do you have a federal marriage license? You don't have to be a lawyer to know the answer.

Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley sued the federal government today to remind Congress that the Defense of Marriage Act ('DOMA') is an unconstitutional attempt to interefere with the state's authority to define marriage as it chooses.

After 9/11, federal buildings were supposed to become safer, right? Does that include: failing to detect bomb components, armed guards asleep on the job after taking Percocet©, using government computers to manage a pornography website business, and not seeing a box of weapons at a federal facility's loading dock?

A new GAO report investigating security lapses by guards hired to protect federal buildings found all these security breaches, and more.

Fantasy Football Players Can Yahoo! Over Lawsuit Settlement

Fantasy football players can send their virtual players to summer training camp to run sprints, lift weights, and sweat gallons.

According to a federal court filing dismissing the case, Yahoo appears to have settled the lawsuit it filed against the NFL Players' Association last month over the use of publicly available player statistics in Yahoo's NFL fantasy football game.

One baseball fan snagged over $10,000 in a legal settlement with New York City after he was ousted from Yankee Stadium last summer for trying to take a potty break while 'God Bless America.' was being sung during the seventh-inning stretch.

"I don't care about God Bless America, I just need to use the bathroom," Bradford Campeau-Laurion said he told New York's finest.  Refusing his request, NYPD officers then reportedly manhandled him out of the stadium.

Bradford Campeau-Laurion filed a federal lawsuit against the New York Yankees, N.Y.P.D., and New York City, charging that police violated his civil rights at the August 26, 2008 game against the Boston Red Sox It was Boston's last visit to the old Yankee Stadium.

Sotomayor Unanimously Receives Top ABA Rating

The American Bar Association has given Sonia Sotomayor its highest rating in a unanimous vote as the Senate Judiciary Committee prepares to begin confirmation hearings next week.  The ABA's Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary rated Sotomayor "well qualified" to serve on the Supreme Court in a letter to White House attorney Greg Craig today. 

The ABA bases its ratings on a nominee's professional competence, integrity and judicial temperament.  In order to assess these qualities, each member of the ABA committee, which consists of 15 members, conducts interviews with people in the judicial circuit they represent who has knowledge concerning the professional qualifications of the candidate.

Update on the Olson-Boies Prop 8 Lawsuit

The odd-couple challenge to Prop 8 filed by Ted Olson and David Boies has been getting a lot of press lately, so I thought I would jump in and give a quick summary of what's been going on.  The lawsuit, Perry v. Schwarzenegger, challenges California's ban on gay marriage as an unconstitutional denial of equal protection and due process. 

Perhaps just as newsworthy as the substance of the lawsuit is the team of lawyers who are representing the plaintiffs.  Olson and Boies argued against each other before the Supreme Court in Bush v. Gore - Olson for Bush and Boies for Gore.  Olson later became Solicitor General, and defended the Bush administration's actions and policies before the Supreme Court.
It's never a good time for a judge to have his large, slightly kinky and, for a time, publicly available collection of sexually explicit material written up in the LA Times.  It was an even worse time for Chief Judge Alex Kozinski of the 9th Circuit when the LA Times ran a story detailing the extensive collection of suggestive or explicit images and videos on the judge's personal server.

Kozinski was in the middle of an obscenity trial when the story broke, which, needless to say was deliciously ironic and raised a suspicion that somehow the judge could be biased in favor of the defendants.  As a result of the story, Kozinski had to pause the trial to examine whether or not he should recuse himself.  Eventually he did, at the same time declaring a mistrial. 

Kozinski also asked the Ninth Circuit to conduct an inquiry into the report's allegations about him.  The Ninth Circuit in turn asked Chief Justice John Roberts of the Supreme Court to transfer the matter to another circuit, which he did, moving the investigation over to the Third Circuit. 

You Kent Always Get What You Want

Well, the long national bewilderment is over: Samuel Kent's resignation is in, and the White House has accepted. 

Kent offered his one-sentence resignation last week when officials of the US Senate arrived at the Massachusetts prison where he is serving his 33-month sentence for obstruction of justice to deliver a summons to appear at the upcoming Senate impeachment trial.

The resignation became effective yesterday, and the White House told Kent that it wholeheartedly accepted the news.