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This Week in D.C.: Nominees, 'The Wire', and Broken Links

Sometimes the D.C. Circuit hits a bit of a slump, some legal doldrums in which no racy or hard- hitting opinions are released and the political forays are just business as usual.

In times like these, it can be prudent to do a nice flyby of the issues that have passed through the D.C. Circuit in the last week, and hope for some fairer legal trade winds in the future.

Nominee Wilkins Gets Softer Hearing

After the grilling that the Senate Judiciary Committee gave Nina Pillard in early September, many suspected that D.C. Circuit nominee Robert Wilkins would be given a good raking over the coals by conservatives on Wednesday.

Apparently the Committee is saving the real fire for the full Senate, as Senators Grassley (R-IA), Whitehouse (D-RI), and Leahy (D-VT) simply "submitted [their usual] arguments for the record" and gave Wilkins a relatively easy hearing, reports Blog of Legal Times.

The only strangely intense moment came from Sen. Grassley's insistence that Wilkins make comment on statements concerning reproductive rights made by fellow nominee Pillard, reports The Huffington Post. Wilkins wasn't successfully baited by Grassley; Wilkins simply refused to recognize the quote out of context and reaffirmed his support of Supreme Court precedent on the issue.

Criminal Appellants Love "The Wire"

Turns out that effusive praise about the hit HBO show "The Wire" doesn't just come from your neighbor, close friends, and co-workers. It also ironically comes from defendants convicted of trafficking heroin after being surveilled by the FBI.

The appellant, Elohim Bey Cross, argued that despite his incredible love of "The Wire" -- especially season three -- he was unfairly prejudiced by the jury not being instructed to consider his relationship in distributing the heroin as a separate conspiracy apart from the larger heroin trafficking operation.

Despite Cross' protests, the D.C. Circuit couldn't find any evidence of prejudice in his briefs, and the standard for prejudicial error in these sorts of cases being what it is, the court did not see the risk of "spillover" between conspiracies as enough to overturn Cross' conviction.

D.C. Circuit Broken Links

At FindLaw, we are fairly familiar with the websites of the 13 U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeal. So, it came as a bit of a surprise this week when we confirmed that the main portal for the D.C. Circuit had a broken link to its Opinion Locator.

The landing page for recently released opinions is still discoverable via Google, but the link offered by the official D.C. Circuit page is broken.

Maybe some overworked clerk had promised to update the page, or maybe the D.C. Circuit has been the lowest level victim of the Syrian Electronic Army? Either way, let's hope that next week things are back to normal.

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