U.S. Third Circuit - The FindLaw 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog

Recently in Ethics Category

A large class action law firm has filed a writ of mandamus with the Third Circuit, seeking to prevent a court appointed special master from interviewing its plaintiffs. The firm, Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro, gained prominence due to its role in the $260 billion tobacco settlement in the late 1990s, but recently received sanctions for thalidomide lawsuits which were described as "bad-faith advocacy" which "gives new meaning to 'frivolous.'"

As the cases began to falter, and sanctions began to mount, Hagens Berman sought to dismiss them en masse. That led to the special master seeking to interview the plaintiffs, in order to determine if they had knowingly agreed to abandoned their cases.

2 Judges Sentenced in Philly Traffic Ticket-Fixing Probe

It was the scandal that ended the Philadelphia Traffic Court. Two sitting, three former, and one senior Traffic Court judges, along with a Traffic Court administrator and two businessmen, were indicted in 2013 for their alleged roles in a ticket-fixing ring.

This week, two of those judges were sentenced: ex-Judges Thomasine Tynes and Robert Mulgrew each received prison sentences for offering perjured testimony about their roles in the conspiracy. According to Mulgrew's attorney, the ticket fixing scheme was a decades-long practice that predated all of the defendants, but it is likely no more -- the Traffic Court was disbanded in favor of a new program integrated with the Municipal Court.

'Porngate' Just Became the Greatest Judicial Scandal of Our Time

When "Porngate" first erupted, it seemed like a minor blip, especially the involvement of Justice Seamus McCaffery of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. He sent porn, from a personal email address, to a handful of colleagues in other state offices.

It's porn. From a personal account. None of which seemed to be illegal. What's the big deal?

It's apparently a much bigger deal than we thought, as the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has just suspended Justice McCaffery with pay pending an investigation by the state Judicial Conduct Board. The opinions publicly air a number of grievances, including alleged unethical financial dealings and alleged ticket-fixing for his wife, an alleged attempt to pull a fellow justice into the fray by threatening to leak more emails, and of course, the original emails themselves (which are pretty damn racy).

Oh, and Chief Justice Ron Castille just called Justice McCaffery a "sociopath" in his published concurrence.

New Jersey attorney Andrew Dwyer's practice is focused on representing employees in matters of employment law, and in cases where judges had to assess his legal services, in the context of fee shifting statutes, many judges praised his work.

But what started out as praise turned into a conflict with New Jersey's Committee on Attorney Advertising. Read on to see why the Third Circuit ruled that the Committee violated his First Amendment rights.

N.J. Supreme Court Orders 'Joking Judge' to Get Off the Stage

Vince Sicari, coined the "joking judge" in New Jersey, couldn't win over a tough crowd -- the Supreme Court of New Jersey.

Sicari, a part-time municipal judge, moonlights as a comedian and actor. But New Jersey's Supreme Court wanted the curtains to close. The state's highest court unanimously ordered the joking judge to either quit comedy or step down from the bench.

Can the New Jersey Supreme Court Take a Joke?

We're often told that life is all about choices. Should I stay or should I go? Leave the gun, take the cannoli. Red pill, blue pill.

But pop culture also gives us faith that it's possible to have the best of both worlds. (See Hannah Montana, Star Trek: The Next Generation, and the 2002 Jay-Z/R.Kelley collaboration.)

Which school of thought applies to judges? That's a question for the New Jersey Supreme Court.

Judge Martini Tossed from Another Case for Judicial Bias

Wait… the Paul Bergrin trial wasn’t the only trial that Judge William J. Martini was removed from last week?

Judge Martini was having a really bad Friday last week because he was removed from not one, but two cases on that same day. The Third Circuit Court of Appeals also removed him from U.S. v. Kennedy, which is now in its sentencing phase, reports the New Jersey Ledger.

Judge Removed in Paul Bergrin Trial, New Judge to be Assigned

Is judicial bias an issue in the Third Circuit?

According to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, the reassignment of a case to a different judge is an "extraordinary remedy that should seldom be applied," but recently, the court applied this remedy.

The Third Circuit Court of Appeals issued a ruling on Friday which called into question the impartiality of a federal district court judge in the criminal prosecution of former criminal defense lawyer Paul Bergrin.

The 50-page ruling directed the district court to reassign the matter to a different judge. The matter had previously been heard in the courtroom of U.S. District Judge William Martini.

Judge Removed from Case for Bias, 3rd Circuit Appoints New Judge

If you’ve ever argued in federal court, you know that the judge is a gatekeeper who can make or break your case. So it’s not unusual that an attorney might feel that the judge is leaning towards or against a particular side. But removing a judge isn’t always an option. Recently, however, the Third Circuit considered claims that a judge was biased and had the judge removed from a case.

In a filing on March 28, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit removed U.S. District Court Judge Arthur J. Schwab from a case after lawyers for West Penn Allegheny alleged that he was biased. The lawyers claimed that Judge Schwab exhibited a “worrisome practice of misstating and mischaracterizing” their positions, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.