Saturday, November 15, 2008

DoyleReports now moving...

DoyleReports, my initial venture into blogging, has now metamorphosed into Suits & Sentences, the legal affairs blog for McClatchy Newspapers. I expect to have DoyleReports on hiatus, and urge one and all to check out:

Monday, November 10, 2008

Pigford: Lawyers at the Trough

A federal judge is unhappy, again, about how aggressive lawyers -- imagine that! -- are scrambling for a piece of a multi-hundred million dollar settlement with aggrieved African-American farmers.

The settlement in the so-called Pigford litigation was supposed to compensate African-American farmers who faced Agriculture Department discrimination. After the original filing deadline passed, Congress then allowed some 63,000 additional African-American farmers to seek payments of $55,000 each. Separately, the farmers' lawyers were then supposed to get attorney's fees -- but U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman noted at a recent status conference:
I’ve seen the Web sites of some of the law firms, and I don’t like them. I don’t like people saying it’s going to cost you a third of your relief, whatever I get for you, or 20 percent of your relief, whatever I get for you, because that’s not what Congress had in mind."

That's not all. Friedman has expressly warned about the "reasonableness and transparency" of the attorneys' fee agreements; colloquially speaking, some farmers might be getting ripped off. On Friday, Nov. 14, Friedman has summoned the attorneys for a status conference to try to fix things.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Obama's Law Course

Can Barack Obama undo Bush's tangled legal legacy?

By Marisa Taylor and Michael Doyle | McClatchy Newspapers

WASHINGTON — When Barack Obama becomes president in January, he'll confront the controversial legal legacy of the Bush administration.

From expansive executive privilege to hard-line tactics in the war on terrorism, Obama must decide what he'll undo and what he'll embrace.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Jon Kyl: Supreme Nay Sayer

Honeymoon? What honeymoon?

From the Phoenix Business Journal, Nov. 7:
"Jon Kyl, the second-ranking Republican in the U.S. Senate, warned president-elect Barack Obama that he would filibuster U.S. Supreme Court appointments if those nominees were too liberal.
Kyl, Arizona’s junior senator, expects Obama to appoint judges in the mold of U.S Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, David Souter and Stephen Breyer. Those justices take a liberal view on cases related to social, law and order and business issues, Kyl said.
“He believes in justices that have empathy,” said Kyl, speaking at a Federalist Society meeting in Phoenix."

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Kennedy at Duke

Richard Nixon's alma mater gets some Supreme Court lovin'. From the Duke Law School communications office:

Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy will speak at Duke Law School at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 8, during a dedication ceremony celebrating the school’s recent renovation and expansion project.

The complete schedule of events, as well as links to directions and parking information, can be found at RSVPs should be directed to by Monday, Nov. 3.

But here's a quick trivia question: who was the first Duke Law grad to be tapped for a coveted Supreme Court clerkship? The answer, according to a Wikipedia site the subject: Mr. Kenneth Starr. The name rings a bell...

'Fantastic or Delusional'

A gentleman named Edward B. Baltimore may have spoken for many when he sued all three branches of the federal government and all the 50 states; wrote Mr. Baltimore, the myriad defendants have:
"failed knowing(ly) conspiring to deprive, oppress, maim, torture, torment and compromise the lives of people citizens of the world and have molested the minds of infants and newborns."

Which pretty much sums it up, I think. But in an opinion made public Thursday, U.S. District Judge James Robertson dismissed Mr. Baltimore's lawsuit as based on "fantastic or delusional scenarios." Both, I think.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Nude, Live Law

Nude dancing girls populate the Play Pen and the Pig Pen alike.
There the resemblance ends.
The Play Pen Gentlemen's Club is in East Los Angeles. The name, I think, says it all. The Pig Pen is in Los Santos, part of the virtual world of Grand Theft Auto. As Judge Diarmuid F. O’Scannlain put it in a 9th Circuit Court of Appeals opinion issued Wednesday:
"Not especially saintly, Los Santos is complete with gangs who roam streets inhabited
by prostitutes and drug pushers while random gunfire punctuates
the soundtrack."
Sounds like East Los Angeles, right? But In an entertainingly written opinion, the 9th Circuit panel dismissed the claim by the proprietors of the Play Pen that the makers of Grand Theft Auto infringed on the strip club's trademark -- even though the computer game makers did draw some of their inspiration from photographs they had taken of the East L.A., err, milieu. Writes O'Scannlain:
"Both San Andreas and the Play Pen offer a form of lowbrow
entertainment; besides this general similarity, they have
nothing in common. The San Andreas Game is not complementary
to the Play Pen; video games and strip clubs do not
go together like a horse and carriage or, perish the thought,
love and marriage."

Nicely put, Judge!
See more at:$file/0656237.pdf?openelement

Gimbernat's Ligament

The mystery of Gimbernat's Ligament must be solved!
A gentleman named Antonio Gimbernat sued the federal government, ultimately going to U.S. Court of Federal Claims with an array of charges and a demand for $100 million. Many charges revolved around his 1987 discharge from the Navy. Mr. Gimbernat contends he was "singled out" by a Navy company class leader and at the age of 17 was "forced to call himself a homosexual;" in time, he said, this treatment caused "severe emotional and mental harm...dependence on alcohol, drug abuse, and numerous altercations with law enforcement."
But that's not all. Mr. Gimbernat further claimed he was "entitled to receive “inheritance royalties” due to his ancestor’s discovery of “Gimbernat’s Ligament.” Which sounds like it could be the next DaVinci Code, doesn't it?
Claims Court Judge Emily Hewitt didn't touch that one and, in fact, dismissed in her new ruling the entirety of Mr. Gimbernat's suit.
The very useful web site
sheds a bit more light on this Gimbernat's Ligament, which evidently honors a Mr.
Don Manuel Louise Antonio de Gimbernat y Arbos
who is a 17th century gent; like I say, this Hollywood should snap this baby right up...

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Spy Games

The CIA deceives our nation's enemies, which is a good thing.
But it better draw the line at federal judges.
On Tuesday, in what can only be described as a judicial spanking, D.C.-based U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler denounced the CIA's "highly misleading representations" and "extraordinary misbehavior" in a Freedom of Information Act case filed by the National Security Archive. Kessler, who sounds awfully ticked to me, further declared that the CIA's "past actions strongly suggest that their alleged misconduct will recur;" consequently, she emphatically sided with the archive in its revived lawsuit.

The case arises from the National Security Archive's efforts to be treated as a news media organization for the purpose of filing FOIA requests. The CIA twice agreed to do so. The CIA agreed to treat the archive as a news media organization, wrote a letter apologizing for not doing so -- and then, Kessler noted, "immediately resumed its practice of denying the archive news media status." Since the CIA can't be trusted to do the right thing on its own, Kessler concluded, she agreed to revive the archive's original lawsuit and order the CIA to follow the law.

Effing Brilliant, Part Deaux

Associate Justice Antonin Scalia said the G-Word on Tuesday.
And that word, of course, is "golly waddles."
I think it's a neologism.
Amazingly enough, the Supreme Court on Tuesday spent an entire hour discussing indecent language without anyone using the words in question. Instead, during what proved to be a pretty darn lively oral argument in the case FCC v. Fox Television, justices and attorneys alike preferred the terms "F-word" -- 16 separate times -- and the "S-word." Bor-ring.
But that's not to say the oral argument was entirely devoid of spicy language. Not at all. Justice Scalia, for one, offered up the term "golly waddles" as a, well, as a fanciful euphemism I guess you would call it.
And let us not ignore:
Justice Stevens used the word "dung." As in, the S-word without the S.
Justice Souter used the word "prong." As in, the three-prong test that right at this very moment sounds extra salacious.
And, my personal favorite, Solicitor General Gregory Garre's ominous warning that loosened decency standards could lead to "Big Bird dropping the F-bomb on Sesame Street."
All of this delicacy should be no surprise. After all, an earlier DoyleReports Special Investigation revealed that a majority of the amicus briefs filed in the dirty words case avoided using the words themselves. Of seven amicus briefs filed in support of the FCC's zip-your-lip position, only Morality in Media used the swear words. The others, filed by the likes of the National Religious Broadcasters, prefer circumlocutions.
Of course, if I was smart, I would use the words in this post and thereby optimize search results...McClatchy story in full at