Paul Barrett at Bloomberg BusinessWeek:
Judge Edith Brown Clement is waving her arms, jumping up and down —- heck, doing everything but setting her office furniture on fire —- to draw the attention of the U.S. Supreme Court to the zany goings on in New Orleans concerning BP (BP) and its oil spill liability. … She probably won’t succeed, but her exertions are both colorful and edifying. …
“The class of people who will recover from this settlement continues to include significant numbers of people whose losses, if any, were not caused by BP,” Clement wrote [in her dissent from an en banc Fifth Circuit rebuff of the oil company]. “Our courts’ decisions would allow payments to ‘victims’ such as a wireless phone company store that burned down and a RV park owner that was foreclosed on before the spill.” Those are real examples she’s pointing to, not law school exam hypotheticals.
“These are certainly absurd results,” Clement continued. “And despite our colleagues’ continued efforts to shift the blame for these absurdities to BP’s lawyers, it remains the fact that we are party to this fraud.” Clement is willing to acknowledge that in its desperation to avoid a trial, the company’s attorneys agreed to a loosey-goosey, uncapped settlement. Maybe those lawyers deserve to be fired. But having created an opportunity for a plaintiffs’ bar feeding frenzy, BP should not be punished by having its corporate treasury ransacked with the approval of the federal judiciary, she added.
Whole thing here.
A big win for the oil company before a Fifth Circuit panel, fighting what it says is systematic large-scale fraud in the Gulf Coast spill economic-damage settlement. [Bloomberg News, earlier here, here, etc.]
EEOC v. Boh Brothers is a new Fifth Circuit en banc decision allowing liability on a theory of hostile workplace environment sex discrimination arising from crude and aggressive locker-room banter in an all-male workplace (on facts differing somewhat from those in Oncale v. Sundowner, the 1998 Supreme Court case countenancing such liability). The dissent by Judge Edith Jones, p. 46 at footnote 3, cites my “Sentence First, Verdict Afterward,” from the July issue of Commentary magazine, on the federal government’s unhealthy interest lately in developing legal doctrines that pressure private institutions into adopting speech codes aimed at protecting listeners’ sensitivities.
Don’t miss the “Etiquette for Ironworkers” parody legal memo on p. 58, either. How many dissents include a parody legal memo?
The good, the bad, and the beyond belief:
- “Ten Commandments” judge no favorite with business defendants: “Trial lawyers putting their campaign cash behind Roy Moore for Alabama chief justice” [Birmingham News via Charlie Mahtesian, Politico; same thing twelve years ago]
- From James Taranto, a brief history of Supreme Court leaks [WSJ "Best of the Web," mentions my Daily op-ed]
- Pennsylvania: Judge’s swearing-in ceremony “was filled with appreciation to those who helped him get elected, including some convicted felons” [Judges on Merit; Walter Phillips, Philadelphia Inquirer]
- Roberts just carrying forward the Frankfurter-Bickel-Bork tradition of judicial deference? [Steven Teles, Carrie Severino, further Teles] Ted Olson on just-finished Supreme Court term [FedSoc and video]
- Columnist-suing attorney doesn’t lack funding in race for appellate judgeship in Illinois’ Metro-East [Chamber-backed Madison County Record]
- Study: SCOTUS Justices time their resignations depending on political party of President [James Lindgren, Volokh]
- Alameda County judge charged with elder theft, perjury [The Recorder]
- Profile of 5th Circuit’s Edith Jones; law wasn’t her first career choice, and Cornell riots influenced her path [Susanna Dokupil, IWF]
People are talking about the Fifth Circuit’s opinion (written by Judge Jerry Smith) in the “disgruntled cheerleader mom” case:
Reduced to its essentials, this is nothing more than a dispute, fueled by a disgruntled cheerleader mom, over whether her daughter should have made the squad. It is a petty squabble, masquerading as a civil rights matter, that has no place in federal court or any other court. We find no error and affirm.
Hello? Guantanamo? It’s not as if you’d expect any sort of consistent policy on these matters from the imaginatively named Alliance for Justice. But it’s still strange that they’d open the door to future attacks on their own favored judicial nominees based on clients they represented long before reaching the bench. [Joel Cohen and Katherine Helm/Law.com, NLJ] More: John Steele at Legal Ethics Forum takes a different view, and I comment.
I can’t say I’ve made a study of Judge Graves’ overall career as a jurist in the Mississippi state courts, but if his record presiding over the notorious O’Keefe v. Loewen trial is at all typical, his wouldn’t exactly be a name high on my list. [AP/Law.com]
USA Today on the Fifth Circuit’s recent ruling on a Katrina case, Comer v. Murphy Oil. More on the case at Point of Law here, here, and here.
Protect “a letter to [a] girlfriend [stating] that a prison officer had sex with a cat” but do not protect mailing a prosecutor “a note written on toilet paper” saying “Dear Susan, Please use this to wipe your ass, that argument was a bunch of shit! You[rs] Truly, George Morgan.” (Morgan v. Quarterman (5th Cir. 2009)). W.C., sending us the case, comments, perhaps only semi-facetiously:
(i) He said “very truly yours.” Maybe he was trying to help her. He was at least sincere.
(ii) I wouldn’t mind doing a similar stunt to opposing in a case I have currently. I too would do so from a helpful perspective. Is that so wrong?
And Larry Ribstein reasonably asks: What about Jeff Skilling?
And a Fifth Circuit panel eats him alive.