Thursday, May 27, 2010

Congratulations to the Class of 2010


Congratulations to the Class of 2010 as you embark on your legal careers. I'd like to recommend two inspirational books for lawyers. The first is by Hugh Duvall, a practicing lawyer and adjunct professor at University of Oregon School of Law. His book, The Lawyer's Song, is a book of wisdom for lawyers told through the story of a wilderness guide in 1842 Oregon. One reviewer described it as "Red Bull for the fatigued lawyer". It was published earlier this year by Dog Ear Publications. The second is also a lawyer's book of wisdom, The Reflective Counselor: Daily Meditations for Lawyers, by F. Gregory Coffey and Maureen C. Kessler, published by the American Bar Association in 2008. My very best wishes to all of you. Enjoy the Commencement ceremony.

Friday, May 21, 2010

US Senate Passes Financial Reform Bill

The United States Senate passed a major financial reform bill on Thursday, May 20. It provides for a new consumer protection division in the Federal Reserve Bank, as well as a new regulatory council to monitor financial institutions. A summary of the legislation may be be found on the THOMAS website at the Library of Congress.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

New features for PACER and U.S. Courts site

If you track new developments in the federal courts such as rulemaking issues, you spend a fair amount of time on the site www.uscourts.gov. The site was re-designed recently and now offers video and audio podcasts on a variety of topics. PACER has been revamped as well. The new PACER site is www.pacer.uscourts.gov. One notable change is the highlighted access to digital audio recordings from the court. While selected bankruptcy courts were involved in a pilot program for loading audio recordings of court hearings for the last several years, the service was not well publicized.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

New Entrance at the United States Supreme Court

Visitors to the United States Supreme Court, including litigants and their attorneys, must now enter through a side door. Last week the court announced via press release that visitors to the Court will no longer be able to enter the building through the doors at the top of the front steps, although they may still exit the building that way, due to security concerns. Justice Breyer wrote a dissent from this press release that was joined by in by Justice Ginsburg which was printed in the Supreme Court Journal lamenting that the main entrance to the Court at the top of 44 steps and under the sign "Equal Justice Under Law" was "not only a means to, but also a metaphor for, access to the Court itself."

Monday, May 10, 2010

Justice Stevens, Shakespeare and Statutory Construction

Feeling just a tad nostalgic, I'm taking the opportunity to highlight a law review article by Justice John Paul Stevens which appeals to literary scholars as much as to legal scholars. In his article The Shakespeare Canon of Statutory Construction, 140 U. Pa. L. Rev. 1373 (1991-1992), Justice Stevens applied five canons of statutory construction to the famous set of Elizabethan plays to argue that Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford, actually wrote the plays instead of William Shakespeare. Clicking on the title to this blog entry will take you to an abridged version of Stevens's interesting and wryly humorous article. The article is available in full on HeinOnline, JSTOR, Westlaw and LexisNexis.

Monday, May 3, 2010

When Judges Google

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals was recently faced with an unusual appeal in which a criminal defendant raised an intriguing question about the limits on what perspectives a judge can properly bring to bear on the bench. In United States v Bari, No. 09 1074-cr, 2010 WL 1006555 (2d Cir. Mar. 22, 2010), the 2nd Circuit considered whether then-District Judge Denny Chin (now on the 2nd Circuit bench) erred in a supervised release revocation hearing in considering information confirmed by the court's own Internet searching. In other words, can a judge confirm his own hunches by Googling?