Thursday, July 27, 2006

Andrea Yates Verdict.

As has been reported and discussed all over the web, the jury in Andrea Yates' retrial in Texas yesterday returned a verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity.

Instead of rehashing and discussing it here, I'll just point you over to TalkLeft and THIS post. There's a relatively lively discussion going on there in the comments about whether this was a "just" verdict or not.

Personally, I don't know if it was the right verdict or not. I don't know if she truly was insane at the time, or not. If she was, then this was a just verdict; if not, it wasn't. According to a New York Daily News article, a New York psychiatrist who testified in the case is predicting she'll be released soon, no spending years in a mental institution:

Yates, 42, will be committed to a state mental hospital until a judge deems her well enough to be released.

But New York forensic psychiatrist Dr. Michael Welner - who interviewed Yates in May as the prosecution's lead expert - predicted that she would be released quickly because her disorder is being well-managed.

"I expect she will be home soon," Welner said.

Welner, of NYU's School of Medicine, said he respected the jury's "difficult decision" but disagreed with the verdict.

"There's a tremendous amount of evidence supporting the fact that she knew what she was doing was wrong," he said.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Gay Marriage in Nebraska

Last week, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals issued an opinion reversing a previous district court opinion which had struck down a Nebraska constitutional amendment defining marriage as being only between a man and a woman. The 8th Circuit held that the issue was entitled only to rational basis scrutiny, not any heightened level of scrutiny, and held that the federal Equal Protection Clause was not violated.

ACS Blog (July 14, 2006)
Legal Reader (July 14, 2006) (May 12, 2005) (covering District Court opinion)
Kierkegaard Lives (May 23, 2006) (Gay Marriage No-Win for Bush Administration?)

Thursday, July 13, 2006

UPDATE: Porco Murder Trial in New York

As I recently blogged about HERE, there are some fascinating legal issues raised in a New York murder trial of a man accused of murdering his father and leaving his mother disfigured*; his father was a New York appellate court clerk.

The trial is currently going on, and you can follow the progress at The Porco Trial Blog. The trial has been delayed on a couple of occasions already due to deaths in the families of Porco's defense team, and one of his attorneys has just undergone heart surgery. Last week the prosecution indicated that it could take as long as 5 weeks for the prosecution to get through its case.

Stay tuned, and I'll update when there's more of specific interest to discuss.

*...edited 8/16/06. I inadvertently originally typed here that he was accused of murdering "his parents" when he was actually only accused of murdering his father, while his mother survived the attack. In response to comments, I am editing the post for accuracy.

Shaming Sentences.

A compilation of posts about shaming sentences over at Sentencing Law & Policy.

The Coulter Plagiarism Story.

If you have any interest in the story about Ann Coulter being a huge flaming blatant plagiarist (which really shouldn't surprise anyone), go check out this story over at Concurring Opinions.

Then, go over to Crooks and Liars and listen to the MP3 of Adam Carolla hanging up on her after she called in an hour and a half late and then told Carolla she was short on time. It's good stuff.

Infamy or Praise on Air Frivolity.

Being a huge basketball fan and a huge Michael Jordan fan, I just can't let this recent post over at Infamy or Praise go without comment.

Apparently some guy in Portland is suing Michael Jordan and Nike founder Phil Knight for $832 million because "he's been mistaken as Michael Jordan nearly every day over the past 15 years and he's tired of it." The plaintiff is apparently trying to use defamation as his theory of recovery.

Perhaps the most ridiculous and humorous part of this story is the plaintiff's claim that "Even when I go to the gym I'm accused of playing ball like him (Jordan)." Right.

Needless to say, this claim was filed without the assistance of an attorney. Hopefully because every attorney in the state of Oregon politely told this guy not to let the door hit him in the a$$ on the way out.

Other links:
Oregon TV online story.

UPDATE 8/2/06:
Kierkegaard Lives Update 8/2/06.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Appellate Practice in Nebraska

A friend of mine has an article in this month's edition of The Nebraska Lawyer Magazine, a publication of the Nebraska State Bar Association. The article, "Appellate Practice in Nebraska: A Primer, focuses on ideas for more effective oral and written appellate advocacy. The article is an excerpt based on a longer article that was published in Creighton Law School Law Review last fall, titled "Appellate Practice in Nebraska: A Thorough, Though Not Exhaustive, Primer in How To Do It and How To Be More Effective, 39 Creighton L.Rev. 29 (2005).

If you're involved in appellate practice, in Nebraska or elsewhere, you might find some useful information and resources by checking out these resources.

Thanks to the following blogs for linking to this post about the article:
Appellate Law & Practice (July 7, 2006)
The Legal Reader (July 11, 2006)
Legal Writing Professors Blog (July 12, 2006)

New Law Faculty Blog: Georgetown Law

The law faculty at Georgetown Law have begun a group blog: Georgetown Law Faculty Blog. Among the ten contributors is Marty Lederman, a regular contributor to such other law blogs as SCOTUSBlog and Balkinization.

Hergert Impeachment Trial: Verdict: Guilty.

The Nebraska Supreme Court released its opinion in the Hergert Impeachment case today. The Supreme Court convicted him of two impeachable offenses and ordered Hergert removed from office.

According to the Supreme Court:

[I]n the primary and general elections, Hergert intentionally manipulated and violated Nebraska's campaign finance laws, in a scheme to prevent his opponents from receiving public campaign funds. . . . During the campaign and, significantly, after he took office, Hergert intentionally filed false reports of campaign spending in an attempt to cover up his conduct. Hergert's various explanations for his actions contradict one another and are not believable.

You can read the full opinion HERE.

Nebraska State Paper, July 7, 2006

Kierkegaard Lives Daily Impeachment Trial Coverage:
Day One Coverage.
Day Two Coverage.
Day Three Coverage.
Day Four Coverage.
Day Five Coverage.

Other Links:
Kierkegaard Lives, May 4, 2006 (discussing arguments on Hergert's Motion to Dismiss).
Kierkegaard Lives, April 28, 2006 (discussing pending impeachment trial).

Nebraska Supreme Court Case Site (with .pdf copies of filings in the case)

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The Legal Reader on Judicial Antics

A series of recent posts over at The Legal Reader have discussed various recent judicial antics, primarily "naughty" judicial antics:

The Exposure of Judge Thompson (Oklahoma)

The culmination of the publicity about Judge Donald Thompson in Oklahoma and his conviction on each of four counts of indecent exposure while on the bench came with this post and this post. It's probably never a good thing when you, as a judge, are on trial for indecent exposure on the bench and your trusted court reporter testifies to having seen your penis at least 15 times, having seen you urinate into a wastebasket during trials, and having seen you shave your scrotum on the bench during closing arguments of a murder trial. More on this story (if you need it) here.

The Suspension of Judge Subryan (New Jersey)

Judge Randolph Subryan received a two month suspension for kissing a law clerk who did not want to be kissed. In addition to the suspension, the state paid out a $300,000 settlement for the related sexual harrassment suit. Expensive kiss.

The Forced Apology of Judge Downey (Florida)

Judge Brandt C. Downey III received a public reprimand and must retire at the end of his term -- and he must sign a letter of apology to fellow judges and the public. Why? Because he admitted to viewing porn on the computer in his chambers, repeatedly, after being warned to stop.

But before we stop with all these "naughty" judicial antics, let's also point out a good story:

Successful DWI Justice

Judge James Dehn in Minnesota has had success with DWI cases by developing a way to reach some of the state's most dangerous drunken drivers and cut their repeat offenses in half. His technique includes imposing jail sentences to be served over two years, in the months of July and December. If the defendant can appear before the judge and convine him they've been sober, he suspends the month in jail. And it seems to be working.