Interview With Founder of SCOTUSBlog

by Lee Gesmer on August 15, 2012

If I could take only one legal blog with me to a desert island, it would be SCOTUSBlog.  (OK, don’t make fun of me).

Seriously, this blog — devoted entirely to the Supreme Court of the United States (“SCOTUS”) — is a fantastic legal resource.  Everything of interest relating to cases before the Supreme Court is collected here: cert. petitions, briefs, decisions and commentary.  There’s a lot going on at the Supreme Court, and this blog collects and organizes all of it.  It has become an indispensable resource for court-followers. In fact, as Mr. Goldstein notes, people within the Supreme Court (presumably law clerks) access the site hundreds of times a day.

The morning the Supreme Court released its decision on the Affordable Care Act this site was the go-to resource for people all over the world.  It even got the ruling right the first time.

Here’s a link to a GoverningWorks interview with Tom Goldstein (video and text but, irritatingly, in five parts, with more to come), founder of SCOTUSBlog, discussing why the blog was created, how it has evolved, the challenges it presents for Mr.… Read the full article

How to (or Not to) Write for the Supreme Court

by Lee Gesmer on May 20, 2011

How to (or Not to) Write for the Supreme Court

“I’m sorry this letter is so long, I didn’t have time to make it shorter.”
George Bernard Shaw

Non-lawyers see lawyers arguing before judges on television and in the movies, and they get the mistaken impression that oral argument is the heart and soul of lawyering.  In fact, it’s not.  Most judges based their decision on a careful reading of the legal briefs submitted to them.  That’s particularly true of the Supreme Court, where each side to a case may spend hundreds or thousands of hours preparing their written briefs, and get all of 30 minutes per side for oral argument.  This wasn’t always the case – until the mid-1800’s the time for argument was unrestricted, and could go for days.  In 1849 the time per side was limited to two hours.  This was reduced to one hour in 1925, and 30 minutes in 1970.  And, as Justice Alito recently noted, half of the words spoken during those 30 minutes are spoken by the Justices themselves, while questioning the lawyers.… Read the full article

Judge Young, Bulger/Flemmi and "The Government - Our Government"

U.S. Federal District Court Judge William Young has issued a lengthy decision, awarding $2.7 million in damages to the estates of three people murdered by James J. Bulger, Stephen J.

Flemmi, and their associates.  Judge Young describes the story as “harrowing,” which may be an understatement.

The key defendant in this case is the U.S. Government, which will foot the bill if the decision survives appeal.

Here are some quotes, pulled from the opinion, which is linked in all of its gory detail at the bottom of this post.  Judge Young:inst

Despite years of legal wrangling and an extensive factual
record, at its core this is a very simple case. Federal Bureau
of Investigation (“FBI”) agents actively protected a group of
murderers from apprehension and prosecution in order to use them as informants against La Cosa Nostra. The agents did this over a span of nearly twenty years, despite being on notice that their informants were killers and would, and indeed did, continue to murder.

Read the full article

Here is a link to Judge Judith Fabricant’s recent decision in Stein v. Clinical Data (reported on the front page of the November 30, 2009 Mass Lawyer’s Weekly), where she found that the plaintiff had destroyed evidence.  Judge Fabricant sanctioned the plaintiff in this case by dismissing his case and ordering him to pay almost a quarter of a million dollars in attorney’s fees and costs to the defendant.  These cases are relatively rare (since the party who destroys evidence rarely is caught), but the consequences to the party who engages in this kind of conduct can be devastating.

Stein v. Clinical Data (SpoilatIon)Read the full article