Welcome! We would like you to join our community as we promote study of, and debate regarding, the professional responsibility of lawyers. Although our blog will serve as a resource for users of Professional Responsibility: A Contemporary Approach (2010), the current developments, innovative teaching materials, and commentary should be thought-provoking and fun for all those interested in the legal profession. Please feel free to share your ideas and we will post as much as we can.
Judicial confession of error—candidly stated—clears the air, but correction painting itself as clarification falls short.
The panel in its corrective order would have done well to acknowledge that it had fallen short of Canon 3, the commentary to which notes, “The duty to hear all proceedings fairly and with patience.” The panel’s dramatic order had a shelf life of only two weeks before the judges felt compelled to replace it with a “superseding” and “clarifying” order. Their “nostra sponte” initial order was an impulsive and injudicious intervention in an explosive issue on the eve of an election in which the contested policy was a major issue.
Six retired federal trial judges, joined by thirteen ethics professors, have filed an amicus brief calling for the 2d Circuit Court of Appeals to review en banc the panel orders removing Judge Shira Scheindlin from the New York City stop and frisk litigation. Among the professors is our co-author Bruce Green
“New York City Bar Association Task Force on New Lawyers in a Changing Profession, Developing Legal Careers and Delivering Justice in the 21st Century: Following more than a year of analysis, the New York City Bar Association’s `bue ribbon’ Task Force on New Lawyers in a Changing Profession today released a report recommending fundamental changes in education and career focus for new lawyers”
The report may do more than gather dust, and certainly has valuable and accessible discussion – beyond curricular reform [skeptical of casebook courses' adequacy] – on the impact of technology on law practice, opportunities and obstacles for small firm and solo practice, outside financing of law firms, and the unmet needs of moderate income people for legal representation.
In a “superseding order” the Second Circuit panel that removed and criticized Judge Shira Scheindlin has backed off its criticism of her but left itsremoval order inplace. Its new tone will help to defuse the situation. I posted an extensive comment on Legal Ethics Forum, where the Circuit’s new opinion and order can be found. – GWC
U.S. District Judge Kurt Engelhardt granted five former New Orleans police officers new trials after they were convicted for their involvement in the Danziger Bridge shootings and cover-up after Hurricane Katrina. The judge found that the defendants were prejudiced by anonymous internet postings by federal prosecutors before and during the trial. For more on the controversial decision, read Bruce Green’s article, “Two Wrongs Make it Worse in Cops’ Retrial” in The National Law Journal.
The post below contains some discussion of the issues raised by the 2dCircuit’s removal of Judge Shira Sheindlin from the NYPD stop and frisk case. The judge disputes the accuracy of some of the reporting. The 2d Circuit objects to her apparent self-defence, and declares her unit to continue as the judge on the controversial case which challenges the New York City Police Department’s aggressive stop and frisk progam. – GWC.
Opinion below. Key excerpt:
The case is REMANDED to the District Court for the sole purpose of implementation of this Order, and the mandate shall otherwise remain with this Court until the completion of the appeals process.
Upon review of the record in these cases, we conclude that the District Judge ran afoul of the Code of Conduct for United States Judges, Canon 2 (“A judge should avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all activities.”); see also Canon 3 (C)(1) (“A judge shall disqualify himself or herself in a proceeding in which the judge’s impartiality might reasonably be questioned . . . .”), and that the appearance of partiality surrounding this litigation was compromised by the District Judge’s improper application of the Court’s “related case rule,” see Transfer of Related Cases, S.D.N.Y. & E.D.N.Y. Local Rule 13(a), and by a series of media interviews and public statements purporting to respond publicly to criticism of the District Court.
Accordingly, we conclude that, in the interest, and appearance, of fair and impartial administration of justice, UPON REMAND, these cases shall be assigned to a different District Judge, chosen randomly under the established practices of the District Court for the Southern District of New York. This newly-designated District Judge shall implement this Court’s mandate staying all proceedings and otherwise await further action by the Court of Appeals on the merits of the ongoing appeals.
Constructing a compelling narrative for the 1975 death of Martha Moxley, the Skakel prosecution successfully used new media technology and polished rhetoric to obtain a guilty conviction in a highly circumstantial case. Skakel’s defense attorney, Michael Sherman, did not show up for the game, resulting in an ugly, lopsided rout. The order granting Michael Skakel a retrial is a 136 page primer on what not to do as an advocate. As I wrote earlier today over on the legal skills blog, new media/visual rhetoric may have played a large role in securing Skakel’s conviction. Now that Skakel will receive a new trial because his defense was constitutionally ineffective, I hope the two sides are more equally situated in terms of their advocacy and rhetoric.