OTHERWISE: U.S. Courts: Judicial Conference Addresses Workplace Conduct and Criminal Justice Act Issues | United States Courts

Judicial Conference Addresses Workplace Conduct and Criminal Justice Act Issues | United States Courts Published on September 13, 2018 …

Source: OTHERWISE: U.S. Courts: Judicial Conference Addresses Workplace Conduct and Criminal Justice Act Issues | United States Courts

The Judicial Conference today approved changes to the Judiciary’s Model Employment Dispute Resolution (EDR) Plan to cover interns and externs and to extend the time for initiating EDR complaints from 30 to 180 days. The Conference’s Judicial Resources Committee will consider further changes to the model plan at its next meeting. The Director of the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts also reported on the recruitment of a Judicial Integrity Officer in the Administrative Office and the expansion of judicial, staff, and law clerk orientations and education dealing with workplace harassment.

In addition, the Chairs of the Committees on Codes of Conduct and Judicial Conduct and Disability reported to the Conference on proposed amendments to the Codes and Conduct Rules responsive to the recommendations contained in the June 2018 Report of the Federal Judiciary Workplace Conduct Working Group. The proposed amendments were published today for public comment.

The amendments include provisions that state:

  • A judge has an affirmative duty to promote civility, not only in the courtroom, but throughout the courthouse.
  • A judge should neither engage in nor tolerate workplace misconduct, including comments or statements that could reasonably be interpreted as harassment, abusive behavior, or retaliation for reporting such conduct.
  • A judge should take appropriate action upon learning of reliable evidence indicating the likelihood that another judge’s conduct violated the Code. The action should be reasonably likely to address the misconduct, prevent harm to those affected by it, and promote public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the Judiciary.
  • In order to file a misconduct complaint, an individual does not have to be subject to alleged misconduct.
  • Confidentiality obligations of employees should never be an obstacle to reporting judicial misconduct or disability.
  • A judge has an obligation to safeguard complainants from retaliation. Retaliation for reporting misconduct constitutes judicial misconduct.
  • A judge’s failure to call to the attention of the relevant chief judge clearly identified information reasonably likely to constitute judicial misconduct constitutes judicial misconduct.
  • An express reference to workplace harassment within the definition of misconduct.

OTHERWISE: The Real McCoy: Good Intentions Cannot Overrule Client’s Instructions | Legal Ethics in Motion

POSTED BY  ALICE KERR  ON OCT 12, 2018 IN  ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP The Real McCoy: Good Intentions Cannot Overrule Client’s Instructio…

Source: OTHERWISE: The Real McCoy: Good Intentions Cannot Overrule Client’s Instructions | Legal Ethics in Motion

Update: The matter of McCoy v. Louisiana first appeared on this blog on October 17, 2017. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari to decide whether a criminal defense attorney is constitutionally permitted to concede his or her client’s guilt over the defendant’s objections.

Robert McCoy was charged with three counts of first-degree murder and pleaded not guilty. McCoy’s parents hired Larry English to take over the case after McCoy had his assigned counsel removed.  English concluded that the evidence against McCoy was overwhelming and the best strategy for avoiding the death penalty would be to admit guilt at trial and plead mental incapacity at sentencing. McCoy insisted on his innocence and objected to any admission of guilt.  Two days before trial, McCoy petitioned the court to terminate English’s representation. English also supported this request.  However, the trial court refused McCoy’s request.

At the guilt phase of the trial, English told the jury that McCoy “committed [the] three murders.” McCoy then testified in his own defense. The jury found McCoy guilty on all three counts. During the penalty phase, English again conceded that McCoy committed the crimes, but asked for mercy given McCoy’s mental and emotional issues.  The jury returned three death verdicts. The Louisiana Supreme Court, upheld McCoy’s conviction and sentence.  The Louisiana Supreme Court concluded that English had the authority to concede guilt as a trial strategy. The Louisiana Supreme Court upheld English’s conduct by relying on the Louisiana Rules of Professional Conduct Rule 1.2(d), which states, “a lawyer shall not. . . assist a client, in conduct that the lawyer knows is criminal or fraudulent.” The LA Supreme Court opined that had English presented McCoy’s alibi defense, English could be implicated in perjury, given English’s disbelief in McCoy’s alibi.

In a 6-3 decision, the United States Supreme Court reversed the Louisiana Supreme Court’s ruling and held that McCoy’s Sixth Amendment rights were violated.  The decision discussed the allocation of authority in the lawyer-client relationship, considering two points: (1) who has the ultimate authority to decide the objectives of representation, and (2) who has the authority to decide how to carry out those objectives?  The SCOTUS decision echoes Louisiana RPC Rule 1.2 (a), which states that a lawyer “shall abide by the client’s decisions concerning the objectives of representation” and provides that “in a criminal case, a lawyer shall abide by the client’s decision, after consultation with the lawyer, as to a plea to be entered, whether to waive jury trial and whether the client will testify.”

Ultimately, the defendant has the right to choose the objective of his defense. The lawyer then crafts the strategy around how to best achieve that objective. Thus, McCoy had the right to maintain his innocence, have his case presented, and let the jury decide.  English, irrespective of his good intentions, foreclosed that right by controlling every aspect of the case to the detriment of his client’s objectives.

Read the United States Supreme Court decision here.

OTHERWISE: Lodestar rising? Calif. federal judges are opting for lodestar awards in megacases | Reuters

Lodestar rising? Calif. federal judges are opting for lodestar awards in megacases | Reuters by Alison Frankel (Reuters) – It’s always no…

Source: OTHERWISE: Lodestar rising? Calif. federal judges are opting for lodestar awards in megacases | Reuters

 

(Reuters) – It’s always notable when a federal judge presiding over a big class action slashes a fee request by millions of dollars – but I think there’s another story lurking beneath the dollar signs in an opinion issued Tuesday by U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh of San Jose.
Three plaintiffs’ firms that obtained nearly $170 million for artists and engineers whose job prospects suffered under an alleged no-poaching agreement among animation studios asked Judge Koh to award them $31.5 million for squeezing a $150 million settlement from Disney and Dreamworks. The judge instead granted them $13.8 million. She previously awarded $4.7 million in fees for a smaller classwide settlement, bringing the total fees for plaintiffs’ lawyers from Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll, Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro and Susman Godfrey to about $18.5 million.
Notably, Judge Koh’s award was based not on the recovery the firms won for class members but on their hourly billings. The firms wanted the judge to grant them 21 percent of the class recovery, which, they argued, is less than the 25 percent benchmark established by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit. Judge Koh, however, applied the alternative lodestar approach.

OTHERWISE: Oregon Bar Dues Challenged on First Amendment Grounds

In Janus v. American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees  in a 5 -4 vote the United States Supreme Court struck an Illinoi…

Source: OTHERWISE: Oregon Bar Dues Challenged on First Amendment Grounds

 

In Janus v. American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees in a 5 -4 vote the United States Supreme Court struck an Illinois law requiring public employees represented by an AFSCME local to pay “agency fees” to the union for its representation which protected the interests of all bargaining unit members.  The majority rejected that argument – holding that union advocacy on matters such as state budgets was political speech which the objecting members could not be compelled to “subsidize”.

Now two Oregon lawyers are objecting to the fees charged by the Oregon State Bar to which they are obligated by statute to contribute.  In their complaint Diane Gruber and Mark Reynolds object to a statement by the State Bar denouncing “White nationalism”.  I would vote for that statement every day if it were offered before the voluntary New Jersey State Bar Association of which I have been an active member for thirty years.  But the Oregon State Bar is not a voluntary organization for lawyers who want to practice in the State.  So though Gruber and Reynolds may have ideological views I find abominable, they do seem to have grounds for their complaint relying on Janus. – gwc

Avvo Legal Services To Be Shut Down | LawSites

Below is the best account I’ve found of the decision to close the AVVO attorney referral business.  In half a dozen states private bar or state bar committees had ruled against the company’s business model.  They found that the “advertising fee” structure – which went up as the legal fee rose -constituted illegal fee sharing or referral fees to non-lawyers. In New Jersey the Supreme Court’s Advisory Committee on Professional Ethics (on which I serve) responded to an inquiry by the private New Jersey State Bar Association.  Although we found AVVO in violation we cleared Legal Zoom as a lawful referral system.   In contract to AVVO’s demise Legal Zoom – in the New York – New Jersey region at least – is advertising heavily. – gwc

Source: Avvo Legal Services To Be Shut Down | LawSites

 

Legal directory Avvo is shutting down its controversial Avvo Legal Services, a service that provides fixed-fee, limited-scope legal services through a network of attorneys.

Internet Brands, the company that acquired Avvo last January, has decided that the service does not align with its business and focus, according to a letter sent by B. Lynn Walsh, Internet Brands’ executive vice president and general counsel, to the North Carolina State Bar last month.

At Internet Brands, we are focused on our users, and making sure we provide them with accurate, and consumer-friendly information to help them navigate the difficult tasks of identifying and hiring lawyers. As part of our acquisition of Avvo, we have evaluated Avvo product offerings, and adjusted the Avvo product roadmap to align more comprehensively with our business and focus. Accordingly, we have decided to discontinue Avvo Legal Services. The discontinuation began this month, with completion expected by the end of July.

News of the shut-down was first reported last week on the Responsive Law blog, which also published the full text of the letter. Gabrielle Orum Hernández also had details at Legaltech News today.

The service had generated controversy within the legal profession. A spate of ethics opinions had concluded that lawyers may not participate in Avvo Legal Services. Within the last two years, eight states have issued such rulings: New YorkOhioPennsylvaniaSouth CarolinaNew JerseyUtahVirginia (pending Supreme Court approval), and Indiana.

Another state, North Carolina, drafted a proposed opinion approving participation in Avvo Legal Services, but the draft was sent back for further study.

Last month, as I reported here, the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission published for comment its report that recommended loosening rules on attorneys’ participation in for-profit referral services such as Avvo Legal Services. Loosening the rules would help Illinois address the unmet legal needs of poor and moderate-income individuals in the state, the study said.

 Justice Kennedy – vassal to Lord Trump?

by George Conk

Shock and alarm followed the resignation of  Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy.   He created a vacancy that Donald Trump could fill before the fall mid-term elections that could bring a Democratic Senate majority.  Kennedy vaporized liberal illusions that he might hold out precisely to preserve the possibility that a moderate might succeed him after the November mid-term elections.

 As he left Kennedy again joined the 5-4 conservative majority this time in  Janus v. AFSCME eviscerating the finances of public employee unions, and  in Trump v Hawaii approved the President’s ban on travel from five Muslim majority countries, with North Korea and Venezuela thrown in to blunt the accusation of religiously motivated discrimination.
Suspicion soon began to mount when the retiring Associate Justice addressed his letter to”My dear President”.   Like a vassal seeking leave of his Lord Kennedy displayed a personal familiarity with the President who has waged a relentless attack on the justice system – courts, investigators, and prosecutors.   How could the Justice known as an apostle of civility  leave a clear path for a lawless vulgarian to replace him with an even more hardline justice than himself?

 

Source: OTHERWISE: Justice Kennedy – vassal to Lord Trump?