By Carlyn Kolker
It's a bird. It's a plane. It's Paul
So, how does he do it? Is Paul Clement super-human? Does he
Last week, the former solicitor general, Bancroft law firm
partner and member of the 50-plus-Supreme-Court-arguments-club,
acquitted himself well during the grueling three-day marathon arguments in the healthcare case.
But he wasted no time in getting back in the game. On Monday
Clement teamed with Nathan Lewin to submit a petition for
certiorari to the Supreme Court. Their mission: to get the court
to hear an appeal from Sholom Rubashkin, a former Iowa
meatpacking executive who says his 27-year sentence on bank
fraud charges should be reduced.
On Wednesday, Clement argued in the 1st Circuit Court of
Appeals on behalf of the U.S. House of Representative's
Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group defending the federal Defense of
Marriage Act, which denies federal benefits to same-sex couples.
And will he be going on spring break? We don't think so.
This month he has two more arguments scheduled before the
Supreme Court, one about the scope of the federal Fair Labor
Standards Act and another defending Arizona's immigration law.
We contacted Clement to ask him how he does it, but he didn't
respond. After all, he might not have time.
The courts are overloaded, petty crimes carry stiff
sentences, and the country is swimming in lawyers-more than four
times as many as its northern neighbor.
Are we talking about the United States? Nope. Bella Italia -
land of pasta, Armani and "a chaotic, byzantine legal system,"
according to this eye-opening read from Reuters. There are about
9 million civil and criminal cases pending in the country,
28,000 people in jail awaiting trial, and a Supreme Court with a
docket of about 80,000 cases.
When Italian court officials shared some of these statistics
with U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts on a recent visit, he
thought the translation was flawed, Reuters says.
The system is seen as so deeply flawed that Italy's prime
minister and justice minister don't want to touch it; legal
reforms in 1998 by, for example, adding more offenses to the
list of crimes, and subsequent efforts to roll those back have
With conditions like these, it's no wonder Italy's lawyers
went on strike last month, with lawyers' guilds asking for
better pay and job security.
One bill's promise
Late last month, the Georgia House approved by a unanimous
vote a sweeping criminal justice reform bill, which is awaiting
signature by the state's Republican governor Nathan Deal. Deal
is expected to sign the legislation as it was one of his top
legislative priorities, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. In the opinion of Journal-Constitution columnist Jay Bookman, the bill will likely be "the single most
important accomplishment of the 2012 General Assembly." It was
drafted based on recommendations from a commission of judges,
lawyers and other participants, encourages more non-prison
sentences for non-violent offenders, and sets lighter sentences for non-violent crimes. Why is this noteworthy? The bill
potentially reduces the amount of money spent on prisons and
prisoners (about $3 million per day, according to Deal's own
estimate) and could reduce recidivism. The measure shows Deal's
political skills as governor: "Since taking office, he has
worked patiently to unite legislators, judges, prosecutors and
others behind the bill, fending off any attempt to turn the
issue into a political football. It's a feat that a Democratic
governor would have had a hard time achieving without being
attacked as soft on crime," says Bookman.
One of your trusty Summary Judgments contributors (me) tries
to work in fashion coverage into the legal beat as often as
possible (read: it doesn't happen too often). Which is why we
owe The Wall Street Journal a bit of gratitude for delivering us
this delightful gift: Work Wear: Office Style at Law Firm Proskauer.
Now, Proskauer Rose is a top notch firm with top notch
salaries. But, in our experience, that doesn't always mean top
notch dressers. But we have some fine performances here, and
dare we say a little sass (looking at you Elise Bloom and Keji
Ayorinde). We're not going to best-and-worst-dress list these
brave souls, because, frankly, we don't want to discourage any
white shoe-types from doing their best Christy Turlington when
the Heard on the Runway folks come knocking.
Instead we'll go for a kinder, gentler, less Joan Rivers
like, list of observations.
1. Proskauer goes hi-lo(ish): There's some uptown Ralph
Lauren, a little Jil Sander, some mall-available The Limited and
your trusty business standard, Ann Taylor.
2. There's still A LOT of Brooks Brothers in the mix.
3. Firm chairman Joe Leccese (Ermenegildo
Zenga/bespoke/Rolex) said Proskauer lawyers "can dress as
casually or as formally as they like." The associates featured,
however, refer to a more formal atmosphere.
4. The firm has some great, and fairly aggressive art. It
distracted somewhat from the models.
5. Sheer hosiery is not just for Kate Middleton. Partner
Kristen Mathews wears hers with strappy blue Boden wedges.
6. Some of these folks know where they fall on the fashion
spectrum: "It's a very conservative firm, so we don't want to be
putting ourselves at the cutting edge of fashion," associate
John Pokorny said. (A senior associate at another firm who
emailed us about the article put another way: ""Law Firm" and
"Fashion" should NOT be used in the same sentence.")
7. We lied, we're naming a best dressed: Associate Winnie
Lee Fraser, framed by an orchid, pregnant and lovely in Yigal
(Reporting by Erin Geiger Smith)
Going all the way
As we all have heard repeatedly in recent days, President
Barack Obama took a few moments on Monday to suggest from a Rose
Garden lectern, that the Supreme Court would be taking an
"unprecedented, extraordinary" step if it tosses out his
healthcare reform. And, in a sign this story is not going away,
addressed the issue again Tuesday.
As the interweb debates whether such words were proper or
even useful, The Atlantic's Andew Cohen steps in with a piece
entitled, "For Barack Obama, Law Professor, the Time to Lecture is Now." In it, Cohen details at length just how far Obama
could have gone had he followed in the presidential footsteps of
Franklin Delano Roosevelt. (Our colleague, Jim Vicini, also pointed to Roosevelt's comments, and spoke to several legal
commentators about where Obama's fits in the
For the non-history buffs out there, in 1935, Roosevelt was
stung by the Court's unanimous ruling that one of his New Deal
programs was unconstitutional. He called a press conference and
spent an hour and a half pointing out the effects of the
decision. He did so, according to a book by Jeff Shesol, without
notes, slowing only to "replace the cigarette in his ivory
Two years later, in a fireside chat, Roosevelt made a
statement fit for those current-day types who decry judicial
activism: "We must find a way to take an appeal from the Supreme
Court to the Constitution itself. We want a Supreme Court which
will do justice under the Constitution - not over it."
Cohen, comparing Obama's words (quoted at length in his
piece) to Roosevelt's, says the question is not has Obama gone
too far, but has he gone far enough?
We'll leave that question open, but do feel certain that,
should President/Professor roll up his sleeves and conduct an
hour-long seminar, we'll all be watching. He should probably
leave the cigarettes out of the equation though.
(Reporting by Erin Geiger Smith)
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