A call for more diversity
By Terry Baynes
Having won a second term in office, President Barack Obama
has an opportunity to make a new round of appointments to the
According to Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the president, who has
made a concerted effort to increase the racial and gender
diversity among federal judges, should now focus on professional
Speaking to an audience at Pace Law School on Monday,
Sotomayor said she was "deeply troubled" that so many federal
judges were former prosecutors and so few had worked in criminal
defense. Lawyers who have done civil rights work have come under
"enormous attack" in the nomination process, she added.
There are 15 vacancies in the U.S. courts of appeal and 65
in the U.S. district courts, according to the U.S. courts'
website, leading some legal observers to declare a judicial
vacancy crisis. Democrats have accused Republicans of stepping
up tactics to block picks they consider too liberal, while Obama
has also drawn criticism for lagging in his number of
nominations and for not pushing candidates through the process
During his first term, Obama appointed two justices to the
Supreme Court, Sotomayor herself and former solicitor general
Elena Kagan. With four Supreme Court justices in their 70s, he
may have a chance to appoint yet another, as Joan Biskupic of Reuters has written. Sotomayor noted that it's easier for the
president to pluck Supreme Court nominees from the courts of
appeal, where judges leave an ample record of written decisions.
But she pointed to Kagan as proof that you don't have to come
from the bench to thrive as a justice.
Sotomayor also lamented that Senate confirmation hearings
had become "television drama" aimed at outing a nominee's
positions on partisan issues. She said the law, not public
opinion or political ideology, controls the outcome of cases,
but these answers will never satisfy senators or the public --
so the nomination process is "doomed to failure."
By Dan Brillman
How's this for irony: In Colorado and Washington, it's legal
to smoke a joint just off college campuses, but on school
grounds -- where a, um, high concentration of pot smoking
traditionally takes place -- the drug is technically still
According to USA Today (hat tip: Washington Monthly),
schools have been quick to stress that because federal laws
concerning marijuana haven't changed, they're not going to risk
federal funding (for both researchers and students) by allowing
the quad to become a mini Amsterdam. "We don't see that it will
change our policies very much," University of Washington
spokesman Norman Arkans told the newspaper. "We get caught in
the vise between the state law and our obligations under the
It's all a moot point, as 21 is the legal smoking age, and a
good portion of college students aren't there yet. As with
alcohol, however, it will continue to be almost impossible for
college authorities to completely snuff it out.
Hold the texts
By Caitlin Tremblay
A Buffalo Bills fan has sued the NFL team for texting him
too often, according to The Buffalo News (hat tip: USA Today).
Jerry Wojcik, who now lives in Florida, claims that the
Bills sent him three more texts than the "3-5 per week" he
signed up for. Wojcik says that on Sept. 12 he visited the
Bills' website and signed up for text message updates in order
to keep tabs on the team. The second week he received six
messages and a few weeks later, seven. Claiming these extra
messages are a violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection
Act, he is seeking "$500 per excessive call for negligent
violations and up to $1,500 per call for willful violations."
Perhaps Wojcik is just frustrated about the Bills' record
this year? It's not too good (3-6). Or, as USA Today muses,
maybe he's still peeved about that wide right. That was rotten
The Bills shouldn't have to worry too much about this one,
though. Earlier his year, when a Pittsburgh Penguins fan sued the NHL team for sending him too many text messages, the suit
got thrown out.
India's law push
By Suhrith Parthasarathy
More than 100 literacy clubs have been established in
schools in Haryana, northern India, to help increase awareness
about the country's legal system, reports The Times of India.
The chief justice of the Punjab and Haryana high court, A.K.
Sikri, told a gathering at a school in Gurgaon that the
objective is to teach the law not only to students but, through
their outreach, to the poor and illiterate.
Sikri, who is also the patron-in-chief of the Haryana State
Legal Services Authority, said that apart from spreading
awareness through the clubs, there are plans to include some
legal subjects in school syllabi to help students learn about
the law and their rights. A small book comprising basic lessons
on the law is being published by the legal services authority
and will be used as a teaching aid in schools, the justice said,
according to The Indian Express.
The program will start with students from grades nine to 12,
the paper says, but will soon also include colleges and other
By Ted Botha
It was seventh time unlucky for Robert Ernst, and it cost
him $125,000 to find out. The car collector from North
Tonawanda, near Niagara Falls, paid nearly $50,000 for a classic
1966 Chevy Corvette from Ronald Ellis and then spent another
$75,000 fixing it up, reports The Buffalo News. Ernst had
successfully bought and sold six other Corvettes before he
bought the battered model, says Team ZR-1.
In June 2011, when Ernst entered the car in a Corvette
competition in London, Ontario, he got the bad news: The
all-important vehicle identification number was not the original
one and the car was disqualified. Ernst accused Ellis of having
created a counterfeit VIN tag, the newspaper says, and Ellis,
who had no previous record, was charged with nine felonies.
An investigation by the local district attorney's office
found that the car had actually been stolen shortly after it was
sold in 1966, at which time the VIN tag had been removed. The
case went before the North Tonawanda City Court, but the paper
says the two men have agreed to a civil settlement and the charges against Ellis will be dropped if he stays out of trouble for six months. Ernst didn't
disclose how much the deal was for, only that "I feel I was made whole on
the car" and that he will be able to sell the it easily for $75,000.
Summary Judgments for November 9
Summary Judgments for November 8
Summary Judgments for November 7
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