By Caitlin Tremblay
It's finals time at the University of Memphis Law School
this week, so, naturally, some totally understanding law
professors decided to throw their holiday party in the library
reading room. Nor was it your average
fete either -- there was a live band.
According to Above The Law, the soiree prevented students
from using the reading room and disrupted others studying
elsewhere in the library.
ATL has photographic evidence of the room being closed for
the evening and points out that only a ridiculous party runs
from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., which this one did. There's also a quote
from an angry 1L student describing how classmates felt about
the situation. The general consensus? They were "at a loss for
Smooth move, law profs. Perhaps during spring finals week
you can reserve the whole library and stage a pop-up carnival.
Mandate for change
By Dan Brillman
Is it time to revisit mandatory sentencing? The New York Times reports on the case of Stephanie George, who was sent to
prison for life, without parole, in 1997 for cocaine possession.
Even though the drugs belonged to a boyfriend (George claims she
had no knowledge they were in her house), the Floridian will
never again see the light of day, short of a commutation or
pardon, because the amount of drugs found (half a kilo) mandated
Statistics quoted by the Times show that mandatory sentences
for non-violent crimes have helped make those offenders half the
U.S. prison population. Federal court judge Roger Vinson, who
sentenced George, told her at the time that she did not deserve
the sentence, but his hands were tied by the law. He says he
regrets the ordeal.
"The punishment is supposed to fit the crime, but when a
legislative body says this is going to be the sentence no matter
what other factors there are, that's draconian in every sense of
the word," Vinson says. "Mandatory sentences breed injustice."
Mandatory minimums are embraced by prosecutors as a
deterrent that also give them leverage in going after bigger
fish. But Vinson says menial workers in drug schemes often get
hit the hardest because they have little to no practical
information to offer. George's then boyfriend, the ringleader of
the drug-dealing operation, was released five years ago, after
getting a reduced sentence in exchange for aiding the
prosecution with evidence. Meanwhile, George works two jobs, one
that pays 92 cents an hour, partly so she can afford the 23 cent
per minute calls to her children every Sunday.
Where the money is
By Erin Geiger Smith
If, like rapper Travie McCoy, you want to be a billionaire,
it appears you should use your law degree for something other
than practicing law.
The wealthiest lawyers in America, according to a video by Bloomberg Law, did not make their fortunes from putting in hours
reading case law and conducting due diligence. The
fourth-richest lawyer in America, for instance, is Randa Duncan
Williams, daughter of oil billionaire Dan Duncan, with a net
worth $5.1 billion. Before joining the family business, Williams
practiced toxic tort law in Houston, says Bloomberg. Prize for
third richest, at $6 billion, is New York real estate scion
Richard LeFrak. No. 2, with $8.7 billion, is Richard Kinder, who
practiced law in Houston before joining his friend Ken Lay at
Enron and then became CEO of energy company Kinder Morgan.
At the top position? You'll have to watch the video, but
it's someone whose father founded a retail giant and who has
probably put his law degree to use this year studying the ins
and outs of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
(Hat tip to the ABA Journal for pointing out the Bloomberg
video, which itself credited a post by Above the Law for
inspiring a look into lawyer's bank accounts.)
Law of the jungle
By Suhrith Parthasarathy
A new Ohio law governing ownership of exotic creatures is
being challenged by some owners of wild animals in federal
district court, reports The Plain Dealer. The law was enacted
this year after Ohio resident Terry Thompson freed dozens of
wild animals he kept on his property before killing himself. The
new rules ban the ownership, breeding, sale and purchase of
certain animals as of Jan. 1, 2014, and allow existing owners to
keep their animals only if they implant microchips in their
animals, pay permit fees and maintain the animals in cages of
Terry Wilkins, who owns reptiles in Columbus, told district
court judge George C. Smith that he will have to shut down his
retail operation if the law is allowed to stand, The Columbus Dispatch reports. According to Wilkins, the microchips are not
safe for alligators and can cause snakes to become sterile.
Another plaintiff, Cyndi Huntsman, testified that inserting
tracking microchips will threaten the well-being of some older
animals. The sedation is "a death sentence for them," she told
the court. "I'm not willing to do that. And I'll fight as long
as I have to."
Veterinarians testifying on behalf of the state, however,
said inserting the microchips is very important. "I've
microchipped many animals that didn't even know it was
happening," Dr. Paul A. Strull told the court, according to the
Dispatch. The Humane Society has joined the state in defending
the law. Ralph Henry, its director, told The Plain Dealer that
microchipping is no more dangerous than vaccinating dogs and
Stop and frisk (and call in)
By Suhrith Parthasarathy
Colorado spends an estimated $13 million a year enforcing a
2006 law that mandates cops to report unauthorized immigrants to
federal officials, the Denver Westwood reports. (Hat-tip:
National Journal.) The law, known as SB 90, was passed at a time
when paranoia over illegal immigration was high, as the website
Under SB 90, when a police officer arrests someone for a
criminal charge and has probable cause to believe the person is
undocumented, he is to report the arrestee to Immigration and
Customs Enforcement. If the person posts bond, he is held for a
further 48 hours to give ICE time to pick him up. In cases where
no bond is posted, ICE must wait till the arrestee is taken to
court and has served his sentence before taking custody of him.
This procedure, according to a report by the Colorado Fiscal
Institute, means those arrestees spend an average of 22 days
longer in county jails than other arrestees.
The report pays particular attention to Denver, where the
majority of people reported to ICE in 2010 and 2011 were in jail
for minor offences, which runs counter to federal directives to
target more serious offenders, the Denver Westwood says. The law
in these two years has cost taxpayers in the city a total of
$1.8 million, according to the study.
Summary Judgments for December 11
Summary Judgments for December 10
Summary Judgments for December 7
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