Appeal Court Wants Judge Punished for Comments to Jury

“On Tuesday, Sacramento’s Third District Court of Appeal referred Placer County Superior Court Judge Joseph O’Flaherty to the state’s Commission on Judicial Performance for possible discipline after finding a second instance where he advised prospective jurors to conceal any racist feelings. This only a year after the appeal court had reversed O’Flaherty in People v. Mello for doing the same thing,” The Recorder is reporting. You can read the court’s opinion here.

Strip Search Case Revived Against Store

“The full 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has reinstated the civil rights suit of an African-American woman who charged she was wrongfully strip-searched at a Dillard�s department store in Cleveland. The Cincinnati-based court ruled that section 1981 civil rights claims aren�t limited to state actors,” the ABA Journal reports here.

Trial to Start in Federal Prosecution of Exam Cheats

“A trial opening in Camden, N.J., this week will showcase the first use of the federal mail fraud statute to prosecute students for cheating on standardized tests. Hany Al-Hedaithy is one of about 60 Middle Eastern students charged with hiring impostors to take a college entrance test. Al-Hedaithy has moved for discovery on whether he was singled out based on race, since this use of the mail fraud statute appears unprecedented,” reports here.

Supreme Court to Decide “Ineffective Counsel” Capital Case

The legal test for whether a conviction can be overturned because of the ineffectiveness of trial counsel has grown murky since the Supreme Court decided Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, in 1984. Now the Supreme Court has agreed to review the case of Wiggins v. Corcoran, No. 01-311, and many hope that the decision will clarify the test, the ABA Journal reports here.

DNA Dragnets

So far, DNA dragnets have been used more in Europe than here. But a case in Louisiana is pitting the interests of law enforcement in using this incredibly powerful tool against individuals’ Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable searches, as reported here.

Big Law Firms Suck

Neil Shapiro practiced law for 30 years in big firms. He eventually decided that life there was increasingly unbearable, and moved to a better place. He writes about his move here. I worked at the same Big Firm that Neil recently left for several years before coming to the same conclusion he did (a couple of years before him). No offense to that particular firm, but he is right that things have changed for the worse. Not just at that firm (which is probably better than most), but at Big Law in general. I say: Tune in, turn on, drop out! Greed is dead. This profession used to be a great way to earn a comfortable living doing something you loved and could be proud of. Whatever happened to that?

Brouhaha Over Big-Screen Ads

“The practice of showing commercials before the start of movies defrauds the public and should be stopped, according to lawsuits filed against two movie theater chains. The suit accuses the chains of deluging ‘captive audiences with unannounced and unwanted advertisements,'” CBS reports here.

Judge Dismisses Antitrust Lawsuit Against Blockbuster, Studios

“A judge on Thursday dismissed a lawsuit against video rental giant Blockbuster Inc. and five movie studios, saying video store operators who brought the case failed to show the defendants conspired to strike favorable deals not available to other video stores. Superior Court Judge Victoria Chaney granted Blockbuster’s motion for summary judgment,” the AP reports here.