Judicial Notice (05.28.22): Convictions
A guilty verdict for the murder of Dan Markel, a conservative judge worth watching, and other legal news from the week that was.
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This week’s news was dominated by the unspeakably horrific, heartbreaking massacre of 19 schoolchildren and two teachers in Uvalde, Texas. I found the coverage difficult to read, especially as the father of a young child—and it led me to wonder whether we should repeal the Second Amendment, as the late Justice John Paul Stevens and others have urged.
Defenders of gun rights often say, “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” While I don’t buy this argument and don’t think it obviates the need for stronger gun laws, I do think we need to connect with at-risk young people and help them to lead law-abiding, productive lives—before it’s too late.
On Tuesday evening, I attended a celebration for the Young Adult Opportunity Program of the Southern District of New York. Overseen by Judge Ronnie Abrams and Magistrate Judge Sarah Netburn, the Program offers structure and accountability to young adult defendants, as well as counseling, education, and employment support. Successful program participants receive shorter sentences or reductions, deferrals, or dismissals of the charges against them. I hope that other courts and agencies will consider establishing diversion programs of their own if they don’t already have them—and I was glad to hear Hampton Dellinger, assistant attorney general for the Office of Legal Policy, praise the S.D.N.Y. program and pledge to advocate for similar initiatives at the Justice Department.
On Wednesday, my co-host Zach Sandberg and I recorded a new episode of Movers, Shakers & Rainmakers, featuring an interview with Craig Brown, CEO of Bridgeline Solutions and a pioneer in the legal staffing industry. Also on Wednesday, I participated in a panel discussion about cancel culture and free speech, sponsored by The Common Good. On Thursday, I participated in a virtual event hosted by the U.S. Embassy in Beijing to celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. I spoke about my novel, Supreme Ambitions, which features two Asian-American protagonists and explores issues of AAPI identity.
Now, on to the news.
Lawyers of the Week: Georgia Cappleman and Sarah Dugan.
On Friday night, after eight hours of deliberation, a Tallahassee jury convicted Katherine Magbanua on all three counts in her retrial for the murder of Professor Dan Markel: first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder, and solicitation of murder. For more, please see my Twitter thread (which includes a statement from the Markel family from their lawyers, Orin Snyder and Matt Benjamin of Gibson Dunn).
The conviction of Katie Magbanua would not have been possible without the excellent advocacy and hard work of assistant state attorneys Georgia Cappleman and Sarah Dugan. Congratulations to them on this well-deserved win, which is another step forward in the long quest to bring all of Dan Markel’s killers to justice, and thanks to Judge Robert Wheeler for running a tight ship during the trial.
Other lawyers in the news:
The more than 20 lawyers on Russia’s list of 936 Americans who are not welcome in that nation. Most are current or former government officials, including former deputy attorneys general Rod Rosenstein and Sally Yates, former FBI director Robert Mueller III, former assistant attorney general John Demers, and former U.S. attorney for D.C. Jessie Liu. I’m sure they’re all very sad about their inability to visit Mother Russia.
Hogan Lovells partner and former acting solicitor general Neal Katyal. A U.S. bankruptcy trustee is objecting to the Supreme Court super-lawyer’s $2,465 hourly billing rate. (Maybe try Kannon Shanmugam of Paul, Weiss, a relative bargain at a mere $1,800 an hour.)
Kellyanne Conway and George T. Conway III. Kellyanne, former senior counselor to Donald Trump, just published her memoir, Here’s the Deal. Lawyers might be most interested in the GW Law alumna’s revelations about her marriage to George, the Wachtell Lipton litigation partner turned Twitter bête noire of Trump—and her thoughts on whether their union will survive.
Judge of the Week: Judge Kevin C. Newsom.
Judge Kevin Newsom (11th Cir.) is one of the most talented writers on the federal bench—and this week, a prolific one. On Monday, he issued two significant, superbly written opinions—or three, if you count his concurrence with himself. As suggested by Sarah Isgur on Advisory Opinions, he’s the clear winner for Judge of the Week (and one of the few repeat winners who’s not a SCOTUS justice).
I discuss the more newsworthy of the two opinions, deciding the constitutionality of Florida’s infamous social-media law, as Ruling of the Week below. But the other opinion, United States v. Jimenez-Shilon, is no less interesting.