Judicial Notice (11.11.23): Dazed And Confused
Milbank raises salaries, judges speak out about Israel-Hamas, Fox hires a conservative SCOTUS clerk as CLO, and other legal news from the week that was.
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Sorry this edition of Judicial Notice is a little late, but I am exhausted. I just returned from D.C., where I spoke at the Federalist Society National Lawyers Convention—on a panel about Supreme Court ethics, where I played the “liberal,” i.e., the only panelist calling for an ethics code—and Indianapolis, where I moderated a plenary at the 2023 NAPABA Convention, “Discussion or Disruption: How Law Schools are Navigating Civility, Free Speech, and Debate Over Deeply Contentious Issues.” I felt both events went well, and it was wonderful to see many old friends—and make new ones too.
Before hitting the road, I recorded a new episode of Movers, Shakers & Rainmakers. Zach Sandberg and I broke down Milbank’s latest pay raise (discussed more below).
Now, on to the news.
Lawyers of the Week: Georgia Cappleman and Sarah Dugan.
Congratulations to Tallahassee prosecutors Georgia Cappleman and Sarah Dugan. Working tirelessly over the past few years to bring the murderers of law professor Dan Markel to justice, on Monday they won a conviction of the most important defendant to date: Markel’s former brother-in-law, wealthy South Florida periodontist Charles Adelson. For a closer look at the case, see my earlier post, addressing commonly asked questions about the trial and verdict.
On Tuesday, Adelson’s lawyer, Daniel Rashbaum, filed a motion seeking to have the jurors interviewed about an alleged group text chat set up by the jurors. An alternate juror—who wasn’t part of the group text, but apparently heard about it—brought it to Rashbaum’s attention, and Rashbaum argued to Judge Stephen Everett that investigation was warranted to determine whether the chats “involved outside information about the case or constituted premature deliberations.” The state opposed the motion, which Judge Everett denied (but the order denying the motion was sealed, so we don’t know the judge’s reasoning).
Could denial of the motion lead to reversal of Charlie Adelson’s conviction? I doubt it. Under Florida law, Judge Everett’s ruling is reviewed for abuse of discretion, which means the trial judge gets a lot of leeway, and the motion must offer reasonable grounds to think the verdict may be subject to challenge, not mere speculation of counsel. Here it would be speculative to think the group text contained, for example, prejudicial outside information that the jury wasn’t supposed to see. So I’m thinking (and hoping) the conviction is safe.
Other lawyers in the news:
A federal jury convicted former Baltimore state’s attorney Marilyn Mosby of perjury, concluding that she lied about the finances of a side business to improperly get her hands on retirement funds during the pandemic.
New York City public defender Victoria Ruiz resigned from her job, after a viral video showed her ripping down posters of Israeli hostages taken by Hamas.
Linda Hirshman, a leading labor lawyer turned bestselling (and controversial) author, passed away at 79.
NYU law professor Dick Stewart, a renowned scholar of environmental and administrative law, passed away at 83.
May they rest in peace.
Judge of the Week: Judges Edith Jones, Lee Rudofsky, and Matthew Solomson.
Federal judges continue to speak out about the Israel-Hamas conflict—and the last Judge of the Week, Judge Roy Altman (S.D. Fla.), defended doing so to the media. In an email to Jacqueline Thomsen of Bloomberg Law, Judge Altman wrote that he and his fellow judges, upon being appointed to the bench, “didn’t give up our First Amendment right to talk about—maybe even shed light on—the important issues of our time.” He added that “people of good faith—judges or not—have an obligation to shine a light on antisemitism whenever and wherever it appears.”
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