About Me

My photo

Reading is difficult. As a writer, I help the reader every way I can think of. As a reader, I work hard not to miss the big things in the middle of the road.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A Press Release from the Supreme Court of the United States about Oral Argument Recordings

Beginning with October Term 2010, the audio recordings of all oral arguments heard by the Supreme Court of the United States will be available free to the public on the Court’s Web site, www.supremecourt.gov, at the end of each argument week.  The audio recordings will be posted on Fridays after Conference.

The public may either download the audio files or listen to the recordings on the Court’s Web site.  The MP3 files of the audio recordings may be accessed by clicking on the “Oral Arguments” prompt on the home page, and selecting “Argument Audio.”  The audio recordings will be listed by case name, docket number, and the date of oral argument.  The recordings will also be accessible by clicking on “What’s New” on the site’s home page.

The Court began audio recording oral arguments in 1955.  The recordings are maintained at The National Archives and Records Administration.  Prior to the 2010 Term, the recordings from one Term of Court were not available until the beginning of the next Term.  The Archives will continue to serve as the official repository for the Court’s audio recordings. 

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Electronic Briefs Are the Wave of the Future

An appellate lawyer who is ignorant of or terrified by the prospect of preparing a brief as an electronic brief-- often such a person is both ignorant and terrified-- will come to be seen as a dinosaur. E-briefs can be hyperlinked within themselves-- that is, clicking on something, a line in the table of contents, a case, a mention of an exhibit, can take the reader to the precise place referenced. They are less bulky. Parts of your brief can be cut and pasted into the opinion, saving typing. Lawyers USA's article requires a sign-in and maybe a subscription. The article is here. Federal courts tend to require them, and it's a good idea to supplement your paper brief with an ebrief on a disk anyway. The author of the post, Allison McAndrew, also includes  a link to Adobe Acrobat's blog.

Friday, September 24, 2010

No Supplemental Jurisdiction for a Diversity Case with a Local Intervenor for Chump Change

The only published opinion that came down from the Fifth Circuit Thursday is Griffin v. Lee, No. 09-30734, a per curiam from Chief Judge Edith Jones, Circuit Judge Edward C. Prado, and District Judge Halil S. Ozerden. Sylvester Griffin, a Mississippian, represented by Robert A. Lee, a Louisianan, sued persons from Delaware, Louisiana, New York and Ohio to reform a trust he was the beneficiary of. The suit was filed in Louisiana and was removed to the Monroe, Louisiana federal court under diversity jurisdiction. Lee was allowed to withdraw and intervened under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 24, seeking his fee from out of the funds of the suit. His claim was less than $75,000. The trial court allowed Lee's claim under supplemental jurisdiction, and the Fives reversed and rendered a take-nothing judgment to Lee because, under 28 U.S.C. section 1367(b), there is not supplemental jurisdiction where complete diversity of citizenship has been destroyed and the amount in controversy is not great enough.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Friday, September 10, 2010

How Not to Get a Free Transcript

If a Texas civil appellant wants a free record on appeal (nothing is free-- a court can order officers, including court reporters to work without pay), how to get such a record is clearly defined by Texas Rule of Appellate Procedure 20.1. If such a person does not win a contest of indigency, after having brought forth the evidence required, then the appellant has to make arrangements to pay the record. This is the holding in Shanklin v. Texas Department of Criminal Justice, No. 01-09-00502-CV, no pet. h., September 10, 2010, a per-curiam memorandum opinion before Justices Terry Jennings, George C. Hanks, Jr. and Jane Bland. The standard of review is abuse of discretion. On the one hand, Ms. Shanklin:
  • was a part owner of some real estate;
  • had a boyfriend who paid all her and her eleven-year-old daughter's bills- including a truck note, credit card account and cable TV account for her
  • had jewelry, a horse, some appliances and a computer that she could have sold or pawned;
  • could not account for $8,000 she got four years ago;
  • was "cursory and vague" when responding to questions about her attempts to find work in the last five- and-a-half  years, though she was a college graduate with basic computer skills; and
  • she had not used a computer in her search for work.
On the other hand, a court could have forced a reporter appointed by the trial judge and who has to work closely with all the courts to work for Ms. Shanklin for no financial compensation. No judge has yet made or recommended such an order.

New Justices Coming to Austin's Third Court of Appeals.

The changes that are coming to Austin's Third Court of Appeals are here.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Academics Advised as to How to Write Less Badly

A clear list of Ten Tips on How to Write Less Badly is here. Recommended

Monday, September 6, 2010

News about the 2006 Texas Gubernatorial Election

Texas governors play a vital role in the selection of appellate justices. Former Democratic gubernatorial candidate and old law school classmate of mine Mr. Chris Bell has apparently obtained a substantial settlement and a substantial judgment against Republicans out of his last election.

A Witty Piece of Legal Journalism on Citation

Virginia Law Weekly's web site has it.

Easy-to-Use List of SCOTUS Case Statuses

Mayer Brown's Appellate.net has charts showing the status of cases that will be argued before the United States Supreme Court October Term, 2010.

Tips on Writing More Effectively

Law.com has "Tips on Becoming a More Effective Legal Writer."

The State Loses Two of Three Convictions of Wesley Wayne Miller

"I then did stand my trial, and boldly I did plea/ A flaw was in my indictment found and that soon had me free."- "The Lily of the West" (A traditional Irish song).
Wesley Wayne Miller, confessed and convicted murderer of Retha Stratton, got two of his three convictions reversed and remanded. The other one was held to have been waived. May be a federal court won't think so, but it is unlikely that he'll be able to get SCOTUS to take the case on direct appeal, and he may well be out before he can get his state habeas petition heard by the trial court and the state appellate court before essaying a petition in front of a federal judge-- the only kind of judge likely to give him any relief. If he can win any other part of the case though, his conviction will be overturned

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

SCOTUS's Official Reporter of Opinions Looks behind the Scenes and into the Future

Prominent U.S. Supreme Court journalist Tony Mauro interviews retiring Reporter of Opinions Frank Wagner. What point of usage relating to a branch of government do they disagree about? Which justice likes longer explanatory summaries before opinions, and which shorter?  How long will printed official volumes of Supreme Court opinions continue to be issued. Advice on the limitations of relying just on the opinion summaries or just on online versions of SCOTUS opinions is here. A helpful article.Supreme Court Practice