Friday, January 30, 2009

Right to Counsel for Kids in Truancy Hearings

uvenile students accused of chronically cutting classes in public schools are entitled to a lawyer in their first court hearing, a three-judge panel of the Washington state Court of Appeals ruled Monday.

Reversing a King County Superior Court ruling and an earlier Court of Appeals finding that was made on different issues, the panel found that denying a juvenile the right to a lawyer from the outset violated constitutional requirements.
Truants can have lawyer, state rules, The Olympian, Jan. 13, 2009.

The case is Bellevue School Dist. v. E.S., No. 60528-3-I, (Wash. App. Div. I Jan. 12, 2009), available here.

A legislative committee held a hearing on the state's truancy efforts Jan. 16. Some legislators are considering a bill to respond to the ruling.
Lawmakers concerned over lawyer rule in truancy case
, Olympian, Jan. 17, 2009.

The hearing was before the Senate Human Services & Corrections Comm. The video is on TVW. I haven't found any bills.

Court ruling may help get truants on track
, Jan. 23, 2009.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

idealawg: No, people do NOT remember 10% of what they read, 20% of what they see, etc. : Another myth floating around the training industry

I've seen advice for trial attorneys (and others) that begins with a statement about communication styles or learning styles that's supposed to sound scientific but often strikes me as simplistic.

Here's a blog post on the topic, from a lawyer who is fascinated by brain science and uses it in her mediation and law practices -- but tries to get it right. Stephanie West Allen, idealawg: No, people do NOT remember 10% of what they read, 20% of what they see, etc. : Another myth floating around the training industry, Nov. 22, 2008.

The challenge is that careful studies are hard to summarize in one or two sentences, because you need to talk about the study design, the size of the sample, the limits of the findings, and so on. (I often run into that when I try to summarize an article here!)

Tweeting in the courtroom: Lawyers need to learn about Twitter

idealawg: Tweeting in the courtroom: Lawyers need to learn about Twitter, Jan. 11, 2009.

The first example the writer gives is from a case in August when a reporter from the Spokesman Review (Spokane) reported from the courtroom -- quick sentences, posted a minute or two apart. See this page.

And see Colorado Judge Allows Twitter In Courtroom, Social Media Law Student, Jan. 6, 2009.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Criticism of Ex-Official in Hiring at Justice Dept.

Criticism of Ex-Official in Hiring at Justice Dept. -

A former senior official at the Justice Department routinely hired Republicans, Federalist Society members and “R.T.A.’s” — “Right-Thinking Americans”— for what were supposed to be nonpolitical posts and gave them plum assignments on civil rights cases, an internal department report released Tuesday found.

* * *

The report goes beyond the conclusions of three previous internal Justice Department inquiries in exposing the depths of political interference with personnel decisions. The conclusions of the latest inquiry, the first to focus on the Civil Rights Division, are likely to figure in the Senate hearing Thursday for Eric H. Holder Jr.’s confirmation as attorney general.
The report is: U.S. Dep't of Justice Office of the Inspector General & U.S. Dep't of Justice Office of Professional Responsibility, An Investigation of Allegations of Politicized Hiring and Other Improper Personnel Actions in the Civil Rights Division (July 2, 2008; released publicly Jan. 13, 2009).

Attorneys Fees for Parents Involved in Community Schools Case?

Davis Wright Tremaine successfully represented the parents who challenged the Seattle Public Schools' student assignment plan in Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School Dist. No. 1 (2007). Now it hopes to be awarded attorneys fees, but the School District is arguing against that. Judge Rothstein (W.D. Wash.) is hearing the case. Education | Firm's right to collect attorneys fees in limbo | Seattle Times Newspaper, Jan. 14, 2009. (Earlier post here.)

Ruling Says Deportation Cases May Not Be Appealed Over Lawyer Errors

Ruling Says Deportation Cases May Not Be Appealed Over Lawyer Errors -, Jan. 8, 2009:

The Bush administration has issued a ruling that illegal immigrants do not have a constitutional right to effective legal representation in deportation hearings, closing off one of the most common avenues for appealing deportation decisions.

The ruling, by Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey, concerns three appeals by people ordered to be deported who said their cases had been hurt by mistakes by their lawyers. Mr. Mukasey wrote in an opinion released late Wednesday that “neither the Constitution nor any statutory or regulatory provision entitles an alien to a do-over if his initial removal proceeding is prejudiced by the mistakes of a privately retained lawyer.”
Meanwhile, the Department of Justice's Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) is trying to address problems in the immigration bar: EOIR Implements Regulation To Enhance Attorney Discipline Program, DOJ press release, Jan. 6, 2009. Those new rules are at 73 Fed. Reg. 76914 (Dec. 18, 2008). (I found this when I was looking for Mukasy's opinion, which I didn't find.)

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Benefits awarded to beaten Hooters waitress

A Hooters waitress was badly bruised in a domestic assault. She and her supervisor agreed she shouldn't work for a while. Then she was fired. When she sought unemployment compensation, Hooters said that her failure to maintain a "glamourous appearance" was workplace misconduct. An administrative law judge awarded her benefits. Benefits awarded to beaten Hooters waitress | The Des Moines Register , Jan. 5, 2009.

A follow-up opinion piece: Basu: Reality bruises myth of happy Hooters Girl | The DesMoines Register, Jan. 7, 2009.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Top Jobs at DOJ

Obama Names 4 for Justice Jobs in Break From Bush Path, N.Y. Times, Jan. 5, 2009. In addition to Eric Holder, already named to be Attorney General, Obama has selected David W. Ogden (deputy attorney general), Elena Kagan (solicitor general), Thomas J. Perelli (assistant attorney general), and Dawn E. Johnsen (head of the Office of Legal Counsel).

Many of Mr. Obama’s picks in other cabinet departments have taken on a decidedly centrist bent. But at the Justice Department, where controversial Bush administration policies like interrogation tactics and eavesdropping will come under review, the nomination of Eric H. Holder Jr. as attorney general last month and Monday’s selections of four top aides suggested a strong effort to stake out a new direction.

For instance, Ms. Johnsen, who would provide legal interpretations to the entire Obama administration, did not try to hide her disdain for recent counterterrorism initiatives in a law review article last year titled: “What’s a President to Do: Interpreting the Constitution in the Wake of the Bush Administration’s Abuses.”
And, while looking to the next administration, let's take a moment to mark the passing of President Carter's Attorney General: Griffin Bell, Ex-Attorney General, Dies at 90, N.Y. Times, Jan. 5, 2009. Bell's memoir is available in the library: Taking Care of the Law, by Griffin B. Bell with Ronald J. Ostrow (KF373.B42 A37 1982 at Classified Stacks).

Managing Partner Muses About Her Job

What's it like to become the managing partner of the DC office of a large firm? See Anita J. Cicero, The Tightrope of Managing a Law Office, N.Y. Times, Jan. 4, 2009.

Friday, January 2, 2009

The U.S. Attorney Question Partially Answered

Remember the Bush Administration's controversial firing of U.S. Attorneys? How about the Clinton Administration's firing of 93 upon taking office in 1993? Here's a note about what the Obama Administration might do: The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times : The U.S. Attorney Question Partially Answered, Jan. 2, 2009.

Testifying via the Web

Calling It In | ABA Journal - Law News Now, Jan. 2009 issue:

With the help of OoVoo, an Internet-based videoconferencing and chat application, Pima County Judge Jose Luis Castillo Jr. has begun allowing witnesses to testify remotely via the Web instead of coming into court.
The technology is being used in civil hearings, including traffic infractions.