Sunday, June 28, 2009

A Different Shade of Blue

A new book about women in police work will be released July 15.

A Different Shade of Blue tells the history of female cops in America through the candid voices of 50 women on the Seattle Police Department. As one of the first cities to hire policewomen in 1912, Seattle provides the perfect backdrop to tell an amazing story – women’s ongoing struggle nationwide to fit into the male-dominated police profession.

A Different Shade of Blue features three generations of women – black, white, Asian, Latina, gay, straight – speaking 'on the record' about their experiences on the streets and in the precincts. Hired between the 1940s and the 2000s, the women share stories of great heroism, from battling an armed assailant inside a patrol car to going undercover to catch an illegal abortionist in the days before Roe v. Wade. They also offer surprising views on affirmative action, and tell tales of discrimination and harassment that reveal how even today men continue to treat their female co-workers as second-class citizens.

As the women recount their lives and experiences, they prove that female cops are a different shade of blue. And that difference has forever changed the face of police work.
The author is UW School of Law graduate Adam Eisenberg, who says that he got the idea for the book when he was working as a prosecutor. He is now the commissioner of Seattle Municipal Court.

Adam's blog will be a forum for more stories of female police officers.

Supreme Court Super Nerd in 3 Easy Steps

A lawyer offers tips on how to follow the Supreme Court. Lawffice Space: Supreme Court Super Nerd in 3 Easy Steps, June 28, 2009.

One tip: subscribe to Willamette Law Online's US Supreme Court service:

This service provides same-day summaries of certiorari granted, oral arguments, and decisions published by the United States Supreme Court. The certiorari summaries focus on the facts and decision from the lower court. The week prior to oral arguments we provide an outline of the issues presented to the Court as argued in the briefs. The decision summaries provide the holding from the United States Supreme Court and a brief overview of the Court's reasoning.
Willamette also offers updates for Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, Oregon Courts, Intellectual Property, Conflict of Laws, and Dispute Resolution.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Commission Releases Report on Combating Prison Rape

The National Prison Rape Elimination Commission -- created by Congress in 2003 -- today released its final report and proposed standards. The standards include a supplement for immigration detention facilities.

The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times reports:

Part of the commission’s goal was to create standards “so that when you hear about a prison rape, the warden doesn’t just wink and nod and say take care of it, but that it’s investigated,” said commissioner Jamie Fellner, senior counsel to the U.S. Program of Human Rights Watch.

* * *

[Commission chairman, Judge Reggie] Walton also said he hoped that its guidelines would become a legal standard of care, which prisoners could use as the basis of lawsuits if they were raped.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Congress Should Free Legal Aid Lawyers From Federal Restrictions

The Washington Post opines that Congress Should Free Legal Aid Lawyers From Federal Restrictions, June 22, 2009:

THE HOUSE was right last week to call for a substantial increase in funding for the Legal Services Corp. (LSC), the nonprofit organization that provides legal assistance to poor people in civil matters. But House members left in place unwise and unwarranted restrictions on how the LSC could use that money; . . .

The Senate, which is scheduled to take up the funding measure this week, should go even further in freeing legal aid lawyers from federal restrictions. The LSC has long been prohibited from using public funds to lodge class-action suits, represent undocumented workers or participate in any abortion-related litigation. While some limitations on the use of tax dollars may be warranted, there is no legitimate reason for federal restrictions on how local legal aid groups use privately raised funds or money they receive from state or local governments. The Obama administration, which supports the lifting of these restrictions, estimates that roughly $490 million in private and non-federal funds that find their way to local legal aid providers are 'tied up' and subject to these federal limitations.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

9th Circuit Finds No First Amendment Violation in Teacher's Demotion Over Blog Comments - 9th Circuit Finds No First Amendment Violation in Teacher's Demotion Over Blog Comments, Nat'l L.J., June 22, 2009. The (unpublished) case, from Kitsap County, is Richerson v. Beckon, No. 08-35310, 2009 U.S. App. LEXIS 12870 (9th Cir. June 16, 2009)(mem.), available on the court's website.

Rosenberg Reenactment

The radio program Studio 360 had a great story about Judge Denny Chin (S.D.N.Y.) -- soon to be sentencing Bernard Madoff -- who participates in reenactments of famous trials. Recently he went through thousands of pages of the transcripts from the trial of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg to create a 60-minute script, focusing on Ethel Rosenberg. He draws lessons about the importance of detached judging even during -- especially during -- emotionally and politically charged cases.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

AG Holder: DNA Evidence Can Exonerate the Wrongfully Charged

day after the Supreme Court ruled defendants have no constitutional right to a review of DNA evidence in post-conviction proceedings, Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. underscored the Justice Department position that seeks to expand access to DNA evidence in the courts.
The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times : AG Holder: DNA Evidence Can Exonerate the Wrongfully Charged, June 19, 2009. The prepared text of Holder's speech is here. The BLT goes on:
Holder issued a statement in response to the Supreme Court 5-4 decision in District Attorney's Office for the Third Judicial District v. Osborne that said, in part: “Constitutional rights are only one part of a fair and full system of justice. Simply because a course of action is constitutional does not make it wise.” Holder said in the statement that the Court “merely spoke about what is constitutional, not what is good policy.”
See Tony Mauro, High Court Rejects Post-Conviction DNA Access, Nat'l L.J., June 19, 2009.

The Solicitor General's amicus brief in Osborne argued against a constitutional right to DNA testing, urging a reversal of the 9th Circuit -- that is, arguing for the result the Court reached. The brief was filed in December 2008 -- that is, during the last Administration.

Juror misconduct alleged in civil rights trial stemming from police shooting

In a civil rights case against a Kent police officer for shooting the passenger in a stolen car, the defense is asking for a judgment notwithstanding the verdict or a new trial because of the influence of a juror who is married to a King County Sheriff's deputy. Judge Coughenour (W.D. Wash.) invited the motion. Juror misconduct alleged in civil rights trial stemming from police shooting | Seattle Times Newspaper, June 18, 2009.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Pardon Power Blog

Interested in pardons and clemency? Pardon Power is a blog "dedicated to following the very latest news regarding presidential pardons and the pardon power (or clemency powers) as exercised in each state." The author, P.S. Ruckman, Jr., is a professor of political science at Rock Valley College in Illinois.

3-Strikes Offender Granted Clemency

Last month, Stevan Dozier, the first three-strikes offender to be granted clemency, was released from prison. His offenses were second-degree robbery -- an offense some say shouldn't be counted as a strike that leads to life imprisonment -- and during his 15 years in prison he turned his life around. His release was supported by King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg. Freed 3-strikes offender is being watched closely by supporters, critics, Seattle Times, June 11, 2009.

Dozier spends his days pounding the streets — visiting politicians, community centers and school-district offices in search of an opportunity to share his story with elementary and junior-high-school children who are on the verge of falling into trouble.

"I'm tired of seeing them kids coming to prison. They need to learn from me and other people about our mistakes. We can contribute to them," Dozier said. "Once the kids get on the streets, it's hard to pull them off the streets. I'm looking at the prevention."
Mr. Dozier has started a blog, sdfreedom09.

Arbitration Fairness Act

What claimants can't go to court?
The employees and consumers who are bound by mandatory arbitration provisions in their employment contracts, credit card agreements, etc.

NPR had an interesting story about the issue, leading with the Halliburton employee who wants to be able to sue her employer for the rape and beating she suffered when stationed in Iraq. Rape Case Highlights Arbitration Debate : NPR, June 9, 2009.

NPR links to:

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Honking horn not constitutionally protected

A homeowner's association told a resident she had to stop keeping chickens. She retaliated by honking her horn in front of the complainant's house at 5:50 on a Saturday morning. A police officer cited her for violation of the noise ordinance. She fought it, arguing that the ordinance was unconstitutionally vague and interfered with her free speech. Representing herself, she was convicted after a 3-day jury trial in a court of limited jurisdiction. She appealed to Snohomish County Superior Court, where Judge Richard J. Thorpe has ruled Honking horn not constitutionally protected | Seattle Times Newspaper, June 9, 2009.

Is WWU drama professor provocative, or an abusive bully?

Local News | Is WWU drama professor provocative, or an abusive bully? | Seattle Times Newspaper, June 9, 2009. The insults and epithets quoted in the article strike me as abusive, although the professor say they're just part of his teaching style and his counsel argues that they are protected by academic freedom.

In 2005 faculty disciplinary board at Western Washington University suspended him for two quarters. That decision was upheld by the Whatcom County Superior Court. And now Division 1 of the Court of Appeals remands for a new hearing:

We hold that the University did not violate Mills’s employment contract, that the Faculty Code of Ethics is not unconstitutionally vague, and that the University did not violate Mills’s free speech rights. However, we also hold that the University violated the
Administrative Procedure Act by conducting Mills’s disciplinary hearing in secret. Accordingly, we vacate the University’s Final Order and remand to the University for a new hearing.
Mills v. Western Wash. Univ. (Div. 1, May 26, 2009).

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Judge Orders Expedia to Pay Consumers $184 Million for Breach of Contract

King County Superior Court Judge Monica Benton granted summary judgment to the plaintiffs in a class action suit against Expedia for hotel fees it charged in millions of transactions. The plaintiffs were represented by Steve Berman of Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro. The firm says that this is the largest judgment for a consumer class action in Washington State history.

Hagens Berman: Judge Orders Expedia to Pay Consumers $184 Million for Breach of Contract, Hagens Berman press release, June 1, 2009; Expedia ordered to pay $184 million in lawsuit over hotel taxes, fee, Seattle Times, June 1, 2009.

(I checked Expedia's press room to see if it had a press release of its own about this case. Nope. And the press release it did have for June 1 seems a little ironic in light of the judgment: Announces Its Biggest Hotel Sale Ever.)

Monday, June 1, 2009

WYLD's Trial Advocacy Program

Think you could use some Trial Ad instruction to improve your skills? Or would you like to help out? Here's a notice from the June 2009 issue of De Novo, the newsletter of the Washington State Bar Association Young Lawyers Division:

Fall 2009 – Trial Advocacy Program Seeks Committee Volunteers and Participants

The Trial Advocacy Program (TAP) offers members of the WYLD an opportunity to improve their litigation skills in both the civil and criminal justice fields, and acquire trial experience. The TAP provides a unique opportunity to interact with and learn from more experienced practitioners, and to network with other young lawyers. The TAP is an intensive two-weekend program emphasizing jury trials, and includes lectures, discussion groups, mock trials, exercises, and general education and instruction in courtroom trial practice.

Additional details and registration information will be available in July 2009. For more information, or to volunteer as a committee member, contact Brian Halcomb, WYLD liaison, at brianh [at]

De Novo Highlights

The June 2009 issue of De Novo, the newsletter of WSBA's Young Lawyers Division is now out. (The newsletter is now electronic-only.) Highlights for people interested in trial practice are:

Video monitors coming to Gretna courtrooms

Over a million dollars of equipment is being installed in the courthouse in Jefferson Parish (near New Orleans). Video monitors coming to Gretna courtrooms -, May 25, 2009. I hadn't heard of "annotation monitors":

Each courtroom will have five monitors, including annotation monitors, which, for instance, will allow a witness to use a finger to mark on a photograph appearing on a monitor where he stood when he saw a crime. After the jury sees it, that image can be printed out by a clerk and filed into the case record, Murphy said.

Judges, through annotation monitors that have touch-screen controls, decide what is published for the jury and when.