Monday, July 27, 2009

Petition to Improve PACER

A group of law librarians are urging the Administrative Office of the United States Courts to improve access to PACER, the online system for federal dockets and related documents. They urge free access at depository libraries, decreased costs to all users, and an improved interface. Check out the petition: Improve PACER - The Petition Site.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Lawyer Leads Local Fight Against Illegal Immigration

Lawyer Leads Local Fight Against Illegal Immigration -, July 21, 2009. Interesting profile of Kris W. Kobach, who moved from the Justice Department to law teaching (UMKC) and now litigates on behalf of communities' restrictions on illegal immigration around the country.

Iqbal in Everyday Practice

In Ashcroft v. Iqbal, No. 07-1015 (May 18, 2009), the Supreme Court ruled that the district court should have dismissed plaintiff Iqbal's claims against government officials for his arrest and conviction. Why? Because his complaint "fail[ed] to plead suffi­cient facts to state a claim for purposeful and unlawful discrimination."

You might have thought that the case would only interest those following issues of national security, terrorism, and discrimination against Muslims. But the case also has applicability for all plaintiffs who make general allegations in their complaints so they can use discovery to get the evidence they need to flesh out their cases.

Iqbal is the most significant Supreme Court decision in a decade for day-to-day litigation in the federal courts,” said Thomas C. Goldstein, an appellate lawyer with Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld in Washington.
Adam Liptak, Sidebar - 9/11 Case Could Bring Broad Shift on Civil Suits - Series -, July 20, 2009. Lower courts have cited Iqbal more than 500 times already!

See also:

For discussion of one of those lower court cases -- Tooley v. Napolitano, in which the DC Circuit has granted rehearing on the issue of whether to let a man's suit against Homeland Security proceed -- see Lyle Denniston, Analysis: New Obstacles to Wartime Challenges, SCOTUS Blog, July 4, 2009.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Washington Briefs on the Web

The Washington State Courts are posting briefs on the web. The project began with Division II, but now includes Supreme Court and Division I briefs as well. Supreme Court and Court of Appeals - Briefs has
  • Supreme Court briefs, June 2006-
  • Division I, June 2009-
  • Division II, June 2006-
Coverage is not complete, especially in the early months. For example, in one case, there might be a respondent's brief but not the appellant's brief.

For more, see Court Briefs & Oral Arguments.

Monday, July 13, 2009

What Can a Trial Lawyer Learn from Michael Jackson?

Jury consultant Anne Reed admits that she was never a Michael Jackson fan -- didn't spend time glued to MTV, didn't go nuts for "Thriller." Me too (although, unlike Anne, I'd at least heard the songs and seen a video or two). Anne asks us all to reflect on what we've missed in popular culture:

it might be, like Michael Jackson, something that a lot of jurors would list among their greatest inspirations and influences. It's worth pausing at moments like this to consider what you're missing, and whether you could open a little further to the experience of people who are not you.
Deliberations: What Have You Missed?, July 1, 2009.