Monday status conference: Egg rolls, billable hours and a puppy

April 13, 2009

bo1This week begins on the leisurely note for most of the folks at the top of the three government branches. The Supreme Court and Congress are in recess until April 20. And today the White House hosts the event has become the hottest ticket in town: the Easter Egg Roll. Perhaps Bo, the First Pup, will make an appearance.

And as you search for recipes to help you use those leftover boiled eggs and latkes this week, take a look at some legal news:

Point-counterpoint: The federal judiciary will soon debate a controversial Rule 56 change that would set up  a “point-counterpoint” procedure,  requiring the moving party to furnish an enumerated statement of facts with citations to the record for each statement of fact. The opposing party would then respond by accepting or disputing each statement of fact. The possible result? “A lot more billable hours (for the defense bar), but I don’t think it will help judges,” says one attorney. (Lawyers USA)

Pirate prosecution: The Justice Department is mulling whether Washington or New York will be the site of the criminal trial of to the Somali pirate captured in the dramatic rescue of an American merchant vessel captain that left three other pirates dead. It would be the nation’s first piracy case in recent memory. (AP)

Teflon AG: Last week was not a good one for the Justice Department – yet unlike his recent predecessors Attorney General Eric Holder isn’t being skewered over the misfortunes – he’s even garnering praise. (Legal Times)

FDA safety check: Federal regulators will ask makers of some of the riskiest medical devices to prove that their products were safe and effective – a step that critics have said was long overdue. (NYT)


Monday status conference: Championship edition

April 6, 2009

This morning the U.S. Supreme Court could announce new grants of certiorari and/or freshly minted opinions. We’ll bring you more on any newsworthy developments here later.

President Barack Obama wraps up his weeklong European tour in Turkey this morning. When he returns he’ll take a look at the budget passed last week by Congress to see all the ways it differs from his own plan.msu

Meanwhile, as you plan your snacks for today’s NCAA championship game (Great Lakes State-born DC Dicta isn’t even going to try to be impartial today) here is a look at the legal news kicking off this week:

Writing’s on the drywall: Lawmakers have introduced a bill that would impose an immediate ban on defective drywall being imported from China, and an immediate recall on such materials already in the country.  A number of class action lawsuits have already been filed over the materials. (Lawyers USA)

Crash deaths curtailed: Here’s an upshot of the terrible economy – fewer people are driving on the roads, and as a result crash-related fatalities are at their lowest levels since the Kennedy administration. (AP)

Judging the Justice Department: The corruption case against former Sen. Ted Stevens, whose conviction is soon to be tossed amid allegations of prosecutorial misconduct, has some experts calling for more oversight at the Justice Department. (ABA Journal)

Documents demand:  Meanwhile, a federal judge yesterday ordered the Justice Department to give him documents concerning allegations of misconduct by the team that prosecuted Stevens. (WaPo)

Buyer’s market? Whether the reason is the sagging economy or the retirement of baby boomers, the number of law practices for sale is rising. (Lawyers USA)


Monday status conference: Brief recess

March 30, 2009

ussc1Today the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments in the consolidated cases of Travelers Indemnity Co. v. Bailey and Common Law Settlement Counsel v. Bailey. The Court will consider whether a bankruptcy court must have a separate jurisdictional basis to approve a third-party injunction provision in a plan of reorganization or related confirmation order.

DC Dicta is off today, but we’ll be back tomorrow with dispatches from the Court and other legal news and tidbits of note.


Monday status conference: Enron (and maybe Kagan) at the Supremes

March 23, 2009

supremesToday the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court are back in the office for what promises to be an eventful day. The justices will hear oral arguments in the case of Yeager v. U.S., which considers whether collateral estoppel prevents a former Enron official who was acquitted on several charges to be retried on other charges that resulted in a hung jury.

Also today, look out for a possible special guest star: new Solicitor General Elena Kagan, who was sworn in by Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. Friday, may be formally introduced to the Court.

And the Court could issue some orders and/or opinions today as well. We’ll bring you updates on newsworthy developments from the Court, so check back.

Today Obama administration officials officially unveil a plan aimed at shoring up the nation’s banking system with public-private parnerships. Oh, and if you wanted to know, so far President Barack Obama is 14 for 16 in his NCAA tourney bracket picks.

Meanwhile,

Sen. X, ?-Minn. We almost forgot about that still-vacant Senate seat for Minnesota! Now the race between Al Franken and Norm Coleman is in the hands of a three-judge panel. A decision is expected by 2011. (Oh, we kid!) (WaPo).

Bills, bills, bills: A bad economy means debt collectors are busy. They are also busy fighting off lawsuits from consumers claiming violations of the Fair Debt collection Practices Act. (Legal Blog Watch).

New COBRA rule has bite: If you or your clients are dealing with layoffs, you should take a look at the model notices the Labor Department has issued in connection with the new, expansive COBRA rules. (Lawyers USA)


Monday status conference: Budget making and Supreme speculation

March 16, 2009

whitehousePresident Obama is focusing on the budget today, and using familiar avenues to try to sell it (here’s a hint – check you inboxes!). But it won’t be an easy road, as GOP lawmakers have already ripped the president’s spending plan, vowing to offer their own. The Supreme Court is in recess until Friday, when the justices conference.

Meanwhile,

souter3The most private justice: Not even those closest to Supreme Court Justice David Souter, who some claim may retire from the bench soon, know exactly what his retirement plans are. (AP)

Birthday girl: Meanwhile, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, whose recent comments that there will “soon” be a vacancy on the Court stirred even more speculation, turned 76 on Sunday. Read more here on Ginsburg’s talk in Boston here from Lawyers USA.

Bias claim boom: The economy is bad, but at least one area of law is booming: employment attorneys are busier than ever. Employment discrimination charges soared to an unprecedented level last year – up 15 percent from the previous year, according to newly-released numbers. (Lawyers USA)

Safe food vow: President Obama promised to reorganize the nation’s fractured food-safety system, calling inadequate inspections “a hazard to the public health.” (NYT)


Monday status conference: Unions and divisions

March 9, 2009

The U.S. Supreme Court isn’t hearing oral arguments today, but the justices could hand down opinions or grant certiorari in new cases today. Stay tuned here for developments.

capitolfrontElsewhere, the honeymoon between President Barack Obama and some members of congress appears to be long over, and GOP lawmakers step up their attacks on the president for his proposals on rescuing the nation’s banks, stimulating the economy and other issues.

Meanwhile,

Uniting the unions: Union leaders are in talks on how to bring together organized labor groups that fractured in 2005. (NYT)

Card check counter attack: Republican lawmakers in both the House and Senate have introduced bills aimed at countering the controversial Employee Free Choice Act, which would make it illegal for employers to prohibit employees from unionizing by using cards to show majority support for a union rather than a formal election. (Lawyers USA)

IRS to do its own debt collecting: A controversial IRS program that used private debt collectors to track down delinquent taxpayers had be ended, to the delight of public employee unions. (AP)

Congressional pay freeze? Members of Congress would lose their annual cost-of-living pay raises under a proposal the Senate could vote on this week. (AP)

Renters’ rights reviewed: Lawmakers have introduced new legislation aimed at boosting the rights of tenants in properties that fall into foreclosure. (Lawyers USA)


Monday status conference: Ruth’s return

February 23, 2009

ginsburgToday the justices of the Supreme Court return to the bench after a four-week recess to hear oral arguments, and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who underwent pancreatic cancer surgery weeks ago, is expected to join them. Orders and opinions are likely to be forthcoming this week, so stay tuned.

As Congress also returns from recess, one of the issues likely to be hot this week is housing as House lawmakers mull a controversial bill that would give bankruptcy judges the ability to modify the terms of a homeowner’s mortgage in chapter 13 proceedings.

And President Obama is preparing to speak to the nation tomorrow in his first State of the Union address.

Meanwhile,

Stimulus plan’s man: Obama is expected to appoint a former Secret Service agent who helped expose lobbyists’ corruption to oversee spending in the $787 billion economic stimulus plan. (AP via NYT)

DNA swap: The solicitor general’s office has turned down a request to disavow a Bush Administration policy denying prisoners’ access to DNA evidence in post-conviction proceedings. So the government will argue the other side before the Supreme Court. (BLT)

Drama in the court: A federal judge’s sex crimes trial is being watched around the nation. (Houston Chronicle).