AAJ CEO stepping down

April 9, 2009

This week Jon Haber, CEO of the American Association for Justice, the country’s largest trial lawyers group, announced he is stepping down.

Haber, who has held the position for four years, said that the time was right for a change at the top, given the current “pro-civil justice President and Congress.”

“Because we are in such a strong position, I have decided this is the best time for me to step down to take on new challenges,” Haber said in a statement.  “The new pro-civil justice environment has put the organization in the strongest position it has been in a generation.  This time period also presents opportunities for those seeking the next challenge in their careers when it comes to fighting for justice and progressive values.  I am considering several very promising opportunities.”

Attorney bloggers on InjuryBoard.com had praise for Haber’s work. “He brought the AAJ into the current century by updating its use of technology and making it appreciate what needed to be done to better advocate the ‘People Over Profits’ philosophy of the organization,” wrote attorney Mike Schneider.

Mike Bryant added: “Jon was the leader in bringing the organization into the advanced technical world. As an organization of and for plaintiff lawyers it is a hard fought battle with insurance, pharmaceutical, and big business interests.”

No word yet on who Haber’s replacement will be.


Friday morning docket: Blossoms and buzz

April 3, 2009

cherryblossomsjeffersonWith the cherry blossoms in full bloom here, the members of the three branches of government are, fittingly, busy as bees.

After a busy week of decisions, non-decisions and oral arguments, the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court are back at work this morning, holding a private conference. That means orders – including possible new cert grants, could be forthcoming, and we’ll bring you newsworthy updates here.

Across the street from the Supremes, Congress has been hard at work tackling issues like the budget, health care and tobacco regulation.

And though President Barack Obama spent most the week in Europe meeting with world leaders, the multitasker also unveiled his first federal appellate judge nominations, naming picks for some vacancies on the 2nd and 4th Circuits.


Do over in Alaska? After federal prosecutors moved this week to toss a conviction handed down against former Sen. Ted Stevens, who lost his seat in November, Republicans want a new election. (NYT)

Credential check: After a convicted felon with no law degree managed to pose as an attorney and represent clients in 16 cases in 10 different federal courts, the Judicial Conference has set a new policy requiring courts to more carefully check attorneys’ credentials. (Lawyers USA)

Ice cold COLA: Federal judges, including the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court, will get a 2.8 percent cost-of-living-adjustment for 2009 under the recently enacted Omnibus Appropriations Act of 2009. (Lawyers USA)

Lending crackdown: A bill that would impose tougher standards governing mortgage lending in an effort to stamp out predatory practices was filed in the House.  (Lawyers USA)

Bad assist: Assisted living lawsuits are mounting, and plaintiffs’ lawyers say poorly trained staff and lax regulations are to blame for incidents of abuse and neglect of residents. (Lawyers USA)

Monday status conference: March comes in like a lion

March 2, 2009

supremestatThe snowy conditions in the nation’s capital may mean a slower-than-usual start to this week for some federal offices, but oral arguments should begin as scheduled this morning at The U.S. Supreme Court. The matters the justices are scheduled to hear this week include a much-watched case that will determine if elected state judges violate due process rights by ruling in matters involving large campaign donors. That comes tomorrow; today, the Court will consider whether a convict has the right to review DNA evidence post-conviction. Stay tunes for any decisions, cert grants or other news coming from the Court as well this week.


‘Conscience’ rule reversal: The Obama administration has begun the process of reversing a controversial Bush-era rule that denies federal funding to health care facilities that refuse to accommodate employees who object to providing birth control sand other services to patients.

Labor pains: President Obama’s pro-labor stance is worrying business groups. (NYT)

En guard! President Obama challenged lobbyists to a legislative duel Saturday, saying he will fight to change health care, energy and education in dramatic ways that will upset the status quo. (AP)

Not a jury of one’s peers? More federal courts are seeing petitions claiming that minorities are so underrepresented in jury pools that indictments and trials are unconstitutional. (ABA Journal)

McCain’s switch on Souter; Obama: Thomas isn’t too bright

August 18, 2008

The candidates for president have been asked repeatedly which Supreme Court justices they admire. This weekend, at a forum hosted by Pastor Rick Warren of the Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., they were asked which justices they would not have nominated.

Sen. John McCain, the presumptive GOP nominee, named the four jurists of the Court’s liberal bloc: Justices John Paul Stevens, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer and David Souter – even though McCain voted ‘yea’ along with 89 of his Senate colleagues to confirm Souter, a nominee of President George H.W. Bush, in 1990.

Democratic presumptive nominee Sen. Barack Obama, unsurprisingly, picked several of the Court’s conservative jurists, although the reason he gave for one was a bit surprising.

Naming Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. and Justice Antonin Scalia, Obama said he disagreed with their views, but respected their intellect. When it came to Justice Clarence Thomas, on the other hand, Obama said he didn’t think the justice was the sharpest tack in the box.

“I don’t think that he was a strong enough jurist or legal thinker at the time for that elevation, setting aside the fact that I profoundly disagree with his interpretations of a lot of the Constitution,” Obama said of Thomas.

Justices Anthony Kennedy and Samuel Alito managed not the get the hook from either candidate.

Friday morning docket: leap day edition

February 29, 2008

Here’s a look at what is happening on this 2008 bonus day:

The Senate is in session today, but the House is not. The justices of the U.S. Supreme Court meet this morning in a private conference, and if any orders are issued we’ll let you know.


House Speaker Nancy Pelosi yesterday asked the Justice Department to pursue contempt charges against former White House chief counsel Harriet Miers and chief of staff Josh Bolten for failing to produce documents about the firings of U.S. attorneys. The White House called Pelosi’s request “truly contemptible.” We think the pun was intended. (AP).

The United States hits an all-time high incarceration rate – more than one in every 100 Americans is behind bars. (NYT).

Fighting a disorderly conduct plea isn’t cheap. For Sen. Larry Craig, the legal fees are approaching $250,000. (ABA Journal).

Food and Drug Administration officials said the agency needs more inspectors and a comprehensive computer database to better ensure the safety of products entering the United States. (AP)

The head of the EPA refused to tell lawmakers whether the White House influenced his decision to deny California and 12 other states the right to impose tougher greenhouse gas emissions standards. (AP).

The head of the FTC is stepping down to become vice president and general counsel of Procter & Gamble. (WaPo).