Banks and Lawyers at the Center of the Robo-Crisis

As if dealing with the free-falling housing market and the resulting foreclosure crisis wasn’t enough, now we allegedly have infuriating bank and mortgage fraud as well. Several lenders including GMAC, Bank of America and J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. have admitted that they used “robo-signers” to file affidavits in foreclosure actions. Mortgage servicer employees and, in some cases, lawyers working for the banks admittedly signed documents that authorized foreclosures without actually reviewing the homeowners’ files and loan documents due to […]

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Justice Anthony Kennedy – Balanced and Fair

The third time was the charm for President Ronald Reagan in 1988 when he nominated then U.S. Court of Appeals judge Anthony Kennedy for an associate justice position on the Supreme Court. Reagan was unsuccessful in getting ultra-conservative Judge Robert Bork approved by the senate after Justice Lewis Powell retired in 1987. Reagan’s second attempt failed as well when Judge Douglas Ginsberg withdrew from the confirmation process in the face of drug use allegations. Reagan’s nomination of Kennedy was just […]

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October 16, 2010

The Colorful Antonin Scalia

Associate justice Antonin Scalia has been referred to as the Arnold Schwarzenegger of our justice system. Controversial and confrontational, Scalia brings a dynamic element to a court most view as a solemn and unsmiling bunch. Apparently, it’s not ego or arrogance that is at work in this charismatic Supreme Court justice. He once said that he gets no sense of power from his position and that he struggles with the responsibility of making rulings that are difficult. Still, court observers […]

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October 15, 2010

Kagan Confirmation: Amiable, But They Still Voted No

Elena Kagan became the newest Supreme Court associate justice in August, after a reportedly amiable confirmation process that resulted in a 63 – 37 vote for confirmation. The vote fell along party lines, with 36 Republicans and 1 Democrat voting against her. The Senators voting against her gave many reasons for their vote, but there was absolutely a common theme. Not surprisingly, Kagan’s lack of a judgeship on her resume was a serious problem for the senators. Other than arguing […]

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October 14, 2010

The Surprising Activism of the Burger Court

At various times in the history of the Supreme Court, the debate over judicial activism has raged. There are those who believe judges should rule on the law, without applying their own sentiment or the prevailing public opinion. Others believe that the rule of law is fluid and that judges must interpet the law with deference to the Constitution, but with some regard to a changing society. The Court under Chief Justice Earl Warren had pushed the envelope of judicial […]

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October 13, 2010

Controversial Chief Justice Earl Warren Championed Civil Rights and Liberties

Earl Warren was appointed directly to the post of Chief Justice of the Supreme Court in 1953 by President Dwight Eisenhower. Warren, who had no prior judicial experience, was expected to be a moderate conservative, but quickly demonstrated he was a liberal. In 1955, Warren wrote, “It is the spirit and not the form of law that keeps justice alive.” This was further evidence that Warren intended to serve on the Supreme Court from a position of legal idealism, not […]

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October 12, 2010

“There is no such thing as justice, in or out of court.”

Although it is difficult to know what Clarence Darrow meant when he made his famous statement about justice, he probably was not a fan of blind justice. Arguably the best criminal defense lawyer in history, he frequently defended underdogs and accused criminals who were almost certainly guilty given the facts of the case, but whom he argued should not be treated the same as others under the same laws. Darrow was an interesting figure who frequently took on cases for […]

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October 11, 2010

Capital Punishment: Injustice for All?

In the history of the Supreme Court, there have been justices who objected to capital punishment. William J. Brennan was one of them. He once famously said, “Capital punishment…treats members of the human race…as objects to be toyed with and discarded.” In the 1950s and 60s, the death penalty became charged as a racial instrument, as vastly more blacks than whites were executed. Prosecutors stopped asking for the death penalty, and no executions occurred from 1967 – 1972. Brennan was […]

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October 8, 2010

Thurgood Marshall: Supreme Court Justice and Civil Rights Leader

Thurgood Marshall was the first African-American to be appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court, and in some ways he was a true radical. He is noted for saying, "The United States has been called the melting pot of the world. But it seems to me that the colored man either missed getting into the pot or he got melted down." Unlike other civil rights leaders in the second half of the 20th century, Marshall fought the battle against racial injustice […]

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October 7, 2010

Benjamin Cardozo: A Study in Measured Judicial Activism

One of the very first cases new law students are asked to analyze is Palsgraf v. Long Island R.R., which involved a question of tort law and established the doctrine of reasonable foreseeability in liability cases. Judge Benjamin Cardozo wrote the majority opinion in the case which was before the New York State Court of Appeals. Palsgraf is an example of judicial tweaking of established rules of common law, in keeping with Cardozo’s belief that judicial activism should be used […]

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Becoming a Trial Lawyer by Steven Grossman

September 29, 2010 0 Comments

In Becoming a Trial Lawyer, University of Baltimore Law Professor, Steven Grossman, gives readers the benefit of his career as a prosecutor and years of lecturing and writing on the topic of trial advocacy. Not every lawyer possesses the temperament and quickness to become an effective litigator. It’s the lion’s den of lawyering and just when you think you have prepared for every contingency, you are blindsided. What you do next may determine the outcome of the case. Grossman attempts […]

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Rapper T.I. Could be Headed Back to Federal Prison

October 6, 2010 0 Comments

Rapper T.I. could once again experience one of the four prongs of criminal sentencing, incapacitation. He was arrested with his new wife on September 1st for possession of a controlled substance alleged to be ecstasy. That’s bad enough, but T.I. was currently on a three-year probation term after being released early from prison where he was serving a sentence for a federal gun charge. The Feds don’t mess around. Violating the terms of your release from prison could be a […]

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