His office says his concern is purely jurisdictional, and has nothing to do with blocking the ascension of the first black Chief Justice in Louisiana. I suppose it might even be true; if one characterizes the issue as an interpretation of the state Constitution, it would be strange to have a federal court get the final say. But if one characterizes it as an interpretation of the federal consent decree, it doesn’t seem strange at all.
Category Archives: Law: Everything Else
Chisom v. Jindal is odd and sad. A federal district judge is required to adjudicate a dispute between Justices of the Supreme Court of Louisiana as to who has the most seniority. The most senior will become the next Chief Justice of that court.
At issue is the time-in-grade of Justice Bernette Joshua Johnson who, if all her years of service to the Louisiana Supreme Court are counted, will soon become Louisiana’s first black Chief Justice. Her first six years of service on the court were in a special seat created pursuant to a federal consent decree designed to remedy longstanding Louisiana racial gerrymandering of judicial electoral districts that had prevented black majority districts from electing a Justice of their choice.
The sad part comes not only from a state Supreme Court’s members being unable to settle this among themselves but from the fact that this dispute happened at all. At least from reading Judge Susie Morgan’s opinion in Chisom v. Jindal, this doesn’t even seem like a close case: the consent decree said that the new, temporary, seat that Justice Johnson occupied was to be “equal” to all the others and that she would “receive the same compensation, benefits, expenses, andemoluments of office as are now or as may hereafter beprovided by law for justices of the Louisiana Supreme Court.” Thus her seniority began there, and not when (after redistricting) Justice Johnson won further terms.
Spotted via WSJ Law Blog.
I hereby (fictionally) resign is a great, if alas so far fictional, account of blowback from an employer’s demand for Facebook passwords.
Spotted via Emergent Chaos, Chaos Emerges from Demanding Facebook Passwords.
That the Senate has bestirred itself from its gridlock and lethargy long enough to confirm Judge Jordan is really great news. Judge Jordan was not only an uncontroversial pick, he is an excellent pick and a great judge. It is not inconceivable he will be on lists of potential Supreme Court Justices some day.
U.S. District Judge Adalberto Jose Jordan, a Miami Law graduate, was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on Wednesday to serve on the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta. Judge Jordan graduated summa cum laude from the University of Miami School of Law in 1987, has been an adjunct professor since 1990, and is a member of the school’s visiting committee.
Nominated by President Barack Obama on Aug. 2, 2011, Judge Jordan is the first Cuban-American to sit on the 11th Circuit, which has jurisdiction over Florida, Georgia, and Alabama. The Senate vote was 94-5 in Jordan’s favor.
"Judge Adalberto José Jordan will bring an unwavering commitment to fairness and judicial integrity to the federal bench," President Obama said when he announced the nomination. "His impressive legal career is a testament to the kind of thoughtful and diligent judge he will be on the Eleventh Circuit. I am honored to nominate him today."
Miami Dean Patricia D. White called Judge Jordan’s elevation to the appeals bench "a magnificent appointment," and said the University of Miami "could not be prouder to have Judge Jordan as its alumnus and regular member of the adjunct faculty."
Florida Senator Marco Rubio, who graduated from Miami Law in 1996, told the Daily Business Review in an article published Wednesday that Judge Jordan "has an extraordinary reputation in our community" and that he is "highly regarded for his intellect."
Judge Jordan has been a U.S. District Court Judge for the Southern District of Florida since 1999. He received the highest possible rating from the American Bar Association and has a stellar judicial record. Prior to that, he was an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida. While at the U.S. Attorney’s Office, he was Chief of the Appellate Division and Counsel on Legal Policy from 1998-1999. In the late 1980s, after obtaining his law degree, he was a law clerk to Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. Before that, he had graduated magna cum laude from the University of Miami with a B.A. in Politics and Public Affairs.
Miami Law Professor Mary Coombs had Judge Jordan as a student in her first class at the school. He later served as her summer intern. "I haven’t found any better since," she said. "I am absolutely fantastically delighted. He is the combination of brilliance and decency and kindness. He is just extraordinary."
Judge Jordan will be the commencement speaker for Miami Law at its graduation ceremonies on May 12.
It’s not enough to be a modern Nativist in Arizona, you have to be vigilant against facts and viewpoints that challenge your orthodoxy. University Professor of Law at Seattle University Richard Delgado and Research Professor of Law at Seattle University Jean Stefancic explain:
Last week, the Tucson Unified School District eliminated a popular Mexican American Studies program in local high schools that, in a short period of time, had done a lot of good. Established a few years ago pursuant to a desegregation decree and taught by charismatic teachers, the program had increased the graduation rate of Mexican-origin kids to 93 percent; nationally the rate is around 50. Since the Tucson school district is heavily Latino, that’s a lot of kids. Egged on by anti-immigrant groups, the Anglo-dominated administration decided that the program was un-American and divisive because it taught the kids about the War with Mexico, struggles for school desegregation, and Jim Crow laws under which people with brown skins had to sit in the balcony of movie theaters, take a back seat in restaurants, swim in public pools on one day of the week only, and work according to a dual wage scale, one for Anglos, the other for Mexicans.
When an outside audit gave the program a positive review, the district ended it anyway and, for good measure, ordered that teachers discontinue using texts like Howard Zinn’s People’s History of the United States, Rodolfo Anaya’s Bless Me Ultima, Rodolfo Acuna’s Occupied America: A History of Chicanos, Elizabeth Martinez’s 500 Years of Chicano History, William Shakespeare’s The Tempest, Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed, and a book by the two of us, Critical Race Theory: An Introduction, in classes where they had found an eager readership of brown teenagers.
To make sure that everyone got the point, the authorities directed the staff to collect and box seven of the most offensive books during class time so that the students would see them being packed up and carried to trucks bound for a distant book depository.
Two items from today’s news raise similar questions about whether people — even lawyers — really are ready to exercise their legal rights in socially awkward situations. (And if even lawyers are not, do those rights mean anything?)
First, this from the NYT “Haggler” column, the New York Times’s consumer meta-advocate. The column, Restaurant Bill Shock? Some Readers Say ‘Au Contraire’, is a followup to an earlier one about someone going to a very fancy restaurant, ordering the daily special — pasta with truffles, price not mentioned by waiter — and being shocked by the dish’s $275 price tag.
Readers wrote in with suggestions, including this one from Franklin Synder, a law professor at Texas Wesleyan:
“You might be interested in letting your readers know that a restaurant meal is a ‘sale of goods’ under Article 2 of the Uniform Commercial Code,” he wrote. “The code provides that where the buyer and seller have agreed to a contract but have not agreed on the price, the price is not what the seller subsequently demands. It’s a reasonable price for the goods at issue. Thus a customer has no obligation to pay for anything more than the reasonable price of a pasta meal at a trendy restaurant.”
He continued: “In this circumstance, a customer should make a reasonable offer for the value of the meal, then walk out and wait to be sued for breach of contract. Be sure to leave the restaurant full contact information so they can’t claim that you’re trying to steal something.”
I confess I may know one or two people who might actually try this if sufficiently provoked, but I do not think I am part of that tiny minority.
Similarly, there is this piece of advice in today’s Miami Herald about what to do when boarding a cruise, offered by one Gabrielle D’Alemberte, who is identified a senior trial attorney at the Law Offices of Robert L. Parks, P.L., a Coral Gables-based plaintiff’s litigation firm:
For those of us in South Florida who travel outside the United States, it’s important to understand that many other countries in Europe, the Caribbean and Latin America have similar laws that make it difficult to file lawsuits in negligence-related cases. If the unthinkable occurs — a child’s drowning in a hotel pool, a crippling watercraft accident at a Caribbean resort or an outbreak of a dangerous virus on a cruise ship — the choice of forum makes a huge difference in the legal outcome.
Therefore, you have to be sure to read the fine print before signing your passenger ticket for a cruise. If you purchase your ticket through a travel agent, be sure you see the actual documents prior to departure — and send an email to the agent to document that request.
When you come to the choice of forum clause in your ticket, take out your pen and cross out a few words, such as “I agree to…” and hand the documents back to the boarding agent. While the agent has the right to deny you from boarding, most likely you will still be ushered aboard.
Likely? Likely? Let me tell you that if I were to persuade my wife to go on a cruise and then attempted to pull this stunt, I would probably be disowned. And if it resulted in our being denied boarding, I don’t even want to think of the consequences. Has Ms. D’Alemberte, or anyone in Parks firm actually tried this stunt? I’m dubious, even if she is Sandy D’Alemberte’s daughter. Admittedly it would be easier to recover from this stunt if you are sailing from a port where you live, since you can turn around and get home easily, but I think it might put a serious damper on your vacation, not to mention your relationship.
I’m not even certain whether the cruise line would be obligated to refund your money in these circumstances. I suppose it depends on at what point you are said to have accepted the language in the ticket – when they send it to you or when you hand it over to board. Is there a contracts lawyer in the house?
More generally, and more importantly, who lives like this? (And why should we have to?) No one I know does this, and I hang around lawyers all the time.
Very, very faithful readers may recall back in December 2007 I posted I Am A Plaintiff in which I recounted my discovery that I was part of a class of persons who had been subjected to improper foreign currency fees when using a US credit card abroad.
As I reported then, the proposed settlement offered me three choices:
- $25 cash money.
- Estimate how many days I was abroad in 1996-2006, and get a rebate of 1% of what they guess I spent with my credit card based on some formula they do not disclose. Key to that formula is whether I characterize my travel as sometimes/often/mostly “business,” “visiting friends or relatives,” or “vacation or leisure”. (In fact it was some of each.)
- Provide detailed receipts of my credit card usage abroad in that period and get 3% back.
I chose option two, having calculated that I was abroad for 394 days during the relevant period.
Today, about three and half years after claims were due, I got my check — for $51.81. This doesn’t seem like much, as I’m sure I would have spent more than $5181 while doing a combination of fairly high-priced business travel, some holiday travel, and just being, over the space of more than a year. And indeed, the note attached to the check I received states that “All refund amounts are reduced because the full amount of all the claims exceeds the amount in the settlement fund.”
Poking around on the settlement website reveals very little about how they calculated this figure. I was not able to find a clear statement of what the settlement value was, what the lawyers’ share of the settlement was, or what was left after they took their share. I was able to learn that 10 million (10 million!) claims were filed. I was not able to learn what formula(e) the parties used to value the claims — something I’d have liked to see. I did, however, learn that the amount claimed exceeded the amount of the settlement, so that payments were reduced according to a complicated formula in the Court-approved Revised Plan of Administration and Distribution. But the site does not reveal which of the various contingency plans in that document were used, nor how much of a discount got applied to claims like mine. (If I understood it right, it does say that the folks who picked option one got their $25, so I didn’t get paid much for all the effort of going through old calendars and diaries and calculating the number of days I was abroad.)
All in all, one has a sense that the purpose of the claims web site is not to inform but to obfuscate, while appearing to meet some minimum formality of seeming disclosure.
Commonly, a complaint about class actions is that the victims don’t even bother to make claims. In this case that is emphatically not the case, since 10 million claims were filed (I’m not clear, though, if it was 10 million people, or if there may have been multiple claims by holders of multiple cards). But at the end of the day, even people like me who had what one would think would be a fairly substantial claim — abroad more than a year — gets peanuts. Without knowing the size of the settlement one can’t say whether it may serve some deterrent function in the future, but I have to wonder if it was large enough to achieve that.
Incidentally, the note attached to the check says there’s a second, separate lawsuit,, Ross v. American Express Co., regarding the mis-use of arbitration clauses. If you were forced into arbitration, don’t get your hopes up too high: that case was settled for $49.5 million, of which only $13.875 million remains after court costs and attorneys’ fees. Perhaps it is apt that lead class counsel have their offices on Locust Street?