A Friday Potpourri

From the crap tables of Las Vegas to the corridors of power in Washington; from North Carolina's lacrosse fields to a federal courthouse in Tampa, Bench Conference brings you today the world of the law, such as it is. No single major story worth a half-dozen graphs of coverage of commentary. But there was this....

The Los Angeles Times' second of a three-part series on judicial ethics-- or the lack thereof in Las Vegas-- is just as powerful as Part I was yesterday. Today's piece focuses upon federal judge James C. Mahan who, according to the fine reportage of Michael J. Goodman and William C. Rempel of the Times, "first as a state judge and now as a federal judge, he has approved more than $4.8 million in judgments and fees during more than a dozen cases in which a recent search of court records found no statement that he disclosed his relationships with those who benefited from his decisions." Can you imagine what folks must be talking about in the corridors of Nevada"s courthouses?

Meanwhile, the Washington Post has a story this morning advancing the battle between Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) and Vice President Dick Cheney, who responded to the former's angry letter earlier this week with a snippy letter of his own on Thursday. And despite the big hint from the White House that he ought to buzz off, Sen. Specter is still trying to get Congress onto the scoreboard in the domestic surveillance arena, offering the White House a compromise that some critics no doubt will see as a cave-in.

Also, there is another wave of defense spin in the Duke Lacrosse rape case. Attorneys for the accused including in a court filing yesterday plenty of nuggets designed to make front-page news in the area from which potential trial jurors will be culled. The defense claims that prosecutors misled the judge about the strength of the case. Prosecutors haven't yet responded, either in court or in public.

And, finally, there is the cute legal story making the rounds about a federal judge in Tampa who is making attorneys in a civil case play the children's game of "rock, paper, scissors" to determine where a deposition ought to be held. Now, if we could get Cheney and Specter to play a high-stakes game of "rock, paper, scissors" to determine the scope of the NSA's surveillance program we'd really have something. Bet it would be huge on cable.

By  |  June 9, 2006; 11:00 AM ET
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First, is there a national watchdog group for the profession to bring charges for such outright bribery? Because if there isn't, there's a need for one, because if voters don't know of crooks in their midst (and powerless to stop them since they tend to play hardball), the abuses will continue.

Nothing short of quacks are worse than lawyers/judges with the power to send folks to prison, and waste their entire fortunes due to sheer corruption and kickbacks.

Secondly, Specter won his position after some backdoor promises. If he reneges on them, he'll gain the wraith like Justice Kennedy gets from conservatives, and kiss politics goodbye. So yes, he'll make promises, as like many dirty politicians before him, won't do a darn thing about transgressions of civil rights. If anything it'll be yet another window dressing hearing that folks will tune out, again.

Why on Earth do we have politicans who are anything but Statesmen/women? Just being glib, have good looks or being an actor shouldn't qualify folks for office.

Thirdly, if the DA doesn't have the goods on the Duke scandal, put a fork in him as his goose is cooked. Don't care if he's trying to avoid a race riot, charging folks (and ruining their lives) over scant evidence and hunches makes a mockery of the court system. He better deliever something more than witchcraft, or the riot will come at the ballot office.

Really should gag cases before trial, because it's becoming more and more difficult to separate fact from fiction, especially when Greta and Nancy get ahold of a case. That's not justice, either.

SandyK

Posted by: SandyK | June 9, 2006 08:00 PM

"Sen. Specter is still trying to get Congress onto the scoreboard in the domestic surveillance arena, offering the White House a compromise that some critics no doubt will see as a cave-in."

Lets check it out:

"The new proposal specifies that it cannot 'be construed to limit the constitutional authority of the President to gather foreign intelligence information or monitor the activities and communications of any person reasonably believed to be associated with a foreign enemy of the United States.'"

In other words, the "compromise" lets the Senate say that it passed legislation and lets the President continue to spy in derogation of same. Since he is not required to say what he is doing, no one will know anyway.

It doesn't take a "critic" to see this for what it is: a whitewash.

Posted by: MC | June 10, 2006 02:23 AM

The New York Times Editorial Board has it right:

"We're baffled by Mr. Specter's continuing efforts to appease the White House. Last week, Mr. Cheney organized a coup in the Judiciary Committee to kill Mr. Specter's plan to subpoena telecommunications executives and ask them about the USA Today report that their companies are turning over phone records without a court order. Mr. Cheney told the panel's Republicans to oppose subpoenas and said the executives had been ordered not to testify because they could expose "extremely sensitive classified information." That's odd, given that the phone companies keep denying the report.

Mr. Specter ... still thinks it's a good sign that the vice president's office offered to review his legislation and suggest changes. Mr. Cheney and his underlings are the problem, not the solution, and Mr. Specter should realize that by now. Mr. Specter has the votes to subpoena the executives. All he has to do is drop his idea of meeting behind closed doors, and side with the panel's Democrats, who want to have the hearing in full view of the Americans whose rights are being violated."

Posted by: MC | June 11, 2006 03:37 PM

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