There is a disturbing story out of Folcroft, Pennsylvania where Senior Magisterial District Judge Horace Z. Davis refused a prosecutor’s repeated request for a continuance in a drug case because of the death of “Umberto,” the K9 partner of Folcroft police Cpl. Christopher Eiserman. Eiserman was mourning the loss of his companion (who had hip dysplasia and arthritis) but Davis ruled that it was no basis for a continuance.
While millions are dying of starvation and North Korea remains an isolated, despised power, it appears that supreme leader Kim Jong Un still has that magic of his old man, Kim Jong Il. Kim was reelected unanimously in his first election after taking over the country after his father’s death and then killing off his rivals, including family members. The North Korean press reported 100% of the country voted, though they found a ballot with a single name on it. In other words, you can have any leader as long as it is Kim Jong Il.
The annual U.S. News and World Report survey is out on law schools and George Washington is ranked 20th. The ranking has become a dominant element in the field with a heavy influence on applications and even alumni giving. In the current downturn in the legal field (with decreases in applications), that influence has only grown.
We have previously discussed the growing number of legal advertisements that degrade the profession with cheap pitches that would make a used car salesperson blush. That latest example (below) is from Pittsburgh attorney Daniel Muessig. The advertisement is clearly tongue-in-cheek but in the end I find it less than comical. Muessig promises to help felons get back to crime and proclaims that he “think like a criminal.” It fulfills the worst stereotypes of criminal defense lawyers as felons are shown committing crimes and saying “Thanks, Dan.” Muessig may have a skill for thinking like a criminal but he clearly has yet to master the talent of thinking like a lawyer.
Below is my column in Sunday’s Los Angeles Times. I recently testified on this issue in three separate hearings before Congress (here and here and here). Last week, President Obama proceeded to add yet another suspension order to the health care law. It is part of a broader array of such unilateral actions that raise disturbing constitutional issues under the Separation of Powers. This goes beyond the usual discretion in “filing in the blanks” or ambiguities of laws. These were not delegated or unanswered questions. These were largely core issues — dates and coverage issues — that were the subject of intense congressional debate. Indeed, in a number of cases, President Obama asked for reforms and was denied the changes by Congress — only to order the very same reforms by executive action. That is why this is not an administrative law but a constitutional law issue in my opinion.
There is an interesting controversy in Arkansas where Circuit Judge Mike Maggio was revealed as an anonymous commenter known as “geauxjudge.” After being outed from online sites, Maggio apologized and withdrew from a race for the appellate court. The controversy however raises the question of whether such comments should be a subject for ethical discipline and whether judges should have the right to comment anonymously on such sites.