lukegilman.com : The Blawgraphy
Life of a Law Student, University of Houston Law Center

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Please note: I'm no longer updating this particular blog, but keep it around for archival purposes. Visit me at the current blog at www.lukegilman.com

Houston Chronicle features Local Legal Icons Racehorse Haynes, Joe Jamail

The Houston Chronicle’s Mary Flood did a great story about local lawyers Richard “Racehorse” Haynes and Joe Jamail in Legendary lawyers show no signs of slowing downThe conversation is worthy of her subjects:

Haynes, the witty and gentlemanly criminal defense lawyer, recalls the prior generation’s legal master Percy Foreman warning him that the law is a jealous mistress “but they don’t explain that the law is a nymphomaniac.”

The article is an interesting look at two very successful lawyers who keep practicing long after they needed to and past the age when most men would have retired to the golf course.

Haynes recently told football star Michael Vick he didn’t want to take his dog fighting case, partially because the late, great Percy Foreman told Haynes not to take on clients who hurt horses or dogs. Foreman thought if cats were hurt it wasn’t as big a problem, Haynes recalls.

Just as interesting are the notes from the conversation she posted at the Legal Trade Blog: Jamail & Haynes – octogenarian legal masters -UPDATED

Haynes: The criminal law has changed for the worse.
Jamail: So has the civil law.
Haynes: The 6th amendment and the right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure are hanging by fingernails. The right to effective assistance off counsel? The 5th amendment? Hanging by fingernails. The 4th amendment? Why nobody’s even paying attention to it anymore.

Chemerinsky’s long, strange trip to UC Irvine

Noted constitutional scholar Erwin Chemerinsky was lured away from the University of Duke Law School to become the inaugural Dean of the newly minted University of California at Irvine School of Law. That is until UC Irvine Chancellor rescinded the offer, citing criticism from conservatives. Apparently there is at least one person who was unaware of Chemerinsky’s liberal views.

Seen as a spineless capitulation to political pressure, the firing was roundly denounced, see here, here, here, here, here, and here.

The Chancellor then apparently had a change of heart and renewed the offer, which Chemerinsky then accepted, again. Above the Law: Breaking: Erwin Chemerinsky to UC Irvine After All!. Proving that you can do the right thing and still manage to look bad.

Abogadomovil – Big Law Refugees Take the Road Less Travelled in New Practice

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution profiles three former big law refugees who left practice at King & Spalding to start up an unusual practice in Law firm takes immigration fight to streets.

When Cherokee County barred landlords from renting to illegal immigrants last year, Hernan, Taylor & Lee filed suit and got the county to back off. In July, when Gwinnett County required the companies it does business with to prove their workers are legal residents, the trio raised constitutional concerns. And when Cobb County proposed a crackdown on day laborers last month, the attorneys with the big RV successfully deflected the ordinance.

If you suspect that not everyone appreciates their efforts, you would of course be right. D.A. King, an anti-illegal immigration activist sent an Open letter to Atlanta ICE regarding Hernan Taylor & Lee and Alianza 17 de Marzo – just part of the illegal alien/open borders lobby in Georgia to a special agent at the Department of Homeland Security uring prosecution of the firm for transporting illegal aliens. Even other immigration lawyers, including Charles Kuck, an Atlanta attorney and president-elect of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, question whether the motivation of the firm is motivated more by “cash or conscience”.

I’ll leave it up to you to judge the ultimate worth of their aims. For law students, allow me to point out the following quote:

They say they make more now than if they had stayed at King & Spalding and achieved junior partner. And less than two years after moving into a new office suite off Holcomb Bridge Road, the 16-person firm has already outgrown the 3,500-square-foot space.

There’s more than one way to make a living as a lawyer. Have clients, will travel.

Coming Up, Constitution Day

Indeed, it has a day. The website breathlessly refers to it as “Celebrating the Birthday of your Government!” but I think the more appropriate analogy might be as our nation’s bar mitzvah, a coming of age a dozen or so years after independence.

In late 2004, Senator Byrd passed a legislation requiring that all schools, colleges and Federal agencies receiving Federal funds offer annual educational programming involving the Constitution of the United States on Constitution Day, September 17th.

Not satisfied with a mere day for our nation’s most scrutinized document, the University of Houston is celebrating Constitution week, beginning tomorrow, Sept. 12th. Almost makes me want to go tell the world about it in one of our designated free speech zones.

The University of Houston Constitutional Day website features a video presentation by the law center’s own Victor Flatt. Be sure to wear something Constitutional lest you be within Congress’ enumerated power to regulate pinching. And if you’re asking the obvious and painfully ironic question I suspect you are – please refer to Nelson Lund’s Is Constitution Day Constitutional?

Jurors on Trial in Pre-trial Questionnaires, KCF Murders, Enron

A murder trial in Bowie County has gained some notoriety for a voluminous questionaire used to question potential jurors. Romeo Pinkerton is the first of two defendants being tried in a case involving the kidnap and murder of five people taken from a KFC Restaurant in Kilgore in 1983. 350 potential jurors were summoned, a number some defense attorneys thought too small, given the notoriety of the case. Venue has already been moved from Henderson, some 115 miles away.

The 23-year old case got a break when a retired FBI agent turned to blood evidence that had never been tested for DNA, comparing a sample found at the scene against a national DNA database of felons and turning up Pinkerton and Hartsfield, the two men currently being tried.

As noted in the Houston Chronicle, the questionaire, with over 120 pages, quizzes potential jurors on “everything from what’s on their bumper stickers to what television crime shows they regularly watch to whether they have either volunteered, worked or know someone in the criminal justice system.” Though some jury experts cited the risk of jury fatigue, Houston defense attorneys Dick DeGuerin and Dan Cogdell both spoke highly of the questionnaire and of jury questionnaires in general in getting candid opinions free of ‘group think’.

The emphasis on pre-trial questionnaires is likely heightened in this case for two reasons. First, the Texas Attorney General, who is prosecuting the case, is likely considering the death penalty and wants to ensure that the jury that it picks is death qualified. Additionally, likely anticipates having to combat the CSI effect in presenting evidence on more than 20-year old DNA. The defense, of course, is interested in these same issues with different objectives.

With a jury not expected to be impaneled for another two weeks and a lengthy trial expected, one has to wonder if all this won’t generate some interesting responses from folks who would sooner stick needles in their eyes than sit through a trial conducted by the same people who made them write out answers to 120 questions just to get on the jury.

12 Angry Houstonians

Wisconsin trial lawyer Anne Reed has a great article on pre-trial questionnaires on her Deliberations jury blog, examining the 5th Circuit brief of former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling (via White Collar Crime Prof Blog) and finding a litany of jury statements in the questionnaires that would strike fear into the heart of any defendant. How did they end up on the jury? Here’s one argument:

the court made clear the answers it was looking for: “we want people who will listen to the evidence,” “we really want people who can start with an open mind,” “we don’t want you to prejudge people,” “we want 16 jurors … who will faithfully, conscientiously and impartially serve.” . . . The jurors responded by retracting their inflammatory questionnaire responses and insisting they could be fair.

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