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September 21 Digest

Posted By Administration, Friday, September 21, 2018

In Major TCPA Win for Plaintiffs, Ninth Circuit Adopts Broad Definition of Autodialer

#MeToo Takes Aim at Secret Settlements

Diving In: Inside the Evolution of Law Firm Cybersecurity Practices

Does Risk of Racial Bias Make a Death Sentence Unconstitutional?

Proposed legislation would eliminate PACER fees

A new bill before the U.S House of Representatives would prohibit the federal courts from charging for public documents.
Read the full story at ABA Journal 

 

'Outrageously excessive' requests for attorney fees can be altogether denied, 3rd Circuit says

A federal appeals court has upheld a federal judge’s decision to deny as “grossly excessive” a request for more than $900,000 in attorney fees based on a $100,000 punitive award.
Read the full story at ABA Journal 

 

Some immigrants picked up by ICE given 'fake dates' to appear in court

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has failed to coordinate or clear appearance dates with federal courts in six cities, the Dallas Morning News reports.
Read the full story at ABA Journal

 

Conservative Activist Ed Whelan Apologizes for Tweets About Kavanaugh Accuser

 
 

Shutterstock.com.

 

A federal appeals court has upheld a federal judge’s decision to deny as “grossly excessive” a request for more than $900,000 in attorney fees based on a $100,000 punitive award.

When a request under a fee-shifting statute is “outrageously excessive,” a judge may deny the award altogether if the statute gives the judge discretion in awarding fees, the Philadelphia-based 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said.

The Legal Intelligencer has coverage of the Sept. 12 decision, written by Judge Joseph Greenaway Jr.

Lawyers seeking the fees had admittedly tasked one lawyer with recreating time records that included vague descriptions and excessive hours, the appeals court said. Sixty-four hours were billed for “transcripts/clips” and 562 hours were billed to prepare for a week-long trial. There were only five witnesses for both sides.

The appeals court ruled in the case of Bernie and Nicole Clemens, who had sued New York Central Mutual Fire Insurance Co. in Pennsylvania state court for bad faith handling of an uninsured motorist claim. The case was removed to federal court, where the uninsured motorist claim was settled for $25,000.

After trial on the bad faith claim, jurors awarded $100,000 in punitive damages. The plaintiffs’ lawyers at the Pisanchyn Law Firm in Scranton, Pennsylvania, sought more than $900,000 in attorney fees under a fee-shifting statute.

U.S. District Judge Malachy Mannion of Scranton denied the request in August 2017, calling it “astounding” and “exorbitant.” Mannion had examined the fee request, reduced it by 87 percent, then awarded no fee because it was excessive.

Bernie Clemens appealed.

The 3rd Circuit said Mannion’s decision “was entirely appropriate under the circumstances of this case.”

The 3rd Circuit said lawyers for Clemens didn’t maintain contemporaneous time records for most of the litigation, instead recreating the records for the fee petition. ”Even worse,” Greenaway wrote, “the responsibility of reconstructing the time records was left to a single attorney, who retrospectively estimated not only the length of time she herself had spent on each individual task, but also the amount of time others had spent on particular tasks, including colleagues who could not be consulted because they had left the firm by the time the fee petition was filed.”

“Astonishingly,” the appeals court said in a footnote, “counsel then attempted to recover attorney’s fees in the amount of $27,090 for the 64.5 hours it supposedly took to reconstruct the time records.”

The appeals court said reconstructed time records don’t necessarily justify complete disallowance of a fee award, but require more exacting scrutiny. Exacting scrutiny isn’t even required, however, to uncover further problems with the fee record, the court said.

“Even worse, the responsibility of reconstructing the time records was left to a single attorney, who retrospectively estimated not only the length of time she herself had spent on each individual task, but also the amount of time others had spent on particular tasks, including colleagues who could not be consulted because they had left the firm by the time the fee petition was filed.”
Judge Joseph Greenaway Jr., 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Time entries with descriptions such as “other” and “communicate” were vague, and descriptions such as “attorney review” didn’t indicate the nature of the subject being reviewed, Greenaway said. Other entries were “unnecessary and excessive.”

Greenaway described as “staggering” the hundreds of hours billed for trial preparation, which would have meant counsel prepared for trial for about 70 days. “Counsel certainly have an obligation to be prepared,” the court said, “but we simply cannot fathom how they could have reasonably spent such an astronomical amount of time preparing for trial in this case.”

Lawyer Mike Pisanchyn told the Legal Intelligencer that the fee request was not excessive and his clients “are extremely happy with the representation.” He said his firm had litigated the case for eight to nine years, and the firm had obtained “a $100,000 award on a zero written offer.”

Hat tip to Law360.

 
 

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September 20 Digest

Posted By Administration, Thursday, September 20, 2018

What Pushes Undergrads to Law School? It Ain't the Money.

Judicial Discipline Records Face First-Ever Audit After Deal Ends Dustup

Character and Fitness and the Supreme Court

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September 19 Digest

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Multistate Bar Exam Scores Sink to 34-Year Low, Pass Rates Sag

Employers Can't Shortchange Service-Industry Workers With Dual Responsibilities

Marcia Coyle Outlines 'Stark' Differences Between Kavanaugh, Thomas Hearings

Contra Costa Judge Accused of Sexual Harassment, Improper Comments

Get Ready for an 8-Justice Supreme Court, as Kavanaugh Controversy Persists

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September 18 Digest

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Jeff Sessions, Nodding to Justice Thomas, Takes New Swing at National Injunctions

Rimon Reels in 8-Strong Silicon Valley IP Team

Berkeley Law Is Deeply Divided on 'Boalt' Name, Chemerinsky Says

Announcing The Recorder's 2018 Women Leaders in Tech Law

 

Proskauer Partner Behind $50M Gender Bias Suit Jumps to Polsinelli

#MeToo Whistleblower Lawyer Makes Waves in Washington

Federal Judicial Misconduct Rules Could Get a Significant Makeover

Can our independent judiciary survive the politicized criticism leveled against it?

Critical to our system of government—indeed the foundation of this democratic republic—is the rule of law, the system’s most fragile aspect. It is this concept, and its existence in fact, that separates our society from most others.
Read the full story at ABA Journal 

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September 14 Digest

Posted By Administration, Friday, September 14, 2018

California's Bar Exam Evaluated Again, This Time on Job Skills

Ninth Circuit Cannabis Ruling Gives Biz Owner New Chance to Fight Charges

Bill Reshaping 9th Circuit Passes House Committee

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Superior Court Needs Temporary Judge Volunteers

Posted By Administration, Thursday, September 13, 2018

The Superior Court of California, County of Santa Clara is seeking much-needed additional volunteers for the Temporary Judge program.  

 

Under California Rules of Court, qualified and experienced attorneys may volunteer their time to serve as part of the Superior Court of California, County of Santa Clara's Temporary Judges' Program. Temporary judges are appointed and serve at the discretion of the Court. Attorneys must have been members of the California State Bar for at least ten years, must be a member of the State Bar in good standing, must not have pled guilty or no contest to a felony, and must satisfy the educational and training requirements. 

 

For more general information, go to the Temporary Judge Web Page at http://www.scscourt.org/general_info/jo/temp_judges.shtml

 

To see the Educational and Training requirements, go to http://www.scscourt.org/general_info/jo/temp_judges.shtml#training

To complete the Temporary Judge Application, go to http://www.scscourt.org/general_info/jo/temp_judge_application.asp

To complete the Placement Form, go to http://www.scscourt.org/general_info/jo/temp_judge_questionnaire.asp

NOTE - THE NEXT "BENCH CONDUCT & DEMEANOR" CLASS IS TUESDAY OCTOBER 16TH FROM 4:30 PM TO 7:30 PM.

To contact the Temporary Judge Administrator with questions or for general information, please email TJP@scscourt.org.

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September 13 Digest

Posted By Administration, Thursday, September 13, 2018

House Committee to Take Up Measure to Reconfigure the Ninth Circuit

Legal Industry Admits It Has a Substance Abuse Problem, But Recovery Won't Come Easy

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September 10 Digest

Posted By Administration, Monday, September 10, 2018

UC Hastings Report: New Tools Needed to Address Race, Gender Bias in Legal Profession

Movin' On: Bay Area Mid-Level Associates Express Doubt They'll Stay Put

Race and gender bias is rampant in law, says new report that also offers tools to fight it

A new report details the endemic bias women and minority lawyers continue to face compared to their white male counterparts, but it also offers some tools to disrupt the status quo.
Read the full story at ABA Journal 

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A Lesson in Document Review, Spurred by Sen. Harris’ Comments at Kavanaugh’s Confirmation Hearing

Posted By Administration, Friday, September 7, 2018

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September 5 Digest

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Lawyer for Republican AG Candidate Calls Disciplinary Proceedings "Politically Motivated"

Brett Kavanaugh Really Didn't Want to Talk About the Federalist Society

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more Calendar

6/20/2019
8th Annual Don Sagatun Edwards Child Services Fundraising Event

6/27/2019
Tips and Trends in Trade Secrets Law: DTS Act

Recent Recognitions
Constance L. Carpenter2018 Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year
Susana Inda2018 Barrister of the Year

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