Recently in Humor Category
The Affordable Care Act contains more than a few examples of inartful drafting. (To cite just one, the Act creates three separate Section 1563s. See 124 Stat. 270, 911, 912.) Several features of the Act's passage contributed to that unfortunate reality. Congress wrote key parts of the Act behind closed doors, rather than through "the traditional legislative process." ... And Congress passed much of the Act using a complicated budgetary procedure known as "reconciliation," which limited opportunities for debate and amendment, and bypassed the Senate's normal 60-vote filibuster requirement. ... As a result, the Act does not reflect the type of care and deliberation that one might expect of such significant legislation. Cf. Frankfurter, Some Reflections on the Reading of Statutes, 47 Colum. L.Rev. 527, 545 (1947) (describing a cartoon "in which a senator tells his colleagues 'I admit this new bill is too complicated to understand. We'll just have to pass it to find out what it means.'").In the 1940s, that fictional senator's statement was so absurd that a cartoonist made it up for laughs, but in 2010 the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, said it for real.
These international stories often involve questions of the reach of U.S. law. Devlin Barrett, Christopher Matthews, and Aruna Viswanatha have this story in the WSJ.
In 1981, Hastings was charged with accepting a $150,000 bribe in exchange for a lenient sentence and a return of seized assets for 21 counts of racketeering by Frank and Thomas Romano, and of perjury in his testimony about the case. In 1983, he was acquitted by a jury after his alleged co-conspirator, William Borders, refused to testify in court (resulting in a jail sentence for Borders).
In 1988, the Democratic-controlled U.S. House of Representatives took up the case, and Hastings was impeached for bribery and perjury by a vote of 413-3. He was then convicted in 1989 by the United States Senate (also controlled by the Democrats), becoming the sixth federal judge in the history of the United States to be removed from office by the Senate.
But Judge Hastings is a superb politician, and got himself elected to Congress in 1992. He's still there -- but as he tells us, just getting by.
Update: Turns out this was a guardianship case, not a criminal case, so the caption above isn't strictly correct. See follow-up post.
One of my favorite quotes is, "It's not what we don't know that gets us in trouble; it's what we know for a fact that just ain't so." Do I know for a fact that Will Rogers said that? Um, no. Not Mark Twain either.
After 15 days of victims recounting their injuries, experts testifying about explosives and terrorism, and witnesses detailing the deaths of three people in the Boston Marathon bombings, the defense team of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev had its turn to make a case.
It was over in six hours.
Defense counsel has been understandably circumspect in dealing with the press. Still, in an exclusive to this author, counsel gave a brief statement:
In the guilt phase of the trial, there wasn't a lot we could do. We've been preparing for what we expect will be the penalty phase.
What's needed is to humanize the client, to show he's not a monster. That's where we've been aiming. Still, it's not been without trouble. In the months we've been working with Mr. Tsarnaev, it's become clear that he's a narcissistic brat. Not only did he never deny planting the bomb, he's proud of it. He's told us that America had it coming for its treatment of Muslims. When his brother broached the idea, he couldn't have been more enthusiastic. He thinks the little boy he blew up was just one more infidel. To make things worse, he was headed toward an arrogant life of White Privilege. He was so spoiled he even wanted to play Little League. Can you imagine?
The reason I'm willing to discuss these things is that I think it's important for lawyers to tell the truth, be fully forthcoming, and not try to hoodwink anyone. I mean, this is about justice, right?"