I’m desperately trying to meet a course materials deadline so my brain is stuck on law right now. Here are are few items of general interest:
1. As expected, the Supreme Court passed on the various cases involving the election, ruling them moot, which indeed they are. Thomas and Alito dissented, with Gorsuch joining with Alito, on the grounds that it would be prudent to take up the issues involved in those cases now, to avoid a repeat in the next election.
“The Constitution gives to each state legislature authority to determine the ‘Manner’ of federal elections,” Yet both before and after the 2020 election, nonlegislative officials in various States took it upon themselves to set the rules instead. As a result, we received an unusually high number of petitions and emergency applications contesting those changes.”
Thomas argued that the cases Republican Party of Pennsylvania v. Veronica DeGraffenreid (2021) and Jake Corman v. Pennsylvania Democratic Party (2021) presented “a clear example” of election law issues that the Supreme Court should settle, writing
“The Pennsylvania Legislature established an unambiguous deadline for receiving mail-in ballots: 8 p.m. on election day. Dissatisfied, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court extended that deadline by three days. That decision to rewrite the rules seems to have affected too few ballots to change the outcome of any federal election. But that may not be the case in the future. These cases provide us with an ideal opportunity to address just what authority nonlegislative officials have to set election rules, and to do so well before the next election cycle. The refusal to do so is inexplicable.”
Oh, I can explain it. The Court doesn’t want to inject a destabilizing element into what is already dangerously widespread suspicion about the election. An opinion that said, in essence, “This was illegal, and some illicit votes were allowed to count that shouldn’t, probably not enough to change the results, but at this point, who knows?” would not be helpful or wise.
2. If you think a lawyer looking like a cat at a hearing is bad, or appearing before a judge on Zoom in pajamas, or a professor being on mute for two hours while lecturing remotely, consider this: Peruvian defense lawyer Héctor Cipriano Paredes Robles was taking part in a virtual hearing when his video feed began to show him stripping naked, and engaging in enthusiastic sex with a naked woman.The judge, John Chahua Torres, tried to alert Robles that the hearing participants could see him and his partner’s multiple positions on the live feed, but the lawyer was, uh, busy.
“We are witnessing obscene acts which represent a violation of public decency and are aggravated by the fact they are being recorded nationally!” Judge Torres said.
3. Believe It or Not! The Tennessee Supreme Court suspended lawyer Winston Bradshaw Sitton for four years, with one year to be served on active suspension and the remainder on probation. The lawyer advised a friend on Facebook how she could use the “Castle Doctrine” to justify shooting a former boyfriend she had accused of abuse. The panel recommended a 60-day suspension, but the Tennessee Supreme Court determined that the penalty was too light. Ya think? Giving legal advice on social media is so stupid that it alone justifies a long suspension, never mind advice on how to get away with murder.
Sitton defended himself by claiming that his Facebook post was “dark humor” and “sarcastic,” and that his intent was to dissuade the woman from carrying a gun in her car. Lame excuses are not a good idea in an ethics hearing. A panel concluded a reasonable person would not perceive the comments that way.
That the advice was posted on social media was considered an aggravating factor.