Monday, August 31, 2015

SCOTUS: "Long Conference" on 9/28

The NY Times has an interesting piece this morning on the "long conference" where all of the summer petitions will be considered.  The odds of a grant from the long conference are particularly low.  Can't the Court meet a few times over the summer to consider the filed cert petitions?  Would that be such a burden in addition to the 70-75 cases that they hear a year?

Four weeks from now, on Sept. 28, the Supreme Court justices will gather in private for an annual ritual called the “long conference.” They will consider the roughly 2,000 petitions to hear appeals that have piled up over the summer. And they will reject almost every one.
“The summer list is where petitions go to die,” said Gregory G. Garre, a solicitor general in the George W. Bush administration who is now at Latham & Watkins.
The odds of persuading the Supreme Court to hear a case are always long. At the conferences held on many Fridays during the term, which lasts from October to June, the justices consider perhaps 200 petitions at a time and grant about 1.1 percent of them. At the long conference, the rate is roughly half of that, around 0.6 percent.
That difference is significant. “For the majority of petitioners, the most important moment is trying to get in the door,” said Jeffrey L. Fisher, a law professor at Stanford who argues frequently before the court. “Once you’re in, the statistics say, you have a two-thirds chance of winning. So the difference between a grant and a deny is truly the difference for a handful of cases on the summer list between winning and losing.”
Lawyers and scholars have various theories about why the long conference is so inhospitable. One is that the justices, who decide about 70 cases a year, do not want to grant too many petitions right away for fear of having to turn down better ones later on.
“It’s like the beginning of a long buffet,” Professor Fisher said. “You don’t want to fill your plate with too much stuff, lest you not have room for some delicious items at the end of the line.”

Meantime Liptak (the author of the article) and Orin Kerr are fighting about whether Justice Thomas here.  Here is the original NY Times piece that Kerr take on. Who has the better of the debate?  Kerr seems to make valid points about the flimsy statistics cited by Liptak.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Flakka and butt implant deliveries from overseas to be delayed due to Erika

Your 8am death cone:

Paula McMahon covers this big Flakka importation case:
Two men pleaded guilty Thursday to importing more than 24 pounds of the main ingredient in the street drug flakka from China to Broward County.

Federal authorities arrested Michael J. Hernandez, 25, of Orlando, and Jonell Vega-Mercado, 21, of Clermont, in June when they tried to pick up packages from a shipping and mailbox store in Hollywood.
Michael J. Hernandez and Jonell Vega-Mercado

Homeland Security Investigations agents said the packages contained the key ingredient for making the synthetic stimulant, which often causes hallucinations and psychosis.

The packages were addressed to fake names and were intercepted while being shipped to commercial mailboxes in Weston and Hollywood, authorities said.

The men ordered large amounts of the drug to be shipped from labs in China and the conspiracy went on from January to early June, according to the plea agreement. The men paid cash for mailbox services and used fake identities when they picked up the shipments.

Both men pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to import the drug ingredient at a hearing in federal court in West Palm Beach. The charge carries a maximum punishment of 20 years in federal prison and a $1 million fine.

And what's Friday news without Hurricanes, Flakka, and.... Butt Implants:
Peruvian woman who admitted she illegally smuggled a product into South Florida to perform an illegal "buttocks enhancement" procedure was sentenced to 10 months in federal prison on Thursday, court records show.

Teresa Nunez Orrego, 46, was arrested in May during an appointment with an undercover federal agent who posed as a client who wanted a "buttocks enhancement." The arrest was made at the Hallandale Beach apartment of Nunez's South Florida contact who scheduled her appointments.

Teresa Nunez Orrego, 46, was sentencd to 10 months in federal prison after admitting she traveled from Peru to Broward County with silicone, large hypodermic needles and syringes to perform an illegal cosmetic procedure, or "buttocks enhancement." (Handout, Broward Sheriff's Office)

Nunez had promised she would boost the woman's rear end with injections of a top-quality Swiss product for the bargain price of $1,000, according to court records.

Federal authorities said Nunez hid vials of silicone, with fake labels that claimed it was more expensive hyaluronic acid, in her luggage on a flight from Lima, Peru to Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.

Also concealed in her luggage were large hypodermic needles, syringes and vials of lidocaine to help treat reduce the pain involved in the procedure, according to agents from the Food and Drug Administration and Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

“He tried to nail Ben to the wall."

That's Henry Bell discussing Robert Feitel in this Herald article about lawyers and money laundering by Michael Sallah.  More:
Robert Feitel, a veteran lawyer with a long history of prosecutions, charged into court as the Justice Department’s point man to take on a prominent Miami lawyer in a case that came to symbolize the rights of attorneys to accept fees from international drug traffickers.
Feitel accused lawyer Ben Kuehne of fabricating documents to cover up dollars for the Medellin Cartel. He accused him of orchestrating the payments through overseas wires. He even said Kuehne knew much of the money came from the sale of drugs.
Now, years after the case ended, Feitel is cast in a strikingly similar position as the man he once prosecuted.
The Miami Herald found that more than $100,000 in drug money belonging to criminal organizations was sent to Feitel’s law firm by South Florida undercover officers posing as money launderers to infiltrate drug groups.
The undercover police picked up the cash in New York and sent the money to Feitel — now a defense attorney who specializes in drug cases — at the behest of criminal organizations in a series of payments never questioned by the former prosecutor, records and interviews show.
Kuehne, whose case was ultimately dropped by the government in 2009, said he was surprised to learn about payments to the man who once prosecuted him.
“The question is: Why was he getting the money?” said Kuehne, a former member of the Florida Bar’s board of governors who represented Vice President Al Gore in the 2000 presidential recount. “Is he going to get the same knock on the door?”
Contacted by phone, Feitel said he was unaware of the money sent to his office in northwest Washington, where he works mostly as a solo practitioner, adding he was surprised by The Herald’s call. “We’re usually pretty careful” about accepting questionable fees, he said.

Oh... it's the usually we're pretty careful defense! Henry and others were having none of it:
Several defense lawyers from Miami said they were riled that the onetime senior prosecutor was never questioned by law enforcement agents about the money sent to his account — funds picked up off the streets of New York from drug suspects.

“In his role at the DOJ, he prosecuted Ben for the same thing;” Bell said.

In an earlier interview, Feitel said money sent from a U.S. bank like the one used by the task force is more difficult to screen than funds from overseas exchange houses. “How was I supposed to know” the money is tainted? said Feitel. “That would have been difficult.”

One former federal prosecutor said money wired to a law firm from someone who is not a client should have raised basic questions. “What did he think the money was for?” said Joseph DeMaria, a Miami attorney who once served on the DOJ’s Organized Crime and Racketeering Section. “He’s got to be saying to himself: ‘Why am I getting this money? Especially someone who was a former prosecutor who’s even more heightened on these kinds of issues. He spent his career putting people in jail for money laundering.”

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Judge Williams rules that Mosely-Mayorga II will proceed

Well, the opening round of Don King Productions, Inc. v. Shane Mosely was, in Judge Williams's view, pretty much even, which means that the Mosely-promoted Grudge Match between Mosely and Ricardo Mayorga will proceed this Saturday night at The Forum in Inglewood, California as planned.

In a lengthy order denying Don King's promotional company's (DKP) motion for a preliminary injunction, Judge Williams found that sufficient evidence showed that Mayorga had entered into an agreement with DKP for it to exclusively promote Mayorga as a professional boxer. But she also concluded that DKP had failed to show a "substantial likelihood of success on the merits" about whether the agreement was still in effect and whether DKP had waived certain of its provisions. Plus, there was no irreparable harm that money couldn't remedy. So, Judge Williams concluded, the "extraordinary and drastic remedy" of stopping the fight simply wasn't called for.

Here's the order:

Monday, August 24, 2015

RIP Douglas Mincher, Clerk of 11th Circuit

The 11th Circuit posted these comments:

And Aly Palmer at The Daily Report in Atlanta covers the sad story here:

A longtime metro Atlanta court administrator, Douglas Mincher, has died at the age of 57.

Mincher, who became clerk of court for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit earlier this year, died on Sunday of an apparent heart attack, according to Circuit Executive James Gerstenlauer.

Mincher had been chief deputy clerk for the Northern District of Georgia from 2010 until being hired for the Eleventh Circuit job. He previously had worked for several years for the city of Atlanta, combining and administering its municipal and city courts.

Eleventh Circuit Chief Judge Ed Carnes said the news was a shock, noting that Mincher was a cyclist who exercised regularly to keep fit. "He would tell everybody who would listen that this job was his dream job," said Carnes, adding he had hoped that Mincher would be the clerk through the rest of his term as chief.