Category Archives: Current Affairs

Dec 4
8:45 PM

Live Internet Viewing of 9th Circuit En Banc Proceedings

The 9th Circuit becomes the first federal court of appeal to launch its own live-streaming coverage of oral arguments:

The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit will provide live video streaming of its en banc proceedings, beginning with five cases scheduled for oral arguments December 9-11, 2013, in the James R. Browning U.S. Courthouse in San Francisco.  Effective December 9, Internet users will find links to the video streams here or by visiting and clicking on the link labeled “En Banc Video Streaming.”

Considered a leader in the use of technology to increase public access, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals is one of two federal appellate courts to allow the news media to use cameras in the courtroom.  Since the early 1990s, Ninth Circuit appellate panels have granted 378 media requests for still and video photography of often high-profile cases.

Since 2003, the court has been using its own technology to provide public access to digital audio recordings of all oral arguments heard at all locations on a next-day basis.  Video recording capability was later added.  Today, all 11 courtrooms in the four Ninth Circuit courthouses are video equipped.  Three courtrooms – one each in San Francisco, Pasadena and Portland – are equipped with high-definition video cameras.

Digital files containing audio and video recordings of court proceedings are available online at

This is the first time the court will use its own technology to deliver live video of a proceeding over the Internet.  Broadcast and cable news networks have previously provided live coverage of Ninth Circuit court proceedings, including Internet viewing.

Source: Internet Viewing of En Banc Proceedings, 9th Circuit website


Nov 4
1:54 PM
Oct 15
7:17 PM
Oct 8
9:12 PM

Gov. Brown Signs Bill Authorizing Admission to California Bar Regardless of Immigration Status

AB 1024 was passed by the California Assembly and Senate in September, largely in response to a pending case before the California Supreme Court. Sergio Garcia graduated from law school and passed the California bar exam. He was initially granted a law license, but it was then rescinded due to his undocumented status.

Garcia had been brought to the U.S. as a toddler, went back to Mexico at the age of 9, then returned to the U.S. as a teenager. He has been waiting for a green card for nearly 10 years. The California Supreme Court heard oral arguments in early September and early indications were that Garcia's bid for admission would be unsuccessful, prompting the legislature to act.


Sep 24
2:10 PM

Link rot in SCOTUS decisions documented; half don’t go to original material

From the ABA Journal:

The U.S. Supreme Court has cited Internet materials 555 times since 1996, but tracking down the information isn’t always easy.

According to a new study by co-authored by Harvard law professor Jonathan Zittrain, half of the hyperlinks in Supreme Court opinions no longer link to the information originally cited. The New York Times covers the results. “Supreme Court opinions have come down with a bad case of link rot,” the Times says.

Click for full screenshot.

According to the study, many of the links did turn up Web pages, but
they didn’t go to the original information cited or the information had
materially changed. Sometimes when the information changed, there was no
note indicating the update.

The Times notes one hyperlink in an opinion about violent video games
by Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. Users who click on the link are taken to
an error message
that reads: “Aren’t you glad you didn’t cite to this Web page? … If you
had, like Justice Alito did, the original content would have long since
disappeared and someone else might have come along and purchased the
domain in order to make a comment about the transience of linked
information in the Internet age.”

The Supreme Court clerk does keep a hard copy of hyperlinked
materials, but Zittrain suggest another solution: a platform that would
allow authors to generate, store, and reference archived data. He is
working on such a platform, called, which is supported by a
group of law libraries and nonprofits. Though the project would
initially focus on legal scholarship, it would also work for the Supreme
Court, Zittrain told the Times.

Source: Debra Cassens Weiss, Link Rot in SCOTUS Decisions Documented; Half Don't Go to Original Material, ABA Journal (Sep. 24, 2013).

See also:

Jonathan Zittrain, Perma: Scoping and addressing the problem of "link rot," The Future of the Internet and How to Stop It (Sep. 20, 2013).

Kendra Albert & Jonathan Zittrain, Perma: Scoping and Addressing the Problem of Link and Reference Rot in Legal Citations (working paper on SSRN) (Sep. 21, 2013).

Adam Liptak, In Supreme Court Opinions, Web Links to Nowhere, N.Y. Times (Sep. 23, 2013).

Raizel Liebler & June Liebert, Something Rotten in the State of Legal Citation: The Life Span of a United States Supreme Court Citation Containing an Internet Link (1996—2010), 15 Yale J.L & Tech. 273 (2013), a service, currently in beta, that allows users to create citation links that will never break.


Sep 20
11:02 AM

ABA task force report proposes scrutiny of law school funding, pricing and accreditation standards

The ABA Task Force on the Future of Legal Education has released its draft report and recommendations

An ABA task force is recommending wholesale changes in the financing
of legal education, the elimination of some law school accreditation
standards, and it is pushing for more innovation and practical skills
training in law school educational programs.

The task force is also calling on courts, state bar associations and
bar admitting authorities to come up with new or improved frameworks for
the licensing of limited legal service providers.

[T]ask force member Nancy Hardin Rogers, a professor emeritus
at Ohio State University, wrote separately to seek public comment on a
different approach to some of the law school pricing and funding
problems identified by her colleagues.

Rogers noted a recent proposal by the Obama administration (and cited this New York Times
article that covered it) that would base federal financial aid to
students on such factors as a school’s tuition, graduation rates, debt
loads, earnings potential and the percentage of lower-income students
who attend.

The task force recommends, among other things, that the ABA undertake
a fuller examination of law school funding and pricing issues than the
task force has been able to do. It also suggests that the ABA Section of
Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar revise accreditation
standards that increase the costs but not necessarily the quality of a
legal education. And it calls on state supreme courts, state bar
associations and lawyer regulatory agencies to look for ways to reduce
the educational requirements for admission and authorize people without
JDs to provide limited legal services.


The task force will use the public comments it receives on the draft
report to help prepare its final report and recommendations, which it
plans to issue by Nov. 20, the filing deadline for consideration by the
House of Delegates at the ABA’s Midyear Meeting in February in Chicago.

Source: ABA Journal article, ABA task force report proposes scrutiny of law school funding, pricing and accreditation standards.

Sep 3
8:32 PM

Twitter posts result in loss of job and disciplinary action

A research attorney working for the Kansas Court of Appeals lost her job and now faces disciplinary action from the Kansas state bar. It's all because of tweets she sent about a former Kansas attorney general with his own ethics issues. The former AG was appearing in front of the Kansas Supreme Court regarding his conduct while attorney general. The research attorney was apparently viewing the proceedings online using her work computer from her office in the same building. She sent several colorful tweets (you can read the text of her ill-advised tweets here). She later said that she'd intended the tweets for a few friends and didn't realize they were publicly visible.

ABA Journal article: Fired over 'naughty boy' tweet about ex-AG's ethics case, court research lawyer is now on hot seat.


Nov 19
3:40 PM

No Redress for Torture in the Seventh Circuit

On November 7, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit reversed a 2011 decision allowing two Americans to recover damages from former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld for torture they endured at the hands of the American military in Iraq.  In Vance v. Rumsfeld , the court held that “a common-law right of action for damages should not be created” and that in any case Rumsfeld and other “remote superiors” were entitled to immunity for such conduct.

The court’s decision is in line with recent decisions out of the Fourth Circuit and the District of Columbia Circuit, although the ruling is said to go further (see a New York Times editorial here).  Importantly, the decision also marks a departure from the 41-year-old Supreme Court precedent in Bivens v. Six Unknown Federal Narcotics Agents, 403 U.S. 388 (1971).  In Bivens, the Court held that when federal agents inflict harm in violation of the Fourth Amendment, individuals suffering such harm may recover damages.

The dissent in Vance contended that the ruling confers “absolute civil immunity to the U.S. military for violations of civilian citizens’ constitutional rights” and “leave[s] citizens legally defenseless to serious abuse or worse by their own government.”  [REG]

Oct 1
2:50 PM

Election 2012: Are You Registered?

this week, Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill that would allow California
voters to register to vote as late as Election Day.  While the law does
not take effect this year
, it is expected to be in place by the 2016
presidential election or even sooner, depending on how quickly the State is
able to establish the required voting database (more information about the
legislation, AB1436, can be found here).

the meantime, California’s current law requires registration 15 days prior to
an election: October 22 for this year’s General Election (November 6).  Also, it is very important to double-check your registration status even if you already registered, because technical errors often prevent voters for accessing the polls on Election Day.  For California,
below are some useful links:

Register to Vote:

Already Registered?  Check Status:

San Diego County Status:

laws vary, so if you’re registered to vote (or plan to register to vote) in a
different state, you may want to check out the following:

Register to Vote:

More Information, Including Deadlines:

states require submission at least 30 days prior to an election, so take a
moment to make sure you’re ready to go once November 6 rolls around! [REG]

Feb 16
10:16 AM

California’s Foreclosure Process is “utterly broken”

The City and County of San Francisco retained Aequitas, an audit firm, to review residential mortgage loans that resulted in 2009-2011 foreclosure sales. The Aequitas report begins with a short primer on California residential lending and foreclosure law, explaining that California's statutory foreclosure process used by most lenders is a non-judicial process with very little oversight. Alarmingly, Aequitas reports:

Overall, we identified one or more irregularities in 99% of the subject loans. In 84% of the loans, we identified what appear to be one or more clear violations of law.

The report goes onto detail the particular types of irregularities and their respective frequencies (full report). The report concludes:

… with so many homes being foreclosed and with so little oversight, California’s foreclosure process appears utterly broken…. California’s real estate laws were designed to address a far simpler, much different market…. California’s hoary statutory foreclosure process is complicated by outmoded assumptions  and problematic ambiguities. It is in the best interest of all—the mortgage industry, securities investors, homeowners and communities—to modernize California’s real estate laws so that these issues are more effectively addressed.