Good morning. An American Bar Association council voted unanimously to advance a law school free speech proposal to the next stage. Plus, President Joe Biden will have a new vacancy to fill on the 1st Circuit; a judge refused to sanction attorneys who sued The Children’s Place for allegedly selling school uniforms that contain toxic “forever chemicals;” and prominent litigator David Boies will step down next year as leader of the law firm he co-founded. Welcome to Monday!
A plan that would require all American Bar Association-accredited law schools to establish free speech policies cleared a key hurdle amid mounting campus tensions over conflict in the Middle East, Karen Sloan reports.
The ABA council that oversees law schools voted unanimously on Friday to send the free speech proposal to the ABA’s House of Delegates in February for final approval. The ABA’s law school accreditation rules have long protected the academic freedom of faculty, but this standard would be the first to address free speech for the entire law school community.
Campus free speech debates have intensified since Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel and Israel’s responding assault on Gaza, with Israeli and Palestinian supporters clashing. But free speech has been a hot topic in legal education for more than two years following controversies at several high-profile schools–which played a role in developing the ABA’s new free speech requirement.
David Boies, who became one of America’s most prominent lawyers in cases involving Microsoft, the 2000 U.S. presidential election and the fight to legalize same-sex marriage, is stepping down in December 2024 as leader of Boies Schiller Flexner, the law firm he co-founded. A new chairman will be selected next month.
U.S. Senator Bob Menendez, who is fighting accusations that he conspired to act as an unregistered foreign agent for the Egyptian government and other charges, moved to replace his defense team at Winston & Strawn with attorneys from Paul Hastings, including trial lawyer Robert Luskin, court filings show.
U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennellyrefused to sanction attorneys at Aylstock Witkin Kreis & Overholtz and Bradley Grombacher who sued The Children’s Place for allegedly selling school uniforms that contain toxic chemicals, despite the company’s claims the case was based on thin evidence.
That’s the number of seats President Joe Biden could fill on the six-member 1st Circuit. Judge William Kayatta said on Friday he will step down from active service and assume senior status following the confirmation of a successor. The new vacancy will give Biden a chance to name almost all of the judges on the court.
Scandal-tainted Ohio utility FirstEnergy has persuaded an appellate court to grant mid-case review of the trial court decision allowing investors to bring classwide securities fraud claims against the company. Alison Frankel has the details on the appeal, which will consider two hot-button issues in securities class action litigation.
“This case pits real lawyers against a robot lawyer.“
—Chief U.S. District Judge Nancy Rosenstengel in a decision dismissing a lawsuit by small Illinois law firm MillerKing that accused “robot lawyer” DoNotPay of engaging in the unauthorized practice of law. The judge said MillerKing’s claims are not sufficient to give it legal standing to sue DoNotPay in federal court, but she gave the firm leave to amend its complaint.
On Monday, lawyers for FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried face a deadline to file any post-trial motions following his conviction on fraud charges earlier this month.
On Tuesday, Steve Waithe, a former track and field coach at Northeastern University and other schools, is slated to plead guilty after being charged with perpetrating a scheme to trick female student-athletes to send him nude or semi-nude photos through sham social media accounts.
On Wednesday, the Biden administration is expected to file court papers opposing a bid by Students for Fair Admissions, a group that successfully challenged race-conscious collegiate student admissions policies at the U.S. Supreme Court, to block affirmative action policies at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point that it says unconstitutionally discriminate against white applicants.
Friday is not a federal holiday, but lawyers will want to check individual court holiday calendars to see which ones are open. For example, New York’s Southern Districtlists Nov. 24 as a holiday, while California’s Northern District does not. Whether a court is open or not can make a difference in computing times for filing court papers.
Court calendars are subject to last-minute docket changes.
In the courts
Music publishers Universal Music, Concord Music Group and ABKCO Musicasked a judge to issue a preliminary injunction that would prevent AI company Anthropic from reproducing or distributing their copyrighted song lyrics. Anthropic said it cannot comment on the litigation.
U.S. District Judge Carl Barbierdismissed a lawsuit filed by Black Louisiana residents alleging their local government racially discriminates through land use policy that has concentrated polluting petrochemical plants in minority neighborhoods, finding the lawsuit was filed too late. An attorney for the groups said they are evaluating all options. A parish representative said the judge came to the right conclusions.
The 9th Circuitruled that Miranda rights don’t apply to warrant-backed immigration arrests. A unanimous three-judge panel said that because deportation proceedings are civil and not criminal, non-citizens are not entitled to Miranda warnings, though one judge said the court should revisit the issue.
A Christian therapist represented by conservative legal group Alliance Defending Freedom urged the 10th Circuit to overturn a Colorado law banning psychotherapy intended to change a minor’s sexual orientation or gender identity, saying it violated her constitutional right to free speech.
U.S. District Judge Rebecca Grady Jenningsdeclared a mistrial in the federal civil rights trial of Brett Hankison, a former Louisville, Kentucky, police officer charged in the 2020 death of Breonna Taylor, a Black woman whose killing fueled a wave of racial justice protests. The jury told the judge they could not reach a unanimous verdict. A DOJ spokesperson said the department is considering its options.