April 2008


We reluctantly pass along to you that the Houston Chronicle is reporting SCOTX Justice Medina‘s wife has been re-indicted for arson relating to the fire that destroyed the couple’s home last year.

Prosecutor Vic Wisner said he didn’t expect to seek any other indictments in the case, which would effectively clear Justice Medina in the matter.

Thx to Political Junkie and the Houston Chronicle

Not burdensome

I was tempted not to post on Monday’s SCOTUS decision in Crawford v. Marion County, No. 07-21 (Apr. 28, 2008 ), because I’ve never grasped what possible, plausible argument could be made that requiring a voter ID card is unconstitutional.

However, once I saw the following author line, it alone merits some discussion:

JUSTICE STEVENS announced the judgment of the Court and delivered an opinion in which THE CHIEF JUSTICE and JUSTICE KENNEDY join.

The more I read Senior Associate Justice Stevens’ opinion, the more I am convinced that any opposition to this law is–in Justice Scalia‘s words–“sheer applesauce.” See Zuni Public School District No. 89 v. Department of Education, No. 05–1508 (April 17, 2007) (Scalia, J., joined by Roberts, C.J., Thomas, J., and Souter, J., as to Part I, dissenting).

First, the voter ID cards the law requires are issued to voters at no cost. Slip. op. at 15 (Stevens, J., joined by Roberts, C.J., and Kennedy, J.). So all the bemoaning you may have read in the press or in the dissent regarding how this decision affirms what amounts to a poll tax is utter gibberish.

Even more amazingly, the law even provides for people who can’t obtain a voter ID (potentially including “elderly persons born out-of-state, who may have difficulty obtaining a birth certificate;18 persons who because of economic or other personal limitations may find it difficult either to secure a copy of their birth certificate or to assemble the other required documentation to obtain a state-issued identification; homeless persons; and persons with a religious objection to being photographed”), the ability to vote provisionally and then sign a free affidavit at the county courthouse. See id.

Justice Stevens even manages to get in some benchslappery directed at his colleague in dissent, Justice Souter:

Supposition based on extensive Internet research is not an adequate substitute for admissible evidence subject to cross-examination in constitutional adjudication.

Id. at 18 n.20.

Unsurprisingly, Justice Scalia boils the whole case down to its constitutional core in his concurrence:

The universally applicable requirements of Indiana’s voter-identification law are eminently reasonable. The burden of acquiring, possessing, and showing a free photo identification is simply not severe, because it does not “even represent a significant increase over the usual burdens of voting.” And the State’s interests, ante, at 7–13, are sufficient to sustain that minimal burden. That should end the matter. That the State accommodates some voters by permitting (not requiring) the casting of absentee or provisional ballots, is an indulgence—not a constitutional imperative that falls short of what is required.

Slip. op. at 6 (Scalia, J., joined by Thomas and Alito, J.J., concurring) (citations omitted).

Thx to the Austin Political Report and the NY Times


So says a male plaintiff in a lawsuit filed by three inhabitants of the Greek Island of Lesbos against the only officially-registered homosexual group in Greece to use the word “lesbian” in its name.

One of the ways the only male plaintiff stated he has been damaged is that:

My sister can’t say she is a Lesbian … [o]ur geographical designation has been usurped by certain ladies who have no connection whatsoever with Lesbos.

Proving yet again why he is the master, Professor Volokh predicted (and maybe influenced) just such a suit last summer:

A separate question, which might make some point, but which I stress is analytically distinct from the empirical questions I ask above: Say that the inhabitants of Lesbos find the term offensive. Should others, including lesbians, try to shift to a different term? Or should they go ahead with the term that they’ve used for a long time?

Thx to Volokh, the AP, and AbovetheLaw

Not chump change

The terms, “BigTex” and “MidTex,” are thrown around a lot to indicate who the top firms in Texas are, often subjectively. Below, see the list of the highest-grossing firms in Texas during FY 2007.

Akin Gump $752 million
Fulbright $649 million
Vinson & Elkins $596 million
Baker Botts $577.7 million
Bracewell & Giuliani $293 million
Haynes and Boone $264.3 million
Andrews Kurth $251 million
Locke Liddell $244.5 million
Thompson & Knight $214.5 million
Susman Godfrey $171 million
Gardere $169.2 million
Jackson Walker $163.5 million

Clearly, the only firms that can truly be referred to as “BigTex” are Akin Gump, Fulbright, V&E, and Baker Botts, who each make multiples in excess of the next highest ranking firms.

“MidTex” then, is plainly populated by Haynes and Boone, Bracewell & Giuliani, Andrews Kurth, Locke [Lord], and Thompson & Knight.

Gardere and Jackson Walker may also be rightfully considered “MidTex” as well, but it is surprising (at least to me) that they are about a $100 million behind the other MidTex firms in revenue.

Most impressive is that Susman Godrey, while having only 85 lawyers, brings in more revenue than Gardere–which has 290 attorneys, and Jackson Walker–which has 321 lawyers. Unsurprisingly, profit-per-partner is tops once again at Susman, coming in at $3 million.

* * * UPDATE * * *

Compare the BigTex revenue numbers to that of BigLaw below and you’ll get an idea of the disparity between the two.


Thx to Res Ipsa and AbovetheLaw

Rise it has

I have yet another book to add to my summer reading list, Steven Teles’s The Rise of the Conservative Legal Movement.

Professor Zywicki has a great review of it over at Volokh.

Thx to Volokh

Above the Law has a great post about “pop-culture historian” Bill Geerhart, who at various times over the years has posed as a 10 year-old boy named “Billy” and written to various celebrities.

Upon writing to Justice Thomas and asking him what his favorite McDonald’s menu item was, Justice Thomas sent the following handwritten message back:

Pretty cool

Even more amusing was the response “Billy” got from Hustler founder Larry Flynt, after asking Flynt if there was a “Hustler for kids” to which the youngster could subscribe:

Who knew?

Thx to AbovetheLaw and Radar

One good thing about being a trial lawyer

Last week, Texas Tech School of Law unveiled its first major structural addition in some 34 years, the $13.6 million Mark & Becky Lanier Professional Development Center.

The centerpiece of the Lanier addition is the 130-seat Donald M. Hunt Courtroom, which hosted SCOTX last week for oral argument.

Not quite yet as famous as the Hunt Courtroom is the Dicky Grigg Men’s Bathroom, which is the third such facility on campus that Grigg has, uh, endowed.

Thx to the Daily Toreador , Res Ipsa, SCOTX Blog, and Tex Parte Blog

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