Category Archives: Courts and the Judiciary

Wicked Little Town: Transgendered Widow of Firefighter Fights the City of Wharton, Texas for Workers Compensation Benefits

When the Landmark Theater in Chicago announced that John Cameron Mitchell‘s “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” would soon be playing as part of its Midnight Madness, I was not surprised at all. “Hedwig” is this generation’s “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” … Continue reading

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Posted in Courts and the Judiciary, LGBT Rights | 1 Comment

District Of Oregon Dismisses Stereotype of the Emotional, Gossipy, and Flirtatious Woman & Then Labels the Plaintiff One

As noted by Bridget, in delivering the luncheon address at the MSU Symposium on “Gender and the Legal Profession,” the Honorable Nancy Gertner said that “[t]he reason that people are losing discrimination cases is not because it didn’t happen.  It’s because … Continue reading

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Posted in Courts and the Judiciary, Employment Discrimination | Comments Off on District Of Oregon Dismisses Stereotype of the Emotional, Gossipy, and Flirtatious Woman & Then Labels the Plaintiff One

Judge Nancy Gertner on “How the Courts Have Repealed the Civil Rights Act”

The Honorable Nancy Gertner (U.S. District Court of Massachusetts, retired) is delivering the luncheon address at the MSU Symposium on “Gender and the Legal Profession.” Here are a few of her highlights from her talk: Judge Gertner explains that the … Continue reading

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Posted in Courts and the Judiciary, Employment Discrimination, Feminism and Law, The Underrepresentation of Women | Comments Off on Judge Nancy Gertner on “How the Courts Have Repealed the Civil Rights Act”

Gender, Race and the Judiciary @MSU Law Symposium

The first panel at the MSU Symposium on “Gender and the Legal Profession’s Pipeline to Power” is organized around the theme of “Gender, Race and the Judiciary.” Hannah Brenner (MSU) and Renee Knake (MSU) are presenting their work on gender … Continue reading

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Yxta Murray on “Rape Trauma, the State, and the Art of Tracey Emin”

Yxta Maya Murray (Loyola Law School Los Angeles) has posted to SSRN her article Rape Trauma, the State, and the Art of Tracey Emin, 100 Calif. L. Rev. __ (forthcoming 2012).  Here is the abstract: Prosecutors use “rape trauma syndrome” … Continue reading

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Without Prejudice?: 6th Circuit Deems Rape Shield Evidence Minimally Prejudicial To Victim, Reverses Conviction

The district court excluded the 2007 acts because those encounters occurred at a different place than the indicted offenses. Although there is certainly a difference between private sexual acts and those that take place in public, that does not eliminate, … Continue reading

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Robson on Judge Cebull’s Disgusting “Joke”

Ruthann Robson blogs here about Judge Richard Cebull (D. Montana) and his email “joke” about President Obama’s mother that accuses her of promiscuity, bestiality, as well as interracial sex. Judge Cebull self-reported his misdeeds for investigation by the Chief Justice of … Continue reading

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Posted in Courts and the Judiciary, Hackery, Race and Racism | 1 Comment

Love, Hate, Murder, and Commitment Devices: No-Drop DV Policies and the Reduction in Men Murdered by Intimates

Last week, the folks at Freakonomics posted an interesting podcast (“Save Me From Myself”) about commitment devices. A commitment device is “a means with which to lock yourself into a course of action that you might not otherwise choose but that … Continue reading

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Posted in Acts of Violence, Courts and the Judiciary, Feminism and Economics | Comments Off on Love, Hate, Murder, and Commitment Devices: No-Drop DV Policies and the Reduction in Men Murdered by Intimates

The Loss of Sexual Innocence: Supreme Court of Guam Finds Trial Court Erred in Limiting Cross-Examination of Child Rape Victim

A defendant is on trial for criminal sexual conduct based upon acts that he allegedly committed against a 10 year-old victim. Previously, a forensic examination of the alleged victim revealed scar tissue on her hymen. Before trial, the defendant failed … Continue reading

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Posted in Acts of Violence, Coerced Sex, Courts and the Judiciary | Comments Off on The Loss of Sexual Innocence: Supreme Court of Guam Finds Trial Court Erred in Limiting Cross-Examination of Child Rape Victim

Taking Exception: Is Evidence of Prior Oral Sex by 15 Year-Old Victim Admissible in Prosecution of 38 Year-Old?

A 38 year-old defendant is charged with four counts of sexual conduct with a minor, and it is undisputed that he engaged in four acts of oral sexual intercourse with the victim, who was 15 years-old. The defendant, however, seeks to present … Continue reading

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Posted in Coerced Sex, Courts and the Judiciary | Comments Off on Taking Exception: Is Evidence of Prior Oral Sex by 15 Year-Old Victim Admissible in Prosecution of 38 Year-Old?

The Vermont Frat Questionnaire & The Foreseeability of Stranger Rape Based Upon Increased Acquaintance Rape at a College

If I could rape someone, who would it be? This now infamous question, asked at the end of a fraternity questionnaire at the University of Vermont, led to the fraternity being suspended. But let’s say that the university took no … Continue reading

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Judge Orders Woman To Pay Alimony, Legal Fees, To Ex-Spouse Convicting Of Attacking Her

A San Diego judge has told an ex-wife  to pay her ex-husband’s legal fees and be ready to pay him alimony should he make the request once he leaves prison. Judge Geoffrey Pollack noted that he had discretion in the … Continue reading

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Posted in Acts of Violence, Courts and the Judiciary, Feminism and Culture, Feminism and Families, Feminism and Law, If you're a woman, Justice? | Comments Off on Judge Orders Woman To Pay Alimony, Legal Fees, To Ex-Spouse Convicting Of Attacking Her

The Only Exception: Arkansas Case Reveals Danger Of State’s Undifferentiated Rape Shield Exception

Like many state counterparts, Federal Rule of Evidence 412(a), the Federal Rape Shield Rule, precludes the admission of evidence of an alleged victim’s prior sexual behavior/predisposition to prove her propensity to consent to sexual acts and her likely conformity with … Continue reading

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Touching a Nerve?: 8th Circuit Finds ALJ’s Comment About Touching A Feminist’s Nerve Didn’t Constitute Reversible Bias

[A]fter Perkins testified that her daily routine includes watching the Lifetime channel, the ALJ asked, “And what is the subject matter of that? That’s the girl channel.”…Perkins responded, “Women’s channel.”…The ALJ then stated, “All right. I’m glad our [vocational expert] … Continue reading

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Posted in Courts and the Judiciary, Women's Health | Comments Off on Touching a Nerve?: 8th Circuit Finds ALJ’s Comment About Touching A Feminist’s Nerve Didn’t Constitute Reversible Bias

A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words: Court Of Appeals of Iowa Fails to Resolve Whether Facebook Photos Trigger Rape Shield Rule Analysis

Similar to its federal counterpart, Iowa Rule of Evidence 5.412a, Iowa’s rape shield rule, Notwithstanding any other provision of law, in a criminal case in which a person is accused of sexual abuse, reputation or opinion evidence of the past … Continue reading

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Posted in Acts of Violence, Coerced Sex, Courts and the Judiciary | Comments Off on A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words: Court Of Appeals of Iowa Fails to Resolve Whether Facebook Photos Trigger Rape Shield Rule Analysis

The Oh in Ohio: Court of Appeals of Ohio Shockingly Concludes Rape Shield Rule Doesn’t Cover Nonconsensual Sexual Activity

We disagree with Michael to the extent that it stands for the proposition that the rape shield law has any application to prior sexual abuse suffered by a child victim. In construing the rape shield statute, “our paramount concern is the legislative … Continue reading

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Posted in Acts of Violence, Coerced Sex, Courts and the Judiciary | Comments Off on The Oh in Ohio: Court of Appeals of Ohio Shockingly Concludes Rape Shield Rule Doesn’t Cover Nonconsensual Sexual Activity

Topeka Misdemeanor Domestic Battery Cases to be Prosecuted by Law Student Interns

In my last post about the Topeka imbroglio, I wondered how vigorously the County DA would prosecute misdemeanor domestic battery cases after the city of Topeka dicriminalized misdemeanor domestic battery and forced the County DA’s hand (by his own admission). … Continue reading

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Posted in Acts of Violence, Courts and the Judiciary | 1 Comment

Topeka Officially Decriminalizes Misdemeanor Domestic Battery

Earlier today, the Topeka City Council, by a vote of 7-3, repealed the local law that makes misdemeanor domestic battery a crime. The move, the councilors were told, would force District Attorney Chad Taylor to prosecute the cases because they would remain … Continue reading

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Placing Topeka’s Possible Decriminalization of Misdemeanor Domestic Battery in Historical Context

After my previous post on the possibility of Topeka decriminalizing misdemeanor domestic battery, I decided to do some research to see if there is any historical precedent for such an action. It turns out that there is (sort of). In … Continue reading

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Topeka City Council to Vote on Measure to Decriminalize Misdemeanor Domestic Battery

Here are some excerpts from the article, Suspected domestic abusers go free as Topeka city, council officials bicker over funds: A bitter argument over money in Topeka, Kan., means that city and county authorities have neglected to prosecute or charge … Continue reading

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Posted in Acts of Violence, Courts and the Judiciary | Comments Off on Topeka City Council to Vote on Measure to Decriminalize Misdemeanor Domestic Battery

Does an Aggravating Factor Based on “a Difference in the Sexes of the Victim and the Defendant” Violate Equal Protection?

Following up on my previous post, here is another interesting case in a similar vein: State v. Wright, 563 S.E.2d 311 (S.C. 2002). In Wright, Todd Wright was convicted of criminal domestic violence of a high and aggravated nature. One of … Continue reading

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Posted in Acts of Violence, Courts and the Judiciary | 1 Comment

Does a Law Punishing More Severely a Male’s Assault of a Female Violate Equal Protection?

Eugene Volokh has an interesting post up over at The Volokh Conspiracy. The post discusses G.S. § 14-33(c)(2), which provides that Unless the conduct is covered under some other provision of law providing greater punishment, any person who commits any assault, … Continue reading

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Posted in Acts of Violence, Courts and the Judiciary | Comments Off on Does a Law Punishing More Severely a Male’s Assault of a Female Violate Equal Protection?

Corbin on “The Irony of Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church & School v. EEOC”

Caroline Mala Corin (Miami) has posted to SSRN her piece forthcoming in the Northwestern University Law Review Colloquy, “The Irony of Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church & School v. EEOC.”  Here is the abstract: The question presented in Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran … Continue reading

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Unimpeachable: 7th Circuit Finds Evidence That Sauna Was Used as Place Of Prostitution Inadmissible Under Rape Shield Rule

Like all states, Wisconsin has a rape shield rule. Under Wisconsin’s rule, WIS. STAT. Section 972.11(2)(b), in civil and criminal cases involving alleged sex crimes, any evidence concerning the complaining witness’s prior sexual conduct or opinions of the witness’s prior … Continue reading

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Posted in Acts of Violence, Coerced Sex, Courts and the Judiciary | Comments Off on Unimpeachable: 7th Circuit Finds Evidence That Sauna Was Used as Place Of Prostitution Inadmissible Under Rape Shield Rule

Breaking Bad: District of Vermont Deems Detention of Pregnant Passenger in Need of Bathroom Break Reasonable So Female Officer (Who Never Took Her to the Bathroom) Could Arrive

Authorities believe that a a vehicle contains narcotics. They detain a passenger and call for a narcotics dog. The dog arrives 45 minutes later. Another 20-30 minutes pass, and the authorities still haven’t conducted the canine sniff. The passenger confesses. … Continue reading

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Posted in Courts and the Judiciary | 1 Comment

Birckhead on “Delinquent by Reason of Indigency”

Tamar Birckhead (UNC) has posted to SSRN a draft her essay Delinquent by Reason of Indigency, 38 Wash. U. J. L. & Pol’y __ (forthcoming 2012).  Here is the abstract: This Essay, written for the 12th Annual Access to Equal … Continue reading

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Can You Hear Me?: Court of Appeals of Texas Finds Failure to Hold In Camera Rape Shield Hearing Isn’t Reversible Error

Similar to its federal counterpart, Texas Rule of Evidence 412(c) provides that if a criminal defendant is trying to present evidence under an exception to the rape shield rule, the defendant must inform the court out of the hearing of … Continue reading

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A Private Matter?: Military Court Opinion Reveals Problem With Military Rape Shield Rule

Federal Rule of Evidence 412(a), the federal Rape Shield Rule, provides that evidence of an alleged victim’s sexual predisposition or other sexual behavior is inadmissible to establish her propensity to consent to sexual acts and her conformity with that propensity, … Continue reading

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Posted in Acts of Violence, Coerced Sex, Courts and the Judiciary | 1 Comment

Everything But The Girl: Northern District Of Indiana Opinion Sharpens Split Over Nature Of Affirmative Defense In Single-Instance Harassment Cases

An employer is subject to vicarious liability to a victimized employee for an actionable hostile environment created by a supervisor with immediate (or successively higher) authority over the employee. When no tangible employment action is taken, a defending employer may … Continue reading

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Posted in Acts of Violence, Coerced Sex, Courts and the Judiciary, Employment Discrimination, Feminism and the Workplace | Comments Off on Everything But The Girl: Northern District Of Indiana Opinion Sharpens Split Over Nature Of Affirmative Defense In Single-Instance Harassment Cases

Request for Signatories to Amicus Brief in Hosana-Tabor Case (First Amendment, Employment Discrimination and Gender Issues)

We have drafted an amicus brief for law professors in the Hosanna-Tabor case, which involves a ministerial exception to employment laws and has important implications for gender discrimination. Cheryl Perich was a kindergarten and fourth grade teacher at Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical … Continue reading

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Gettin’ (Un)Lucky in Kentucky: Court of Appeals of Kentucky Finds Trial Court Erred in Excluding Evidence That Alleged Victim Was a “Crack Whore”

Assume that a defendant is on trial for sexually assaulting a victim. And, assume that the defendant’s defense is, essentially, that the alleged victim is a “crack whore.” Should the defendant be able to present evidence of the alleged victim’s … Continue reading

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Posted in Acts of Violence, Coerced Sex, Courts and the Judiciary | 2 Comments

When Innocence Is Pink: Why There Is A Gender Gap In Exonerations of the Wrongfully Convicted and Efforts That Might Shrink It

There are over 60 innocence projects nationwide, and they do tremendous work. According to the Cardozo Innocence Project website, “There have been 271 post-conviction DNA exonerations in United States history.” The Innocence Project has profiles of each of the exonerees … Continue reading

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Posted in Courts and the Judiciary, Feminism and Law, Feminism and Science | Comments Off on When Innocence Is Pink: Why There Is A Gender Gap In Exonerations of the Wrongfully Convicted and Efforts That Might Shrink It

As Judge Nancy Gertner Retires, We Lose One of Our Greatest Judges But Gain One of Her Greatest Opinions

Judge Nancy Gertner kicks ass. I remember writing a motion in limine regarding the admissibility of virtual reality evidence for the annual mock technology trial when I was a student at William and Mary. Judge Gertner served as the judge … Continue reading

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Posted in Academia, Courts and the Judiciary, Employment Discrimination, Feminism and the Workplace | Comments Off on As Judge Nancy Gertner Retires, We Lose One of Our Greatest Judges But Gain One of Her Greatest Opinions

Exception(al) Opinion: Supreme Court of Montana Opinion Might Mean Montana Has Broadest Abuse Exception to Court-Ordered Mediation

Mediation in child custody determinations is popular, partly due to the mediation principle of neutrality, which theoretically gives both parents an equal chance at a fair allocation of parenting time. However, not all divorce cases are appropriate for mediation. In severe cases of intimate partner violence there are … Continue reading

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Posted in Acts of Violence, Courts and the Judiciary | 1 Comment

Article of Interest: Kerri L. Stone’s Clarifying Stereotype

Federal Rule of Evidence 801(d)(2)(E) provides that “[a] statement is not hearsay if…[t]he statement is offered against a party and is…a statement by a coconspirator of a party during the course and in furtherance of the conspiracy. Rule 801(d)(2)(E) is based … Continue reading

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Posted in Academia, Courts and the Judiciary, Employment Discrimination, Feminist Legal Scholarship | Comments Off on Article of Interest: Kerri L. Stone’s Clarifying Stereotype

Film About Loving v. Virginia at Tribeca Film Festival

The Tribeca Film festival begins next week.  Included in the film line-up is Loving Story, a documentary about Mildred and Richard Loving.  Here is the film description: Loving v. Virginia was a watershed civil rights case in which the United … Continue reading

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Posted in Courts and the Judiciary, Feminism and the Arts, Feminist Legal History, Race and Racism | Comments Off on Film About Loving v. Virginia at Tribeca Film Festival

(Non)Consenting Adults: Illinois Opinion Finds Adultery Is Serious Provocation, Sexual Assault Is Not

I’m currently teaching 2nd degree murder in my Criminal Law class and was looking for a good Illinois case on the subject. In Illinois, a defendant who could otherwise be convicted of 1st degree murder can be convicted of 2nd … Continue reading

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NY Appellate Court Upholds Distribution of Decedent’s Estate to Same-Sex Spouse

An appellate court in New York has upheld the decision of New York County Surrogate Kristen Booth Glen (formerly of CUNY Law) to recognize a decedent’s same-sex marriage for estate administration purposes.  Specifically, Surrogate Glen had permitted probate of the … Continue reading

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Full Text Opinion in H. Kenneth Ranftle v. Craig Leiby

The full text of the decision of the Supreme Court of the State of New York, Appellate Division, First Department appears after the fold.

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Should Courts Award Child-Rearing Damages for “Wrongful Birth” in Cases of the Rape of a Minor?

The issue of whether there should be a right to abortion in cases of rape has arisen again in response to comments by teen sensation Justin Bieber. The 16 year-old pop star was asked about abortion in rape cases, and … Continue reading

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Posted in Coerced Sex, Courts and the Judiciary, Reproductive Rights | 1 Comment

There’s No Sex in Your Violence: Opinion Reveals Minnesota Only Allows Hostile Work Environment Claims Based On Sexual Harassment, Not Gender Discrimination

A female employee brings an action against a school district under the Minnesota Human Rights Act (MHRA), alleging hostile work environment based upon gender discrimination. The gravaman of her complaint is that her male supervisor made sexist statements about the … Continue reading

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Posted in Acts of Violence, Courts and the Judiciary, Employment Discrimination, Feminism and the Workplace, Sexual Harassment | Comments Off on There’s No Sex in Your Violence: Opinion Reveals Minnesota Only Allows Hostile Work Environment Claims Based On Sexual Harassment, Not Gender Discrimination

(A few reasons) why Angela Onwuachi-Willig should be appointed to the Iowa Supreme Court

Various law blogs (including this one) have mentioned the news that University of Iowa law professor Angela Onwuachi-Willig is on the short list for the Iowa Supreme Court. Angela is a leading scholar on topics of racial justice and critical … Continue reading

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Posted in Courts and the Judiciary, LGBT Rights | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Onwuachi-Willig: Finalist for Iowa Supreme Court

Among the 9 finalists for the 3 vacancies on the Iowa Supreme Court Justice there is one woman, one racial minority, and one law professor – – – and then there are the 8 other candidates. The 3 vacancies on … Continue reading

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The “Inevitable Firing” Approach: How The Inevitable Discovery Doctrine Should Inform Subordinate Discrimination Cases

A company fires an employee. The employee files an action against the company, alleging that the firing was discriminatory. The company moves for summary judgement dismissing the complaint. The fired employee has no direct evidence that the supervisor who fired … Continue reading

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Beiner on “White Male Heterosexist Norms in the Confirmation Process”

Theresa Beiner (University of Arkansas) has posted to SSRN her article, White Male Heterosexist Norms in the Confirmation Process (forthcoming 2011).  Here is the abstract: Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s confirmation hearing took a controversial turn when commentators picked up on a … Continue reading

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Posted in Courts and the Judiciary, Feminist Legal Scholarship | 1 Comment

What Kind Of Right?: Court of Appeals of Michigan Finds Rape Shield Rule Vests Rights In Victims

MCL 750.520j, Michigan’s rape shield statute, provides that: (1) Evidence of specific instances of the victim’s sexual conduct, opinion evidence of the victim’s sexual conduct, and reputation evidence of the victim’s sexual conduct shall not be admitted … unless and only … Continue reading

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Posted in Coerced Sex, Courts and the Judiciary | 1 Comment

On the Issues Magazine Article “Judging Our Future” on Female Judges

In this month’s On the Issues magazine there is a quick article (here) about the presence/absence of women judges in the United States.  “Judging our Future: Supreme Women Move Up” gives some of the stats: Since Elena Kagan took her … Continue reading

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Posted in Courts and the Judiciary, Legal Profession, The Underrepresentation of Women | 1 Comment

7th Circuit Answers Lawyer Who Told Panel of Judges to “Ask Your Wives” About Washing Machines

The United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit has issued an order in the case Thorogood v. Sears, Robebuck & Co. The 3-judge panel — Judges Posner, Kanne and Evans — writes: [I]n view of the accusations leveled … Continue reading

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Posted in Courts and the Judiciary | 1 Comment

Jessie Hill on Dangerous Terrain: Mapping the Female Body in Gonzales v. Carhart

Jessie Hill has posted on SSRN a short and fascinating analysis of the graphic language used in Gonzales v. Carhart (2007), the “partial-birth abortion” case. Here is part of the abstract: This brief Article focuses on the rhetoric of the … Continue reading

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Posted in Academia, Courts and the Judiciary, Feminism and Law, Reproductive Rights, Women's Health | Comments Off on Jessie Hill on Dangerous Terrain: Mapping the Female Body in Gonzales v. Carhart

Judicial Notice of Girl’s Birth (aka Judge Kimba Wood Rocks!)

From the WSJ Law Blog: [Bennett Epstein, a] Manhattan lawyer recently asked New York federal judge Kimba Wood to grant him a day’s reprieve in a criminal trial to attend the bris of his grandson. Epstein’s daughter has not yet … Continue reading

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Posted in Courts and the Judiciary | 2 Comments