Category Archives: Courts and the Judiciary

On the Silence of Justice Thomas

This article discusses the fact that Justice Thomas has not asked a question during oral argument for about four years, and has been mostly quiet his entire time on the SCOTUS bench. It notes that a recent graduate of the … Continue reading

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Race and Gender Matter — Is This Surprising?

The ABA Journal reports (here) that “Race & Gender of Judges Make Enormous Difference in Rulings, Studies Find.”  Is this surprising to anyone? The academic studies that inspired the ABA Journal article (and a panel discussion at the ABA Midyear … Continue reading

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Residual Value: Nevada Case Reveals Potential Usefulness of Residual Hearsay Exception to Gender and Race Discrimination Plaintiffs

Federal Rule of Evidence 807 provides an exception to the rule against hearsay for A statement not specifically covered by Rule 803 or  804 but having equivalent circumstantial guarantees of trustworthiness, is not excluded by the hearsay rule, if the … Continue reading

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Posted in Courts and the Judiciary, Employment Discrimination, Feminism and the Workplace | Comments Off

“And after Wellons was convicted and sentenced to die, jurors presented the female judge with a gift of “chocolate shaped as male genitalia,” as the Supreme Court recounted it. If that were not enough, they gave the bailiff a chocolate gift “shaped as female breasts.””

Today in SCOTUS Death Penalty jurisprudence: The Supreme Court concluded that a chocolate penis given by the jurors to the judge “raised serious questions concerning the conduct of the trial.” Ya think? See the Supreme Court ruling granting cert. See … Continue reading

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Posted in Courts and the Judiciary, Feminism and Law | Comments Off

The Sexual Innocence Inference Theory: Fact or Fiction? A Spotlight on the Special Concurrence In the Court of Appeals of Idaho’s Recent Opinion in State v. Molen

You are a juror in the prosecution of a step-grandfather for lewd conduct with a minor, the minor being his eight or nine year old step-granddaughter, with whom he allegedly had genital-to-genital contact. The step-granddaughter has just testified to sexual … Continue reading

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Posted in Coerced Sex, Courts and the Judiciary | 3 Comments

Article of Interest: Diversity and Discrimination: A Look at Complex Bias by Minna Kotkin

Back in September, I posted an entry about the Seventh Circuit’s failure to recognize a “sex plus” or “gender plus” theory of discrimination in its recent opinion in Coffman v. Indianapolis Fire Dept., 2009 WL 2525762 (7th Cir. 2009), a … Continue reading

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Posted in Academia, Courts and the Judiciary, Employment Discrimination, Feminism and the Workplace, Feminist Legal Scholarship | Comments Off

Article of Interest — A Matter of Context: Social Framework Evidence in Employment Discrimination Class Actions by Professors Hart and Secunda

Over the past half-century it has become commonplace for courts and commentators to distinguish two uses of social science in law. Social science is said either to prove ‘legislative facts’ that concern general questions of law and policy, or to … Continue reading

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Posted in Academia, Courts and the Judiciary, Employment Discrimination, Feminism and the Workplace | 2 Comments

The Wrong Stuff: Middle District of Florida Seemingly Revives Narrow, Pre-Burlington Reading of Title VII’s Antiretaliation Provision in Action Against NASA

You are an employee at NASA at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC). In 2004, you file an informal complaint with the EEOC for discrimination and harassment, alleging that your superior sent e-mails to you and others in your department containing … Continue reading

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Posted in Courts and the Judiciary, Employment Discrimination, Feminism and the Workplace | 1 Comment

Three teenaged boys gang rape a 15 year old girl and get probation.

The 15 year girl gets blamed for drinking alcohol, which somehow caused the boys to lock her in a bathroom and rape her, according to the judge. The boys are even permitted to return to their high school. According to … Continue reading

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Posted in Acts of Violence, Courts and the Judiciary, Feminism and Law | 2 Comments

Deputies Caught Stealing Documents From Defense Attorney During Court Proceeding

From this article: …The tape shows Stoddard walking to the defense table during a sentencing that day. He leans over the table and begins reading from a document in the file of defense attorney Joanne Cuccia, who was speaking before … Continue reading

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Posted in Courts and the Judiciary, Feminism and Law, Feminism and Technology, Legal Profession | Comments Off

But It Was Only A Fantasy: North Carolina Opinion Reveals Troubling Exception to the State’s Rape Shield Rule

Rape shield rules prevent the defendant from presenting evidence regarding the alleged victim’s other sexual behavior and sexual predisposition to prove that she consented to the sexual act at issue. Typically, these rules contain three exceptions. First, a defendant can … Continue reading

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Posted in Coerced Sex, Courts and the Judiciary | Comments Off

You’ve Got Mail: Eastern District of Pennsylvania Finds Plaintiff’s E-Mails Admissible In Sexual Harassment Case Despite Rape Shield Rule

A woman sues her employer, claiming, inter alia, sexual harassment based on an arguably hostile work environment. Specifically, she claims that her superior stared at her breasts on two separate occasions and made the following comment to her, with regard … Continue reading

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Posted in Courts and the Judiciary, Employment Discrimination, Feminism and the Workplace | 5 Comments

The Wal-Mart Effect: Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts Reinstates Punitive Damages Award in Gender Discrimination Action Against Wal-Mart

A plaintiff brings an action against her former employer for discrimination. That action seeks punitive as well as compensatory damages. The plaintiff does not have evidence that the employer acted with knowledge that its conduct violated the terms of the … Continue reading

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Posted in Courts and the Judiciary, Employment Discrimination, Feminism and the Workplace | 2 Comments

Gender Equality?

The gender of judging implicates constitutional as well as “rule of law” concerns.   A new article,  Judging Women,posted on ssrn has been  garnering attention. The study comparing male and female judges provides an empirical perspective: “Primarily using a dataset … Continue reading

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

The Devil is in the Dictum: Second Circuit Makes Troubling Statements in Dictum in Rape Shield Ruling

A female employee allegedly flashes her breasts to co-workers at the workplace. That female employee later brings a sexual harassment action against her superior, claiming that he touched her thighs and breasts, offered her job security in return for sex, … Continue reading

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Posted in Courts and the Judiciary, Feminism and the Workplace, Sexual Harassment | 1 Comment

Rape Shield Redux: Supreme Court of Nevada Finds Rule 26 Applies Where Rape Shield Law Doesn’t

Back in July, I posted an entry about an opinion by the Supreme Court of Alabama permitting discovery regarding a civil plaintiff’s sexual history because Alabama’s rape shield rule only applies to criminal cases. In that post, I argued that, … Continue reading

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

No “Sex Plus” in the Seventh Circuit: Court Fails to Recognize “Sex Plus” Theory of Discrimination in Title VII Action Against Fire Department

A female firefighter has direct or circumstantial evidence that she was intentionally discriminated against based upon he gender. Undoubtedly, if she brings a Title VII action against the fire department, her action will survive a motion for summary judgment. But … Continue reading

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Posted in Courts and the Judiciary, Employment Discrimination, Feminism and the Workplace | Comments Off

First names and judicial destiny for women, at least in South Carolina…

From the ABA Journal: Women lawyers with masculine-sounding first names have better odds of becoming a judge than their counterparts with feminine names, at least in South Carolina, according to a study by two economics researchers. The study finds that … Continue reading

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Posted in Courts and the Judiciary, Feminism and Law, Feminists in Academia, South Carolina | Comments Off

Why Gender Still Matters

Gender still matters, judging by events of recent months, such as President Obama establishing a White House Council on Women and Girls, to make sure that all federal agencies”take into account the particular needs and concerns of women and girls”and … Continue reading

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Posted in Courts and the Judiciary, Feminism and Law, Feminist Legal Scholarship, Sisters In Other Nations | Comments Off

What Not to Wear, Religious Edition, Take 2: Supreme Court of Michigan Finalizes Attire Rule of Evidence, With Lawsuit to Follow

Back in June, I posted  an entry about the Supreme Court of Michigan’s adoption of an amendment to Michigan Rule of Evidence 611  which provides as follows: (b) Appearance of Parties and Witnesses. The court shall exercise reasonable control over … Continue reading

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Posted in Courts and the Judiciary, Feminism and Religion | Comments Off

There’s Something About Marriage: New York Trial Court Uses Differences Between a Marriage and a Civil Union to Refuse to Dissolve the Latter

“Civil union” means that two eligible persons have established a relationship pursuant to this chapter, and may receive the benefits and protections and be subject to the responsibilities of spouses. -Vermont Stat. Ann., Title 15, Section 1201(2) (a) Parties to … Continue reading

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Posted in Courts and the Judiciary, Feminism and Families, LGBT Rights | 5 Comments

The Portia Hypothesis for South Carolina Judges

Two Clemson economists have a new paper in the American Law and Economics Review (available here on Westlaw – sorry, I can’t find a free link to it) titled:   Do Masculine Names Help Female Lawyers Become Judges?   Evidence … Continue reading

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Posted in Courts and the Judiciary, Feminism and Law | Comments Off

Two Wrongs Don’t Make it Right: Court of Appeals of Mississippi Drags Feet on Recognizing Combined Race-Gender Groups as Groups Deserving Discrete Protection Under Batson

In Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S.79 (1986), the Supreme Court declared that racial discrimination through the use of peremptory challenges is prohibited. In J.E.B. v. Alabama ex rel. T.B., 511 U.S. 127 (1994), the Court found that gender discrimination through … Continue reading

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Posted in Acts of Violence, Courts and the Judiciary, Justice?, Race and Racism | Comments Off

Judge Reportedly Questioned Whether Woman Was Raped Because She Was “On Top”

That’s the headline from this blog post, which reports that Texas State District Judge Kevin Fine, elected as a Democrat, is alleged to have told a rape victim in his court that he didn’t believe she was raped because she … Continue reading

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

The Road to Hell is Paved With (Allegedly) Good Intentions: Supreme Court of Alabama Opinion Raises Important Rape Shield Questions

We are not unmindful of the very personal nature of the information sought from Carlisle regarding her past conduct. Nor do we intend to suggest that a plaintiff with a promiscuous past could not feel the same shame and humiliation … Continue reading

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

California’s Rejection of the Reasonable Battered Woman Standard: Is it Based Upon an Objectionable and Offensive Straw Man?

In its recent opinion in Jefferson v. Kernan, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California  referenced the opinion of the California Supreme Court  in People v. Humphrey, 921 P.2d 1 (Cal. 1996). In Humphrey, a wife … Continue reading

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

Judge Kozinski Will Not Be Sanctioned For Hosting Web Site Featuring Racist, Degrading Porn

The SF Chron reported (in part): … In a decision that it labeled an admonishment, the panel told Kozinski that his conduct “created a public controversy that can reasonably be seen as having resulted in embarrassment to the institution of … Continue reading

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Posted in Coerced Sex, Courts and the Judiciary, Justice? | Comments Off

Gendered Qualification for Public Office

Should Middle-Aged Men Hold Public Office? That’s the title of an engaging essay by Barbara O’Brien over at salon.com here. O’Brien not only answers those who have wondered aloud about Sotomayor’s qualifications given possibilities such as menstruation and menopause, but … Continue reading

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Posted in Academia, Courts and the Judiciary, Feminism and Politics, South Carolina | Comments Off

Rihanna and the (Un?)Constitutionality of the Mutual Stay Away Order

Can anyone out there explain the constitutionality of the Chris Brown plea deal? Brown pleaded guilty to one count of felony assault based upon his attack of Rihanna, and he got five years of probation and community labor. The judge … Continue reading

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Posted in Acts of Violence, Courts and the Judiciary | 11 Comments

Landmark Domestic Violence Judgment by European Court of Human Rights

In a landmark decision, the European Court of Human Rights has unanimously found that a state violated the human rights of the applicant and her mother in failing to protect them against domestic violence. In Opuz v Turkey, the applicant … Continue reading

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Posted in Academia, Courts and the Judiciary, Feminism and Law, Sisters In Other Nations | Comments Off

What Not To Wear, Religious Edition: Supreme Court of Michigan Adopts Rule Allowing Judges to Exercise “Reasonable Control Over the Appearance of Parties and Witnesses” Based Upon Niqab Case

Yesterday, by a 5-2 vote, the Supreme Court of Michigan  adopted an amendment to Michigan Rule of Evidence 611. This amendment created Michigan Rule of Evidence 611(b), which provides as follows: (b) Appearance of Parties and Witnesses. The court shall … Continue reading

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Posted in Courts and the Judiciary, Feminism and Religion | 7 Comments

Who”Owns”the Marriage Equality Issue?

The last several weeks have been busy ones in the battle for marriage equality. The governors of Maine and New Hampshire signed laws that allowed same sex couples to marry. California’s Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of Proposition 8, and … Continue reading

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Posted in Courts and the Judiciary, Feminism and Families, Feminism and Politics | Comments Off

Web Resource for Information on Judge Sotomayor

The Library of Congress has created a web page (here) that contains links to Judge Sotomayor’s published law review articles, transcripts from her two prior confirmation hearings and a searchable database of Second Circuit opinions. -Bridget Crawford

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Posted in Courts and the Judiciary | 1 Comment

Beyond The Scope (But Not): Court Finds That Supervisor’s Sexist Statements Qualify As Employee Admissions

Federal Rule of Evidence 801(d)(2)(D)  states Admission by party-opponent. [A] statement is not hearsay if…[t]he statement is offered against a party and is…a statement by the party’s agent or servant concerning a matter within the scope of the agency or … Continue reading

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Posted in Courts and the Judiciary, Feminism and the Workplace | Comments Off

Sonia Sotomayor’s Personal History: Why It Matters

There has been much made of Sonia Sotomayor’s life, her Puerto Rican background, her modest, if not poor, childhood, her mother, what her Latina-ness means to her, her involvement in civil rights organizations, etc.   It’s both a big part … Continue reading

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Posted in Academia, Courts and the Judiciary, Feminism and Law, Firsts, Law Schools, Legal Profession, Race and Racism | Comments Off

You can’t make this stuff up–G. Gordon Liddy on Sotomayor

G. Gordon Liddy’s take on Judge Sotomayor–including his fear for the country should she deliberate while menstruating– here. –Leigh Goodmark

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Posted in Courts and the Judiciary | 3 Comments

Just When You Thought They Couldn’t Be Stupider–Tancredo on Sotomayor and La Raza

Apparently, Tom Tancredo was disappointed that he hadn’t thought up the criticism about Judge Sotomayor’s love for Puerto Rican food, and went one better, referring to the National Council of La Raza as the KKK without nooses or hoods.  See … Continue reading

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Posted in Courts and the Judiciary | 1 Comment

Of Pigs’ Feet and Precedent…

Will Judge Sotomayor’s love of Puerto Rican food cause her to rule against white, male firefighters (for instance)?  Thoughts from the increasingly desperate Republican party here.   –Leigh Goodmark

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Posted in Courts and the Judiciary | 3 Comments

More About Barnes v. Yahoo

I blogged about the case previously here. Below is an excerpt from the Ninth Circuit’s holding in Barnes v. Yahoo at page 5316 that gives a quick overview of the facts: In accordance with Yahoo policy, Barnes mailed Yahoo a … Continue reading

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

That Sotomayor Quote

Taken from Sotomayor’s Judge Mario G. Olmos Memorial Lecture in 2001, which she delivered at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law, here is the context: … Whether born from experience or inherent physiological or cultural differences, a possibility … Continue reading

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Posted in Courts and the Judiciary, Feminism and Law, The Underrepresentation of Women | 3 Comments

Scott A. Moss, “The case against the case against the Sonia Sotomayor nomination”

Read it here.

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Posted in Courts and the Judiciary, Feminism and Politics | 3 Comments

Would Obama Have Hugged A Male SCOTUS Nominee Like This?

Photo and question (somewhat differently stated) via IBTP. I’d have to go with “no.” –Ann Bartow

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Posted in Courts and the Judiciary, Feminism and Politics | Comments Off

Strauss v. Horton

Read the opinion here.   Feminist efforts to   sort out what it all means can be found: Here at Tennessee Guerilla Women; Here at the Gender and Sexuality Law Blog; (additional links to come). See also the Linkfarm at … Continue reading

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Posted in Courts and the Judiciary, Feminism and Law, LGBT Rights | Comments Off

Comic Relief

Judge Judy learns about feminism here. –Leigh Goodmark

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Posted in Courts and the Judiciary, Feminism and Culture | Comments Off

Ladies and Gentlemen of the Jury: The Role of the “Child Care Exception” in the Development of the Right of Women to Serve as Jurors

In its recent opinion in State v. Schmeiderer, 2009 WL 961787 (Tenn.Crim.App. 2009), the Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee rejected a convicted murder’s appeal, in which he had claimed, inter alia, that “the trial court systematically excluded women from … Continue reading

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Posted in Courts and the Judiciary, Feminism and Families, Feminist Legal History | 1 Comment

Darren Hutchinson Takes Down Jeffrey Rosen’s Article About Judge Sonia Sotomayor

Here. Bravo Darren! See also Historiann’s take on the article.

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Posted in Courts and the Judiciary, Feminism and Law, Feminism and Politics, Race and Racism, The Underrepresentation of Women | Comments Off

Delaware Chief Judge emails “soft porn” to former clerks

 Myron Steele, Chief Judge of the Delaware, is reported here to have used his government email account to forward a “suggestive video”  which “depicts a professional-looking young woman in a bar competing with a glamorous blonde for the attention of … Continue reading

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Posted in Academia, Courts and the Judiciary, Justice?, Legal Profession | 1 Comment

Differently Abled?: Court Identifies Circuit Split Over Who is Similarly Situated to a Pregnancy Discrimination Act Plaintiff

The recent opinion of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois  in Woodard v. Rest Haven Christian Services, 2009 703270 (N.D. Ill. 2009), acknowledged but did not resolve an interesting circuit split on the following issue: … Continue reading

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Posted in Courts and the Judiciary, Feminism and the Workplace | Comments Off

“This job is easy for people who’ve never done it,”Justice Thomas said later.”What I have found in this job is they know more about it than I do, especially if they have the title, law professor.”

Ouch. Those are the concluding words of this article.

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Posted in Academia, Courts and the Judiciary, Law Teaching | Comments Off

Judicial Flubber?: First Circuit Seemingly Repudiates Supreme Court Sex-Stereotyping Precedent In Sex Discrimination Appeal

When the Supreme Court replaced the relatively simple Frye test with the relatively complicated Daubert  test for determining the admissibility of expert opinion testimony, many critics (correctly) groused that science-starved judges would not be able to rise to the task … Continue reading

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Posted in Courts and the Judiciary, Feminism and Families, Feminism and the Workplace | 1 Comment