Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Let Them Eat Puff Pieces


  • Here's a look at campaign contributions from Brownstein Hyatt to Clark County Commissioners in light of that firm recently receiving a $500,000 retainer from the County. [RJ]
  • There is a civil bench bar meeting--agenda in the link. [eighthjdcourt blog]
  • A new UNLV Boyd law professor is one of the top health law scholars in the nation according to this puff piece. [Las Vegas Sun]

32 comments:

  1. I am the first to bag on Boyd. However this appears to be a strong hire to the faculty. https://lasvegassun.com/news/2017/aug/08/new-unlv-law-professor-to-help-students-craft-heal/

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    1. Strong in what way? Just that he's got credentials or strong in that it will actually increase the quality of education?

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  2. Flo Rogers voice during KNPR's membership makes KNPR absolutely unlistenable. I would pay $20/mo to never listen to her pitch donations ever again.

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    1. It's not just during pledge drives. The latest drive ended last week, AND SHE'S STILL TALKING DURING EVERY OTHER BREAK. Stop already.

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    2. Is it over? I turned on KNPR this morning, heard Flo Rogers voice and immediately flipped over to the Sirius XM NPR feed.

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    3. I heard her this morning and went to ESPN. I think I'll stay there for a while, take a break from Flo and KNPR.

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    4. Yup every time I hear FloRo's voice on the KNPR, I know it's time to stream KCRW.

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    5. Anyone who can drive me back to Dan Lebatard is just nails on the chalkboard. I know that KNPR is anticipating cuts in Federal funding so they have this "Independence" campaign but FloRo is driving me away.

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  3. How is it that seven Nevada Supreme Court justices collectively do less work with more law clerks than one average District Court Judge?

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    1. It's not just the justices - they also have law clerks and a fairly large number of staff attorneys. And it is not as though the quality of their opinions is justification for the low number of dispositional orders. If you take the easy cases which are dismissed for lack of jurisdiction, they are doing shockingly little work. But hey, they have some committees and a fancy new building, so there's that. And they went to the bar convention on the tax payer's dime. Lucky us.

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    2. I think the problem is that they insist on writing their own opinions. It makes sense if it's precedential and really really crutial. But shit man, it seems like they should be able to say "hey winner, we liked your arguments 1, 2, and 3 and that's why you won. Put that and only that in an order and we'll sign it. I clerked for the federal courts where we had a much smaller workload and took even more time because OH MY GOD anything that's going on Westlaw needs to be impeccably perfect. Huge waste of time for 99% of orders/opinions.

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    3. Their productivity is ridiculously low. I heard the productivity was going to be so much higher with the Court of Appeals. Productivity has gone down since the addition of the Court of Appeals. But yes, they got a new building with red curtains. Yes they got a week long trip to Austin. All for actually decreasing their productivity. When you back out the Order Dismissing Appeals or procedural orders entered by the Clerk's Office, they appear to be doing no work for substantial periods of time.

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    4. The clerks write the opinions. The justices just sign off on them (largely). So, the clerks are the choke-point.

      They should each get an additional clerk (or retain an additional permanent clerk) in order to clear the backlog. Preferably, it would be a clerk with a few years of litigation experience under their belt.

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    5. They have plenty of clerks. The Clerks are not under any more pressure to get rid of the backlog than the Justices are (which is no pressure). Until someone exposes the absolute lethargy of the Supreme Court and employees therein, this travesty will continue unabated. Why speed up? They don't care. They get paid the same whether they keep up or do not keep up.

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  4. There's been discussion the last couple of days as to what types of articles qualify as puff pieces. Fortunately, the article in the RJ about donations to county commissioners is not a puff piece. It centers on a dilemma that has been dealt with for ages. People who make donations to politicians and judges simply say they expect no preferential treatment, but simply want to assure a good legislature or a good bench of judges. But as this article, and many others over the last few decades suggest, some of the people who make such donations are hoping for preferential treatment or prioritized consideration on matters. The problem is that while it may be reasonably apparent what is occurring in certain instances, it is rarely possible to draw a clear nexus and bright line between a generous donation and being awarded a coveted contract or something else of high desirability.
    It is often impossible to prove that had it not been for a large donation, that a certain benefit would not have been received. And in most cases a solitary donation, even a generous one, does not in and of itself result with being awarded a desirable contract. And in the relatively few cases where an isolated donation does result in someone receiving a benefit they otherwise never would have received, it is impossible to prove. Rarely is someone taped on the phone offering to vote to award the contract to someone providing they make a donation in a certain amount. Even when such taped phone calls exist, the players involved speak much more vaguely.

    And when considering the matter in the judicial realm rather than the strictly political realm, it is likewise often near impossible to prove anything. A firm can have a major jury trial commencing before a judge, and the firm then sponsors a major fund raiser for the judge's re-election. The judge may decide to disclose the fundraiser on the record, but then adds that they are not recusing because their impartiality is not affected by the fundraiser. It then puts opposing counsel in the position to either generously donate as well in the hope of neutralizing the issue, or to totally ignore the issue, or to bring a motion for the judge to recuse in order to avoid the appearance of impartiality or implied bias. This is real dicey because such attorney may have repeated appearances before such judge in the future. This remains a problem and is quite troubling.

    So, although a lot of the general public's animus and distrust for the legal profession is not really justified, when situations like this occur and are reported on, at least some of the public's distrust and lack of confidence in the legal system is quite understandable IMO.

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  5. Although I believe you should have paragraphed the first part into two or three shorter paragraphs so that it is easier on the eye and more people will read it, I agree completely with your observations.

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  6. Paying money to an elected official and then deriving benefit from that official is corruption.

    Any judge who calls attorneys that appear in front of them for a donation is putting unfair pressure on that attorney to contribute. The implications of a failure to contribute are obvious.

    I know there are tremendous flaws with an appointed judiciary. But campaign donations from attorneys to judges creates terrible presumptions.

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  7. The RJ story is just another hack piece...the decision to select that particular law firm was made by county staff who had no knowledge of the donations made by members of that firm, and the firm was selected because it had successfully represented another entity on a very similar claim. But don't let any facts in this situation get in the way of casting aspersions. Sadly, sometimes the donor does get unjust enrichments.

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    1. Lenhard's representation of the County in eminent proceedings goes back over a decade to when he was with Jones Vargas. Certainly Brownstein getting work must be related to donations. SMH.

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    2. JV lost big if you're talking about the airport takings case.

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    3. It was just staff who selected Rory Reid for Airport Gen Counsel and Staff, selected Brownstein as stadium counsel. RIGHT! 1:46 is naïve if she believes what the public info officer said. The contract lawyers work for 1/2 the rate of Kirk's. AND remind me, what case has Kirk won for the County? RJC came out good!

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    4. 1:46 here. I didn't make any representations about Rory Reid or the Stadium counsel. I just have knowledge about the Lenhard connection to a previous construction claim involving a flood control channel. Weird that the RJ did not write up about Rory's contract, which just got renewed and extended for even more $$. There are no elected officials on the Stadium Authority, so I do not see the tie-in to campaign contributions there.

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    5. Getting Kirk for $350 an hour is a freaking homerun IMO.

      Sincerely,

      Some attorney not at BHFS

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    6. Kirk did a great job litigating the courthouse defects.

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    7. Great for who?? The county or the contractor?

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    8. Represented county, but contractor won.

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  8. Is there such thing as a puff post, or did 12:49 just draft the first of its kind?

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    1. Hardly seems like a puff post. He/she does not hesitate to point out flaws in the system, but does seem to couch matters in somewhat tame, safe language. On the other hand, 1:14 is quite direct and unflinchingly candid as to what he/she thinks about these types of practices--particularly the situation of judges raising money for re-election. And, invariably, most of that money is raised from attorneys who appear before such judge.

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  9. I'm curious what the ratio of secretaries to lawyers is at other firms in Vegas. I know at Wilson Elser it's like 5 attorneys to one secretary now, it's probably the same at Lewis Brisbois and my firm (not insurance defense, multi-state, general practice) is trying to get there but is probably closer to 3 or 4 to 1 now. Anyone?

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    1. 5 to 1 is the new normal. Although some local firms are still closer to 2 to 1.

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    2. If you have a separate tier for paralegals, 5 to 1 works. If your secretary is your paralegal, 2:1 or 3:1 at most.

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    3. When I started in the late 80's it was much more even. Partners and experienced associates each had their own secretary. Sometimes newbie attorneys even had their own secretary, but occasionally two of them needed to share a secretary.

      But these current ratios(4 or 5 attorneys per secretary) is probably best explained that attorneys, in recent years, are expected to do most of their own drafting. When I started attorneys never even had computers on their desk.

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