I’ve been a lawyer since 1987. While my career started in the high powered high finance world of BIG business dealings…multi-million dollar office/shopping mall and other types of real property transactions, loans, loan closings, and very quickly, loan work-outs and foreclosures due to the economic dive Louisiana took in the late 1980s, it quickly evolved into high profile litigation. First, in big business Chapter 11 bankruptcies, representing large often multi-state debtors. Then, ultimately, federal civil rights work.
The following are but a few facets of the most interesting cases in which I have been involved.
Appointed Special Deputy Prosecutor for Boundary County, Idaho, after the Ruby Ridge siege and killing of Vicki Weaver by an FBI agent. The issue of sovereign immunity arose…could a state prosecute a federal agent in state court for murder of a state citizen. While the Ninth Circuit answered yes, the decision was vacated after a new prosecutor for Boundary County was installed, er er er, elected, who promptly dismissed the charges. The brief was an intellectual challenge of the best sort to write. And, the opening of the opinion by the eloquent Judge Kozinski cannot be missed:
It was, in the words of Justice Kennedy, the genius of the Founding Fathers to “split the atom of sovereignty.” U.S. Term Limits, Inc. v. Thornton, 514 U.S. 779, 838 (1995) (Kennedy, J., concurring). What this means in practical terms is that, within the territory of every state, two sovereigns–the state government and the federal government–reign cheek to jowl. From the dawn of the Republic, this unusual arrangement has led to a fair degree of conflict, as the actions of one sovereign have encroached on the prerogatives of the other. See, e.g., McCulloch v. Maryland, 17 U.S. (4 Wheat.) 316 (1819). This conflict reflects, not the defects of the system, but its virtues, because the beneficiaries of these competing sovereignties are the citizens of the United States. As Alexander Hamilton foresaw:
Power being almost always the rival of power, the general government will at times stand ready to check the usurpations of the state governments, and these will have the same disposition towards the general government. . . . If [the people’s] rights are invaded by either, they can make use of the other as the instrument of redress. The Federalist No. 28, at 181 (Alexander Hamilton) (C. Rossiter ed., 1961).
Guantanamo Bay and its use by the United States as a prison for detainees picked up in Afghanistan and neighboring areas, often on nothing but the word of a sheep herder paid a bounty, which would feed the family for decades. Along with myriad highly respected members of the bar, a former U.S. Attorney General, and clergy, we instituted the first lawsuit to challenge the denial of habeas corpus relief. Many of us, myself included, experienced criticism and far worse, series of death threats, for bringing this action. Eventually, as more of these actions were filed, the federal court consolidated these cases and transferred all of them to the jurisdiction of the D.C. Circuit, where other lawyers took over. Eventually, the right to habeas was upheld, and a procedural system was installed at the prison.
COALITION OF CLERGY, LAWYERS, AND PROFESSORS; Haim Dov Beliak; Robert A. Berger; Kathryn S. Bloomfield; Erwin Chemerinsky; Ramsey Clark; Allen Freehling; Steven Jacobs; Harold S. Lewis, Jr.; Hugh R. Manes; Arthur L. Margolis; Kenneth B. Noble; George Regas; Joseph Reichman; Lawrence W. Schilling; Carol A. Watson; Marion R. Yagman; Stephen Yagman, on behalf of persons held involuntarily at Guantanamo Naval Air Base, Cuba, Petitioners- Appellants,
George Walker BUSH; Donald H. Rumsfeld; Richard B. Myers; Gordon R. England; James L. Jones; Robert A. Buehn; Michael Fair; Ellen Mustain; Michael Lehnert, Respondents-Appellees.
No. 02-55367. Decided: November 18, 2002
Click here for opinion. COALITION OF CLERGY LAWYERS AND PROFESSORS v BUSH FindLaw
The rights of people to be left alone as they walk down the street, whether on parole, probation, or not, especially when the seizing officers have no reasonable suspicion, no probable cause, and no knowledge of status. While successful then, I wonder whether success would again prevail apropos the recent pronouncement on the Fourth Amendment by Justice Thomas, who altered the legal landscape with a new standard of flagrant misconduct, discussed in another blog post, which post I intend to amend as I digest that opinion.
Moreno v. Baca, No. 02-55627, 9th Circuit (2002).
I will upload the briefs on summary judgment in the district court and on appeal at a later date. Click here for opinion: Moreno.v.Baca.0255627
Other opinions on cases of interest are: Vanke.v.Block.JCCA00100003 and dang.v.cross.422 F3d 800 Vanke involved the policy of LA Sheriff of “over detention” of inmates…holding inmates despite orders of release or beyond release dates to “check for warrants and holds” and the decision addresses attorney fees. The Dang decision addresses the error by the trial court in refusing to give a jury instruction that punitive damages are recoverable if jury finds oppressive conduct, and also addresses attorney fees.
This case involved an out of control sheriff’s deputy, who thank goodness was fired, and his two minions. An eyewitness account of the aftermath of the beating three deputies put down on this man in front of his wife and children was horrifying: she said “it looked like someone killed a cow.” 8-7 OPP MSJ RAFAEL FINALx
As always, enjoy,
Kathryn S. Bloomfield