SCOTUS consensus? Not so much…

Think the declining number of 5-4 splits on the Supreme Court this term was a tribute to the Chief Justice’s consensus-building skills? Not so, says veteran SCOTUS litigator Walter Dellinger. Instead, he thinks the margins have been wider simply because the court has had fewer hot-button issues to resolve. “I’m doubtful as to whether it’s a trend,” he said.

And if anyone should know about hot-button issues, it’s Dellinger: the O’Melveny & Myers partner argued both the Exxon v. Baker and D.C. v. Heller cases this term. While waiting (and waiting, and still waiting) for the high court’s opinions in those cases, Dellinger spoke at a media briefing Tuesday hosted by the National Chamber Litigation Center, the public policy law arm of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. You can read more about Dellinger’s comments on our sister blog, DC Dicta.

BARBARA GRZINCIC, Managing Editor/Law

“It’s called disclosha, ya —head!”

Montgomery County State’s Attorney John J. McCarthy is a bit of a movie aficionado. In my story in this week’s Maryland Lawyer, he said discovery rules that take effect July 1, requiring prosecutors to disclose a host of information without so much as a request by the defense remind him of a scene in the 1992 movie, “My Cousin Vinny.”

In the scene, the title character, an inexperienced criminal defense attorney, played by Joe Pesci, thinks he has tricked the prosecutor into surrendering information helpful to his client. Vinny’s ego is quickly deflated by his fiancée, played by Marisa Tomei, when she tells him — in no uncertain terms – that the prosecutor was required to give him the information.

Been a while since you’ve seen it? Refresh your recollection here.

STEVE LASH, Legal Affairs Writer

Of signs and Seinfeld

seinfeld.jpgRarely does a day go by where I don’t make a “Seinfeld” reference – not that there’s anything wrong with that (I think). It has become a language unto itself between some of my friends, to the point where we could probably have entire conversations using only “Seinfeld” dialogue.

So it was when I read a story in Monday’s Washington Post concerning a dispute about proposed signs on a mixed-use building in Philadelphia. Technology-consulting firm Unisys is moving in to four floors of the high-rise and wants “two illuminated signs, 11 feet high in red letters, more than halfway up two sides of the 58-story building” at Two Liberty Place, according to the Post.

Not so fast, say residents of the building, who’ve mounted a legal challenge in federal court.

Sure, they worry that the signs could decrease the value of their homes — but they also “fear the planned signs would reflect into their living rooms,” according to the story.

Almost immediately, I thought of the “Seinfeld” where the neon sign from a new Kenny Rogers Roasters leads to Jerry and Kramer switching apartments and Jerry going crazy. (“I’m on no sleep, no sleep!”)

“The Chicken Roaster,” of course, ended with the restaurant closing after Jerry’s wet hat, made from nutria fur, came apart in the restaurant. It’s unclear how the Two Liberty Place dispute will end. I just hope someone called Jackie Chiles for representation.

DANNY JACOBS, Legal Affairs Writer