Snow day for Maryland courthouses

The wheels of justice have skidded to a halt due to the wintry weather at the following federal and state courthouses in Maryland, which are closed today:

Prince George's County CourthouseThe U.S. district courts in Baltimore and Greenbelt; the circuit and district courts in Charles, Frederick, Harford, Howard, Prince George’s and Baltimore counties; and the district courts in Carroll and Washington counties.

The Anne Arundel County District Court will close at noon today.

The Maryland courts of appeal will remain open until today’s arguments are finished.

For updates visit the Maryland Judiciary’s website.

Discrimination suit against sheriff dismissed

dismissalA discrimination case against the Calvert County sheriff has been dismissed.

A U.S. District Court judge dismissed a case filed by a former deputy sheriff who claimed his contract had not been renewed because he had medical issues and his replacement was younger.

Former deputy Michael E. Sullivan sued Sheriff Michael Evans personally and sought reinstatement to his old position.

Sullivan claimed violations under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Judge James K. Bredar, however, held that in order to get his job back, Sullivan would have to sue Sullivan in his official capacity, not his personal capacity.

Bredar therefore granted the sheriff’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit, dismissed Sullivan’s claims and closed the case in an order issued Thursday.

4th Circuit’s first female chief judge dies

Photo courtesy of The Times and Democrat

Photo courtesy of The Times and Democrat

The first female chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit has died.

No cause of death was given, but Judge Karen Johnson Williams, 62, struggled with early onset Alzheimer’s disease.

Williams became chief judge of the 4th Circuit, which includes Maryland, in 2007. Williams, a South Carolina native, was appointed to the leadership position on the court at the recommendation of U.S. Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-S.C.).

Williams was appointed to the federal bench in 1992 at the age of 40 and President George W. Bush considered her for a U.S. Supreme Court opening in 2005.

Williams retired in 2009 after she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

Same-sex marriage faces opposition in St. Mary’s County and elsewhere in Md.

When the Maryland law legalizing same-sex marriage goes into effect next week, couples wishing to tie the knot in St. Mary’s County may face some resistance by local officials.

Some St. Mary’s County Circuit Court employees will stop performing marriages, insteading asking others to perform the duty, the Washington Examiner reports.

“There are some [deputy clerks] that have voiced some opposition to doing it — [they have] religious feelings about it … so it’s basically my idea that they won’t do any marriage at all,” said Joan Williams, clerk of the St. Mary’s County Circuit Court. “Some people are just very against same-sex marriages, and I have to respect their reasons and their decisions.”

John Zito, president of the Maryland Wedding Professionals Association, said he is aware of one wedding photographer (who he would not identify) who “didn’t feel comfortable” taking same-sex couples’ photos because he was not used to posing two grooms or two brides together.

And one trolley operator in Annapolis has gotten out of the wedding business altogether in order to avoid discriminating against same-sex couples. His decision has emboldened opponants  to lobby for a loophole to the law that would allow for a conscience clause to allow for commercial vendors to not provide services to same-sex couples.

 

Cost of law school continues to rise

Law schools are still increasing tuition even though the number of people applying to law school has dropped dramatically.

The National Law Journal reports the average tuition for law school will increase this year by more than double the rate of inflation in the country. The average, annual private school tuition is $40,585, a 4 percent increase from last year. Tuition for in-state students attending public law schools will increase 6 percent this fall to an average of $23,590 annually.

(On the other hand, law schools are giving out more scholarship money, the Wall Street Journal recently reported.)

The Law Journal examined the reported tuition rates at law schools across the country. Locally, law school tuition rates vary; The University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law had the highest tuition increase, at 19 percent. On the other hand, the school has one of the lowest tuition payments in the country — $11,265.

The University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law raised tuition 3 percent this year despite freezing it last year.

“It’s hard to do a tuition freeze,” dean Phoebe Haddon told the Law Journal. “I don’t think any program can stay flat for long. Costs continue to go up, and they have to be paid somehow.”

In-House Interrogatory

This week it is all about CEOs and general counsels.

Asked: Our weekly question to the In-House community

Clarissa Cerda, general counsel at LifeLock, Inc., took on her job around three years ago. The corporate counsel takes on a “partner role” with her CEO, Corporate Counsel reports. Cerda takes the company’s CEO to court proceedings and meetings with regulators.

“I took my CEO along,” she told Corporate Counsel. “A lot of people thought I was crazy when I decided to do that.”

Here’s our question for you:

What is your working relationship like with your company’s CEO? Do you let him/her have as much access to the in-house department as Cerda and why or why not?

Leave a comment below or email me.

Need to Know:

  • An in-house legal chief for a Houston company created a fake law firm and funneled almost $9 million of company money into the paying the “firm” for its “legal services.”
  • Texas Lawyer has the 2012 summer reading list for corporate counsels.
  • Pinterest hired Google’s deputy general counsel, Michael Yang, as its general counsel. Pinterest has faced copyright issues since its website has users post pictures and content from other sites.
  • A former Warner Bros. executive, Mark DeVitre, will join Entertainment Studios as executive vice president and general counsel. The company produces and distributes over 31 syndicated TV shows.
  • Remember how we reported this month that more law students are interested in corporate counsel jobs immediately after graduation? Well, it’s happening in India, too, except between 50 to 75 percent of graduating law school students went to corporations this year, The Times of India reports.
  • One in-house counsel in California is backtracking and going back to private practice after about 13 years. The general counsel for Callaway Golf, Steven McCracken, made the move in May.
  • Knome, Inc., the human genome interpretation company, appointed Gary A. Cohen as general counsel, senior vice president and secretary of the company.
  • If you are interested in intellectual property law in the gaming industry, check out this Q&A by the Las Vegas Review-Journal with the deputy general counsel of Cantor Gaming.
  • The Allstate Corporation named Susie Lees general counsel this month.
  • To get more in-house counsel news, sign up for our FREE monthly email newsletter, In-House Counsel. The newsletter is a compilation of The Daily Record’s coverage of in-house counsel news as well as job listings, movements within the industry and other resources. Click here to sign up today.
  • Follow us on Twitter for the In-House news and discussion: @TDRInHouse
  • Want the latest on who’s been hired, fired or moving and shaking in between? Head to our Movers and Shakers page to find out.
  • For networking events and other happenings this week in Maryland, check out our calendar of events.
  • Get the very latest updates from our law reporters on Twitter: @TDRKristi, @BenMook@Steve_Lash
  • Check out The Daily Record on Facebook.

Law blog roundup

It was the best times and the worst of times in the law blog round-up this Monday. Though, it was mostly just the worst of times if you are a current or incoming law school student – or if you are Jerry Sandusky.

– The U.S. Attorney from Maryland has been tapped to investigate the national security leaks the country has been abuzz about since last week. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. named Rod J. Rosenstein and his counterpart in Washington, D.C.,Ronald C. Machen Jr., to head the investigation committee.

– Things aren’t looking good for a Boston criminal defense attorney found guilty on seven counts of money laundering.

– Attorneys made opening statements this morning in the trial of former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, who is accused of sexually abusing 10 boys.

– At least ten law schools around the country are cutting enrollment numbers this fall.

– And in case that was not discouraging enough, job numbers for the law school Class of 2012 are at an 18-year low.

– In brighter news, at least you weren’t these girls caught unawares (and unclothed) at University of Maryland, College Park this weekend.

In-House Interrogatory

This week it is all about Facebook and Twitter, even for general counsels.

Asked: Our weekly question to the In-House community

National Labor Relations Board Acting General Counsel Lafe E. Solomon issued his latest report on employee social media use May 30, his third in less than a year. Solomon examined the practices of several companies’ social media policies but basically maintains that when companies create too many rules for social media use, they violate the National Labor Relations Act by limiting employee rights.

Solomon is also not the only one talking social media in the workplace lately. The Maryland General Assembly passed a bill in April banning employers from asking employees for their passwords to their social media accounts.

Here’s our question for you:

What are your companies’ policies on social media use and how do you deal with the issue as a general counsel?

Leave a comment below or email me.

Need to Know:

  • Now as to what’s what in the in-house world. This week, we have general counsels coming, going, even taking pay cuts. We have the details on the biggest moves in the industry:
  • Fannie Mae made its general counsel, Timothy J. Mayopoulos, its new CEO. Mayopoulos, however, will go from pulling in about $2.66 million a year to a $600,000 annual salary.
  • Weather Channel Companies named George Callard its new general counsel. The catch? This guy could be in for a bumpy ride after a former anchor/reporter filed suit against the company alleging new management did not let her take time off to serve in the Air Force Reserves.
  • Susan G. Komen for the Cure named Ellen D. Willmott  as its new general counsel, the group announced Wednesday. Willmott comes to the the breast cancer charity organization from Save the Children USA.
  • To get more in-house counsel news, sign up for our FREE monthly email newsletter, In-House Counsel. The newsletter is a compilation of The Daily Record’s coverage of in-house counsel news as well as job listings, movements within the industry and other resources. Click here to sign up today.
  • Follow us on Twitter for the In-House news and discussion: @TDRInHouse
  • Want the latest on who’s been hired, fired or moving and shaking in between? Head to our Movers and Shakers page to find out.
  • For networking events and other happenings this week in Maryland, check out our calendar of events.
  • Get the very latest updates from our law reporters on Twitter: @TDRKristi, @BenMook@Steve_Lash
  • Check out The Daily Record on Facebook.

Across the country, less law school love

The George Washington University Law School is the latest to drop its enrollment as fewer people applied to law school for the upcoming academic year.

GW Law plans to keep its enrollment below 450, compared to this year’s class of 474, the National Law Journal reports.

Law schools across the country are grappling with upcoming fall enrollment in the face of the declining number of people taking the LSAT and even fewer applying to law school.

The University of California Hastings College of the Law announced this year that it also plans to decrease enrollment. Albany Law School, Creighton University School of Law and Touro College Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center also reduced class sizes during the 2011-2012 school year.

GW Law saw its number of applicants fall 15 percent, Law Dean Paul Schiff Berman told the Journal. It will lose some tuition revenue but plans to recoup it in increased fundraising and introducing new programs for students outside the law school, Berman said.

Baltimore schools are experiencing the similar problems. The University of Baltimore School of Law told The Daily Record  in March that its applicant numbers were down 17 percent this admissions cycle, but University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law officials were less concerned.

Jury duty jam

Two of life’s greatest inconveniences — jury duty and traffic — collided this week in California.

A courthouse computer system in Auburn accidentally summoned 1,200 people for jury duty  Tuesday. Traffic was jammed on the way to the Placer County Courthouse as citizens tried to report at 8 a.m.

“I’m a very mellow guy so it didn’t bother me but you could see the disdain and frustration on the faces of some of the other people,” a potential juror told the Auburn Journal. “They have to do a lot of juggling in the work place and in some, they don’t pay you for jury duty and you have to take unpaid time off or vacation time.”

The computer system was supposed to alert 900 people that they were not to show up for jury duty, but the automated message told them they should appear in court instead. Some called in beforehand to the courthouse, but about 800 people are estimated to have headed to court that day.

“The alert failed to notify us yesterday afternoon, so the clerk failed to update the system,” assistant court executive officer Geoff Brandt told CBS Sacramento. “The system then goes into default mode, and we were unaware the default mode was to call in every jury panel we had scheduled for the week.”