Favourite Tales of 2020: Corruption, Courts and … um … Jeffrey Toobin

Only a few days until 2020 is over and it is hoped that 2021 promises better days! On the other hand, I just learned the phrase “super gonorrhea” so maybe not.

Usually at this time of year we write a post about the 10 most read stories about the law of the year. But since, “[INSERT FIRM HERE] COVID layoffs “make a top 10 list as redundant as it is depressing. The editors decided to try something different this year. So each of us will compile a list of our top stories of the year according to a metric we choose.

For my list, I’ve chosen to only pick my personal favorite stories that I want to write about, but after checking the traffic stats for the year, it looks like my favorite stories are more or less your favorite stories too. So let’s count down the 10 most read stories of mine of the year.

10. Judicial reform is now inevitable: John Roberts can do this in an easy or difficult way

This one may actually turn out to be “wrong” depending on what happens in the Georgia runoff, but it aimed to find out where things go on the “Court Enlargement” proposal, which is getting a lot of attention from liberal and conservative media to have. Indeed, in major Senate races, the GOP flooded the air with the idea that Democrats could “grab the court” and that maybe that’s what will save the Senate for the Conservatives.

However, the article does discuss the role the Chief Justice could (and may still do) have played in planning the future of the Supreme Court. John Roberts could shut down the most aggressive proposals to enlarge the court, backing the more sensible proposal for a time limit and putting the Supreme Court on a path that preserves its overall structure while removing the fundamentally aristocratic and ultimately macabre system of lifelong tenure.

9. Neil Gorsuch puts landmines across LGBTQ discriminatory mindset

Supreme Court decisions are largely predictable. Justice Alito, profoundly offended that anyone would claim that Jim Crow’s laws are racist, is a quintessential “dog bite” story. But Justice Neil “Not Merrick Garland” Gorsuch, who dealt a blow to transgender rights in this summer’s Bostock statement, surprised many people.

But opinions are as important as the outcome, and where Justice Gorsuch expands basic civil rights with one hand, he tries with the other to obstruct the modern regulatory state and core transgender rights as a necessary detour to core environmental laws and the like. The contrast between what a majority opinion written by Justice Sotomayor would say and this one was stark. It also drew my attention to the majority report, that was cool.

8.Federal judges posting music videos about COVID is officially the last thing you expected of 2020

Just because 2020 was a nightmare didn’t mean there weren’t any bright spots. Like this Hamilton-inspired performance by Judge Jennifer Walker Elrod of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals and Judge Charles Eskridge of the Southern District of Texas. The couple responded to the judicial system’s experience of dealing with COVID with wit and an excellent performance.

Now I have the song in my head again.

7. St. Louis attorneys wave AR-15 at protesters as if they were completely normal and completely insane

Mark and Patricia McCloskey found their 15 minutes of fame and it was wild. The couple broke out their guns to wave at passing protesters and became a national sensation. Claiming the march on their street threatened their home – despite the fact that none of their neighbors appeared to be in trouble – they turned a potentially embarrassing, meme-worthy evening into a complaints parade that culminated in a GOP congressional speech.

This story would always make my list because it generated a stream of delightful hate mail!

6. Donald Trump did not disband the pandemic team, he made it much worse

When the COVID response got out of hand, Liberals accepted the speech that Donald Trump had disbanded the White House pandemic response team, making the ongoing calamity inevitable. The Republicans replied that the team never broke up … look, it’s right here!

In an article that had very little to do with the legal industry and had much more to do with basic critical reading skills, I covered Tim Morrison’s Washington Post editorial defending the White House response and explaining why breaking the team might have been better for the country than what they really did.

5. Attention Donald Trump: If you take Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, the Republicans will turn you on quickly

When Mitch McConnell admitted that Joe Biden had won the election and Donald Trump cursed him on Twitter, that pretty much confirmed everything I set out in this article. There are still Trumpist believers willing to pretend that Dominion voting machines run by a zombie Hugo Chavez are behind it all, but by and large, the Republican Party’s infrastructure is comfortable when it does it all what they could have wished for, got out of the gold. clad sucker they had installed. After fate filled the judiciary with “unqualified” judges – a product that destroyed constitutional norms and kept vacancies open long enough to cause legal emergencies in the Obama era – fate provided Mitch McConnell , found a far-right Supreme Court and cemented it. He immediately washed the president’s hands.

Trump’s only smart game was to announce his intention to nominate Amy Coney Barrett but make it totally dependent on the GOP fighting for him. If they sucked it up and stayed with him, they would get their true desire. If he failed, he could deny it out of spite.

The only thing I didn’t predict in this article is how much worse the country would be right now if Trump could use the prospect of this Supreme Court nomination to get McConnell to embrace the various coup attempts by Newsmax and OAN to connect daily. Perhaps it is a good thing that hundreds of thousands of you have read this article, but Donald Trump has not.

4. The New York Times spits a lot of hot rubbish on Jeffrey Toobin

The New York Times ventured into the time-honored tradition of immediately attempting to rehabilitate prominent media representatives for being caught with their pants down. Or in this case her tail out … during a work meeting. Her attempt to raise Jeffrey Toobin from Wankgate was so ineptly designed that it deserves a case study from a journalism school.


But masturbation at a remote work meeting was a new task.

I reply, “To be clear, masturbating at a work meeting will always be” new rules of procedure “as most employers do not offer the option to repeat it.”

A very entertaining piece to write that went down very well with the readers. I think I’ve received more free emails about this article than any other all year round.

3. WOW !!! Davis Polk raises the bar for bonuses

This hasn’t been a great year for the legal industry, but it wasn’t a bad year for some of the most elite firms out there. After Cooley opened the door to offer his employees a little something extra for their hard work in unprecedented circumstances, Davis Polk went above and beyond and convinced many of the top companies to follow suit.

However, we shouldn’t let the fact that many companies have had a reasonably good year financially overshadow the fact that many have laid off other employees and employees. It’s been a year’s roller coaster ride for the industry, and those of us who cover it all have celebrated both the ups and the downs.

2. Judge Gleeson comes out immediately and calls Bill Barr Corrupt

Representative line:

It’s hard to believe that there was a time when Bill Barr was one of Donald Trump’s staunchest loyalists. It’s harder to believe that that time was just a few weeks ago. But even before the election, Barr threw the good name of the Justice Department in the mud to help Trump’s other cronies.

Nowhere was this more evident than in an effort to keep Michael Flynn from admitting – twice! – Committing federal crimes. Barr tried to drop the case even though it had already ended and was just waiting for conviction. When former federal Judge John Gleeson was brought in to independently assess whether or not Judge Sullivan should allow the unusual motion, he made a report that drew very few blows:

In other words, the rule empowers the courts to protect the integrity of their own trial from prosecutors who carry out corrupt, politically motivated dismissals. That’s what happened here.


But after all this trouble, and after Neomi Rao wrote one of the funniest legal opinions in American history to save Barr, Michael Flynn got an apology from the president anyway. And all it took was for his attorney to fuel Trump’s delusions about electoral fraud.

Everything is going great here!

1. Bill Barr did WHAT? How is that not the biggest story in the country right now?

But before Bill Barr helped Donald Trump, he was helping his clients. And unfortunately, it seems that he did the latter even after moving on to the former. Reuters first reported that Barr’s client, facing a $ 2.3 billion tax investigation, mysteriously dropped the charges a week after Barr was nominated for the AG job.

What a Coinkydink!

There was much to be said about Bill Barr’s Justice Department devaluation that year, but it more or less got under the radar. I thought this deserved a bigger story than it was, and thanks to all of you, I think it was.

Thank you for spending your 2020 with us!

HeadshotJoe Patrice is Senior Editor at Above the Law and co-moderator of Thinking Like A Lawyer. Feel free to send tips, questions or comments via email. Follow him on Twitter for all the law, politics, and a healthy dose of college sports news. Joe is also the managing director of RPN Executive Search.

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