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June 2009 Issue

Cover Story

A Supreme Case of Contempt

Note: Members can now listen free online to this month's CLE, "A Turn-of-the-Century Lynching that Launched 100 Years of Federalism."

The case was United States v. Shipp. There were nine defendants, all charged with contempt of court—contempt of the Supreme Court, that is. The U.S. attorney general had filed the charges against them directly with the court, thus giving it original jurisdiction in the matter. The petition alleged that the defendants and other people engaged in actions “with the intent to show their contempt and disregard for the orders of this honorable court ... and for the purpose of preventing Ed Johnson from exercising and enjoying a right secured to him by the Constitution and laws of the United States.”

It was a full-blown trial. There were special prosecutors, dozens of witnesses and a special mas­ter assigned to take the evidence. The trial rec­ord exceeded 2,200 pages. Each side was given a full day of oral argument before the justices.

Chief Justice Melville W. Fuller, who normally encouraged his colleagues to write the court’s opin­ions, decided that the importance of this case demanded that he take on the responsibility. Before reading the opinion that accompanied their verdict, Fuller—in his typically soft, almost inaudible voice —noted to a packed courtroom that the Supreme Court had entered new territory for which there was no precedent.

Web Extras

Code v1 vs. Code v2

Feature Section

    In-House Is No Haven

    Logic suggests that when the economy tanks, opportunities for in-house lawyers ought to improve. After all, legal disputes rise when the Dow takes a dive, and who better to tackle this growing workload than cost-efficient staff attorneys? Yet the nation’s in-house bar—however vital its role in hard times—is shrinking at a rate that tracks the widening job losses across corporate America.

    Virtually Practicing

    Legal work for large transactions requires a team approach, says San Fran­cisco lawyer Andrea Chavez, but thanks to technology the team doesn’t always have to be in the same building.

    Her firm, Virtual Law Partners, has no physical office, and everyone works remotely. Owning up to no-office status is taken to the extreme. Described as a “Web-based law firm,” its homepage plainly states that all lawyers and staff “work mostly from home."

    A Reluctant Rebellion

    Jon Hanson committed a despicable crime for which everyone, including the defendant, agreed he needed to be punished.

The National Pulse

The EEOC’s Brave New World

McElhaney on Litigation

Conflict Management

Precedents

June 1, 1942

Letters to the Editor

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