Posts Tagged ‘Rod Blagojevich’

From the random notebook:

Presidential Pardons

The media has done a poor job in my opinion of explaining the Presidential Pardon power. First, it’s not unlimited. Second, it doesn’t extend to state crimes. (I won’t delve into whether or not a president can pardon himself notwithstanding President Trump’s claims that he can — other than to remark it’s open to constitutional interpretation depending on the legal eagle [or beagle] you ask). That said, under Article II, Section 2, Clause 1 of the U.S. Constitution, the president has the “power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of impeachment.”

The U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the presidential pardon power in ex parte Garland, an 1866 case involving an Arkansas attorney who had served in the Confederate Congress and was thereafter refused admission to practice in the Supreme Court because he couldn’t [or wouldn’t] swear a Congressionally mandated loyalty oath. President Andrew Johnson gave Garland “full pardon and amnesty.” The question then became whether the bar admission law passed by Congress infringed on the president’s pardon power.

The Court ruled in Garland’s favor, declaring the president’s pardon power “extends to every offense known to the law, and may be exercised at any time after its commission, either before legal proceedings are taken, or during their pendency, or after conviction and judgment.” Also see “Presidential Pardons – ABA Legal Fact Check – American Bar Association” and “Trump can dodge federal crimes with pardons — but not state law.”

The other Kim.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/9/95/Kim_Kardashian_2%2C_2012.jpg/164px-Kim_Kardashian_2%2C_2012.jpgWith President Trump pardoning the famous like Jack Johnson; the not-so-famous like conservative author and filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza; and possibly, the infamous, including former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, along with other assorted unmentionables the media has repeatedly failed to differentiate that those pardons involve federal crimes not state ones. ‘Blago,’ for instance, was convicted of federal corruption charges and it’s still uncertain whether he gets the nod. The president can’t pardon people convicted of offenses against the states.

So more recently when the other Kim got President Trump’s ear resulting in a sentence commutation for 63-year-old Alice Marie Johnson serving life in prison for a nonviolent drug conviction — the failure to clarify reared itself again. Just the same, good for Kim Kardashian West. But in the reality television world I can’t pinch myself awake from, it’s still important to keep the facts clear and straight.

Two more thoughts on mandatory bars.

https://cdn.morguefile.com/imageData/public/files/c/cyblor/01/l/1357158058o4ylu.jpgWhen fighting for legislative reforms of mandatory bar associations, there’s one bromide favored above all others by those opposed to even the slightest stirring of the legal establishment sacred cow. It’s the bunkum, “Why fix it, if it ain’t broke.”

Up until last week, I hadn’t heard as good a retort as the one favored by the late Ella Brennan. “Miss Ella” who died May 31 at age 92 was the famed New Orleans restaurateur whose crown jewel was Commander’s Palace. I dined there once and have to say it deserved every accolade. In an obituary in the Wall Street Journal this past weekend, mention was made of Brennan’s passion for learning, brainstorming and continual improvement encapsulated in what the paper declared was “one of her favorite maxims: ‘If it ain’t broke, fix it anyway.'”

The other thought I was struck by recently was a line in cultural and political commentator Jonah Goldberg’s June 1st installment, “Great Oaks Have Deep Roots,” in National Review. Among various topics, Goldberg reflected on the excesses of the Right and Left and “alienation from politics” while deconstructing what he said were public policy ends. The second point of his “three-point plan” resonated with me because it epitomizes what’s wrong generally with mandatory bar elites, particularly those of late running the Nevada State Bar.

“Second, we need a lot less nationalism (for want of a better term),” wrote Goldberg. “What I mean by that is that the federal government and various national elites need to stop thinking that the whole country needs to think and act in one way.” [emphasis added] This state-mandated one way thought and action is precisely what elites at mandatory bars like Nevada’s need to stop doing. Stop thinking that their state’s lawyers need “to think and act in one way.” What’s worse, of course, is that the one way is the one that they ordain.

You won’t find better examples of this holier-than-thou monistic my way-or-the-highway arrogance than in the last two “Messages From The President” in the May 2018 and June 2018 editions of the bar’s uninspiring house organ, Nevada Lawyer.


It’s been awhile but below are the latest updated FREE CLE listings provided again with the usual disclaimers about content quality, continued availability, and jurisdictional creditworthiness.


Collecting Responsive ESI from Difficult Places – June 20th, 12:00pm CT

by CloudNine on 5/31/2018

This CLE-approved* webcast will discuss what lawyers need to know about the various sources of ESI today, examples of how those sources of data can be responsive to litigations and investigations, and how lawyers may be able to collect much of this data today using intuitive applications and simple approaches.

Presented by:

William J. Kane, Director of the New Jersey Lawyers Assistance Program

Nancy Stek, Associate Director of the New Jersey Lawyers and New Jersey Judges Assistance Programs

From Distressed to De-Stressed

Presented by:

William J. Kane, Director of the New Jersey Lawyers Assistance Program

Nancy Stek, Associate Director of the New Jersey Lawyers and New Jersey Judges Assistance Programs.


Lexis Nexis University

Blowing Smoke: Managing New Risks in the Workplace

  • Class Type: Virtual Training
  • Time: 12:00pm – 1:00pm EDT
  • Dates: 06/15/2018

Blowing Smoke: Managing New Risks in the Workplace

  • Class Type: Virtual Training
  • Time: 12:00pm – 1:00pm EDT
  • Dates: 07/13/2018


Franczek Radelet

Webinar: Responding to Sexual Harassment in Schools

“In light of the #metoo movement and the current news coverage of high profile sexual harassment cases, we addressed the issue of sexual harassment as it applies to elementary and secondary schools. Specifically, we: (i) discussed the general obligation of a school district to respond to harassment claims by employees and students; (ii) offered an overview of state laws regarding sexual harassment policies, including the recently enacted Public Act 554 reported on here; and (iii) provided a checklist of action items schools and school districts should take to ensure they are prepared to properly respond to sexual harassment claims. Download the presentation here and watch the recording here. ”


Fowler School of Law – Chapman University

“The school of law has certified several webcast archives for “self study” credit. Those webcasts marked with an “MCLE” notation will qualify for non-participatory “self study” MCLE for California attorneys for the amount of credit listed. Each webcast counts as general MCLE and does not count for special credit in any subject matter or required topic unless noted.”


Credits: Trump, by DonkeyHotey at Flickr via Creative Commons Attribution License; Kim Kardashian by Eva Rinaldi, Wikimedia Commons, via Flickr Creative Commons Attribution License; cow by cyblor, morguefile.com.


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In the kingdom of the blind, one-eyed New Jersey is apparently king. Or so it would seem according to a state integrity report card announced this week by the Center for Public Integrity. The self-described non-partisan investigative news organization issued a 50-state State Integrity Investigation Report and the bottom line? “Most states do a poor job in guarding against corruption.” And Will Rogers was right when he said, “You could keep politics clean if you could figure out some way so your government never hired anyone.”
                                                                                                                          No state earned an “A.” Only five earned a “B” grade – – – led surprisingly by New Jersey – – – home of fictional Tony Soprano and real-life American Mafiosos. And where only last December, Federal officials unveiled a massive indictment against New Jersey defendants in a mob takedown there.

As the Center explains, “The State Integrity Index researched 330 “Integrity Indicators” across 14 categories of state government: public access to information, political financing, executive accountability, legislative accountability, judicial accountability, state budget processes, civil service management, procurement, internal auditing, lobbying disclosure, pension fund management, ethics enforcement, insurance commissions, and redistricting.”

With such dismal findings, the Center is clearly advancing its mission “to reveal abuses of power, corruption and dereliction of duty by powerful public and private institutions in order to cause them to operate with honesty, integrity, accountability and to put the public interest first.” Good luck with that.

No shame.

Yet if we know anything, it’s that the powerful have neither shame nor “any sense of decency.” A recent ‘for instance’ stands out. It’s the case of disgraced, impeached former Illinois governor and lawyer Rod Blagojevich who last week, before entering ‘Club Fed’ in Colorado, was signing autographs, posing for pictures and chowing down at “Freddy’s Frozen Custard and Steakburgers” for his final taste of freedom.

“D” Sisters: Arizona and Nevada

But despite the Center’s good intentions, there’s much to criticize, especially that so few states garnered “F” grades. Like what’s up with all those “D’s”? And how did Blago’s home state Illinois rank 10th out of 50 states? How in the world does politically corrupt Illinois with its long history of corrupt politicians score a 74 and earn a “C” grade?

Unsurprisingly, my former home state, Nevada, almost made the dubious ‘cut’ to earn an “F” with the 8 cellar dwellers bringing up the rear. Earlier this year, poor Nevada also failed to make ‘the cut’ missing the Top Ten when another poll dubiously distinguished poor Nevada as 11th among “America’s Most Miserable States.”  But on the corruption scale, by the skin of its teeth, Nevada earned a “D-” to place 42nd among 50 states.

My current home state, Arizona, earned a hardly praiseworthy “D+.” But with so many other states garnering “D” grades, it was 15 spots better than Nevada and 27th out of 50. A total of 18 states got “D” grades. 19 states earned “C” grades. Compare your state’s report card here.

Nuvola apps edu miscellaneous.svgArizona buoyed its embarrassing “D” thanks, in part, to the Center’s bias for judicial merit selection and retention. Otherwise, it richly deserved its “D,” and more properly, should have been awarded an “F.” Indeed, I enthusiastically agree with Requiem for Arizona,” a recent “Letter to the Editor” in “High Country News,” where reader John Woodruff wrote, “It is no secret that Arizona’s politicians are narrow-minded and incompetent. But when the highest aspirations of most people in the state are to live in an undemanding climate, engage in ersatz amusements and pay no taxes, enlightened people are not going to flock to state government. As Arizona marks its centennial, the most fitting gesture would be to drape the Capitol in black crepe. That is, of course, if it’s all right with the new landlord.” (Facing its worst financial crisis since the last one, in 2009, the governor approved a plan to sell the state Capitol buildings.)

As for Nevada, its parochial “good ole’ boy” political culture is reason enough to taint it with corruption, but it was also downgraded for not enjoying the supposed Utopian benefits of merit selection and judicial selection. It was given a “D+” for Judicial Accountability.” As a contested open judicial election state, Nevada suffers from legal establishment and news media criticism of purported endemic conflicts of interest and a supposed stacked judicial deck.

According to The Story Behind the Score,” speaking of the state’s judiciary, it explained that Nevada voters “resisted some reforms. In November 2010, for instance, voters killed measures that would have switched Nevada judges from an elective to appointive system; instituted a formal system to measure judges’ performance; and added an intermediate appeals level.”

Conversely, merit selection/judicial retention Arizona received a “B-” for the same category, which partly explains its overall gentleman’s “D+” versus Nevada’s “D-.” But at least, residents of both states can draw comfort from a poll last year where Nevada and Arizona beat out the field as, respectively, No. 1 and No. 2 among “America’s Dumbest States.”

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