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Archive for January, 2009

Every once in a while I actually open one of those seemingly hundreds of spam emails that I get from legal publishers each week.  Today, I had the even rarer occasion to come across one that was advertising a resource I might actually use. 

The resource in question is a website called The Robing Room, operated by North Law Publishers, Inc.  With the tagline, “where judges are judged,” The Robing Roomis a forum for lawyers, litigants, and members of the public to provide anonymous feedback and commentary on various aspects of a judge’s performance, including the judge’s temperament, competence, intellectual ability, and even-handedness.  Judges are rated on an overall scale from 1 to 10.  Viewers can also see specific comments provided by other users.  Users who comment are identified by whether they are a lawyer, litigant, or other, and if a lawyer, by type of practice.  Ratings are available for many federal district court judges and magistrates, as well as state court judges in selected states.

Of course, like any other online forum, the ratings and comments have to be taken with a huge grain of salt.  The rating methodology is not–as far I can tell–scientific.  The anonymous nature of the site means that any nut job with an axe to grind can give a judge an unfair review.  Conversely, any judge who wants to boost his or her ratings can no doubt find ways to improve them with the help of a few friends.  However, with those caveats, the site could provide helpful information that, used in connection with other resources, can be of some strategic benefit for a lawyer or litigant faced with an unfamiliar judge.

Colorado practitioners will be familiar with the Commissions on Judicial Performance, which also uses feedback from lawyers, litigants, and members of the public to review the performance of judges, for the purpose of recommending whether or not they be retained in retention elections.  The Robing Room appears to have added Colorado state judges only fairly recently, so there isn’t enough data yet to analyze whether its ratings are at all similar with the feedback provided by the Commissions.  Lawyers or parties facing litigation in Colorado would be well-served to consult both sources in researching a judge.

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In a sign that plaintiffs’ class action lawyers are becoming more powerful than ever, the following quote appeared in an article in today’s issue of The Economic Times:

Class actions are very strong in the US and are pretty serious in terms of penalties and imprisonment.

In fairness, something in the quote may have been lost in translation, but just to set the record straight, imprisonment is generally not an available remedy in a U.S. class action.  The article was quoting an Indian lawyer describing the U.S. system for an Indian audience.  It looks like what he was trying to convey is that class actions often come as a result of revelations of corporate fraud that may also lead to regulatory and criminal action, which is where penalties and imprisonment might come into play.

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If you’re looking for a fun-filled way to spend a Tuesday lunch hour and need CLE credits, check out Strafford Publications’ upcoming CLE Teleconference Rule 23(f) Class Certification Appeals: Strategies for Pursuing or Opposing Appellate Review in the Absence of Clear Standards.  The fun will begin on January 20, 2009 at 1PM Eastern.  For more information and to register, follow this link.

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As we welcome in the first full business week of 2009, two news sources have recent stories discussing trends in securities class action litigation from 2008. 

First, the Wall Street Journal Blog reports that 2008 saw an increase in securities class action filings.   However, the article also notes that suits actually dipped in the second half of the year, despite the drastic worsening of the credit crisis.  A possible explanation offered for this trend is the impact of market volatility and the more general market decline following the credit crisis in obscuring or watering down the effects of individual acts of alleged securities fraud.  The article also touches on the prospect of a decline in securities class actions as the pool of potential defendants in the financial-services sector is exhausted.

Meanwhile, this article from The Australian published this report on a surge in class action filings Down Under during the past year.  The article includes an intersting discussion about the role of litigation funders in class action litigation Down Under and predicts a possible showdown  over licensing requirements between the country’s only licensed litigation funder and potential overseas competitors.

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