Posted by: Patrick Allen Foster | January 9, 2015

Assorted Law Links

1. Last month, the US Supreme Court issued a decision in United States v. California. The decision (pdf) is 112 pages long, and 108 of those pages are taken up with map coordinates defining California’s boundary lines, e.g.:

BY STRAIGHT LINE TO 402600.310 3721031.804
BY STRAIGHT LINE TO 402561.881 3721066.404
BY ARC CENTERED AT 405590.059 3725724.652
TO 401488.679 3721976.610
BY ARC CENTERED AT 405176.827 3726131.932
TO 401261.984 3722189.453
BY STRAIGHT LINE TO 400842.441 3722606.055
BY ARC CENTERED AT 404757.284 3726548.534
TO 400599.677 3722862.962
BY STRAIGHT LINE TO 399875.142 3723680.293
BY ARC CENTERED AT 404032.749 3727365.865
TO 399810.096 3723755.001
BY STRAIGHT LINE TO 399258.281 3724400.310

At The Verge, Sean O’Kane writes: “It’s like trying to look at the code of the Matrix to see what’s Neo’s up to, except you’re actually reading information about rocks and dirt.”

The last page of the decision does provide a map, thankfully:


(H/T: Eugene Volokh.)

2. Anderson informs us that Judge Emilio Garza of the 5th Circuit retired shortly after the New Year. (He had previously been on Senior status since August 2012. His seat on the 5th Circuit has not been filled.) Judge Garza is 67. Judiciary junkies with long memories may recall that Garza was on a number of shortlists of potential SCOTUS nominees during both Bush administrations.

3. Judge issues order Monday, then reads the law, rescinds order Wednesday: oops:

A judge who was criticized by First Amendment experts for restricting media coverage of a Standish attorney’s domestic assault case on Monday re-opened the proceeding Wednesday and admitted he made a mistake.

Judge Jeffrey Moskowitz appeared in a courtroom in the Cumberland County Courthouse in Portland before a crowd of about 35 people, mostly members of the media and curious lawyers, as he issued an apology.

“It’s certainly very clear that this particular order was not lawful and I should not have issued it,” Moskowitz said. “That order is now rescinded.”

On Monday, Moskowitz had told members of the media that they were forbidden from reporting anything the defendant, attorney Anthony J. Sineni III, said in court or any of the witness testimony.

The Portland Press Herald defied the gag order Tuesday, publishing a story about the hearing that included witness testimony.

The newspaper’s attorney, Sigmund Schutz, said on Monday evening that there is a “100 percent chance” that the judge’s order was unlawful. Other First Amendment experts followed on Tuesday to decry the order as a clear constitutional violation.

(H/T: Tim Cushing, TechDirt.)



  1. I have a little sympathy for the judge here – 1st Am law is so far outside what a typical state-court trial judge does, and litigants expect snap decisions from the bench. (And trial judges get used to issuing snap decisions.) At least he had the humility to come back 2 days later & take it back.

    • Yes, some judges would have dug in, so it was good that this judge had the humility, and good sense, to reverse the decision in good time.

      I suppose I could wish that all trial-level judges had a better grasp of First Amendment law, but…in terms of urgency or priority, that wish might come pretty far down the list.

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