Lots of Great Blogging
about recent federal court of appeals cases over at the Decision of the Day blog.
Bob Loblaw?
1.9.2007 5:12pm
Augustus Hand:
I don't understand the appeal of this blog to Orin; he keeps linking to it, and I keep wondering why I clicked the link. The squibs describing cases are often devoid of analysis, and sometimes highlight the wrong part of the case. When there is analysis, it is simplistic, sloppy, and results-oriented (the snarky complaint about the Eighth Circuit's summary judgment in a disparate impact case in the top post is innumerate). It reminds me of the equally amateurish "Appellate Law and Practice" blog, which is written in the same style by other anonymous bloggers.
1.9.2007 5:22pm

My experience is very different: I have found the case descriptions to be accurate, and the analysis very good. Perhaps we are focusing on different cases? I tend to read the criminal law related cases most closely, and there Bob Loblaw is very strong.

In any event, if you can recommend a better daily digest of federal appellate cases, I would love to know which ones you think are better.
1.9.2007 6:04pm
Colin (mail):
I disagree. I've enjoyed Bob Loblaw's work. His analysis is fine, especially considering how many cases he highlights and summarizes, but it's not why I follow the blog. He plucks the most interesting and trenchant cases from a dozen different courts and identifies them for the reader, if necessary with a quick and dirty explanation of the context of the case and why it's important. If you need a deep, analytical brief on one of the cases, you can do it yourself (he links to each case) or find commentary from a blog that focuses on that court or type of law. Decision of the Day is a good starting point, and an easy way to follow the day-to-day movement of the circuits on a scale almost none of us have the time to monitor ourselves.

Which brings me to my question, not that I expect an answer. Does Bob Loblaw's law blog rely on tips from local practitioners, or is he following each circuit's output himself?
1.9.2007 6:09pm

Good points; yes, the blog is more about linking to interesting cases (along with some framework and analysis) than about providing expert commentary.

I would guess "Bob" follows each circuit himself, but I don't know.
1.9.2007 6:22pm
CuriousGeorgetheLegalMonkey (mail):
Augustus Hand: Your criticism of Decision of the Day is devoid of analysis and fails to note specific examples where the wrong part of a given case is highlighted.

In any event, do you disagree with "Bob's" assertion that the Eighth Circuit seems a bit too unwilling to allow employment law cases to reach a jury?

Please cite specific cases.
1.9.2007 6:30pm
Augustus Hand:
Well, perhaps Loblaw does a better job with criminal cases, but on the civil side, it's consistently poor. Take the discussion of Luh v. J.M. Huber Corp. Loblaw's analysis: "60% is more than 7.5%", therefore there's a prima facie case of discrimination without any expert evidence of statistical significance. Except that's not true, either legally or statistically. Imagine the scenario where Huber fires one Asian and five whites. Then the ratio is 20% to 12.5% -- but by Loblaw's analysis the Asian still has a prima facie case of discrimination. (And if no Asians are fired, the ratio is 0% to 15%.)

This was pointed out to Loblaw in the comments by several people, and he just made more snark rather than acknowledge he was wrong.

Or in Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action v. Granholm, Loblaw's summary misses the most interesting issue in the case, which is whether state officials even have the power to stipulate to a violation of their state constitution, and then his summary misstates the court's reasoning.

In Oshana v. Coca-Cola, Loblaw's summary spends all of its time discussing the facts (and not particularly accurately, as it strangely distinguishes aspartame from "chemical" sweeteners), and then mentions the appellate court's conclusion that there was federal jurisdiction without explaining its reasoning, or even what federal jurisdictional law it was decided under--not a trivial issue when discussing a class action. Is it CAFA or 1332 jurisdiction? Why did the plaintiff think that federal jurisdiction was even at issue? Is there any controversy that I should be aware of as a civil litigator? Like many other posts on Loblaw's blog, the discussion is both long and wrong.

I'd be surprised, however, if the criminal-law cases really are better. Loblaw will highlight cases, like U.S. v. Ahmed, with similarly shoddy analysis, and I see nothing in his squib that explains why he selected; the actual holding of the case is described in a cursory conclusory fashion, so I don't know if this is a routine affirmance, or if the appellate decision struck any new ground that creates a precedent one needs to be aware of.

And because I don't know Loblaw's criteria for inclusion, I'm not only getting the false positives of meaningless cases that Loblaw is highlighting with incorrect or incomplete analyses, but I don't have any confidence that Loblaw is not omitting cases that are actually important.

Can I recommend a better blog? Howard Bashman is perhaps too inclusive, but it's relatively painless to scroll through and find the posts that discuss actual appellate decisions. And there are so many specialty blogs out there that I learn of the leading appellate cases in the fields of law that interest me shortly after they come down. There's clearly room for other blogs if this is the best you can find for criminal appellate opinions.
1.9.2007 6:45pm

Well, to repeat myself, I've found Bob's stuff to be good. I don't see his blog as a substitute for reading the cases themselves, so I guess I don't mind if he is missing some of the details you seem to value.
1.9.2007 6:55pm
Augustus Hand:

Where's the value added, though? I'm not trying to be snide when I ask that; it's a sincere question of the nature of blogging. I simply don't know from the squibs whether I should read the cases, or whether reading the case is a waste of time, and I never find that to be a problem when I read a good blog like the Volokh Conspiracy. Am I missing an effective means of using Bob to decide which cases to read? If the answer is "Just read all the criminal cases," then why not just read all the cases without the intermediation?

I mean, perhaps there's no disputing matters of taste, but if someone tells me that "Clerks II" was a good movie, I start to discount their opinion as a useful guide.
1.9.2007 7:17pm

I happen to find it very valuable, as it does the hard work of going through the opinions and finding the most interesting ones. But if you don't find this valuable, you shouldn't read the blog. And if you don't think my recommendations are useful, please don't follow them.
1.9.2007 7:40pm
Robert Loblaw (mail) (www):
Thanks, as always, for the link love. To answer the questions, yes, I do skim all the circuit decisions every day and read the decisions that I intend to write about. I try to write for a general audience -- lawyers who practice in a particular field, lawyers who practice in other fields, and non-lawyers. Obviously a hard balance to strike and one that is bound to displease some.
1.9.2007 8:40pm
frankcross (mail):
Augustus, I think you are the one who is wrong about the Luh case.
His point was not that the plaintiff should prevail but that the disparity should survive summary judgment. And it should. Because, from the numbers we know, there was a statistically significant difference. I don't understand your analogies to situations where there was not a statistically significant difference.

Perhaps the court wanted an expert to say "it is statistically significant" but I think that is a pretty foolish rule, as the site suggested.
1.9.2007 10:33pm
Visitor Again:
I think Bob Loblaw does a great job given the difficulty of what he does and the time constraints he is under. I don't have the time to scan all the decisions to find significant cases I'm interested in and Loblaw fills the gap. Or at least he goes a long way to filling it because I read other legal blogs, too, and end up with a pretty good idea of what's happening in my areas of the law and what decisions I need to read. So thanks, Bob Loblaw, for doing a wonderful job with Decision of the Day.
1.10.2007 4:21am
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
All the blogs are posting about that attempt to sue the Supreme Court Clerk. The opinion itself is quite interesting, plaintiff failed to specify exactly who he was suing, so the court ascertains that from the substance of the complaint.

Too bad the plaintiff was not disabled, perhaps the complaint would have flown if a disabled person had sued the Supreme Court via naming GSA defendants for maintaining the Supreme Court's web site in an electronic inaccessibale manner incapable of accomplishing transmittal of the paperwork to the Associate Justice in violation of Sec. 508, Rehabilitation Act of 1973. It would appear there would be a waiver of sovereign immunity.

Might not make the Supreme Court too happy though, but if it succeeded, would open those doors at the Supreme Court to all the disabled people who have meaningful access problems there.

I always thought the Supreme Court's web site was maintained by the Supreme Court or the AOC, but apparently not so. The GSA is an executive agency, subject to Sec. 508 of the RA.
1.10.2007 8:50am
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
And while I am on the subject of the Supreme Court and meaningful access, I am wondering why the news media is being so harsh with the legacy of the late CJ Rehnquist and mocking how he had to lie on his back in his chambers to read briefs due to instractible chronic back pain -- without mentioniing even the CJ would have been entitled to work with reasonable accommodations for his disability.

Lots of disabled people do things like this, but how does that diminish the quality of their work? Answer, it doesn't. I've read of lot of great Rehnquist opinions, even if I did not always agree in some of the cases with his far right ideology.
1.10.2007 8:55am
Realist Liberal (mail):
Another blog that I find interesting for people in CA is this one. Prof. Martin summarizes most of the interesting cases from the CA Cts of Appeals, CA S. Ct. and the Ninth Circuit.
1.10.2007 10:51am
txjeansguy (mail):
Realist: you beat me to it. What I like about Martin's page is that he often frames 9th Cir. decisions by the first lines of the opinion and the constitution of the panel, which is good for a chuckle now and again. A bit lean on analysis sometimes, but that's not really what I go to blogs for. I find that newsletters and listservs are better for spotlighting and analyzing important (criminal) cases.
1.10.2007 6:58pm
GameBoyMist (mail) (www):
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1.17.2007 2:50pm