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Legal News for Fri 2/9 - Judge Newman's Upheld Suspension Worries Some, Trump Looks Likely to Win in Ballot Disqualification Dispute and Genesis Global Seeks Settlement
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Legal News for Fri 2/9 - Judge Newman's Upheld Suspension Worries Some, Trump Looks Likely to Win in Ballot Disqualification Dispute and Genesis Global Seeks Settlement

Judge Newman's upheld suspension raising ethics law questions, Trump's likely victory in a ballot disqualification bid, and Genesis Global's lawsuit settlement.
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Luigi Boccherini, pencil sketch.

This Day in Legal History: Jamaican Independence 

On this day in legal history, February 9, 1962, marks a significant milestone for Jamaica as it achieved full independence, breaking away from the Federation of the West Indies. This pivotal moment in Jamaican history was the culmination of a long journey towards sovereignty, reflecting the island nation's desire for self-governance and control over its own destiny. Despite its newfound independence, Jamaica chose to remain a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations, signifying a continued, albeit altered, relationship with the United Kingdom.

The transition to independence was not merely a political formality but a transformative legal and social shift that laid the foundation for Jamaica's future. As a fully independent nation, Jamaica adopted its own constitution, which established the legal framework for the government and guaranteed the rights and freedoms of its citizens. This constitution reflected Jamaica's unique identity and aspirations, incorporating both the legacy of British legal traditions and the influences of Jamaican culture and values.

The decision to remain within the Commonwealth underscored Jamaica's commitment to maintaining ties with other nations that shared a common history and set of values, while also asserting its autonomy on the world stage. This dual approach allowed Jamaica to forge its path in international relations, trade, and legal cooperation, benefiting from the solidarity and support of the Commonwealth network.

Jamaica's independence day is not only a celebration of its past struggles for sovereignty but also a recognition of the legal and democratic principles that continue to guide the nation. It serves as a reminder of the importance of self-determination, the rule of law, and the ongoing quest for justice and equality. As Jamaicans reflect on their journey since 1962, they celebrate the resilience and spirit that have defined their nation's history and look forward to a future shaped by their own hands.

In the years following independence, Jamaica has made significant strides in developing its legal system, economy, and social structures, striving to address the challenges that face a modern nation while preserving the rich cultural heritage that is uniquely Jamaican. The anniversary of independence is not just a moment to reflect on the past but an opportunity to renew the commitment to building a just, prosperous, and equitable society for all Jamaicans.


The recent affirmation of the suspension of 96-year-old Federal Circuit Judge Pauline Newman has sparked debate over the ethics laws governing the evaluation of federal judges for potential disability and misconduct. This decision, upheld by the US Judicial Conference’s Committee on Conduct and Disability, marks only the third written decision in over three years by the panel, emphasizing the rarity of such actions. The Committee found no error in the investigation led by Chief Judge Kimberly A. Moore, indicating thorough compliance with procedural standards. However, this has led to discussions about whether the deference shown to the Judicial Council's decision was appropriate, particularly in the context of suspending an Article III judge.

Legal experts are divided on the matter. While some, like Professor Arthur Hellman of the University of Pittsburgh, suggest that the standard of review might need to be more stringent when suspending a judge appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate, others like Professor Paul Gugliuzza of Temple Law School see the Committee’s deferential standard as fitting within typical appellate review practices. The case has also highlighted concerns over how the judiciary handles investigations of its own, with some arguing that there is generally too much deference to judges investigating peers, yet acknowledging that the Newman case is an example of the judiciary attempting accountability.

Aliza Shatzman, from the Legal Accountability Project, pointed out broader issues related to the aging federal judiciary and the silence often maintained by judicial clerks and employees due to fear of reputational damage. The Newman case involved complaints from a former judicial assistant and a clerk about being assigned personal tasks, which Judge Newman allegedly dismissed as insignificant.

Jeremy Fogel, a retired federal judge, suggested that the judiciary lacks a sophisticated system for assessing judges' cognitive functions, leading to ad hoc and confrontational situations. He proposed a regular assessment protocol to avoid personal conflicts and ensure fair evaluations. The controversy surrounding Judge Newman's suspension underscores the need for a more refined system to address the challenges posed by an aging judiciary, balancing the need for accountability with respect for the complexities of judicial service.

Judge Newman’s Upheld Suspension Has Some Questioning Ethics Law


At the U.S. Supreme Court, former President Donald Trump's legal challenge against being disqualified from the Colorado ballot for his alleged role in the 2021 Capitol insurrection appeared likely to succeed. During the proceedings, justices from both conservative and liberal wings expressed skepticism toward the argument that Trump could be removed from the ballot under the 14th Amendment, which prohibits individuals who engaged in insurrection against the U.S. from holding office. The case, triggered by a Colorado court's decision, has significant implications for the 2024 presidential election, where Trump is a leading Republican contender.

The justices grappled with the application of the 14th Amendment's Section 3, questioning whether a state could unilaterally impact the national election outcome by disqualifying a presidential candidate. Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Elena Kagan highlighted the potential for a few states to dictate election results, emphasizing the national scope of presidential eligibility. Meanwhile, Justice Brett Kavanaugh pointed out the democratic principle of allowing people to choose their candidates, suggesting that disqualifying Trump could disenfranchise voters.

The attorney for the plaintiffs, Jason Murray, argued that Trump's actions to undermine the 2020 election results justified his disqualification, whereas Trump's lawyer, Jonathan Mitchell, contended that even if a candidate admitted to insurrection, Section 3 would allow them to run and potentially win, leaving any sanctions to post-election congressional action.

Trump, speaking in Florida, expressed confidence in the Supreme Court and his legal arguments, viewing the case as part of a broader attempt to exclude him from the ballot. This Supreme Court case echoes the institution's critical role in the 2000 presidential election, with the justices revisiting historical precedents to interpret Section 3's enforcement.

The debate also touched on the nature of the January 6 Capitol riot, with Mitchell asserting it was a riot rather than an insurrection, a point challenged by Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson. The case underscores the complex interplay between constitutional law, electoral politics, and the judiciary's role in adjudicating disputes that have far-reaching consequences for American democracy.

Trump ballot disqualification bid gets skeptical US Supreme Court reception | Reuters


Genesis Global, a cryptocurrency lender, has reached a settlement in a lawsuit brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James, marking a significant step in resolving its legal challenges amid bankruptcy proceedings. The lawsuit, filed last year by James, accused Genesis, along with its parent company Digital Currency Group (DCG) and the crypto firm Gemini Trust Co, of defrauding investors out of over $1 billion through the Gemini Earn program. This program allowed customers to lend their crypto assets to Genesis in return for interest.

The settlement, pending approval by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York, entails Genesis agreeing to halt its business operations within New York state. This development follows closely on the heels of Genesis settling another lawsuit with the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission concerning the same Earn program. As part of that settlement, Genesis agreed to a $21 million fine, contingent upon its ability to fully reimburse its customers during the bankruptcy process.

These legal resolutions represent a crucial phase for Genesis as it navigates through bankruptcy, aiming to alleviate its legal entanglements and financial obligations. The outcomes of these settlements could significantly impact Genesis's future operations and its efforts to address the claims of its creditors and customers. 

Bankrupt Genesis Global settles NY Attorney General's lawsuit | Reuters


This week’s closing theme is by Luigi Boccherini. Born on February 19, 1743, in Lucca, Italy, Boccherini was a distinguished composer and cellist of the Classical era, celebrated for his significant contributions to chamber music. His rich musical legacy is characterized by elegance, lyrical beauty, and the sophisticated use of the cello, an instrument he profoundly mastered and elevated in the classical music canon. Boccherini's extensive body of work includes over one hundred string quintets, quartets, and trios, alongside numerous symphonies and concertos. 

Despite his substantial output and unique style, Boccherini's compositions were somewhat overshadowed by his contemporaries, such as Haydn and Mozart. However, his works have gained increased recognition and appreciation over time for their inherent grace, inventiveness, and the delicate balance he achieved between melodic and harmonic elements, marking him as a pivotal figure in the development of chamber music in the Classical period. He is said to have evolved chamber music from the format developed by Haydn, elevating the cello to an equal place with the violin and viola. 

Today’s piece is brought to us courtesy of The Internet Memory Foundation (formerly the European Archive Foundation) which is a non-profit foundation whose purpose is archiving content of the World Wide Web. It supports projects and research that include the preservation and protection of digital media content in various forms to form a digital library of cultural content.

The piece we’ll be closing out with is the minuet from his Quintet in C. Major, we hope you enjoy. 

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Minimum Competence - Daily Legal News Podcast
Minimum Competence
The idea is that this podcast can accompany you on your commute home and will render you minimally competent on the major legal news stories of the day. The transcript is available in the form of a newsletter at www.minimumcomp.com.