Scam, Scam and More Scams – The Case of the Promised Inheritance

By Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. of Hanlon Niemann & Wright, a Freehold, NJ Elder Abuse Attorney

An elderly person receives a letter from the account manager of an international bank. The letter concerns one of its deceased customers who happens to have the same last name (we’ll call him Mr. Jones). The account manager says Mr. Jones died in a horrific car accident and left an account with no beneficiary upon death. Mr. Jones also died intestate, meaning he had no Last Will and Testament. Oh, yes and one more key fact, Mr. Jones had $40 million ($$$) in the bank when he died.

The account manager goes on to declare he found Mr. Jones’ contact information while searching for his next of kin and/or someone with the same last name. For the past several years the bank has been unsuccessful in finding any next of kin. The letter states that bank laws require that accounts remaining dormant for 3 years with no activity revert to the government treasury as unclaimed funds.

The account manager concludes his letter with a proposal. He would like a family member with the same last name, “Jones” to be the next of kin to claim the $40 million in the account. The letter tells the family that “since Mr. Jones is from “America” and both persons share the same last name, it’s easy to become his official next of kin.”

The letter concludes with an offer. The manager will do the work and split the account balance 50/50 with the family. He assures that everything will be handled legally in accordance with inheritance laws but it is important that the family keep this arrangement confidential and email his private email address and not contact him at the bank.

If the Jones family ever had any experience with estate administration in the past they should quickly recognize this letter as a fraud. For those who have no knowledge of the estate administration process, however, some of the statements in the letter sound reasonable and/or plausible. In my next post I’ll explain why this tale is utter nonsense and what the Jones family would likely “gain” from pursuing the account managers offer.

To discuss your NJ Elder Abuse matter, please contact Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. toll-free at (855) 376-5291 or email him at fniemann@hnlawfirm.com.  Please ask us about our video conferencing consultations if you are unable to come to our office.

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Race and gender bias is rampant in law, says new report that also offers tools to fight it

Women in the Law

bias interrupters

Cover page of the survey: “You Can’t Change What You Can’t See: Interrupting Racial & Gender Bias in the Legal Profession.”

A new report details the endemic bias women and minority lawyers continue to face compared to their white male counterparts, but it also offers some tools to disrupt the status quo.

“You Can’t Change What You Can’t See: Interrupting Racial & Gender Bias in the Legal Profession,” based on a 2016 survey of 2,827 in-house and firm attorneys, says current efforts to advance women and minorities have largely failed, and bias and discrimination—explicit and implicit—persist.

The survey was conducted by the Center for WorkLife Law at the University of California’s Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco on behalf of the ABA Commission on Women in the Profession and the Minority Corporate Counsel Association.

“The implication of this report is that women and people of color have been invited into these high-stakes, high-status workplaces, like the law, but often are expected to play a very specific role,” says Joan C. Williams, a professor at Hastings and founding director of the Center for WorkLife Law. “They have to prove themselves more than white men, and are often expected to be worker bees who don’t grab the limelight or the highest compensation. And the same mistake can be more costly for a woman or person of color than the identical mistake for a white man.”

Joan Williams.

In the survey, women of color reported the highest level of bias, with 63 percent affirming they had to go “above and beyond” others in the workplace to receive the same recognition as colleagues, and 67 percent stating they were held to higher standards than colleagues. Nearly 70 percent said they were paid less than their colleagues with similar experience and seniority, compared to 36 percent of white men. White women also reported high disparities in compensation, with 60 percent responding they were paid less than similarly situated co-workers.

In contrast, 81 percent of white men felt they had equal access to high-quality assignments, and 75 percent believed they have been given fair opportunities for promotion. Study authors also note that men of color were subject to some of the same biases as women. For example, white men felt much more free to express anger at work than any other group, including minority men.

See also: Showing anger can backfire for female lawyers, studies say; law prof suggests ‘gender judo’ response

In addition to gender bias, the report also documents sexual harassment at work, a topic that’s gained awareness and national attention but continues to affect women at all levels in every industry. One quarter of female lawyers said they had encountered some form of unwelcome sexual advances or harassment at work, and 70 percent said they’ve dealt with sexist comments, stories and jokes.

The report outlines four major patterns of systemic bias in the workplace: With Prove-It-Again, women and people of color are expected to work harder than their peers to prove themselves as equal. Tightrope describes the balancing act women and minorities often perform, and the pressure to fit into a narrow range of expected conduct, such as behaving in a more feminine manner, not showing anger or aggression, and doing more administrative tasks on the job. Maternal Wall illustrates the well-documented bias against women lawyers with children. For example, white women reported the highest level of questions about their commitment or competence after having kids—36 percent higher than white men. Lastly, Tug of War describes the conflicts disadvantaged groups may have internally as a result of implicit bias in their environment.

“It confirms a lot of what we thought and some even worse,” says Jean Lee, president and CEO of the MCCA. “But certainly whenever you have research and evidence to back up what you believe about some of the challenges for women, people of color, those with disabilities, sexual orientation—it addresses concerns across the board. I hope that for institutions, it gives them something to think about.”

“None of this was a surprise to me—all of it, the good the bad and the ugly,” Lee says. “We’ve done a lot of research in different states, and this is probably one of the most groundbreaking research studies we’ve embarked on.”

The report includes a Bias Interrupters Toolkit offering incremental steps that “tweak basic business systems to produce measurable change in behaviors and outcomes” through an “evidence-based, metrics-driven” approach to interrupting bias. The research was developed for law firms and in-house departments by the Center for WorkLife Law.

“This study was envisioned several years ago, first and foremost by former commission chair Michele Coleman Mayes,” says Stephanie Scharf, chair of the ABA Commission on Women in the Profession and founding partner at Scharf Banks Marmor LLC. “This is an unusual study, and an essential study, because it pulls together a focus on metrics and a focus on practical ways to use metrics to address the problems that exist in advancing women in the profession.”

“Another part of this study that’s very important to underscore is: If at first you don’t succeed, try again, and repeat as needed,” says Scharf, who also co-chairs the ABA initiative on achieving long-term careers for women in law. “All too often employers start programs, but they don’t keep it up, sometimes because the first effort at change does not work. The focus here is when you need change, try to get it done. You may want to have pay equity—the question is how does it get done. You may not figure it out the first time around. Adjust and keep going until you reach your goal.”

“The solution is to interrupt bias in business systems so you stop constantly transmitting bias in hiring, assignments, performance evaluations,” Williams says.

Lee acknowledges that diversity work is a long process, but says the toolkit “will give you some quick tips to implement in your department or law firm. This will hopefully get the momentum started.”

ABA President Bob Carlson said in a news release that the report paints a stark picture. But “the remedies it suggests—using metrics to encourage fairness—will lead the way to better employment practices and greater diversity, which will benefit the entire legal profession and our clients.”

Updated at 2:50 p.m. to add quotes from Stephanie Scharf and Jean Lee.


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Legal industry loses jobs for second month in a row

Careers

Shutterstock.com.

The number of jobs in the legal industry has dropped for two months in a row, according to seasonally adjusted numbers released on Friday.

The industry lost 1,500 jobs in August, the American Lawyer reports. In July and August combined, the industry lost 4,200 jobs after July’s figure was revised downward by 600 jobs.

The legal services sector had 1,135,300 jobs in August, 1,136,800 jobs in July, and 1,139,500 jobs in June, according to the revised figures.

The August figures represent 200 fewer jobs than in August 2017.


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‘The Stanford Prison Experiment’ reminds us that fear of incarceration is justified

Law in Popular Culture

Prison.

As Americans, a large portion of our population has spent at least some time incarcerated. Crime, and the resulting ramifications, is something that permeates almost every family in our nation at some point or another. As a criminal defense attorney, I have spent quite a bit of time in jails, prisons, and holding facilities. To say it’s a different environment than the outside is to undersell the impact being incarcerated against one’s will has on the human psyche.

You may have heard of the Stanford Prison Experiment. I was a psychology major (before I switched to philosophy as a result of Statistics I), and the experiment was explained to me in one of my courses—perhaps as part of an ethics class. I do know the ethical implications for those involved stayed with me long after the course was completed.

THE LEGACY OF A 6-DAY STUDY

For those unfamiliar with the experiment, it took place between Aug. 14 and Aug. 20, 1971. It was conducted by psychology professor Philip Zimbardo. Zimbardo recruited students to participate in his makeshift “prison”, acting as either a prisoner or guard. The students were paid $15 per day to take on their respective roles while their actions were observed and recorded. What was originally planned to be a two-week experiment (one funded by the military, according to archived claims from Zimbardo’s website) turned into only six days of research.

Fast-forward almost 45 years. The Stanford Prison Experiment was turned into an eponymous film in 2015 and is currently streaming on Netflix. I stumbled across it as my wife and I were looking for something to pass the time. I noticed the movie’s title and asked her if she had ever heard of the experiment. She had not, so I figured the film could work as a nice backdrop for an (unrequested) impromptu explanation.

To my surprise, the film shut me up. I anticipated a low-quality festival film and nothing more. After all, it definitely wasn’t a new release, yet I had never heard about it. However, the acting was believable, the score was suitable, and the narrative was overall enjoyable. Others have agreed, as it has an 83 percent aggregate score according to Rotten Tomatoes but only a 75 percent audience score. According to an interview with the Mercury News, Zimbardo himself described the film as a “chilling, accurate re-creation of the experiment.”

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF A PRISON

From a practical perspective, I can only offer limited firsthand and secondhand accounts of actual prison life. I have dealt with the authoritarian aspect of the prison system, but I’ve been blessed to never have an extended stay. My experience has always been as an outsider on the inside: I have to visit incarcerated current and prospective clients, but I’ve always been free to leave (once a guard can make the time to let me out).

I have personally smelled the slight hint of disdain during visits. Sometimes it’s the front desk attendants that treats me negatively until they realize I’m an attorney and not a family visitor. Sometimes it’s the guard who lumps me in the same class as the incarcerated due to my role as a criminal defense attorney. I mostly let it slide off my back, because I know it’s only a temporary inconvenience.

But my clients offer another view of a system that is not temporary at all. It is perpetual. It is inescapable. It is a hopeless situation that consumes all those involved.

Many guards use this to their advantage. They are instructed to keep order, and the means to which they achieve that goal are usually proscribed by a superior. Some guards feel as though they need to exercise enough control over the prisoners to establish a cultural hierarchy, with the guards clearly placed at the top, far above the prisoners and anyone associated with them. From my own experience and those of my clients, this hierarchy is established and maintained to varying degrees based on the methods employed. Some are much more humane than others. All are employed with a specific purpose in mind.

DO OUR SOCIAL ROLES MOLD OUR BEHAVIOR?

From viewing the film and researching the study itself, it seems that this notion of creating a culture of power within the “prison” was a driving force behind the methods used in the experiment. From what I’ve gathered, Zimbardo initially claimed the sole act of putting his participants in their respective role as prisoner or guard had a dramatic effect on their psyche. As a result, the initial takeaway from the study was that the guards spontaneously became cruel as the experiment went along, supposedly as a direct result of their position in comparison to the prisoners.

However, the legitimacy of those claims has since been criticized. One “prisoner” came forward and admitted to faking his behavior and reactions while in the makeshift prison. It is telling though that he also explained that in reality, the most frightening and “shocking” aspect of the experiment was that he could not leave the jail even if he wanted to, which is the reality many actual inmates fear the most. You don’t get to leave prison. You are simply released when your time comes—if your time comes.

Additionally, others have also questioned the fact that Zimbardo and his team “coached” or pushed those acting as guards to become harsh and aggressive towards the prisoners. Depending on your perception of the experiment’s results, that is a fairly damning accusation. However, one has to remember that Zimbardo was acting as the pseudo-prison’s administrator or superintendent of sorts. He had the ultimate authority, and those beneath him followed his lead.

Zimbardo seems to acknowledge that the study was more of a “demonstration” than a typical “experiment” in the conventional sense. Either way, it’s important to contemplate what the staged circumstances demonstrate about the system they tried to replicate and the mechanisms that can influence it.

DOES ABSOLUTE POWER CORRUPT ABSOLUTELY?

History is wrought with examples of individuals abandoning their humanity as a result of their belief in a cause—especially when that cause is led by an authoritarian figure.

If Zimbardo hoped to show that simply placing a person in a specific social role—and nothing else—can completely transform that individual, then his experiment likely failed. There is too long a paper/audio trail to dispute the fact that participants in the experiment were coached and actively tried to adopt their given role for the better good of the study as a whole.

However, those criticizing the experiment based on the recent revelations that some of the participants “played up” their respective roles are missing the point. Those who criticize the study’s validity because of Zimbardo’s influence and impact on the participants behavior don’t understand the real-world correlation.

I’ve personally represented multiple former prison guards and correctional officers. I’ve talked with them in detail. The explanation is always the same: There is a culture everyone is expected to adhere to, and everything comes from the top down. If you buck the trend, it will not go well. Every prison, jail, detention center—whatever you would like to call the facilities—has a head of operations. There is always a boss, and what the boss says goes. People will act differently if they are given the OK. This is especially true when they believe in what they are doing, which some do.

Most people don’t become correctional officers or prison guards for the fun of it. When given an option on employment, most would likely shy away from the prospects of working in a high-stress, high-danger environment where others are apt to distrust them, despise them, and maybe even throw a bit of bodily fluid their way.

Those who do take on the occupation surely don’t do it for the pay. Here in Oklahoma, I recently observed a sign outside a “justice center” advertising starting pay at $12 per hour for county jail guards. Hell, prospects can easily make just as much or more working at 7-Eleven.

I would argue that most individuals who enter this line of work have a predisposition to the occupational demands. They want to be in control. They want to achieve that control, even if they aren’t likely paid appropriately for the hazards they face. If the desire is that strong, it could potentially leave them open to certain suggestions others might offer to better achieve that goal.

People can be put into tough situations on both sides (guard and prisoner). Prison is not supposed to be fun, and it’s not supposed to be enjoyable, but it is supposed to be humane. The idea of humanity is relative to some (see Joe Arpaio, the former sheriff and would-be politician who created a tent city jail and forced inmates to wear pink) even though it shouldn’t be. The Stanford Prison Experiment, and the study it is based on, show what can arise when goal-oriented people are given the OK to act a certain way in order to achieve a certain goal.

The study as a whole can be viewed as a glimpse into the mind of an authoritarian prison administrator. These individuals must lead by example, and they have to promote the correct behavior within their staff. Otherwise, the participants can take on devious traits and inhumane perspectives while working toward a common goal. Our country wants to believe that the prison system as a whole is rehabilitative. We want to believe incarceration is more than simply punishment: that there are “correctional” facilities, that there are “justice centers.” At the end of the day, though, if you aren’t free to leave, it’s a prison. Prisons that are run by people—people with a job to do. Some do it well, and some do it worse. We have to hope that these facilities are run by the right people.


Adam Banner

Adam R. Banner is the founder and lead attorney at the Oklahoma Legal Group, a criminal defense law firm in Oklahoma City. Mr. Banner’s practice focuses solely on state and federal criminal defense. He represents the accused against allegations of sex crimes, violent crimes, drug crimes, and white collar crimes.

The study of law isn’t for everyone, yet its practice and procedure seems to permeate pop culture at an increasing rate. This column is about the intersection of law and pop culture in an attempt to separate the real from the ridiculous.


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An antiquated law in Virginia targets ‘habitual drunkards’

Criminal Justice

Axel Bueckert/Shutterstock.com.

In 2010 in a courtroom in Roanoke, Virginia, a judge legally declared Bryan Manning a drunk. Manning—who is homeless and difficult to track down—wasn’t even in the courtroom that day. A judge and a prosecutor simply considered his list of alcohol-related offenses: drunk in public, profane language, failure to appear in court. It was a quick, civil proceeding that would have lasting criminal consequences.

In the eight years since, Manning has been prosecuted over 30 times for something that is usually perfectly legal: possessing or drinking alcohol. In some cases, he says just being near it was enough to get him arrested. He was picked up once in a Walmart that sold alcohol, he says, though he hadn’t actually purchased any. Another time, he was arrested for smelling like booze. Each time he was jailed, he lost any job he had at the time and usually all of his belongings, left behind at whatever public place he had been sleeping.

Manning’s legal troubles stem from a vague, antiquated Virginia law that allows courts to label people “habitual drunkards,” often after they’ve committed multiple alcohol-related crimes. That decision happens in a civil hearing, where someone isn’t guaranteed an attorney to help them fight the allegations. Once someone is legally branded a “drunkard,” it’s a misdemeanor crime to purchase, consume or possess alcohol—an offense that can earn them up to a year in jail.

Virginia advocates and public defenders have been fighting the law for years, saying it targets homeless people suffering from alcoholism and jails them without full due process. Manning is one of the lead plaintiffs in a class action suit filed by Virginia nonprofit the Legal Aid Justice Center, claiming the statute is unconstitutional. But an August decision by the Richmond, Virginia-based 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against them and upheld the law.

“It just seems really ancient,” said Elaine Poon, the managing attorney at the Legal Aid Justice Center. “Alcohol is legal for all of us, except for these people who have been deemed undesirable by the district attorneys.” Poon notes the law doesn’t specify what makes someone a drunkard, or how many previous offenses they need to have committed.

Manning was well known to Roanoke police by the time he was labeled a “habitual drunkard.” In the year prior, he was arrested at least 10 times for being drunk in public, racking up hundreds in fines. His address was listed as “transient” or the city’s rescue mission shelter.

The Legal Aid Justice Center found Manning—as they did the other lead plaintiffs—through his public defenders. While there is no data about how many of the “habitual drunkards” in Virginia are homeless, public defenders say they were seeing such cases pop up repeatedly on their caseload.

“There’s a group of individuals we see very, very regularly. They’re the frequent fliers,” said Geoffrey Tucker, a Richmond public defender. “It seems like a way of managing people that [the city] would rather not deal with, by putting them in jail instead of in treatment.”

Tucker is currently appealing one of his clients’ “habitual drunkard” status to the Virginia Supreme Court. Sometimes, clients don’t know they have been labeled as such until their first arrest for drinking. And even if the charges are ultimately dropped, many will not be released on bail while awaiting a hearing.

The statute has been used against a relatively small number of people. According to the complaint, 1,220 Virginians were “interdicted” between 2007 and 2015, the legal process that can label someone a “habitual drunkard.” And from 2005 to 2015, “interdicted” individuals were convicted nearly 5,000 times for drinking or possessing alcohol. Whether the law is enforced varies from city to city: less than half of Virginia’s prosecutors offices have used it since 2007. Prosecutors in Virginia Beach have interdicted the most people, according to statistics compiled by the Legal Aid Justice Center.

“There’s a group of individuals we see very, very regularly. They’re the frequent fliers. It seems like a way of managing people that [the city] would rather not deal with, by putting them in jail instead of in treatment.”
Geoffrey Tucker, public defender, Richmond, Virginia.

Prosecutors say the law is a way for them to try and control individuals who pose persistent threats to public safety and prompt a myriad of complaints from the community.

The Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office in Richmond has “interdicted” nine individuals since 2007. They, along with the Roanoke office, are a named defendant in the suit, though it’s filed against all Commonwealth’s attorneys. Deputy Commonwealth’s attorney Colette Wallace McEachin, who oversees the office’s interdiction orders, says her office uses the law sparingly to try and compel people to get help.

“We don’t interdict many people. It takes a lot. It really has to rise to a level where it’s not just a nuisance, [but] where we are concerned about the community’s safety or this person’s safety,” she said. McEachin finds that once someone has been labeled a “drunkard,” the possibility of a year in jail is more leverage to get them into rehabilitation than the fine for “public intoxication” would be. “There are at least three or four cases I know of where once a person’s been interdicted, we were able to convince them to go to treatment.”

The Virginia Attorney General’s office also defends the law. In a brief submitted in the case, they wrote that the law serves the state’s “legitimate interests in curbing alcohol abuse and in the welfare and safety of Virginians,” and that the plaintiffs have failed to prove that the law discriminates against the homeless. Being labeled a habitual drunkard in and of itself doesn’t lead to imprisonment, they argue, and the state has the right to regulate alcohol.

But the statute remains an outlier. Utah is the only other state with something similar on the books.

Plaintiffs in the case say they’ve been arrested on just the suspicion that they’ve been drinking. Ryan Williams, who has spent 15 years on the streets of Roanoke, was sleeping in a park bathroom when police found a beer can in the trash. According to Williams, they said it was his and sent him to jail. Two others claimed in the lawsuit that they also had been arrested over empty beer cans found nearby.

In a trenchant concurring opinion, appeals court judge Diana Gribbon Motz wrote that legal precedent required her to uphold the statute, but that she agreed it criminalized addiction. “Because thousands of Virginians remain subject to a law that, in my view, is unconstitutional, I [concur] with reluctance and regret,” she wrote.

The Fourth Circuit does not allow court precedent to be overturned without the case being heard by the entire bench, instead of just a panel of three judges. Now the plaintiffs are petitioning to have it reconsidered by all the judges, in hopes of finally overturning the long-standing law.

One public defender-cum-state delegate, Jennifer Carroll Foy, will introduce a bill in the next General Assembly session that would repeal the law entirely. Foy introduced a similar bill in January, but it died in committee. Many of her fellow legislators didn’t know the law existed, she said, or didn’t believe it was still being enforced.

“A lot of people don’t think about the collateral consequences of throwing someone in jail. If they were on a waiting list for housing, now they’re off. If they were on disability, often times it’s cut off. If they had a job, now they’ve lost it,” Foy said. “You can’t incarcerate yourself out of addiction.”

This article was published in partnership with the Washington Post.

This article was originally published by The Marshall Project, a nonprofit news organization covering the U.S. criminal justice system. Sign up for their newsletter, or follow The Marshall Project on Facebook or Twitter.


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Live blog of confirmation hearings, Day 4: Yale law prof says Kavanaugh is best choice for Democrats

Supreme Court Nominations

Akhil Reed Amar

Yale law professor Akhil Reed Amar. Screenshot from PBS.

Yale law professor Akhil Reed Amar told the Senate Judiciary Committee on Friday that Democrats should support Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh because there is no better alternative who would have the support of a Republican president.

Amar was one of dozens of panelists who testified for and against the 53-year-old Kavanaugh, who was nominated in July to replace retiring Justice Anthony M. Kennedy. Other panelists included a 17-year-old girl who survived the mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida; a 13-year-old boy with a genetic condition; and the convicted former White House counsel for President Richard Nixon, John Dean.

Two representatives of the ABA Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary also testified about the group’s unanimous “well qualified” rating of Kavanaugh. The committee member who led the review, John Tarpley of Nashville, Tennessee, told senators that Kavanaugh is not only mainstream, “he’s at the top of the stream.”

Amar told the committee that he voted for Clinton, but he believes Kavanaugh is the best candidate on the horizon among Republican federal judges under age 60.

Democrats should realize that if they torpedo Kavanaugh, they will likely end up with someone worse, Amar said. “If not Brett, who?” he asked.

Amar said that on some issues, Kavanaugh’s views may be better for liberals than the views of Kennedy, the the justice he would replace. Those areas including voting rights, governmental immunities and congressional power to implement the Reconstruction Amendments, he said.

Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., appeared to fight back tears during testimony by a Parkland shooting survivor.

Aalayah Eastmond described how two students in her classroom were shot, one of them landing on her as they both fell to the ground. That student saved her life, Eastmond said.

Eastmond rejected the idea that the Second Amendment protects assault weapons. “My life,” Eastmond replied, “is more important than that gun.”

Kavanaugh wrote a dissent that said Second Amendment precedent would allow people to keep AR-15 rifles.

Another teen who testified, 13-year-old Jackson Corbin, said he has a genetic condition that creates stomach issues, reflux, headaches, and a form of hemophilia. Those are all pre-existing conditions, he said, and he would lose his insurance coverage if the Affordable Care Act is repealed.

John Dean, who was convicted of obstruction of justice for his role in the Watergate cover-up, said he was concerned about Kavanaugh’s views on executive power. If Kavanaugh is confirmed, Dean said, we will have the most pro-presidential-powers Supreme Court in the modern era.

Dean also said he was concerned about the withholding of documents concerning Kavanaugh’s work at the White House during the George W. Bush administration. Dean said he was surprised that Kavanaugh has not demanded those documents and questioned whether that means he has something to hide.

One senator was not impressed with Dean. Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., said Dean testified against Nixon only after he was “cornered like a rat.”

The live blog is below.

The hearings adjourned at 4:15 p.m. ET.

4:14 p.m. ET. Former Solicitor General Paul Clement, who supported Kavanaugh’s confirmation, was asked for his opinion on televising oral arguments in the Supreme Court.

Clement said he thinks televising the arguments makes a lot of sense. If the public did see the arguments, they would have a high opinion of the U.S. Supreme Court, he said.

Kavanaugh didn’t take a stand when asked about cameras on Day 2 of the hearings, but he did say same-time audio has worked well in the D.C. Circuit.

3:15 p.m. ET. Boston University law professor Rebecca Ingber testified that Kavanaugh is “exceedingly reluctant” to impose checks on presidential power in the national securities sphere.

She pointed to an 87-page separate opinion by Kavanaugh that argued courts should not look to international law to inform the president’s war power. Her prepared testimony is here.

John Dean, former counsel to President Richard Nixon, also expressed concern about Kavanaugh’s views on executive power. Dean was convicted of obstruction of justice for his role in the Watergate cover-up, and implicated Nixon in the cover-up in Senate testimony.

In his prepared testimony on Friday, Dean said that if Kavanaugh is confirmed, we will have the most pro-presidential powers Supreme Court in the modern era.

Dean also said he was concerned about the withholding of documents concerning Kavanaugh’s work at the White House. Dean said he was surprised that Kavanaugh has not demanded those documents, and he questioned whether Kavanaugh has anything to hide.

Ohio State University law professor Peter Shane said Kavanaugh adheres to a “unitary executive theory,” which holds that the president has the constitutional authority to remove an executive branch official at will. Kavanaugh has shown that he is willing to craft constitutional doctrine from whole cloth in support of his views of a strong executive, Shane said. His testimony is here.

Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., said his view is that Kavanaugh’s view of presidential power is “dangerously unbounded,” and he asked Shane whether he agreed.

“What most concerns me about Judge Kavanaugh’s position,” Shane replied, “is not just that he has embraced the tenets of the unitary executive theory, but that he has gone to such lengths to try to create a legal foundation for it” in cases that had nothing to do with the theory.

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2:26 p.m. ET. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., questioned Aalayah Eastmond, a high-school student who survived the mass shooting in Parkland, Florida.

Blumenthal asked Eastmond what she would say if she was told that assault weapons are protected under the Second Amendment.

“My life,” Eastmond replied, “is more important than that gun.”

2:22 p.m. ET. Kenneth Christmas, executive vice president for business and legal affairs at MarVista Entertainment, said he has always admired Kavanaugh’s ability to create deep relationships with people from all walks of life.

Christmas described himself as a lifelong Democrat who supports Kavanaugh because it is the right thing to do.

Christmas was a first-year student at Yale Law School when he met Kavanaugh, then a second-year student there. They played basketball together, attended football games, and roomed together. They have remained friends ever since.

Christmas said Kavanaugh always advised him to put himself in other people’s shoes and understand their experiences. Kavanaugh has acted as he advised, Christmas said. Kavanaugh cared deeply about Christmas’ experience as a black man, and his point of view.

The country needs a justice who is compassionate, humble and principled, Christmas said. Kavanaugh is such a nominee, he said. His prepared testimony is here.

1:56 p.m. ET. Maureen Mahoney, former deputy solicitor general, said Kavanaugh has been “a teacher, adviser and advocate for women” throughout his career and he is “superbly qualified” to sit on the Supreme Court.

Mahoney said she has worked with Kavanaugh in the solicitor general’s office and has appeared before Kavanaugh in D.C. Circuit arguments.

Mahoney said Kavanaugh stands out as a mentor to women lawyers. More than half of his law clerks have been women, and 21 of those 25 female clerks were hired to clerk on the U.S. Supreme Court. They have also served in all branches of government.

Those kind of credentials earned by the former clerks “are keys that unlock doors at the highest levels of the legal profession,” Mahoney said. Mahoney’s testimony is here.

1:43 p.m. ET. Jackson Corbin, 13, testified about his genetic condition, Noonan Syndrome, which creates stomach issues, reflux, headaches, and a form of hemophilia. Corbin’s brother and mother have the same diagnosis. The medical issues caused by the syndrome are all pre-existing conditions, he said.

If the Affordable Care Act is repealed, he and his family members will not be able to pay for their care, Corbin testified. His prepared testimony is here.

“I might be a kid but I am still an American,” he said. “We must have justices on the Supreme Court who will save the Affordable Care Act, safeguard pre-existing conditions and protect our care.”

1:35 p.m. ET.. A.J. Kramer, federal public defender for Washington, D.C., described two cases in which Kavanaugh wrote opinions favoring criminal defendants.

In one opinion, Kavanaugh “wrote a primer” on battered women’s syndrome when he ruled a trial lawyer was ineffective for failing to secure expert testimony on the issue, Kramer said. The case concerned a woman convicted of extortion who claimed she committed the crime because she had been beaten.

In another case, Kavanaugh wrote a concurrence about how important it is for jurors to be instructed on the mens rea for the crime. The client was accused in a hazing incident that resulted in death.

Kramer said Kavanaugh has been very protective of making sure mens rea is proven in criminal cases. He has also been critical of sentencing that is based on conduct alleged in criminal counts for which a defendant is acquitted, Kramer said. His testimony is here.

1:24 p.m. ET. Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., appeared to fight back tears as a student who survived the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, testified.

Aalayah Eastmond described how two students in her classroom were shot, one of them landing on her as they both fell to the ground. That student saved her life, Eastmond said.

Youth is urging our society to recognize the depth and seriousness of gun violence throughout America, Eastmond said. Why can’t lawmakers, judges and Donald Trump recognize the impact of gun violence, she asked. Eastmond’s testimony is here.

12:14 p.m. ET. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said Kavanaugh did not follow the lead of prior Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch by condemning President Donald Trump’s attacks on the judiciary. Before his confirmation, Gorsuch had called the attacks “demoralizing” and “disheartening.”

After he was criticized by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in 2016, Trump had tweeted that Ginsburg’s “mind is shot” and she should resign.

Blumenthal asked panelist Theodore Olson, a former solicitor general, for his opinion on whether Kavanaugh should have taken a stand against the attacks on the judiciary. Olson had supported Kavanaugh in his testimony on Friday.

Olson, speaking for himself, said the American judiciary is respected worldwide, and he deplores statements attacking the integrity of the judiciary. Olson said he has tremendous respect for Ginsburg. She “is an extraordinarily talented, able person; she remains so to this day,” Olson said.

11:12 a.m. ET. Yale law professor Akhil Reed Amar testified that Kavanaugh is the best candidate on the horizon, among Republican federal judges under age 60.

Amar said he voted for Hillary Clinton, but Democrats should realize that if they torpedo Kavanaugh, they will likely end up with someone worse. “If not Brett, who?” he asked.

Amar said that on some issues, Kavanaugh’s views may be better for liberals than the views of the justice he is replacing, Anthony M. Kennedy. Those areas including voting rights, governmental immunities and congressional power to implement the Reconstruction Amendments, he said.

Kavanaugh’s writing demonstrates proper respect for tradition and precedent, according to Amar. Many of his views on the executive branch are quite standard; on other executive branch topics Kavanaugh’s views are not yet conventional wisdom but are nonetheless sound, Amar said.

Kavanaugh would work well with new colleagues on the Supreme Court, and would be a pro-intellectual, anti-polarizing force on the court, he said. In response to questions, Amar said he believes Kavanaugh will help bring out the best in other justices if he is confirmed to the court.

Amar’s prepared testimony is here.

11:03 a.m. ET. New York University law professor Melissa Murray said she has had lunch and interacted with Kavanaugh, and she can attest to his friendliness and charming demeanor.

But the nomination is not about people who will interact with Kavanaugh, but instead about real people on the ground who will be depending on Kavanaugh to protect their rights, Murray said.

Murray said reproductive rights are under serious threat in the country. There is a concerted strategy to dismantle Roe v. Wade through incremental cuts, rather than by one fell swoop, she said.

A vote for Kavanaugh is against Roe, Murray said. She pointed to his dissent in Garza v. Hargan, in which the majority allowed an immigrant teen in U.S. history to have an abortion. Murray’s prepared testimony is here.

10:49 a.m. ET. Alicia Baker, an Indiana minister, said she was denied access to affordable birth control because of religious objections by her insurance company. Her IUD cost $1,200, and she and her husband had to pay for it with money set aside for student loans and their first home together.

Baker said Kavanaugh heard a case, Priests for Life, in which his dissent would have allowed employers and universities to use religion as a reason to deny birth control. Baker said she is a Christian, but she is against such broad interpretations of religious freedom. Baker’s testimony is here.

Baker’s testimony followed that of another person who described the real-world implications of Kavanaugh’s opinions. Lawyer Rochelle Garza represented a 17-year-old immigrant known as Jane Doe who sought an abortion while in U.S. custody. The teen was able to obtain an abortion, but Kavanaugh had dissented from the opinion that allowed it. Garza’s testimony is here.

10:36 a.m. ET. Two people speaking on behalf of Kavanaugh were former law clerk Luke McCloud and longtime friend Louisa Garry, a schoolteacher.

McCloud described Kavanaugh as a fair-minded and independent jurist who has worked hard to understand every argument and perspective. His prepared testimony is here.

Garry and Kavanaugh have run several marathons together. She recalled the time juniors from her school visited Kavanaugh. Kavanaugh explained his role as judge, issues before the court, and answered questions. Students were unable to discern whether he was conservative or liberal. Garry said that is how it is supposed to be. Her prepared testimony is here.

9:57 a.m. ET. Two members of the ABA Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary on Friday explained the committee’s unanimous well-qualified rating for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Kavanaugh was evaluated by committee members from all 14 circuits, while his opinions were evaluated by three reading groups of about 48 law professors and distinguished practitioners. The ABA solicited input from about 500 people, including federal and state judges, lawyers and bar representatives. About 120 people were interviewed.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., asked whether Kavanaugh was in the mainstream.

“Absolutely, he’s at the top of the stream,” responded the standing committee member who led the review, John Tarpley of Nashville, Tennessee.

Graham asked if anyone had described Kavanaugh as radical. Tarpley said he never heard that word used.

Tarpley said people interviewed said Kavanaugh is a person of the highest morality and the highest ethics. “He is what he seems: very decent, humble and honest,” Tarpley said.

Kavanaugh’s judicial temperament received overwhelming praise, according to Tarpley. He keeps an open mind, is an affable, nice person, and has a good sense of humor, Tarpley reported. “Can you imagine that, a judge with a good sense of humor?” he asked.

Kavanaugh’s professional competence easily exceeds ABA criteria, Tarpley said. One evaluator described Kavanaugh as an excellent writer with a flair for making complicated facts very understandable.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., asked whether the ABA is concerned about attacks on the judiciary.

Tarpley replied, “The ABA feels very strongly that a fair and independent judiciary is a linchpin of our society.”

The ABA’s statement is here.

The original story is below:

Testimony by the American Bar Association committee that rates federal judicial nominees highlights the fourth day of the confirmation hearings for U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Friday’s hearing starts at 9:30 a.m. ET.

On Aug. 31, the ABA Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary gave its highest rating of well-qualified to Kavanaugh, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The 53-year-old Kavanaugh was nominated July 9 to replace Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who announced his retirement June 27. Kavanaugh is a former Kennedy clerk.

The standing committee has conducted nonpartisan evaluations of federal judicial nominees since 1953, examining each nominee on their professional competence, integrity and judicial temperament.

ABA committee representatives scheduled to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee are standing committee chair Paul Moxley of Salt Lake City and former committee member John Tarpley of Nashville, Tennessee, who led the review.

A statement prepared by the ABA says, in part, that Kavanaugh “enjoys an excellent reputation for integrity and is a person of outstanding character.”

Regarding his professional competence, the committee says in the statement that “all of the experienced, dedicated and knowledgable sitting judges, legal scholars, and lawyers who have worked with or against Judge Kavanaugh had high praise for his intellect and ability to communicate clearly and effectively.”

Lawyers and judges “overwhelmingly praised” Kavanaugh’s judicial temperament, the statement says.

The ABA committee evaluated Kavanaugh three times between 2003 and 2006 when President George W. Bush nominated him to the D.C. Circuit. Kavanaugh received well-qualified ratings by a substantial majorities in 2003 and 2005, and a qualified rating in 2006.

Related articles:

ABAJournal.com: “Live blog of confirmation hearings, Day 1: Kavanaugh pledges an open mind in every case”

ABAJournal.com: “Live blog of confirmation hearings, Day 2: Kavanaugh answers ‘Purple Party’ president hypothetical”

ABAJournal.com: “Live blog of confirmation hearings, Day 3: Kavanaugh won’t say whether president’s character matters”


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