DOMA, medical malpractice, criminal law and Canada


Well, things are always hopping on the appellate front, so here's a quick round up of some upcoming events.

1.  DOMA.  I hope people saw the New York Times article about our good friend Mary Bonauto at the Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD), with whom Pierce Atwood has had a partnership for years working for LGBT rights.  (Article)  As the article notes, while the First Circuit case striking down the Defense of Marriage Act, Gill, wasn't the one that made it up to the Supreme Court this week (probably because Justice Kagan could have been recused from that one, leading potentially to a 4:4 split), Mary, who represented the plaintiffs in that case, has been, in the words of the article, the Thurgood Marshall of this civil rights issue – and you couldn't find a nicer, more dedicated person to advance the cause.   Which cause, DOMA aside, continues on various fronts.  For example, note that on April 11, the Maine SJC will be hearing an appeal from the the National Organization for Marriage as a part of NOM's longstanding refusal to obey Maine election laws. (argument summary)  As regular readers of this blog know, we, for GLAD, filed amici briefs in the First Circuit supporting both Maine and Rhode Island's disclosure statutes, filing the Rhode Island brief with Common Cause.  Here are links to the three First Circuit decisions upholding those laws (10-2204; 10-2304; 11-1196), and our amici briefs.  ( Download 10-2204; Download 10-2304; Download 11-1196)  We'll be watching, or at least listening, on April 11.  

2.  Malpractice.  In keeping with its excellent new practice of calling for amici briefs in appeals that may have general impact, the SJC has asked for briefs on a notice of claim issue for medical malpractice suits.  (SJC posting)  Anyone with something useful to say on this subject should tell the Court.  Note the fairly quick deadline.

3.  Criminal appeals.  The federal court is having a freebie all day seminar on criminal appellate practice.  Here is the scoop:


The U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit and the members of the court's Criminal Appellate Practice Education Committee invite you to participate in a court-sponsored seminar on Friday, April 12, from 8:30 a.m. – 5:15 p.m. at the Portland Regency Hotel & Spa, in Portland, Maine.  There is no charge to attend.  Continental breakfast will be provided.

The program will feature a presentation by the Honorable Kermit V. Lipez, U.S. Circuit Judge, Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, on appellate brief writing and oral argument and a presentation by Ross Guberman of Legal Writing Pro LLC on the "Secrets of the Great Brief Writers."  The program will also address additional procedural and substantive topics (e.g., issue preservation, standards of review, handling guilty plea appeals, criminal history/crimes of violence, and recaps of recent First Circuit and Supreme Court cases and circuit splits).  Both experienced and less seasoned  practitioners will benefit from the seminar.

This is an easy and free way to get 6.25 CLE credits (no ethics).  I don't do a lot of criminal practice, but it seems to me that there's some useful info here to be had – the presentation from Judge Lipez and on brief writing probably have some useful crossover.  For further information on this seminar, please contact Joanne Cull at 617-748-9310 or

4.  O Canada.  Finally, April is going to see me wandering all about to various places, including a conference of the American Academy of Appellate Lawyers in Ottawa.  We'll be watching a Canadian Supreme Court argument and listening to some Canadian practitioners doing some comparative law thinking.  It should be fun.