On Friday, the Supreme Court dropped 13 published opinions and 2 published orders. That’s a bit surprising, because there were 29 cases listed on the September docket. Even counting the unpublished opinions that have come down in the meantime, we still have decisions in about 10 cases outstanding from September. (This is all back-of-the-envelope stuff; I’d welcome corrections.)

Another little anomaly: based on a quick flip through the opinions, it doesn’t look like the Chief Justice wrote any of them.

I suspect that any weirdness is a combination of three factors: (1) the recent turnover at the Court; (2) Chief Justice Kinser’s administrative responsibilities, particularly with regard to the rules of evidence and judicial realignment; and (3) luck of the draw.

At any rate, quality is far more important than quantity, and we picked up some fun opinions last week–even a rare dissent!

One of my early favorites is Justice Lemons’ opinion in Landrum v. Chippenham and Johnston-Willis Hospitals, Inc.

A little background: Justice Lemons is President of the American Inns of Court. He is unfailingly gracious, and probably takes civility and professionalism more seriously than anyone you will ever meet.

Also, Landrum looks to be a holdover from June, when the depleted five-member Court was hearing cases. In Landrum, we have a 3-justice majority and a 2-justice concurrence. That alone makes it something of a collector’s piece.

Now back to our story. Landrum was represented by out-of-state counsel, who was pro hac vice. Kind of. The record lacked a motion by local counsel to associate him pro hac, or an order granting such a motion. Both are required by Rule 1A:4(3)(b)-(c). So he was clearly off to a good start.

But I digress. More importantly, so did the Court, in a footnote on the first page of the opinion.

This brings us to one of O’Keeffe’s Immutable Rules of Legal Practice: if you have somehow managed to irritate Justice Lemons to the point that he (politely) goes out of his way to make you look like a fool on page one of a published opinion, you should probably just turn in your bar card.

It’s the judicial equivalent of getting kicked in the nuts by Gandhi.

You must have done something horribly wrong to deserve that.

And indeed, Landrum (or more precisely, her Missouri counsel) did.

Continue Reading Benchslapped by a Three-Justice Majority? Landrum v. Chippenham & Johnston-Willis Hospitals, and Other Oddities