The fastest dismissal in history? Lance Armstrong complaint dimissed on same day it was filed

The wheels of justice may grind slowly most of the time, but not yesterday in  Federal District Court Judge Sam Sparks’ court. Sparks is a Federal District Court Judge for the Western District of Texas.   Lawyers for Lance Armstrong filed an eighty page complaint to stop the United States Anti-Doping Agency from investigating allegations that Armstrong used performance enhancing drugs.   Not long after the complaint was filed  Judge Sparks entered an order of dismissal without prejudice. In Judge Sparks’ view Armstrong’s lawyers violated the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 8(a) and (d)(1) by putting far too many details in their complaint and did so as an act of public relations rather than responsible lawyering. In high profile cases lawyering often does involve public relations.  There is, after all, a court of public opinion in which one’s client’s reputation can be quickly and often unfairly convicted and sentenced without right of  meaningful appeal.  So it if Armstrong’s lawyers had the court of public opinion in mind as they drafted their complaint, it is perhaps understandable if they tried to get a head start in the court of public opinion by laying out their case and criticizing the USADA before the USDA files charges against Armstrong. But by entering an order of dismissal so quickly after the complaint was filed, Judge Sparks made it clear that his court is not the place to try to combat the inherent unfairness of the court of public opinion.

It will be interesting to compare the revised complaint to the original.


The Guardian, Democracy and the Law

The Guardian is a real newspaper with talented reporters and editors.  Rather than re-print God knows what from God knows where, or offer a steady diet of tabloid sensationalism, The Guardian investigates and reports facts and credible information on important subjects (The mind-boggling phone hacking scandal is a recent example.)  In doing so The Guardian plays an indispensable role in the democratic process.  Without an informed citizenry,  democracy can be a playground for criminals, hucksters, propagandists, cronies, narcissists and special interests.  Interestingly – to me at least – The Guardian has a regular section on Law.  Law is at least as important as Sports and Entertainment and is sometimes a good deal more interesting and even entertaining.   In responsible newspapers Law should have its own regular section.  In The Guardian it does.

WikiLeaks: a new risk for lawyers who counsel the very rich?

Most law is practiced in private.  But the practice of  law is not immune from whistleblowers who now have a powerful option:  WikiLeaks.   (Use Google to find WikiLeaks site.) From the WikiLeaks site: ” Wikileaks is developing an uncensorable Wikipedia for untraceable mass document leaking and analysis. Our primary interest is in exposing oppressive regimes in Asia, the former Soviet bloc, Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East, but we are of assistance to people of nations who wish to reveal unethical behavior in their governments and corporations. We aim for maximum political impact. Our interface is identical to Wikipedia and usable by all types of people. We have received over 1.2 million documents so far from dissident communities and anonymous sources.”  (emphasis added).

See, in particular, the following entries, including links to confidential memoranda:

Barclays Bank gags Guardian over leaked memos detailing offshore tax scam, 16 Mar 2009

Whistleblower exposes insider trading program at JP Morgan