This Week by the Numbers: SCOTUS Countdown, Cushy Salaries and Veteran Judges

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The end of the U.S. Supreme Court’s October 2013 term is upon us, and the justices have, as usual, saved some of the best (or at least, the biggest) for last. The court issued decisions this week in cases involving software patents, gun purchases and the free speech rights of government employees, and they still have some more work to do before heading off for their summer break. Among the eleven cases still pending are potential blockbusters involving the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive mandate, presidential recess appointments, greenhouse gas emissions and labor union rights. The court will convene again to issue rulings on Monday, and is likely to add another decision day next week. So, hang on to your hats; the ride isn’t over just yet.


The median salary for new law school graduates working in law firms is $95,000, according to data collected by the National Association for Law Placement. That increase over the $90,000 median for the Class of 2012 can be attributed to a rise in the number of large law firm hires, according to NALP. Those cushy $160,000 starting salaries for brand new Biglaw associates now represent 31 percent of reported law firm salaries. Still, the overall median salary for the Class of 2013 is lower than that of the Class of 2009, when new lawyers hired by law firms had a median pay of $130,000. Sigh. Those were the days…


Patriotism is a lifelong commitment–just ask the nearly 70 World War II veterans who continue to serve their country as senior-status federal judges. Although most of them could have retired on full pay two decades ago, many “still carry active and sometimes full-time workloads, even in their late 80s and early 90s,” according to The Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts’ Third Branch News. “We are a brotherhood,” said U.S. District Judge Leonard D. Wexler, one of the five World War II veterans who serve as senior judges in the Eastern District of New York. “We may disagree philosophically, or on the law, but we still consider ourselves brothers.”

$10 billion

Citigroup is in hot water unless it can come up with the U.S. Justice Department’s reported request of nearly $10 billion to settle investigations into how the bank securitized mortgages. Citigroup had initially offered less than $4 billion, but the Justice Department threatened to file a lawsuit unless the bank could come up with a higher figure. Although Citigroup has argued that it shouldn’t pay a large sum because it wasn’t a major player in the mortgage market, DOJ lawyers claim that the bank’s securities had a substantially higher percentage of bad loans compared to those created by other institutions.

$162 million

A New York man who was wrongly imprisoned for 25 years plans to sue the city for $162 million. Jonathan Fleming was charged in the 1989 shooting death of his friend, but maintained that he was on a family vacation to Disney World at the time of the crime. Defense lawyers showed family photos and home videos of the trip at Fleming’s trial, and Fleming said he had a receipt for phone calls made from his Florida hotel room in his pocket when he was arrested. During a lengthy investigation into the case, it was found that the only alleged witness placing Fleming at the scene of the crime had recanted her testimony. Among the additional evidence uncovered was the hotel phone bill receipt, time stamped and dated, in police records. Fleming’s attorney said that the $162 million figure was standard for unjust convictions of such long duration, but acknowledged that the ultimate settlement would likely be far smaller. “I’m not sure how you value one year in prison for a crime you didn’t commit, let alone 25,” the lawyer said.

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