Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
Federal judges must write their own opinions and cannot simply sign an opinion that was “ghostwritten” by lawyers, the 3d U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled. In Bright v. Westmoreland County, No. 03-4320, a unanimous three-judge panel issued a stiff rebuke to U.S. District Judge Arthur J. Schwab of the Western District of Pennsylvania after concluding that defense lawyers had submitted a “proposed opinion,” and that Schwab adopted it “nearly verbatim” as his own. “When a court adopts a party’s proposed opinion as its own, the court vitiates the vital purposes served by judicial opinions. We, therefore, cannot condone the practice used by the district court in this case,” 3d Circuit Judge Richard L. Nygaard wrote in an opinion joined by judges Theodore A. McKee and Michael Chertoff. Nygaard found that there was no “evidence which would allow us to conclude that the district court conducted its own independent review, or that the opinion is the product of its own judgment. In fact, the procedure used by the district court casts doubt on the possibility of such a conclusion.” As a result, Nygaard concluded that the 3d Circuit was forced to remand the case to Schwab with an order requiring that he “engage in an independent judicial review.” If Schwab decides again to dismiss the case, Nygaard said, he must “prepare an opinion explaining the reasons for [his] order.” Schwab, in response to a call from The Legal Intelligencer, a sister publication of The National Law Journal, issued a statement that said: “I have carefully reviewed the clear and thoughtful opinion of the Court of Appeals in the Bright case. I appreciate its candor, and will of course make every effort to follow its advice, counsel and directions, in this and all cases.” The 3d Circuit’s ruling revives a civil rights lawsuit brought by a man who claims that the murder of his 8-year-old daughter could have been prevented if police and law enforcement officials had promptly jailed the murderer for violating his probation.

This content has been archived. It is available exclusively through our partner LexisNexis®.

To view this content, please continue to Lexis Advance®.

Not a Lexis Advance® Subscriber? Subscribe Now

Why am I seeing this?

LexisNexis® is now the exclusive third party online distributor of the broad collection of current and archived versions of ALM's legal news publications. LexisNexis® customers will be able to access and use ALM's content by subscribing to the LexisNexis® services via Lexis Advance®. This includes content from the National Law Journal®, The American Lawyer®, Law Technology News®, The New York Law Journal® and Corporate Counsel®, as well as ALM's other newspapers, directories, legal treatises, published and unpublished court opinions, and other sources of legal information.

ALM's content plays a significant role in your work and research, and now through this alliance LexisNexis® will bring you access to an even more comprehensive collection of legal content.

For questions call 1-877-256-2472 or contact us at [email protected]


ALM Legal Publication Newsletters

Sign Up Today and Never Miss Another Story.

As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters. Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss. Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.

Copyright © 2020 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.